Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Alison Stewart's “First Class”

Morning Joe sits down with Alison Stewart, author of “First Class” Morning Joe staff, on 31 July 2013  --  Here’s an excerpt of “First Class”: 

Dr. James Bowman, father of senior presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett, was a 1930s graduate of Dunbar High School. Bowman later became a trailblazing doctor, scientist, and pioneer in genetics and hematology.

The Bowmans had been keeping up with the civil rights activities in the States by listening to the radio. The movement was of interest across the world. Dr. Bowman remembers hearing “Little Rock, Little Rock, Little Rock . . .” being discussed in Russian and Farsi. Apparently his young daughter also heard these conversations over the years. One day his little girl, who had been born in Shiraz, looked up at him and asked, “Daddy, what’s a Negro?” Dr. Bowman knew at that moment it was time to return to Chicago with his wife and young daughter.

“That is what he says, yes.” Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, has heard this story before. She has that look of amusement and mild irritation common to those whose parents repeatedly tell stories that are embarrassing, yet funny and true. “I don’t remember, but I’m not surprised at all by that. My parents have said that that was the reason why they came home, because they didn’t feel like I had any black identity. Because they [Iranians] didn’t distinguish between white Americans and black Americans. We’re all Americans.” It was something the Iranians were able to do that many in the United States could not.

Jarrett’s office in the White House looked like almost any other office of a prominent executive, with wooden chairs around the conference table and the all-knowing assistant about ten feet away, just outside the door. Her days were scheduled in increments, and she was all business. Yet her voice was warm when she spoke of her father.

While Jarrett didn’t remember asking the “Negro” question, she did remember the first time her father told her about Dunbar.

“I was a very young child. Dunbar was critical in my father’s past, to his life’s path. He gives it full credit for having been educated—he, together with his colleagues—at a world-class level. Anytime I would ever say anything that was grammatically incorrect, he would say, ‘As Dunbar High School taught me . . .’ and then he would correct me. And he’s a big believer in, ‘Do not be lazy with grammar’; ‘Do not be lazy, period.’ Certainly don’t be lazy in how you speak. And, I think that, as a young child, I remember him telling stories about Dunbar High School. And, really, to this day, just gives it an enormous amount of credit for the shaping of his life.” That life led him to be a pioneer in hematology and a professor at the University of Chicago as well as the director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at the University of Chicago. He was keen on education and spent years as the medical school’s dean of minority affairs.

Bowman’s yearbook superlative was “enthusiastic,” and he was voted “Most Energetic.” His energy and love of his school were apparent when, at age eighty-eight, he traveled to Martha’s Vineyard to join four other 1930s Dunbar graduates for a Chautauqua about the school’s history. Martha’s Vineyard had for years been a haven for black Americans, a place for friends and family to reunite. Most important, it was a place of relaxation for people who lived their days working hard to stay upright in the mainstream. As one historian put it, the Vineyard was a place for black Americans to “carve out niches . . . a place to celebrate with friends and not have to explain a damn thing.”
Regularly on the island there are lectures and happenings highlighting African American culture, including Harvard’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute’s annual event. On an August day in 2010, the audience at the high school on the small island was filled with curious history buffs, Dunbar graduates, and their families, who had come to listen and honor the octogenarian and nonagenarians on stage, including Dr. Bowman.

Jarrett’s father, sporting his usual bow tie and suit, told the audience, “We were always told, almost brainwashed, that you can do it and when you leave here you can compete. That’s the most important thing. And we believed it. When you get out, you can compete with anybody.” Bowman was making the point that Dunbar’s children were never, ever made to feel inferior to or less than anyone else. It was a perverse benefit of the times. He explained it this way. “One of the advantages of segregation: we were there in a closed world. We couldn’t communicate with the other side. We couldn’t go to theater downtown. We couldn’t go to a restaurant but we believed we shall overcome.” (source: MSNBC)

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi

The front cover June 28, 1963  issue of LIFE  featured one of the most stirring pictures of the Civil Rights era: a dignified, deeply grieving Myrlie Evers comforting her weeping son, Darrell Kenyatta, at Evers’ funeral. Photo Credit: LIFE

As reported by CBS News, "The 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers' broadcasting milestone," by Randall Pinkston and Phil Hirschkorn, on 19 May 2013 -- (CBS News) JACKSON, Miss. - In the early 1960s, as Medgar Evers was becoming better known nationally as a civil rights leader in Mississippi, he found himself shut out of local television newscasts in his hometown and the state capital, Jackson.

Although Evers served as the field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, local TV and radio stations never called, his wife, Myrlie, recalled in an interview.

Coverage of civil rights demonstrators was rarely seen on local stations' like Jackson's dominant Channel 3, WLBT. She said Medgar's press releases were often wired to NAACP headquarters in New York so it could get information before interested national media. At home, her TV screen would sometimes go dark when black entertainers like Sammy Davis Jr. or Lena Horne came on.

"So, we were blocked from seeing successful people of our own race appear anywhere. I can recall my eldest son saying to me, 'Mommy, the television's broken again,'" Myrlie said. "It was a form of suppression."

As the civil rights movement grew across the South, on WLBT only the segregationist point of view was regularly heard, such as on programs sponsored by the White Citizen's Council. Starting with the Little Rock school desegregation crisis in 1957 and continuing for six years, Evers wrote letters to the station pleading for equal time. But he was turned down repeatedly by station manager Fred Beard.

"He was a militant segregationist. He was deeply, ideologically involved in maintaining white supremacy in the South," said former Mississippi Gov. William Winter, who went to the University of Mississippi with Beard.

Winter, now 90, estimates that 99 percent of white Mississippians were segregationists at the time, and admits that he was one too. Winter had served in the state legislature and ran and lost for governor in 1967.

"On local TV and in the local media, the print media, it was a one-sided story all the way," Winter said.

Evers described the news blackout as a "cotton curtain" that enabled racial atrocities to be perpetrated. She said, "There was a desperate need to keep Mississippi's secret...secret."

Mourners file past the open casket of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 15, 1963. On June 12, Evers was shot and killed outside his home by by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens' Council. (AP Photo/stf)

Myrlie and Medgar, both native Mississippians, met at historically black Alcorn State University, in Lorman, Miss., during Myrlie Beasley's first day on campus. At 18, she was married to Medgar, and at 30, she was a widowed mother of three.

Medgar Evers is enshrined in history books for his courageous efforts to register blacks to vote, desegregate schools and boycott white merchants who wouldn't serve blacks, but his breakthrough on the airwaves is less well known.

In the spring of 1963, following the successful civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, Evers and the NAACP sued the city of Jackson to desegregate its public elementary and high schools, and he called for equal access to public accommodations and city jobs.

On WLBT, Jackson Mayor Allen Thompson rejected the idea of a biracial committee to study change and criticized the NAACP as "outside agitators."

Finally, Evers was granted time to respond, on May 20, 1963. He spoke for 17 minutes, beginning by telling his audience he was as an U.S. Army veteran who fought fascism and Nazism in Europe during World War II. He talked about a 40 percent black city of 150,000 residents that had no black police officers, firefighters, or clerks. He called for a black man being able to "register and vote without special handicaps imposed on him" and "more jobs above the menial level in stores where he spends his money."

Evers said toward the end: "The two races have lived here together. The Negro has been here in America since 1619, a total of 344 years. He is not going anywhere else; this country is his home. He wants to do his part to help make his city, state, and nation a better place for everyone, regardless of color and race. Let me appeal to the consciences of many silent, responsible citizens of the white community who know that a victory for democracy in Jackson will be a victory for democracy everywhere."

Tape recordings of viewer calls to WLBT, preserved at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History vividly depict the irate reactions of many white viewers who laced their comments with racist epithets.

"There was support in the white community, but it was very low key and very quiet," Myrlie Evers said. She believes her husband's groundbreaking speech made him a more visible target.

"If you challenged any tradition, certainly in Mississippi, your life was on the line," she said.
The next several weeks saw a fury of civil rights demonstrations in Jackson, including lunch counter sit-ins at a Woolworths that met violent resistance.

Less than one month after Evers' appearance on WLBT, he was assassinated, the very night President John Kennedy gave a nationally televised speech promoting his civil rights agenda. On June 12, 1963, after pulling his car into his driveway, Evers was struck in the back by a single rifle bullet fired from the bushes across the street. His wife and children were inside the home and heard the fatal shot.

In this June 15, 1963, file photo, mourners march to the Jackson, Miss., funeral home following services for slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers. (Photo Credit: AP/ABC News)

Myrlie said, "I could never get his blood up off of the concrete. My eldest son stopped eating. He would take a toy rifle with him to bed. My daughter would go to bed holding a large picture of her dad. Our youngest, who was three, just had this sad look. Those children suffered, because they saw their father shot down. They saw him bleeding; they saw him die."

Evers was only 37. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. By then, President Kennedy had engaged in direct negotiations with Mayor Thompson, and Jackson had sworn in its first black policeman.

It took three trials over three decades to convict Evers' killer, Byron De La Beckwith, who died while serving life in prison in 2001.

Today, the National Archives in College Park, Md., retains the records of Evers' quest for equal time. It became a years-long legal battle that ultimately forced the Federal Communications Commission to revoke WLBT's license and award it to new owners who shared Evers' vision.

"I wish Medgar had lived to see and participate in that, but he didn't," Myrlie said. "We broke barriers, and more people of color did away with their fear and joined in the movement to crush -- crush -- segregation."

William Winter served as Mississippi's governor from 1980 to 1984, focusing on education reform and sending his daughters to integrated schools. Since his retirement from politics, he has opened an institute for racial reconciliation. Winter never met Medgar Evers but is an admirer.

"He was the man on the horse out there leading the charge and gave courage and encouragement and support of people who largely had been without hope," Winter said.

In Jackson, the airport is now named after Medgar Wylie Evers, which has a permanent exhibit detailing his contributions to historic change.

Myrlie was married again for 18 years to Walter Edward Williams, who died in the mid-1990s right before she became the NAACP's chairman of the board for one term.

"It was critically important to have the airwaves open to all people, so all issues, pro or con, could be discussed, and he felt that something positive would come from it," she said. "There was a sense of movement, that we were moving forward." (source: © 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Cambridge, Maryland: 1967

Robert Fahsenfeldt, owner of a segregated lunchroom in the racially tense Eastern Shore community of Cambridge, Maryland, douses a white integrationist with water, on July 8, 1963. The integrationist, Edward Dickerson, was among three white and eight African American protesters who knelt on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant to sing freedom songs. A raw egg, which Fahsenfeldt had broken over Dickerson's head moments earlier, still is visible on the back of Dickerson's head. The protesters were later arrested. (AP Photo/William A. Smith)

From NPR, "Flames of Cambridge Stoked by Decades of Division," by Jacki Lyden and Martha Wexler, 29 July 2007  -- In the summer of 1967, the racial tensions that had been simmering for years boiled over in a paroxysm of violence across the country. While there had been riots in African-American neighborhoods before — most notably in the Watts section of Los Angeles in 1965 — the long, hot summer of 1967 saw fire-bombings, looting and confrontations with police in more than 150 cities and towns, from Hartford to Tampa and Cincinnati to Buffalo.

The worst of the unrest was in Detroit and Newark, N.J. — big cities where African-Americans set fires and looted businesses in their own neighborhoods, traded gunfire with police and otherwise vented their frustration at the slow pace of social change three years after passage of the Civil Rights Act. Less well-remembered are the many small cities and rural towns that were swept up in the strife, places like Plainfield, N.J., and Cambridge, Md.

Civil War on Race Street: The Civil Rights Movement in Cambridge, Maryland; by Peter B. Levy, Stanley Harrold

Cambridge, 90 miles from the nation's capital, quickly drew the attention of federal authorities at the highest level. It became a place where small-town life, small-town attitudes and small-town troubles intersected with national politics.

Cambridge was a depressed, working-class town of 13,000 with a harbor and a canning factory on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Residents like barber Bob Parks remember how blacks and whites worked side-by-side in the crabbing companies on the bay, but others, like longtime resident Sylvia Windsor, recall the physical and psychological divide between the two communities.

"One side of Race Street was for the whites and one side was for the blacks, and they never crossed over and we never did either," Windsor says.

Mrs. Gloria Richardson, head of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, pushes a National Guardsman's bayonet aside as she moves among a crowd of African Americans to convince them to disperse, in Cambridge, Maryland, on July 21, 1963. (AP Photo

Black resident Enez Stafford Grubb remembers not being allowed to use the swimming pool, skating rink or other public facilities while growing up in Cambridge. Years after the Supreme Court's 1954 desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Maryland's Dorchester County, where Cambridge is the county seat, maintained separate schools for blacks and whites. Grubb attended a blacks-only school.

"Whenever we received a textbook, it was a used textbook, and there was always a slip with the name of white students by the time we got it," she says.

A few years before the summer of '67, the Freedom Riders, who were trying to integrate buses crossing state lines, came to Cambridge. There was also a large demonstration on U.S. Route 40 after a visiting African diplomat complained he could not stop along the highway between Baltimore and Cambridge.

African-Americans in Cambridge had been holding sit-ins, rallies and church meetings, agitating for their civil rights. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee sent activists into the town. But as historian Peter Levy points out in his book, Civil War on Race Street, not all the protests were peaceful. Several businesses were fire-bombed, shots sometimes rang out and blacks and whites carried weapons.

In 1963, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy summoned black and white community leaders from Cambridge to Washington. He hoped to mediate a truce by suggesting that the town adopt an equal rights amendment to its charter. The measure passed the town council, but the black population, knowing the amendment would never win approval in a referendum, boycotted the vote.

One of the Cambridge black activists who met with Kennedy was Gloria Richardson. She later moved to New York, where she met H. Rap Brown, the black power activist who preached a message of violence: Only through force could African-Americans win their rights. In the summer of 1967, Richardson invited Brown to deliver the angry stump speech he was giving across the nation to the blacks of Cambridge.

Resident Lemuel Chester recalls how on July 24, 1967, Brown climbed atop a car and told the crowd, "If Cambridge doesn't come around, Cambridge got to be burned down." Not long after his speech, shots rang out, Brown was hit by buckshot, and he fled the town.

Within hours of Brown's speech, someone did set fire to the Pine Street Elementary School in the black section of town. The whites-only local volunteer fire department, citing fears of being attacked, refused to go in and put out the flames. Two blocks and 20 buildings burned to the ground. There was no looting that night, but the event would come to be known as a riot.

The finger-pointing began immediately, and most fingers pointed to Brown. Maryland Gov. Spiro Agnew, who had rushed to Cambridge the morning after the fire, said, "I hope they pick him up soon, put him away and throw away the key."

Until then, Agnew had enjoyed the support of some Maryland blacks, who believed him to be sensitive to their concerns. But the 1967 unrest in Cambridge is now seen by some historians as a turning point in his career. Agnew took a tough law-and-order approach, issuing the following statement: "It shall now be the policy of this state to immediately arrest any person inciting to riot, and to not allow that person to finish his vicious speech."

Cambridge would set the stage for the governor's tough response to rioting the next year in Baltimore and brought him to the attention of Richard Nixon, who would choose Agnew as his running mate in 1968.

Just a few days after the riot in Cambridge, on July 28, President Lyndon Johnson convened the National Commission on the Causes of Civil Unrest — better known as the Kerner Commission for the Illinois governor who chaired it. Johnson believed outside agitators, even foreigners or communists, must have been to blame for the rioting and arson that engulfed so many cities and towns like Cambridge.
But the Kerner Commission dismissed that notion. A report by the commission's staff specifically addressed the situation in Cambridge and found that, contrary to popular belief, blame for the events of July 24, 1967, could not be pinned on H. Rap Brown. The report, leaked to The Washington Post, said the cause of the unrest lay in years of systematic discrimination against the black population of Cambridge.

The story on Cambridge, Md., was produced by Rachel Guberman and recorded by Drew Reynolds and Kurt Stalnaker.  (source: NPR)


Published in The Nation, "Was Fred Hampton Executed?" by Jeff Cohen and Jeff Gottlieb, 30 November 2009  --  Seven years after the shootings of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark by the Chicago police, a civil suit reveals the sordid details behind the assassination.

In the predawn hours of December 4, 1969, Chicago police, under the direction of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, raided the ramshackle headquarters of the local chapter of the Black Panther Party. When the smoke cleared, Chairman Fred Hampton and party member Mark Clark were dead; four others lay seriously wounded.

Fred Hampton (1948 – 1969)

Today in Chicago, seven years after the raid, the facts are slowly emerging, as a civil trial crawls through its tenth month. The families of Hampton and Clark, along with the seven who survived the foray, have filed a $47.7 million damage suit. Edward Hanrahan, three former and present FBI agents, an ex-FBI informant, and twenty-six other police personnel stand accused of having conspired to violate the civil rights of the Panthers, and then of covering it up. In essence, the plaintiffs and their lawyers are out to prove that the FBI/police conspired to execute Fred Hampton.

At 17, Hampton was a black youth on the road to "making it" in white America. He was graduated from high school in Maywood, Ill, with academic honors, three varsity letters, and a Junior Achievement Award. Four years later he was dead.

As youth director of the Maywood NAACP, he had built an unusually strong 500-member youth group in a community of 27,000. After his nonviolent, integrationist activities aroused the hostility of Maywood authorities, Hampton moved to Chicago where he organized a local chapter of the Black Panther Party
As Panther chief in Chicago, Hampton built a reputation as a uniter, bringing together the "Rainbow Coalition" of Puerto Rican, white and black poor people, and engineering a tenuous peace among several warring ghetto gangs. His death was a blow to this multiracial united front.

Within hours of the raid, the authorities offered their explanation of what had occurred. Chicago Police Sgt. Daniel Groth, who led the fourteen police raiders, said:

There must have been six or seven of them firing. The firing must have gone on ten or twelve minutes. If 200 shots were exchanged, that was nothing.... It's a miracle that not one policeman was killed.

At a press conference that day, State's Attorney Edward Hanrahan issued a statement, saying in part:

The immediate, violent and criminal reaction of the occupants in shooting at announced police officers emphasizes the extreme viciousness of the Black Panther Party. So does their refusal to cease firing at police officers when urged to do so several times.

On December 11, the Chicago Tribune ran an account drawn from the policemen involved in the assault, and accompanied by a photograph of the apartment on which circles were drawn around what purported to be holes caused by bullets fired at the police.

Hanrahan later had a full-scale model of the apartment constructed so that the participating policemen could re-enact the raid on WBBM-TV, the local CBS affiliate. Each officer acted out his part step by step for the TV cameras as if rehearsing a scene for a SWAT episode in slow motion. One cop said that as soon as he announced he was a police officer, occupants of the apartment responded with shotgun fire. Two raiders demonstrated how as they approached the front room, they were greeted by a woman who fired a shotgun blast at them as they stood in the doorway. Another cop explained how he had fired through a door and then received return fire, presumably from Mark Clark.

Despite the elaborate re-enactment for TV and the explanations given by the fourteen policemen, it soon became apparent that the official version was at variance with the facts. The "bullet holes" in the Tribune photograph turned out to be nail heads. Although officers Groth and Davis both alleged that Brenda Harris fired a shotgun blast at the doorway as they approached, there was absolutely no evidence of such a blast.

Ultimately, a federal grand jury determined that the police had fired between eighty-three and ninety shots--the Panthers a maximum of one. The grand jury indicated that, if the Panthers fired at all, it was one shot that Mark Clark fired--apparently after he had been shot in the heart. If the cops had, in fact, demanded a ceasefire on three occasions, they were talking only to themselves. The official explanation amounted to a cover-up, and a massive one.

In attempting to resolve this issue, the raid on Chicago Panther headquarters must be put into context. That the FBI supervised a nationwide effort to destroy the Black Panther Party is no longer seen as the paranoid rantings of leftists, but as a fact documented by the Staff Report of the Church committee. The report stated that the FBI's COINTELPRO (Counter-Intelligence program) used "dangerous, degrading or blatantly unconstitutional techniques" to disrupt Left and black organizations. It went on to liken the FBI's harassment of Martin Luther King to the treatment usually afforded a Soviet agent.

On March 4, 1968 (exactly one month before King was assassinated), Hoover issued this directive:
  • Prevent the Coalition of militant black nationalist groups. In unity there is strength, a truism that is no less valid for all its triteness. An effective coalition...might be the first step toward a real "Mau Mau" in America, the beginning of a true black revolution.
  • Prevent the rise of a "messiah" who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have been such a "messiah"; he is the martyr of the movement today...Elijah Muhammad is less of a threat because of his age. King could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed "obedience" to "white liberal doctrines" (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. Stokely Carmichael has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.

This memo was drafted three weeks after the Panthers had accomplished a short-lived alliance with Stokely Carmichael and SNCC. (Until the Hampton suit released this document in full, the names had been deleted.)

After King's death, Hoover called the Panthers "the single most dangerous threat to the internal security of the United States." Of the 295 actions taken to disrupt black groups, 233 were aimed at the Panthers. The bureau's main tactic was to provoke warfare be-tween the Panthers and other black organizations. These actions, according to the Staff Report, "involved risk of serious bodily injury or death to the targets."

Over the years of COINTELPRO, the FBI paid out more than $7.4 million in wages to informants and provocateurs, more than twice the amount allocated to organized crime informants. Operating out of forty-one field offices, COINTELPRO agents supervised agents-provocateurs, placed "snitch jackets" on bona-fide Panthers by having them mis-labeled as informants, and drafted poison-pen letters and cartoons in attempts to incite violence against the Panthers, and divide the party leadership.

All the weapons in COINTELPRO's arsenal were used against the rising "black mes-siah," Chairman Hampton of the Illinois Black Panther Party. Documents released by the suit have exposed the local "get-Hampton" campaign. Roy Mitchell, a.defendant in the case and an ace handler of FBI informants, testified that he had between seven to nine informants in the Chicago Panthers at the time of the raid. Adding that number to those working for the state and the Gang Intelligence Unit of the Chicago Police, one comes up with approximately thirty informants reporting on about sixty-five active members. The names of these informants have been deleted from the documents. This estimate does not include any informants working for the CIA or military intelligence, a subject which the plaintiffs have not been allowed to probe.

One informant whose name we do know, William O'Neal, figures very prominently in the case. He was planted in the chapter almost from its inception and soon became head of security. Among his many schemes as security chief was the construction of an electric chair to be used on informers. It was disassembled on Hampton's orders. After the raid, O'Neal suggested to remaining party members that the steps leading to the apartment on W. Monroe be electrified so that any future raiders would be fried.

Not simply an informant, O'Neal tried to provoke others into "kamikaze"-type activities. Former Panther member Louis Truelock has submitted an affidavit stating that during a visit to O'Neal's father's home, the informer showed him putty, blasting caps and "plastic bottles of liquid," enough material to produce several bombs. He proposed that they blow up an armory and later suggested robbing a McDonald's restaurant. Truelock and others who heard O'Neal's provocative proposals rejected them as useless to the cause.

Although he was infatuated with weapons and tried to involve other Panthers in criminal activities, O'Neal was tolerated because he was an exceptionally hard worker around the office. Ronald "Doc" Satchel, a Panther leader who was wounded in the raid, recalls, "The only person who didn't want O'Neal in the Panthers was Fred Hampton."

O'Neal was also instructed to carry out the FBI's "divide-and-conquer" plan. The bureau most feared a pact between the Panthers and the Blackstone Rangers, Chicago's most powerful black gang. Defendant Marlin Johnson, former Chicago FBI chief, now head of the Chicago Police Board, and a defendant in the present trials, testified before the Church committee that he approved the sending of an anonymous letter to Ranger leader Jeff Fort which read, "The brothers that run the Panthers blame you for blocking their thing and there's supposed to be a hit out for you.... I know what to do if I was you." When pressed for an explanation, Johnson claimed that he thought a hit "is some-thing nonviolent in nature," and maintained that the letter-writing scheme was aimed at preventing violence. He added, "We didn't think he [Fort] would pay too much attention to the letter."

William O'NeaI's crowning achievement was his advance work on the December 4 raid. Two weeks before the attack, he provided the FBI with a detailed floor plan of Panther headquarters, complete with an "X" over Fred Hampton's bed. Most of the shots were fired at that spot.

Following the lethal raid, O'Neal was rewarded with a $300 bonus after Agent Robert Piper, also a defendant in the suit, explained in a memo to Washington, "Our source [O'Neal] was the man who made the raid possible." In another memo, listing the amounts and dates that O'Neal was paid, the bureau acknowledged his information on national Panther leaders, anti-war activists from the New Mobilization Committee and the Chicago 8, and the furnishing of the floor plan: "It is noted that most information pro-vided by this source is not available from any other source." O'Neal was so valuable that Roy Mitchell once dished out $1,600 to buy him a car and $1,000 to bail him out of jail.

When FBI agents began to shop around for a police agency to raid Panther headquar-ters, they approached the Chicago Police Department twice, in October and November 1969, but were turned down both times. The FBI then approached Cook County State's Attorney Edward Hanrahan, who agreed to carry out the operation. Hanrahan, in a TV interview, said that he agreed to the raid after the FBI told him that the Panthers were stockpiling illegal weapons at their headquarters. However, on November 19, O'Neal had reported to the FBI that the guns had been legally obtained. This was corroborated by Maria Fisher, an infiltrator who worked for both the FBI and the state.

The raid was originally scheduled for December, 3 at 8 P.M., but the State's Attorney's office, without notifying the FBI, postponed it by several hours, on the stated ground that it would be too dangerous to move in while the occupants were awake. But the floor plan submitted by O'Neal specifically marked Hampton's bed, and some people wonder what the real reason was for the delay.

It was not the first time Black Panther headquarters had been raided. In June 1969, a force led by FBI Agent Marlin Johnson, but also involving other police agencies, met no resistance when the raiders informed those inside of their intent to search the office, allegedly for a fugitive. O'Neal admitted in a deposition that he had set up that raid. No fugitive was found, but several Panthers were arrested on a variety of charges, all of which were later dropped. The point is that, once the authorities announced themselves, the Panthers made no attempt to resist.

At 4:30 on the morning of December 4, police raiders burst into the apartment with their guns ablaze. Harold Bell, one of the wounded survivors, testified that everyone immediately surrendered. Bell and two others, including Hampton's girl friend, Deborah John-son, were ordered out of Hampton's bedroom, where he lay motionless. Then, says Bell, police fired from point-blank range into Hampton's body. Bell's testimony about Hampton's execution-style death has been supported by Deborah Johnson and other survivors. Johnson testified that, after emptying his gun into Hampton's bed, the cop walked away muttering, "He's good and dead now."

Why didn't Hampton get out of bed and try to resist? Photographs of his blood-soaked mattress make it obvious that he did not. According to the independent Commission of Inquiry, headed by NAACP chief Roy Wilkins and former Atty. Gen. Ramsey Clark, there are strong indications that he had been drugged. About three hours before the shooting, at 1:30 A.M. Hampton was in bed talking to his mother on the telephone, when he fell asleep in mid-conversation. Deborah Johnson tried to rouse him but failed. During the raid others tried to wake him, but his only movement was to raise his head briefly. And, of course, the sound of gunfire is not usually conducive to sleep.

The day after the raid, the Cook County coroner performed the first of four official autopsy examinations. It "failed to show the presence of barbiturates." Later postmortems by the coroner's office, the FBI and a federal grand jury also failed to turn up any trace of barbiturates. However, an independent autopsy and blood analysis which were performed at the request of the Hampton family by Dr. Victor Levine, former chief pathologist for the Cook County coroner's office, and Dr. Eleanor Berman, a toxicologist and acting director of the Department of Biochemistry at Cook County Hospital, found a potentially lethal quantity of drugs in Fred Hampton's bloodstream -- a dosage which, at the least, would have induced a coma.

The Commission of Inquiry attempted to resolve these differences. It consulted experts who concluded that technical errors had been made during the official autopsies. The scientists found no reason to reject the Berman-Levine verdict.

With up to nine informants inside the Panthers, including the resourceful William O'Neal, the FBI had ample opportunity to have the chairman drugged. Informant Maria Fisher has asserted in a signed statement to the Chicago Daily News that one week before the killings, local FBI chief Marlin Johnson asked her to slip Hampton a colorless and taste-less drug which would put him to sleep so that the FBI could raid the apartment. She says that when she refused, Johnson told her she was "being very foolish."

O'Neal has admitted in a deposition that he was in Hampton's apartment on December 3, but his memory is hazy as to the precise time. A criminal associate of his testified under oath, in another case, that, one time when he and O'Neal were high on marijuana, O'Neal said that the raid on the Panthers was unnecessary because he had drugged Hampton the night of the assault.

Robert Piper, a defendant and the FBI agent in charge of the "Racial Matters" squad in Chicago throughout 1968-9, admitted on the stand that the Black Panthers had broken no laws and had never been prosecuted locally. He testified that the FBI's sole purpose was to harass the group and contribute to its breakup.

Within months of the raid, a federal grand jury roundly criticized the police, but offered no indictments. Panther attorney G. Flint Taylor provided an explanation when he stated in court: "I have a document from the government showing that there was a deal that there would be no indictments [of Hanrahan and the police] in return for Hanrahan's dropping of indictments [against the survivors of the raid].

Because of rising anger in Chicago's black community at the failure to indict any law-enforcement officials, Joseph Power, Chief Judge of the Cook County Criminal Court, established a special county grand jury on June 27, 1970. Barnabas Sears, a prominent Chicago lawyer, was appointed special prosecutor and promised a free hand in investigating the affair.

Rumors began making the rounds in late April 1971 that indictments against Hanrahan and other police officials were imminent. But when the grand jury handed Power an envelope containing the indictments, the judge sought to prevent their return by refusing to open the envelope. The matter was resolved on August 24 by a unanimous opinion from the seven-man Illinois State Supreme Court that "the interests of justice would best be served by opening the indictment and proceeding pursuant to the law." The indictments against Hanrahan and thirteen others for conspiracy to obstruct justice in the investigation that followed the raid were finally made public. Still, no one was held accountable for the deaths of Hampton and Clark.

The obstruction of justice case went to trial on July 10, 1972, with Cook County Criminal Court Judge Philip Romiti presiding without a jury. At the close of the prosecution's case, defense attorneys for Hanrahan and the police moved for an acquittal on the ground that not enough evidence had been presented to convict. The judge granted the motion.

Against this backdrop, the civil suit began on January 5, 1976. Now the familiar court-room roles have been reversed--never before have the Black Panthers been the plain-tiffs, with law-enforcement officials the defendants. Judge Joseph Sam Perry is on the bench. In November 1975, lawyers for the plaintiffs asked for his removal on the ground that at the age of 79, Perry is too old and too deaf to function competently. He has given credence to these objections by several times falling asleep in court. Attorneys for the victims also contend that he is unable to understand the complexities of the case.

One of Perry's first rulings was to eliminate many defendants from the suit, including Mayor Daley; former Police Chief James Conlisk, Cook County; the estate of J. Edgar Hoover, and seven officials of the FBI or Justice Department. The judge also dismissed complaints against Hanrahan and his assistants, but was overruled on appeal.

Although the Northern District of Illinois has a 31 per cent black population, only 6 per cent of the 400 prospective jurors were black. Panther attorneys watched helplessly as one of their best prospects disqualified herself with an honest answer. When asked if she could judge the word of an FBI agent without prejudice, the prospective juror re-plied, "Judge, to tell you the truth, with all I've been reading recently about them, I think I would find it difficult." Ultimately, one elderly black woman ended up on the six-person jury.

At the start, Perry told prospective jurors that both sides have agreed "there was a gun battle." If that had been true, there would be no civil suit. The basis of the plaintiffs' case is that only one bullet, and perhaps none at all, was fired at police, and that conclusion is endorsed by the federal grand jury and the Commission of Inquiry's report, Search and Destroy. Calling this a gun battle is like calling the assassination of Martin Luther King a duel.

Lawyers for both sides feel that Perry committed a reversible error by delaying the enforcement of Panther subpoenas for FBI files until two days before the trial opened. Up to then Perry had declared FBI files inadmissible unless they mentioned the name of Hampton or Clark, his explanation being that "the Black Panther Party is not on trial here." The judge has since conceded that his mistake on the Panther subpoenas, and a second blunder, have been responsible for greatly prolonging the proceedings. Perry's second error was to give the defense a free hand in deleting "irrelevant" information from the files.

In January, Richard Held, then head of the FBI's Chicago field office and now an associate director of the bureau, was served with a subpoena, signed by Perry, calling for all FBI documents relevant to the case. Held appointed FBI Agent Robert Piper, a defendant in the case, and some fifteen agents working under him, to make deletions from these files. Justice Department lawyers repeatedly assured the court that the order to deliver all relevant material had been complied with. However, in mid-March, during testimony from defendant Roy Mitchell, it came out that 90 percent of the file had been withheld. This included 130 volumes of information, a stack of papers 30 feet high. Mitchell let that cat out of the bag when he referred to a document that Panther attorneys had never seen.

Immediately, lawyers for the plaintiffs called for contempt citations against seven Justice Department and FBI officials, including defense attorneys Kanter and Kwoka, and FBI agents Piper and Held. Complaints by Roy Wilkins and an open letter from two Illinois state legislators prompted Attorney General Levi to appoint Assistant US Attorney Charles Kocoras to head an inquiry into the matter of the hidden documents. This choice was criticized because Kocoras had prosecuted a case in which FBI informant O'Neal and Agent Mitchell were the main government witnesses. Lawyer Taylor called the selection of Kocoras "like naming John Mitchell to investigate Watergate."

Kocoras was soon replaced by another Assistant US Attorney, Stephen Kadison. An aide to Kadison told the authors that, although plaintiffs' lawyers and FBI agents have been among those interviewed, the probe is an internal Justice Department matter, and that the findings may not be revealed publicly. After seven months, no conclusions have been announced.

The dispute over the documents placed the Hampton case on the front pages of the lo-cal papers for one of the few times during the trial. Because of this, Perry agreed to a plea from defense attorney Camilio Volini that the jury be polled to determine if any member was aware of the controversy. During the polling, one juror pulled a clipping of a Chicago Daily News story from her purse. The judge immediately stopped the canvassing process because it could, in his words, "lay the ground for a mistrial."

At the next court session Volini reiterated his motion to poll. In a surprise move, the Panther lawyers joined in the request, probably the only time both sides have agreed on anything. As all ten lawyers converged on the bench arguing in favor of the motion, the overwhelmed judge shouted, "Just leave me alone!" Perry regained his composure in time to deny the motion, saying, "I have confidence that this jury is not going to be influenced by a few headlines. The court disagrees with all parties, and I happen to be the final word."

Perry then announced to the jury that it was his fault, not the defendants', that the case was being delayed because of the withheld documents. Defense attorneys were stunned when the judge took the blame for what appeared to be suppression of vital information by the defendants.

In mid-April Panther lawyers renewed their call for a mistrial, this time asking for a default judgment because of "wholesale deceit, bad faith, and manipulation of evidence by the FBI defendants and the US Attorney's Office." Perry stated hat he would delay a ruling on the motion until the end of the trial.

The 130 volumes of FBI documents were finally turned over to the plaintiffs, but not be-fore the bureau tried to charge them $17,353 for labor and materials in making the copies. According to Taylor, Judge Perry said he wanted to assess those charges to the Panthers but could find no law to back him up.

The plaintiffs are faced with the problem of how to digest and utilize the mass of new material. The judge would not postpone the trial. Once, when attorney Haas asked per-mission to delay an interrogation until he could study the relevant FBI documents, a flushed Perry rose from the bench and yelled, "You're stalling, you're stalling, you're stalling." When fellow counsel Taylor answered, "No, we are not," Perry ordered him to sit down or be found in contempt. When Dennis Cunningham, a third Panther lawyer, attempted to say something, Perry screamed at him, "Sit down or you'll be held in con-tempt of court!" Needless to say, permission for a postponement was not granted.

As the trial inches along, the taxpayers continue to foot the bill for those who planned and carried out the raid. Cook County and the city of Chicago are paying for the defense of Hanrahan, his assistants, the fourteen raiders, and other police personnel to the tune of $20,000 per week. The federal government is covering the defense of the three agents and O'Neal. The cost is already well beyond $1 million and the trial isn't ex-pected to end until March 1977 at the earliest.

While the defense is well funded, financial woes have beset the plaintiffs. The Panther legal staff cannot afford to buy daily transcripts, an indispensable resource, but one that would cost $50,000 for the trial. The lawyers' request to make copies from the judge's or defense's transcripts was denied, but Perry agreed that they could inspect his when necessary.

Fred Hampton had been fond of proclaiming, "You can kill a revolutionary, but you can-not kill a revolution. You can jail a liberation fighter, but you cannot jail liberation." Be-tween 1968 and 1971, more than a score of Panthers were killed by police agencies, and more than 1,000 were jailed. That the party has survived at all is a minor miracle. While the death of Fred Hampton dealt a crippling blow to the Illinois chapter, the char-ter chapter in Oakland has never been stronger. The party currently runs fifteen, free "survival programs" in its Oakland stronghold, including free clothing, legal aid, ambulance, pest control, plumbing and maintenance, a breakfast for children programs, a food co-op, medical clinics and the Oakland Community School.

Although many talk about the FBI's destruction of the Black Panther Party as if it were a fait accompli, perhaps it is too early to discard the favorite slogan of exiled Panther leader, Huey Newton: "The spirit of the people will defeat the technology of the Man." (source: The Nation, URL:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin [H. Rap Brown]

Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin  [H. Rap Brown]

Published on Tuesday, March 28, 2000 in the San Francisco Examiner, "H. Rap Brown: Idealism To Nihilistic Violence," by Earl Ofari Hutchinson  --  LOS ANGELES - I was disappointed, but not totally surprised, to hear that Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin — better known by his radical trademark name, H. Rap Brown — is the suspected shooter of two Atlanta sheriff's deputies, one dead and one seriously wounded.

(Al-Amin was arrested in Alabama's Lowndes County, west of Montgomery, on March 21 — several days after the shooting. Authorities said he was hiding in a shed, fired shots at U.S. marshals, then ran into a nearby wood. The FBI said federal and state agents circled him, then released dogs. Al-Amin was arrested, uninjured.)

Though it's dangerous and irresponsible to convict Brown of murder before all the facts are in, I still immediately thought of the evening in 1968 when I and a small knot of black journalists stood near the podium at the Los Angeles Sports Arena at a Black Panther fund-raiser.

Brown sat in the middle of the stage, garbed in a shiny black leather jacket with a black beret cocked at an angle and flanked by a small army of black leather-jacketed bodyguards and assorted hangers-on.

The crowd of several thousand roared with delight when a speaker announced that Brown had been "appointed" and had accepted the title of Minister of Justice of the Black Panther Party. This was the culmination of Brown's militant odyssey from student dissident, to civil rights worker, to chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. By then black radicals regarded SNCC as a badly tainted relic of the civil rights movement that they deeply reviled.

His speech to the crowd was defiant, brash, laced with profanities and filled with threats to kill the police. He called for blacks to burn down America's cities.

As I soaked in his performance with a mixture of awe and fascination, I still wondered whether he really believed this fantasy vision of violent revolution that he was selling the crowd. His speech was designed to stir the red hot emotions of the audience.

The warning flares soared higher the more I heard him speak during the next few months. Brown, at times, seemed to take special delight in picking words that had maximum shock value on crowds. Yet what was needed were not bold threats to destroy the "white establishment," "the white man," "white devil," or "white oppressor," but concrete activities and programs for those genuinely committed to change.

Even the title of his book, "Die Nigger Die," was calculated for hyper shock effect. It was long on attacks on those moderate black leaders Brown branded "Negro sell-outs" and "Uncle Toms." Lengthy exhortations urged blacks to kill and die for the revolution. Yet it was devoid of any strategy or program for black political and economic empowerment.

By the mid-1970s, the Panther organization was in its final agonies. Leaders dropped like flies from police bullets or their own bullets; some degenerated into dope dealing, hustling and extortion. Others drifted away, afflicted with terminal disillusionment with the failed promises of the black movement. A few managed to swap their black jackets for Brooks Brothers suits and slide neatly into posts at universities, corporations and elected office.

The programs devised by early Panther organizers that had given so much hope to so many - the free clinics, free breakfast programs, legal aid, voter registration, business development and community organizing campaigns to combat police abuse - had become faded memories.

Brown was unrepentant. He remained trapped by his tough guy image. He seemed destined to be a permanent casualty of his violent rhetoric. He seemed utterly incapable of making the transition from radical mouthpiece to effective community organizer and leader. There were repeated brushes with the law that ended in a bungled robbery attempt (at a tavern patronized by African Americans) and a subsequent shootout with New York police. This landed him in prison for five years.

Brown reversed his downhill slide in 1976. He embraced Islam, re-christened himself with a Muslim name, did his mea culpas for his past and made his peace with America.

He took seriously his new role as spiritual leader and as a tireless worker for community betterment and against drugs and prostitution.

Yet an arrest for assault and possession of illegal weapons, though the charges were dropped, sent up another warning flare that he was still prone to act out the violent rhetoric of the 1960s that had caused him and so many other blacks such terrible personal grief and pain.

Brown may or may not be the triggerman in the murder of a black sheriff's deputy and the wounding of another, also black. And I sincerely pray that he isn't.

But his capture will almost certainly trigger another round of media reflection on how he, the Panthers and other 1960s black radicals drowned the genuine idealism and passion for social change of thousands of blacks in an ocean of selfishness, greed, opportunism and nihilistic violence.

Some of this will be true, but what it misses is the sacrifice and struggle of thousands of men and women against injustice. And for a time that included Brown.  [Copyright 2000 San Francisco Examiner]

H. Rap Brown Breaks down Politics of America on Like It Is w/ Gil Noble

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Dutch and Slavery in New Netherlands

The Dutch and slavery in New Netherlands: Were the Dutch the first ones?

According to many American history books, the Dutch were the first to bring enslaved Africans to the shores of Virginia in 1619. John Rolfe, resident of Jamestown, noted in his diary that about twenty black people had been brought to the settlement in a Dutch man-of-war. John Pory describes the same event in a letter. As a result, some people now pin the responsibility for this act on the Dutch navy. This is impossible, however, for the simple reason that there was no Dutch navy at that time.

The ship by which the unfortunate Africans came to America was in all probability the Trier, a pirate ship from Vlissingen. The Trier and the English pirate ship the Treasurer had overtaken the Portuguese slave ship the Sao Joa Bautista, which was on its way from Angola to South America. Both ships plundered the Portuguese ship and then sped on to Jamestown to sell their human booty. The Dutch ship was just a bit faster than the English.

The Dutch slave trade and slavery

This was not the end of the matter, however. As soon as the WIC decided to expand the Dutch settlement on the island of Manhattan, they decided to import African slaves. The first Africans arrived in 1624. These were about a dozen men and an unknown number of women. Most had been taken prisoner on Spanish ships somewhere in the Caribbean by WIC privateers. In New Netherland they were used as farm labour, in public works and in the building of Fort Amsterdam. All African 'company slaves' were the property of the WIC and were not sold privately at first. When the company later began to experience serious financial problems, the slaves were hired out by the official WIC overseer to private colonists. Sometimes they were put to work as soldiers in the unremitting wars with the Indian tribes. This was a departure from the system of private slave ownership that was prevalent in the New World. The company slaves were given a number of limited rights that were laid down in law. Perhaps the most important of these rights was that after the passage of time they were given their freedom. These freed slaves were then given a piece of land on which to settle and to support themselves. It is known that a group of slaves were freed in 1664, after which they settled in the vicinity of the present Canal Street and Astor Place. Thus in the mid-seventeenth century small communities of free blacks were formed in New Amsterdam.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic region, Dutch involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade began in around 1635. The WIC transported the enslaved Africans from the west coast of Africa to the colonies in Brazil, which had been captured by the Dutch from the Portuguese. The Africans were put to work cultivating sugarcane on the plantations. When the Portuguese re-captured Brazil in 1653, Africans were brought to the Dutch colonies of Suriname and Curaçao. 

The Mutiny of the Dutch Slave Ship Meermin

As reported in the New York Times, "Combing for the shipwreck of a slave rebellion," by Sharon LaFraniere, on 25 August 2005 -- STRUIS BAY, South Africa — After years of painstaking research and sophisticated surveys, Jaco Boshoff may be on the verge of a nearly unheard-of discovery: the wreck of a Dutch slave ship that broke apart 239 years ago on this forbidding, windswept coast after a violent revolt by the slaves.

On the other hand, he may have discovered a wire fence covered with beach sand.Boshoff, 39, a marine archaeologist with the government-run Iziko Museums, will not find out until he starts digging on this deserted beach on Africa's southernmost point, probably later this year.

After three years of surveys with sensitive magnetometers, he knows, at least, where to look: at a clutch of magnetic abnormalities, three beneath the beach and one beneath the surf, near the mouth of the Heuningries River, where the 450-ton slave ship, the Meermin, ran aground in 1766.

If he is right, it will be a find for the history books - especially if he recovers shackles, spears and iron guns that shed light on how 147 Malagasy slaves seized their captors' vessel, only to be recaptured.

Although European countries shipped millions of slaves from Africa over four centuries, archaeologists estimate that fewer than 10 slave shipwrecks have been found worldwide.

If he is wrong, Boshoff said in an interview, "I will have a lot of explaining to do."He will, however, have an excuse. Historical records indicate that at least 30 ships have run aground in the treacherous waters off Struis Bay, the earliest of them in 1673.

Although Boshoff says he believes beyond doubt that the remains of a ship are buried on this beach - the jagged timbers of a wreck are sometimes uncovered during September's spring tides - there is always the prospect that his surveys have found the wrong one.

Boshoff's best hope of proving that any find is the Meermin, he said, will be to unearth one of the Malagasy spears that records show were carried onto the ship. The ship's final voyage is well documented in letters and court records in archives in Cape Town, which are being organized electronically by Andrew Alexander, a University of Cape Town student who is working with Boshoff.

The documents tell a story rife with folly, trickery, men tossed overboard, bottled messages, rescue ships gone awry and captives-turned-captors-turned-captives once more.

Half of the 60-member Dutch crew and perhaps dozens of slaves were killed. The surviving crew went down in ignominy for losing their ship; the Malagasy slaves met bondage and servitude.

The Dutch East India Company had dispatched the three-masted Meermin from Cape Town in December 1765 to buy slaves on the west coast of Madagascar, nearly 2,700 kilometers, or 1,700 miles, away. The Dutch settlement at Cape Town relied on slave labor, and the warring tribes on Madagascar were known to trade their captives to European merchants for guns and goods.

In late January, the Meermin left Madagascar with 147 slaves, including some women and children. Fearful the slaves would die in the airless cargo hold, the ship's captain ordered at least some of them unchained and allowed on deck. Another senior officer decided to employ five slaves to clean spears and other weapons that the crew had picked up in Madagascar as souvenirs.

It was a stunningly stupid move. Armed, the slaves killed about half the crew, stabbing them to death or tossing them overboard. Surviving sailors barricaded themselves in the ship's lower quarters, surviving on raw bacon, potatoes and brandy.

Once they realized they could not sail the ship on their own, the Malagasy allowed several crew members on deck to guide them back to Madagascar.

By day, the Dutch headed in the general direction of the island. But at night they steered for Cape Town. By the end of February, they had made it to 145 kilometers east of Cape Town. Spotting land, the slaves decided they had reached their homeland and dropped anchor. Seventy slaves piled into two small boats and headed ashore, promising to light three fires on the beach to signal the others if the land was Madagascar. They did not get far. Dutch farmers, suspicious of the stationary ship without a flag, had alerted the local magistrate and organized a force of local men to patrol the beach. When the slaves hit shore, they were killed or captured.

For a week, the Meermin remained at sea while the Malagasy aboard tried to figure out what had happened and the Dutch on shore tried to figure out what to do. The authorities in Cape Town dispatched two rescue ships, but neither managed to find Struis Bay.

The Meermin's officers at sea were trying to communicate with the Dutch on shore by the only method at hand: letters in bottles. Two floated ashore, were retrieved and delivered to the magistrate. The officers asked for three fires to be lighted on the beach to deceive the Malagasy into letting the ship come ashore.

Another letter advised that the slaves were unaware of their location and could be caught off-guard.The trick worked. The ship sailed toward the beach, hitting a sandbar. Confronted with the Dutch force, the slaves gave up.

The Dutch authorities worked to retrieve the ship's goods, recovering 286 muskets, 12 pistols, 5 bayonets, compasses and barrels of gun powder and musket balls. They then left the broken Meermin to be swallowed up by sand.  (source: the New York Times)


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