Interview with William O'Neal

Now, as the party was growing, though, what was, what was Mitchell starting to ask you about, or how was your relationship with Mitchell changing? If you could recap that story.


Well, Mitchell was part of a squad, in my opinion, of about five or ten agents, and each one of them had their little, they had, had their little activities within the Black Panther Party. Mitchell's questions were defined mainly to my area. We ne--he never asked me how many newspapers that, that someone else was selling, or how's, who got the Kellogg's for the breakfast with children program or who's going to open up the medical center. He wasn't concerned with that. He was concerned with my activities in the Panthers, which at that point was exclusively security issues. We were buying weapons at that point. We weren't, we didn't have any type of working relationship with the larger street gang at that time which was the Blackstone Rangers. They had about 2,000 members and were well-armed, and at some point a meeting was arranged. We met with Jeff Fort of the Blackstone Rangers, and at that meeting, we were in a Catholic church, I remember that night, we were setting up, and Jeff Fort told Fred Hampton, "There, there is not going to be any Black Panthers in the city of Chicago. You guys either join the Blackstone Rangers or get out of the city." And Hampton came away from that meeting feeling like we were going to eventually have to do battle with these guys. There was no compromise. They didn't, they couldn't associate, they, the Blackstone Rangers, couldn't associate our purpose politically with their gang turf thing, so we were going to have to deal with them. So the word went out to me to basically start buying weapons. We also knew that the state's attorney had declared war on us, and pretty soon we were going to face a, a raid in one of our offices. And the mentality at that time was that we know it's coming. Our job is to set an example for the people. We, we, we must be ready. And so we started fortifying the offices and buying guns and training our soldiers for security people.