Interview with Deborah Johnson

What happened?


A number of times, ah, when we would leave the Black Panther office on, ah, 2350 West Madison, police cars would follow us. The, um, telephone in the Black Panther office, you can hear the tape machines going, you can hear the clicking. You would hang up and walk away from the phone, and go back, and still hear that same clicking. The lines had not been disconnected. People would follow, ah, members of the Black Panther Party home, and not only us, some people were afraid to even come into the office that were not members of the party because they would get followed. Police would come and ask them questions about, what is, this is off the record, "What is your association with the Black Panther Party. Do you know this person?" And they had pictures of some of us. You know, "Do you know this person, what rank do they have, what do they do in the Black Panther Party?" We also knew that when we had rallies that police officers would come, ah, not, of course, wearing uniforms, but, ah, trying to blend in to the crowd, but, it was an uncomfortable feeling, you could tell they were out of place. You know, even they have sent Black officers to our rallies, to our meetings, and you can tell that they, ah, don't belong. Now I'm not going to sit here and say that paranoia, and we were not afraid, and it didn't mean anything, of course it did. But, we didn't let that immobilize us, or stop us from what, we didn't focus, we tried not to focus on that. We knew what we had to do.