“We want land. We want bread. We want housing, education and justice and peace,” Black Panther Party chairman Henry Wallace said.
“All power to the people!” the crowd chanted, the sea of black berets bobbing in unison.
It was a meeting of San Diego’s revived chapter of the Black Panther Party, a militant, socialist Black liberation group that was active in the 1960s and 70s.
The group is now reorganizing, decades later, in the face of the Trump administration.
“The elephant in the room is the new president of the United States of America,” said Panther education minister Trunnell Price, as reported by KPBS.
“They’re scared to death. They’re literally scared to death. They have no power, that the constitution doesn’t pertain to them, that their liberties can be taken away from them, that they have no voice,” he added.
Price is one of the original founding members of the local party launched by the Black Student Union back in 1967 at San Diego State University and active until it was broken up in the early 1970s due to raids by the FBI’s Cointelpro covert surveillance program, which sought to do exactly that, break up the group.
San Diego Black Panther party chairman Henry Wallace, at the meeting, led the group through the Panthers’ hallmark 10-point platform.
“We want land,” Wallace said. “We want bread. We want housing, education and justice and peace.”
Price recounted how the group’s reorganization to reflect today’s issues is of utmost importance.
“We have to organize everywhere,” he said. “On the playground. The boys club. The girls club. The YMCA. The school. Friend’s house. Twitter. Snapshot. Facebook. Your book. My book. That’s what life is all about — moving forward in a positive way.”
The group’s focus will also be on its strained relationship with the San Diego Police Department. Just last year, a report by San Diego State University found that officers are more likely to search Black and Latinx drivers. The Panthers are also worried about Trump’s travel ban, his denial of climate change, the potential scrapping of Obamacare and deportations of undocumented immigrants.
“The history of San Diego is greatly related and intertwined with the brown community in San Diego,” Price told KPBS. “We went to school together. We played together. We fought together. So we are affected by what’s happening to our brothers across the border and what’s happening to their families here in the United States without a doubt.”
The Black Panther Party’s agenda also includes a revival of their breakfast program for children and checks for diabetes and sickle cell anemia.