Former Black Panther Leaders Spoke at Democrat-Hosted Event Former Black Panther Ericka Huggins speaks onstage during 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution' press conference at Langham Hotel on Jan. 19, 2016, in Pasadena, California. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
By Theodore Bunker | Thursday, 27 May 2021 12:11 PM
Two of the Black Panther Party's former leaders — who were implicated in the 1969 torture of suspected police informant Alex Rackley — spoke at an event hosted by three Democrat lawmakers earlier this month, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Reps. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., hosted a May 10 forum on COINTELPRO, the FBI program that targeted Black activist groups in the 1960’s and 1970’s. During the event, the trio spoke in favor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Mutulu Shakur, and Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, all of whom are black activists that are currently incarcerated after being convicted of murdering police officers, though their convictions continue to be contested by supporters.
The event also featured Bobby Seale, who cofounded the Black Panthers, and former Black Panther leader Ericka Huggins. Seale and Huggins were both charged with murdering Rackley in 1970 over his suspected cooperation with law enforcement, though the case was dropped after the jury failed to reach a verdict. According to The Washington Post, in a retrospective released in 1977, Huggins admitted to boiling water that was poured on Rackley, verbally abusing him and striking him when he was bound to a chair. During the trial, Huggins’ attorney claimed that she had been pressured into participating and that she had nothing to do with Rackley’s death.
Huggins’ remarks during the event focused on the Black Lives Matter movement and the treatment of Black Panthers by police. She says on her website that she is "a human rights activist, poet, educator, Black Panther Party leader and former political prisoner.
"For the past 36 years I’ve lectured throughout the United States and internationally. My life experiences have enabled me to speak personally and honestly on issues relating to the physical and emotional well-being of women, children and youth, whole being education, the incarceration of men and women of color, and the role of the spiritual practice in sustaining activism and promoting social change."
She says that "in May 1969, Bobby Seale and I were targeted and arrested on conspiracy charges sparking ‘Free Bobby, Free Ericka’ rallies across the country," and notes that she spent two years in prison while awaiting trial, sometimes in solitary confinement.
Huggins later became the Director of the Oakland Community School and was appointed to the Alameda County Board of Education.