Huey Sentenced

Power to the people...or the sky's the limit


Fifth Estate # 63, October 3-16, 1968

OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 27—Huey P. Newton, Black Panther leader, was sentenced today to a prison term of 2 to 15 years for the voluntary manslaughter of John Frey, an Oakland cop.

Newton’s lawyer, who was turned down on his plea for probation said he hoped to gain freedom for Newton on bail through an appeal to the California District Court of Appeals.

Superior Court Judge Monroe Friedman, who presided at the eight-week trial, denied a series of motions this morning when Newton was sentenced.

Judge Friedman refused to grant a new trial, refused probation, refused bail on appeal, and finally sentenced Newton to the term “prescribed by law.” Since Newton has an earlier felony conviction (assault with a deadly weapon in 1964), the minimum sentence for -manslaughter is two years, rather than one year.

After that time, he will be eligible for parole.

Petitions From 29,301

Charles Garry, Newton’s lawyer, presented an 18-inch-high stack of petitions to which he said 29,301 signatures had been affixed. The petition, said Mr. Garry, called Newton “an honest, dedicated, loyal and selfless human being” who is “needed in the community.” The “community would suffer grave and irreparable loss” if he goes to jail, the petition stated.

When the request of probation had been denied, Newton was told to stand. He stood proudly, his hands held in front of him, and his lawyer at his side. A dozen or so members of the Black Panthers, which Newton helped to found in 1966, sat in the courtroom, along with his relatives and friends.

Judge Friedman directed that Newton be taken to Vacaville, where the California prison medical facility operates to process new prisoners.

Then Newton was taken back to his jail cell. As he left the courtroom, he gave a clenched-fist salute and said loudly: “Power to the people!” the Panther salute and motto. His supporters replied: “Power to the people! Free Huey!” and repeated the salute. His mother, Mrs. Armelia Newton, sobbed loudly.

“I think it’s a dirty, rotten way to handle this whole matter” said Mr. Garry at a news conference later. “At least they could have left him here until I could discuss appeal matters.”

Later, a sheriff’s office station wagon moved past on the street and Newton, inside, en route to prison, again gave the clenched-fist salute.

A black woman began to wail and shout demands that black men should take some action to rescue Newton. Another woman joined her in shouting. Mr. Garry moved to the first woman. She continued to shout.

Cleaver and his wife, Kathleen, moved from the edge of the crowd to Mr. Garry’s side.

The lawyer shouted: “Let’s get out of here!”

The procession of Panthers moved away from the courthouse. The men, in berets and black leather jackets, some of the women in high black boots, walked slowly away, Mr. Garry in their midst and other Negroes following them.