From the archives: ‘Black Speakers Say Hutton’s Death Backs ‘White Racism’ Allegations’

Tim Zukas / Daily Cal Archives/File

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the Monday, April 15, 1968, issue of The Daily Californian. Bobby Hutton, the focus of the article, was the first recruit to join the Black Panther Party. He was also was the first to be killed and quickly became a martyr for the Black Power Movement. It has been lightly edited for space.

By Mary Pinotti
DC Staff Writer

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,

And to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,

A decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. …

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.

— militant panther quoted the U.S.’ Declaration of Independence at Friday’s memorial rally.

• • •

Causes for change are not viewed as either light or transient by the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in lieu of recent events in Oakland.

Seventeen year-old Bobby Hutton, treasurer for the Black Panther Party, was shot several times — the Panthers say ten times, the official pathologist’s report will be released today — and filled by police bullets the night of April 6.

Panther Chairman Bobby Seale charged police harassment was increasing as the trial date (May 6) for Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton draws near.

He claimed at a press conference Friday following a rally in memory of Bobby Hutton that during the trial 50,000 to 100,000 people — no matter what — are going to be around, inside and about the Alameda County Court House to “set Huey free.”

The death of Bobby Hutton intensified and confirmed for many, blacks and whites, allegations of white racism in the United States documented by the President’s Commission on Civil Disorders and radiating from the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One thin, taut-faced young black (man) commented privately that Hutton’s death had intensified his feelings. And as a family conflict had been settled, he will join the panthers.

Recent events also convinced Harry Edwards, professor of sociology at San Jose State College and sponsor of the black boycott of the Olympic Games, to join the Black Panther Party. At a recent San Francisco press conference, he urged all black brothers to do likewise.

Hutton’s funeral and burial were conducted Friday afternoon at the Ephesian Church of God in Berkeley. The church was jammed with mourners, mostly black. An estimated 75 Panthers lined the walls of the church.

The Rev. E. E. Cleveland, minister of the church, told a story about a man trying to get a cool drink of water from a spring muddied by a dead hog. “You never get a cool drink of water until you get the hog out of the spring … You must get the hate out of your hearts,” he urged.

Seale, speaking next at the altar, elaborated on the minister’s message. Seale claimed black people have been exploited for 400 years because of the hog in the spring.

Speaking over a microphone on a flatbed truck later at the Memorial rally at Merritt Park which followed the funeral, Seale claimed “All we want is a fresh drink of water.”

Merritt Park is located at the foot of the Alameda County Court House, closed in observance of Good Friday. About seven of the sheriff’s police stood inside the locked glass doors. Asked if they usually remained there while the building was closed, a man wearing a deputy sheriff’s badge answered, “no.”

Seale talked about change, so black (people) could get a fresh drink of water.

“When you start talking about changing the situation,” Seale asserted, “then you’re talking about revolution.”