Interview with Bobby Seale

Okay, um, let's go back to police control. What went through your mind? Were you afraid of any of them? Put yourself back in that time. You're out there patrolling a police arrest. Just, just describe the incident, and what, what were feeling as, as you go through that?


Well, you're dealing with patrolman, policeman, when we decided to that at first, at first, I mean. First we had to accept the fact that we may get killed or go to jail. Ah, but we were all so sensitive to the fact that peaceful demonstrators was being brutalized all across this country, that their rights were being violated. And when we decided to do that, you have to remember we were dealing with clear-cut, fine points of the law. And as long as the weapon was not concealed, so we felt secure there, than we weren't violating the law. We studied all the gun laws. We knew them very well. And when you walk up suddenly, you know, when we started patrolling the police, six or seven of us and I think we had one sister, she had a, she was packing a pistol, and I had a pistol, and Huey had a shotgun, and our uniforms, and we had a Ten-Point Platform and Program copies of that taped recorded, and law books, and I remember one of these first events when we got out of a car, we saw policemen, you know, making an arrest of some kind about 20 or 30 people in the community standing to the side watching and the Black folks, one of them says, "Hey, who are these people? Hey, man, these guys are--Hey man, I'm going to move out of here, these guys got guns." And stuff like that.**, and so Huey says, "No, brothers and sisters it's not necessary to leave. This is a new organization, the Black Panther Party, we here observe these police in the community, make sure there's not going to be any more police brutality." And little Bobby Hutton passed out some of the Ten-Point Platforms and Programs which all have applications to join, and, ah, it came down to some point where the policeman says, "What are you doing with those guns?" and Huey says, "Well we got them to defend ourselves and to observe you." And the police, "You have no right to observe me." And Huey with all this law study, because he was in night law school at the time, "Ah, California State Supreme Court ruling state--states that everyone has a right to observe a police officer carrying out his duty as long as they stand a reasonable distance away. And a reasonable distance was constituted in that particular California Supreme Court Ruling as 8 to 10 feet. I'm standing approximately 22 feet from you. I will observe you carrying out your duties whether you like it or not." And the Black community is saying, "Well go ahead on and tell it.".** Well, I mean what you're doing here is that you have a nervousness about it at first a bit but with the community's reaction, which is really what your objective is, it gives you a good feeling that you're right. The guns are loaded. They're not pointing at anyone because we also know California Penal Code, you can't even play around, play around and, ah, point a loaded weapon at anyone because it constitutes assault with a deadly weapon. So really I begin to feel secure with our posture, particularly with the people around, the Black community who stayed around to watch this and to see the police back down. And after we learn, after a few, couple of months, that these police are trying to figure out where they can catch us illegally. I mean we studied the law much more clearly to find out we was clearly right. Ultimately, they made a law against us, to stop us from carrying guns. That's how legal we were.