Interview with George Clements

Right in the midst of all this, the Black Panthers had become very outspoken also about the police, although in a very different way. How did you respond to what they were saying, and also to their rhetoric and their style?


Well, The thing that I really loved about the Black Panthers is that they refused to be ignored. Ah, it was very easy to ignore Black people back then, because everybody figured, "Well, it's just a lot of talk and they're not going to do anything. They'll just go on and on and on, moaning and groaning about how terrible everything is." And they, of course, at the best they just might get involved in some acts of non-violence. But that's about it. And they just kind of, you know, business as usual. You couldn't have business as usual with the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers were definitely going to be heard**. And, ah, they had these, ah, things they would say, like, ah, "By any means necessary". And you know, that shook people up. People said, "Ooh, ah, these are some serious Black folks." Ah, and, um, so, I, that appealed to me very, very much because I have always said, you know, "Love Clements or hate Clements, but just don't ignore me. Just don't treat me like I'm a non-entity, as though I don't exist." And that, for all practical purposes, was what was happening with the Black community. Certainly politically, ah, we were considered to be in the back pocket of Mayor Daley. We were ineffectual. We were, nobody had to really respond to anything we were going to say because, ah, Boss Daley had us, ah, very much in check. And so, ah, I, yeah, the Black Panthers appealed to me. They were young, too, and that meant, ah, that, ah, they were going to be around for a while.