Theninth incident of the “eyes on the prize” explores the beginningof revolution among the blacks to free themselves from oppression andexploitation by the whites. The leaders of the black communitycombined their efforts to gain political power so that they couldcontrol their local programs and services. All they wanted was totake charge of their destiny without influence from thewhite-Americans. In the first section of the incident, the formationof Black Panthers Party (BPP) is illustrated. The party was meant toform unity among the blacks for self-defense against the harassmentof black residents by the police. The formation of the party wasspearheaded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. With the idea of arevolutionist movement, they used examples of freedom struggles inChina, Russia, and the third world to build their ideas of the kindof society they wish to create in the future (Williams, 2013). Thegovernment viewed the formation of the freedom movement as are-grouping of gangs, and the FBI was mandated to performedsurveillance in their activities.
Atthe same time, there was a campaign for the seat of the Clevelandmayor. The section also traces the mayoral race between Seth Taft, aRepublican and Carl Stokes, a black state legislator. These two werecompeting to be the mayor of Cleveland. Stokes advocated for amassive voter registration among the blacks while also trying to gainsupport among the white community. Later, it was Stoke who wasdeclared the winner and became the first African to become the mayorof one of the biggest cities in the U.S. As part of the mandate ofthe police to survey the activities of the party, the police stoppedNewton during a routine traffic check. A shootout ensued in whichNewton was injured. Newton was arrested and charged with manslaughteralthough the charges were later overturned.
Thestories in this episode illustrate the relationship between thecriminal justice system and racism in the United States. The storiesquestions the targeting of a particular group of people by thecriminal judicial system yet the law was supposed to be universallyapplied. These groups included the minorities i.e. the blacks and thecivil rights activists (Williams, 2013). Some of them were killed ordetained from false accusations. In 1968, the killing of SenatorRobert F. Kennedy and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sparkedriots in various parts of the nation.
Thefirst section of the episode illustrates the assassination of MarkClark and Fred Hampton, leaders of the BPP movement. The murder camea year after the launch of Counter Intelligence Program by FBIdirector J. Edgar Hoover. The program was intended to root out the"militant black nationalist Organizations." Hooveridentified BPP as the biggest threat to the internal security of theUnited States. The movement then became the party that consumed a lotof resources of the FBI due to the level of surveillance andattention was given to it by the FBI. BPP offered social servicessuch as offering free breakfast at their new branch opened in Oaklandunder the leadership of Bobby Rush and Fred Hampton. Police raidedthe members of the Panthers escalating the conflict between the twodivide (Williams, 2013). Clark and Hampton were killed by the policewhen they later raided Hampton’s apartment. Evidence later revealedthat the police murdered the two although they attempted to portraythe killing as self-defense.
Thekilling of the two raised questions on the operations of the criminaljustice system a break into the FBI’s office by the politicalactivist through the collected evidence confirmed that the FBI hadviolated the civil rights of some sections of the citizens of theUnited States. The Counter Intelligence Program was later terminatedin 1971.
Essay– Answers to Questions
Duringlate 1960s, there were widespread police brutalities on the blackcommunity. The oppression and harassment led to the rise of thefreedom movements. Since its establishment in 1966, the organizationwas intended to defend the law-abiding citizens. At the same time,the members were educated on engaging in social activities that wouldbenefit the society. Economic exploitation by the whites and fightagainst racism were some of the challenges that Hampton wanted totackle through BPP. As the leader of the movement, he wanted totackle the challenges by resisting the existing power structure andfight for a revolution. He advocated for the training of the youthsand avoidance of violence, which differentiated them from the thugs,that used to exists. Hampton described those who came into thesociety to exploit as capitalist who should be driven out of thesociety despite being a black or a white. He wanted a society inwhich the power belongs to the people.
Oneof the topic that stood out from the Attica uprising was the inhumantreatment of prisoners within the American prisons. The conditions inwhich the inmates of Attica prisoners were exposed indicates theunhealthy environment that prisoners endure. Starting from the poorlydesigned structure to the provision of basic necessities, theconditions in the American prisons were unbearable during thoseperiod. These people were not given toilet papers. Secondly, thewhites were abusing the blacks subjecting them to physical or mentalabuse. The massive killing of the prisoners during the protest alsoindicated that little care was granted to these prisoners. Despiteraising their grievances in a formal way and requesting the federalgovernment to allow the prisoners to take part in the reconstructionof the prison, nobody listened to them and as such a team wasdispatched to control the riots.
Williams,J. (2013). Eyeson the prize: America`s civil rights years, 1954-1965.Penguin.