1968 — Huey Newton convicted of manslaughter

Huey P. Newton was one of the founders of the Black Panther Party, and a man of deep thought. He had read widely in politics and philosophy, and created for himself and the Black Panthers a philosophy he called ‘revolutionary humanism’. He stood for the rights of black people across America and the world, the rights to self-determination and self-defence. But he wrestled with the need for revolutionary violence, as well as infighting in the black community.

Just before dawn on 28 October, 1967, Huey Newton and a friend were pulled over by an Oakland Police Department officer named John Frey. Frey called for backup, and after fellow officer Herbert Heanes arrived, a fight broke out. Shots were fired, and all three were wounded. Heanes testified that the shooting began after Newton was under arrest, and one witness testified that Newton shot Frey with Frey’s own gun as they wrestled. No gun on either Frey or Newton was found. Frey died later that day, and Newton was convicted of manslaughter, but a mistrial was declared. The case was tried two more times with the same outcome, and the state declined to prosecute a fourth time.

Referenced in:
Hallelujah, I’m a Bum — Barbara Dane