Interview with William O'Neal

Do you think of yourself as a hero for what you did?


Oh, absolutely not. I'm not a hero, no, I don't think of myself as a hero for what I've done. But at the same time, I don't feel ashamed. It was, it was my role during that time. There were a lot of different roles, a lot of different positions. There were actually a lot of Blacks fighting in Vietnam that felt like they should have been there and was proud to be there, fighting for the country. I felt like there was a war here in the street and I was recruited early and I joined sides early and I didn't straddle the fence. I gave it all, all I could, as long as I could. And then when I felt like I couldn't give anymore, I left. I excused myself. Do I feel like I betrayed someone? Absolutely not. I had no allegiance to the Panthers. I didn't even know what they were about when I joined. I joined at the instigation of the FBI, who I had scant knowledge of. So, no, I don't feel like I betrayed anybody. I don't feel like I'm a hero. Am I proud? I'm proud of some of the things that I, that we, that I had done. There were certain things that we'd done that prevented a lot of violence. There could have been more shootouts between the gang members. Every now and then a suspected informant inside the Black Panther Party would be unearthed or detected, and we passed on information to get that informant out of the game. And so, we avoided some violence there. I, uh--