Interview with Eldridge Cleaver

He is the Former Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party and represented the most militant wing of the Black Panther Party, advocating the overthrow of the United States Government and the establishment of socialism.


By: Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Article Reprint


CLEAVER: When these riots started all over the country in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King — I think he got killed on the fourth of April. This shootout that we had took place on the sixth and the seventh of April. So we saw it coming while the police were acting so we decided to get down first. So we started the fight. There were 14 of us. We went down into the area of Oakland where the violence was the worst a few blocks away from where Huey Newton had killed that cop so we dealt with them when they came upon us. We were well armed, and we had a shootout that lasted an hour and a half. I will tell anybody that that was the first experience of freedom that I had. I was free for an hour and a half because during that time the repressive forces couldn’t put their hand on me because we were shooting it out with them for an hour and a half. Three police officers got wounded. None of them got killed; I got wounded. Another Panther got wounded.

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