Interview with Deborah Johnson
QUESTION 21
TERRY ROCKEFELLER:

When you got out of jail, what kinds of things were organized in the community to try to bring the community together and find some strength around this terrible tragedy? What things did you participate in, and what other things were happening to Panther members at that point?

DEBORAH JOHNSON:

After we had, um, been arrested and charged with, I think I was charged with two counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault. Other people were charged with assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, aggravated assault. But "other people" meaning the occupants of the apartment at 2337. We were charged with various things. And the party was very sincere about making sure I got out first, because I was pregnant and could possibly have my baby at any time, due to the stress and everything that happened. We had people that came from out of state, everywhere. It was just, "Do you need anything? Can we work to raise money for, for bail? Can we make donations? What, what can we do?" People came from everywhere. We solicited money from, ah, the Black Panther Party solicited money from, ah, people that made donations, from, um, going around to schools, to churches. Any place you could think of: entertainers, anything. Everything you could think of, in order to get money to raise money for our bail. And of course our families gave whatever they could. They got me out of jail first. I went, um, some people that were very close with Fred, um, gave me money, and "Whatever you need to do with this, in terms of your survival, or in terms of other people's bond money." And I turned it over for bond money 'cause other people were still in jail. I went to the high school that I had graduated from, to see who I could talk to about--



TERRY ROCKEFELLER:

When you got out of prison, what kind of support had people organized for you in the community? How were people responding and coping and dealing?

DEBORAH JOHNSON:

After I got out of jail, people came from everywhere to contribute whatever they could. Whether it was money, time, or just volunteering to answer the phones and calling people, trying to get money, um, to get us, to raise our bond money. They had rallies all over. California chapter sent us money, and everybody sent us money, or whatever they could donate in terms of getting us out. Because one thing that was going on, which I thought was really beautiful, they were taking people, Members of the Black Panther Party were taking people from the community, through the apartment so they could actually see what was going on. People were able to go through house and they were lined up all around the block, in the cold in the wintertime, to see what, what actually happened.** And anybody that went through that apartment could see that it was in fact not a vicious attack by the Black Panther Party on the police department, but that people had been brutally killed. And that was evident from just going through the apartment, with the trajectories of the bullet holes, and how the beds were shot up, and the door also. And they also had somebody from the party taking people through explaining this room, who was here, and what actually happened here.