Interview with William O'Neal

OK, you tell me about how things changed as the, as, as--


Well, I'd say from about February, 1969, the activities within the party was high speed. We were in our bloom. We had about 500 members, we were selling probably about 25,000 newspapers in the city of Chicago every week, of the Panther newspaper that is. We had various members of our Party, of the Black Panther Party going to the colleges all over the state, speaking engagements, donations were coming in to the tune of about 1,500-2,000 dollars a day, but at the same time, the Chicago police had stepped up their activities also. A lot of our, a lot of the members were being arrested on petty charges, so the money we were bringing in on the one hand in donations, money that came through the mail anonymously, blank checks and money orders, was going right out in bail money. So it was, it was intense. And in that regard, the Black Panther Party was everywhere, and doing everything. We had 500 members and everybody was aggressive, and it was hard for me to report on all of the activities that were current. I could only concentrate on what my little group was doing. I was, as Security Captain, I was in what was called the Defense Cadre. It was technically under Bobby Rush's command because he was the Deputy Minister of Defense, and then during that year we considered we were in a state of war, our leader was locked down, the police was attacking our offices all over the country, they was trying to break us financially through bail, and so the Minister of Defense takes over in a situation like that. Fred Hampton was in charge mainly with the speaking engagements, public relations, reaching the people, recruiting, and things of that nature. He was the chief spokesman. He was the one that the cameras saw all the time. Bobby Rush and our group was the operations. We were activities at that point. It was our job to defend the offices against the police, to get members out of jail, to discipline the members, to kind of, you know, maintain a police control of the organization, to deal with informants and so forth.