Interview with Howard Saffold
QUESTION 3
TERRY ROCKEFELLER:

Now when, when, when Fred Hampton and Bobby Rush really started organizing the Panthers and started speaking out, what was your reaction?

HOWARD SAFFOLD:

I think basically, although we couldn't buy in to the total rhetoric, we felt that they had a right to exist. Um, we felt that they were, uh, a hue and cry that was really a part of the community's sentiment saying, "Give us some relief." Um, you know, "Let me live." You know, "Let me exist." Um, they were sort of like, um--

TERRY ROCKEFELLER:

Can I ask you just to mention either Bobby Rush or Fred Hampton by name or talk about the Panthers rather than just "they."

HOWARD SAFFOLD:

Well, Bobby, Bobby Rush, and Fred Hampton, were, were, in my opinion, very intelligent young, Black men who could sense, um, um, the urgency of speaking out against police abuse. That's basically what they were doing. And it was very easy for them to be disliked, um, by certain elements of the--





TERRY ROCKEFELLER:

How did you feel when Bobby Rush and Fred Hampton started speaking out? What reaction did you have?

HOWARD SAFFOLD:

Well, both Bobby Rush and Fred Hampton, uh, in my opinion were very serious, very, um, intelligent individuals. Young. Um, um, I thought, uh, that their committment was, was a very sincere committment. Um, and, and the slogans of "Off the pig," and stuff like that, if you strip the rhetoric, if you strip the rhetoric, they were basically saying, you know, "We are, we are part of this society. We have a right to exist. Ah, we have a right to be protected. Ah, we have a right to not be abused by police powers." Um, I think much of the, uh, activities that they found themselves involved in, uh, was more or less a learning process and a teaching process for them at the same time. I think they found themselves thrust into leadership roles because of where they were located and the limited amount of, of, uh, potential, uh, leaders or existing leaders in this area of the country. And they sort of just took the responsibility on head-on. And the, uh, the interesting part about our coexistence was that, most of them went to Malcolm X College, where a lot of us had part-time jobs during that time. And we had a chance to talk to them when they weren't trying to impress the media. When they weren't making bizarre public statements. And, and, you could, you could tell that this was a, a movement that was, was, was very meaningful to them. And none of them were suicidal, so it wasn't like they were out there trying to figure out a way to get killed. But they did honestly and truly believe in power to the people. I mean, that was their slogan.**. And, uh, it was, uh, it was, uh, a respectful relationship. Let me put it that way. Um, White police officers had started to refer to us as the Black Panther Police because we didn't have any reservations about saying, "If they're committing criminal acts, you know, be the police, but you can't be the judge, the jury, and the executioner." And that was basically our philosophy towards the Panthers and, and their movement.