BOBBY HUTTON -
The Day My Beloved Brother Comrade was Murdered
On April 6, 1968, two days after Martin Luther King had been
murdered, I got dressed and prepared to go to Central
Headquarters of the Black Panther Party (BPP) along with
Panthers Jimmy Charley and Terry Claridy. I read a chapter
of the "Red Book - Quotations by Chairman Mao" before I
left. We arrived at Central Headquarters at 45th and Grove
St. to get assigned to various locations to sell the Party's
newspaper "The Black Panther," collect donations and pass
out leaflets in the community about the barbecue for the
"Free Huey Newton" defense committee to be held at then
called - Defremery Park on April 7th.
Later that evening, around 4pm, other Panthers and I, in
groups of two and three, were circulating in the community
and going to high schools spreading the word that despite
the murder of Dr. King, they should stay cool, lay low and
refrain from all counterproductive and random violence,
because riots would cause nothing but mass genocide. If
trouble erupted, it would be open season on blacks and the
BPP would be the first attacked.
Around 6pm, some Party members and I met at a Panther's
apartment off San Pablo Ave. We decided that we would ride
in three vehicles transporting food and supplies for the
barbecue picnic and at the same time we would observe and
patrol the police activities in the Black community.
Around 7:30pm, after patrolling and picking up supplies for
the rally, two policemen turned their cruiser south
observing and following us onto 28th street and Union street
where we had stopped for a minute for Eldridge Cleaver who
had to urinate. Eldridge and L'il Bobby Hutton were riding
in a 1961 Ford with several other Panthers. I was riding
shotgun, in the center of the back seat, armed with a banana
clip 30 caliber carbine. Panther Charles Bursey was to the
left of me and Donnell Lankford was to the right. The
officers pulled their cruiser to a stop in the middle of the
street side by side with these vehicles. (The 1961 Ford
with Florida license plates had been observed all week
because it was known by the Oakland Police as a Panther
vehicle.) Gunfire erupted at once, two wild shots were
followed instantly by a deluge of lead that riddled the
squad cars and shots were fired by police into the rear
window of the 1954 Ford in which I was riding.
More policemen flocked to the shooting scene. Charles
Bursey was able to get out of the car and escape the scene.
Donnell Lankford, who was to the right of me, attempted to
open the door so we could take cover, but the door was
jammed. The door finally came open, but as soon as we tried
to exit the vehicle, there were about a dozen police with
their guns and shotguns drawn and thrust into our faces.
They were making racist, insulting remarks while we were
lying face down, handcuffed behind our backs, helpless on
the pavement. They made statements such as, "you niggers
just lost Martin Luther King and if you make one move we
will not hesitate to blow your heads off."
We were then put into the police paddy wagon. Donnell, John
L. Scott and I were the first to be arrested. The over-
reactionary pigs sprayed mace into our eyes after we were
already handcuffed and helpless. As the police wagon drove
away from the scene, I could barely see out the back, but it
appeared to me that there were black people running behind
the wagon saying, "Free these brothers, you racist cops." I
told my comrades in the police wagon that this was a
deliberate ambush, attempting to commit genocide against the
The booking officer asked me if I wanted to make a statement
after being booked. I said no, I was taking the 5th
amendment until I consulted with my attorney, Charles Garry.
They put Lankford, Scott and me into different holding
cells. I could hear racist statements like, "They should
kill Eldridge Cleaver. He's like a wild animal running
amok." Note: the ambush of other Party members was still
going on at this time. Later that night, Harold Rodgers,
Charles Garry's assistant attorney, visited me in my cell
and told me that one Party member did not survive. That was
the Party's first member and treasurer, Bobby James Hutton.
Long Live the Spirit of L'il Bobby Hutton.
Terry M. Cotton, former political prisoner and BPP member