Interview with Huey P. Newton

Why did you choose to focus on the police as a major target for the Panther Party early on?


Well, the police, ah, throughout the comunit- not only the Oakland community but, ah, throughout out the Black communities in the country, ah, were really the, the, ah, ah, the government. Ah, we had, ah, more contact with the police than we did the city council. Ah, the police were, ah, universally disliked. Ah, in Oakland there was about, ah, in '66 there was about, October '66 when the party was founded, ah, there was about 1 percent Black on the Police Department. Shortly before that in, I think in '53, ah, Oakland had its first Black policeman, who was a friend of my father's. His name was Kinner. My father broke friendship with Kinner because of his, because of his membership, ah, in the Oakland Police. Not because he was, he was a policeman but because, ah, at the time that the policy was that, ah, Kinner could only arrest Black people. And, ah, if, ah, he could detain a White but he would have to call a White officer. And my father thought that this was, ah, degrading. Ah, it was no change, ah, from what was happening in the South.**