Cleaver On Seale


Fifth Estate # 101, March 19-April 1, 1970

The following appeared in the March 15 issue of the Black Panther, official organ of the Black Panther Party.

CONCERNING: The pre-planned political murder of Bobby Seale, Chairman of the Black Panther Party, in the electric chair in the state of Connecticut.

The Primary Task of the American Revolution, at this point in our history, is to defeat the Number One maneuver of the fascist power structure, which is to make an example of Bobby Seale by putting him to death in the Electric Chair in the state of Connecticut.

The fascists have already decided in advance to murder Chairman Bobby Seale in their effort to destroy the leadership of the Black Panther Party and to intimidate our membership in particular and all other progressive people and organizations. This should be crystal clear even to a blind man. The vicious political persecution of Chairman Bobby Seale ranges in time over a four year period—from the very beginning of the Black Panther Party—and, geographically, it follows a twisted trail of trumped-up charges from Oakland, Sacramento, Berkeley, San Francisco, Chicago, and now Connecticut. The plot against Bobby Seale is so outrageously obvious that even these shameless pigs should not have the gall to try to pull it off.

But the fact that they are going full speed ahead with their disgraceful conspiracy should make it clear to the American people, once and for all, that a desperate hour is upon us and we have no time to lose if we are to salvage the situation. Because one thing must be made absolutely clear to America: no matter what the White people of America are prepared to accept, Black people do not accept this ultimate attempt to bind and gag Bobby Seale with death because of the fearless leadership that he has given to our people.

Black people will never accept this premeditated decision of the fascist power structure to murder Chairman Bobby Seale in the Electric Chair. So that the question is simple: Is America going to have a Class War or a Race War? The fascists have already declared war upon the people. Will the people as a whole rise up to meet this challenge with a righteous People’s War against these fascist pigs, or will Black people have to go it alone, thus transforming a dream of interracial solidarity into the nightmare of a Race War?

Our brothers are being murdered in their sleep by the shock troopers of the power structure; our offices are being subjected to all-out military attack; our lawyers are being sentenced to prison along with us; and the fascist Nixon Administration has unleashed the political police of the FBI and thrown away all pretenses of justice and equality under the law. Lip-service to the Constitution of the United States of America has been replaced by out-right fascist terror and naked repression. Hundreds of our Party members have been jacked-up on highly political charges. Scores of our Party members languish in jails and prisons, subjected to scandalously high bails that are tantamount to RANSOM. Throughout the length and breadth of this depraved land, the situation is the same. It is nothing but an attempt to sabotage the 400 year struggle of our people for freedom and liberation.

Our Minister of Defense, Huey P. Newton, teaches us that in order to have security from the unceasing aggressiveness of the enemy, we must always be in a position to inflict a political consequence upon the aggressor for each act of aggression. This attempt to murder Chairman Bobby Seale cold-bloodedly in the Electric Chair is an open provocation and the ultimate aggression against Black people. It is a calculated step taken by fascist pigs in the unfolding of their vicious blueprint of genocide against the Black people. We, Black people, if we are forced to go it alone, must be ultimate political consequence which Black people have in their power to unleash is RACE WAR. Indeed, we have been and at this very moment are the victims of a systematic racist repression. The Black Panther Party, as everyone knows has taken a leading role in trying to avoid precisely this disastrous RACE WAR which the fascist oppressors have been working night and day to bring about. But we can not and will not continue this policy to the point of racial suicide. We will not sacrifice Chairman Bobby Seale on the alter of interracial harmony if White people continue to sit back and allow this ghastly plot to go forward. So if the so-called freedom loving White people of America do not stand up now, while there are still a few moments of time left, and put an end to the persecution of Chairman Bobby Seale, then Black people will have to go it alone and step forward alone. This will mean the end of our dreams for the Class War which America needs and the beginning of the Race War which America cannot endure. This is the political consequence which America faces because of this unspeakably evil attempt to murder Chairman Bobby Seale in the electric chair.

Eldridge Cleaver, Minister of Information Black Panther Party.