Interview with Elaine Brown
QUESTION 25
LOUIS MASSIAH:

Go on with Hoover's announcement and the deaths.

ELAINE BROWN:

Well, 1969, in the Black Panther party was a very rough year for all of us. Ah, Hoover did state, ah, without question that we were the single, ah, greatest, ah, threat to the security of the United States, internal security. And that this would be the last year the Black Panther party would exist. Ah, we, we took it seriously, but we thought we would be able to handle ourselves. We had this, um, this, um, law in the party called Executive Mandate Number One, issued by Huey, sometime before, saying that the Panthers, first of all, always had to be armed. And that if we were ever caught on the street, or in our homes by the police, that we were to defend ourselves right then and there. And we knew that and we took that seriously. As a result of a combination of all of that activity, Hoover's part, and our defense and our ability and willingness to defend ourselves, we lost a whole lot of people. Ah, I went to a funeral every year in 19--every month in 1969, and I would've gone more often than that, except that I was, that was only in L.A. Um, there was no joke about what was going on. But we believed with our hearts that we should defend ourselves. And there were so many that did do that. Um, so many that died, um, that by the end of the year, the raid on the Los Angeles office by the, ah, Los Angeles Police SWAT Team, which was introduced with the Black Panther raid, ah, a five and a half hour attack on our office with tanks and ah, paramilitary, ah, I mean, ah, rifles and so forth, um, we knew that we were not playing around, this was, this was serious, and we'd probably all die, but that was what we were about. We knew we had to do, we had to pay the price, if we wanted to be the vanguard. As a matter of fact that's what Fred used to always say, that we had to pay the cost if you want to be the boss, and Fred used to say that, and we knew that. And we learned it. And we accepted it, and we dealt with it.