THE BRIAR PATCH: The People of the State of New York V. Lumumba Shakur et al. by Murray Kempton

THE BRIAR PATCH: The People of the State of New York V. Lumumba Shakur et al.

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In April, 1969, a score of blacks said to be Panthers were arrested by the New York City police, charged and subsequently tried on 156 counts including conspiracy in the first degree and attempted murder. Two years later -- after thousands upon thousands of words, conflicting testimony, Black Power rhetoric, bitter exchanges between judge and defense -- the jury deliberated for two hours, returning a verdict of ""not guilty"" on every change. Not as politically webbed nor as explicitly reprehensible as the tale told by Michael Arlen of the Chicago Panther shoot-out and trials (An American Verdict, KR, p. 718), Kempton's account of the judicial proceedings is a cold-eyed condemnation of the American justice system. The fact that the defendants were freed occasioned sanctimonious bleats about the system's workability; hardly, says Kempton: ""The institutions that had kept Lumumba Shakur and the others in prison more than two years had watched these defendants acquitted ha two hours and could, without reflection, cherish this judgment upon their vices as an ultimate proof of their virtues."" The same might be said of the trials of Dr. Speck, the Chicago Seven, Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, the Chicago Panthers, the Harrisburg Seven, et al. It is books like Arlen's and Kempton's -- sober, knowledgeable recapitulations of official prejudice and injustice -- which will fire the demands for reform.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1973
Publisher: Dutton