New York Times Caught in Lies Defending Black Panthers

APTOPIX Angola Three
AP File Photo/Max Becherer

The mainstream media—following the lead of the New York Times—is once again engaging in a factually false whitewash of the “ black liberation” movement as they erroneously report on the recent release of the last of the violent Angola Three. This group of criminals wrapped themselves in the Black Panthers cloak and became a cause célèbre for the activist left.

In stories about the recent release of Albert Woodfox, multiple media outlets have reported Woodfox’s bank robbery partner and fellow “Angola Three Inmate” Robert King Wilkerson was released from prison after his conviction was overturned.

In fact, while Wilkerson did have a conviction overturned on a technicality, he was actually released after he pled guilty to being an accomplice after-the-fact to second-degree murder.

It’s the latest example of how the media continues to cover up the violent past of the Black Panthers in order to make it appear that the group, and black people in general, are victims of unfair persecution by law enforcement.

Robert Wilkerson Pled Guilty

In a story posted on February 19th by the New York Times titled Last ‘Angola 3’ Inmate Freed After Decades in Solitary, the newspaper stated (emphasis added in all the following stories):

A fellow inmate who was also charged with the murder, Herman Wallace, was released in 2013 because he had liver cancer. He died several days later. The third member of the Angola 3, Robert King Wilkerson — also known as Robert Hillary King — who like Mr. Wallace and Mr. Woodfox had been active in the Black Panther Party, but whose placement in solitary had nothing to do with Mr. Miller’s killing, was freed in 2001 after his conviction was overturned.

Other media outlets followed the incorrect reporting of the Times. CNN reported on the 19th:

Woodfox — who was originally imprisoned on an armed robbery conviction — has said he had tried to point out injustices at the prison, including instances of segregation, corruption and rape, and was targeted and wrongfully accused because of his activism as a Black Panther.

 King was freed after his conviction in the killing of a fellow inmate was overturned in 2001.

ABC reported the same inaccurate claim:

The other Angola Three inmates were Herman Wallace, who died a free man in October 2013, just days after a judge granted him a new trial in Miller’s death, and King, who was released in 2001 after his conviction in the death of a fellow inmate was overturned.

However,as documents obtained by Breitbart Texas show, Robert Wilkerson actually pled guilty to being an accessory after the fact of second-degree murder.

The real history of Wilkerson and the Angola Three has been difficult to find in the dozens of stories that have been written about him since the radical left began lionizing them. Here’s the ugly truth of Robert King Wilkerson’s violent history:

According to court filings, after Robert King Wilkerson was was convicted for armed robbery and incarcerated, he was involved in multiple violent acts against both prisoners and guards. While in Orleans Parish Prison, Wilkerson pled guilty to aggravated assault on a prison deputy and was transferred to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana in May, 1972. He was placed in extended lockdown after just two weeks.

In June, 1973 Wilkerson was accused of killing a fellow inmate and later convicted. Because of the threat he posed, he remained in extended lockdown.

After the Angola Three became a left-wing cause célèbre, a series of legal challenges were lodged against the state of Louisiana. After nearly 30 years of legal wrangling and two convictions, Robert King Wilkerson was facing another trial due to his conviction being overturned on a legal technicality in the year 2000.

However, that did not lead to his release. The state was planning a third trial when Louisiana and Wilkerson reached a deal that involved Wilkerson pleading guilty

As stated in a document submitted by King’s attorney,

Upon the vacating of his conviction, the Petitioner will tender a plea of guilty to having been an accessory after the fact, in violation of LA Rev Stat Ann1 4:25, relative to the circumstances surrounding the murder for which he has been convicted.

Another paper obtained by Breitbart Texas shows that on February 8, 2001 Robert K Wilkerson formally played guilty to the charge of Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Second-Degree Murder.

Wilkerson’s guilty plea makes it clear that he is not the innocent victim portrayed by the New York Times.

The Brutal Crimes of the Angola Three’s Albert Woodfox

The stories of his fellow Angola Three bank robber compatriots like the recently released Albert Woodfox are no less violent or reprehensible.

According to court filings, following Woodfox’s conviction for armed robbery, he was serving time in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. On,April 17, 1972, a young, well-liked white guard named Brent Miller at the understaffed prison was helping put prisoners back in their cells after a strike by prison kitchen workers held up breakfast. Later testimony showed that Woodfox helped arrange the strike.

Somewhere between 7:30 and 8 AM, Miller entered a dormitory. a short time later, a corrections officer “found Miller’s body lying in a pool of blood in the anteroom of the dorm. Miller had been stabbed 32 times.”

Later testimony explained what happened:

Woodfox grabbed Miller from behind, lifted him up off the bed, and stabbed him in the back with a knife. He testified that the other inmates also grabbed Miller and began “jugging on him.” As they repeatedly stabbed Miller, the inmates pulled him into the small lobby area at the front of the dorm where they left him as they fled out the door.

Woodfox has shown no remorse for the killing, and still maintains his innocence despite two convictions for his ghastly crimes.

As the New York Times reported when Woodfox was released:

Asked whether he would do anything differently if he could go back to that day of Mr. Miller’s murder in April 1972, he said: “There’s forces beyond your control. There’s not a lot you can do.”

When 69-year old Woodfox was released from prison last week, he raised a clenched fist and a symbol of black power.

The Left Makes The Angola Three Into Heroes

None of this bloody history of the Angola Three is mentioned in the stories by the New York Times, CNN or ABC.

Unfortunately, these media cover-ups are not the exception, they are the rule..

For reasons to be explained in a moment, one would be hard-pressed to find a single convicted criminal that black liberation activists and their allies in the left would admit actually committed a crime

Just like cop killers Assata Shakur of the Black Liberation Army and Mumia Abu-Jamal of the Black Panther Party, the story of the Angola Three told by the left is that they are innocent, abused victims of a racist American system.

The modern left is a bolstered by a small army of lawyers who relentlessly pursue every technicality, make every excuse and try to point out every possible minute detail that could possibly raise a shadow of doubt while they tie up the courts for decades with motions and appeals.

Here’s a description of the case from the Free All The Angola 3 website:

43 years ago, deep in rural Louisiana, three young black men were silenced for trying to expose continued segregation, systematic corruption, and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the US, an 18,000 acre former slave plantation called Angola.

Peaceful, non-violent protest in the form of hunger and work strikes organized by inmates caught the attention of Louisiana’s elected leaders and local media in the early 1970s. They soon called for investigations into a host of unconstitutional and extraordinarily inhumane practices commonplace in what was then the “bloodiest prison in the South.” Eager to put an end to outside scrutiny, prison officials began punishing inmates they saw as troublemakers.

At the height of this unprecedented institutional chaos, Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace, and Robert King were charged with murders they did not commit and thrown into 6×9 foot solitary cells.

The reason that the left turned the Angola Three into heroes is that after the bank robbers became Black Panthers in prison, they espoused exactly the same violent, racist anti-police views as the Black Panther Party.

The description of the Angola Threes activities as “peaceful, nonviolent protest” is simply another lie. As a Court of Appeals ruling from 2010 said:

a letter Woodfox had written to the woman stating that “all correctional officers were pigs and that all white races should be killed.” John Sinquefield, the state prosecutor who prosecuted Woodfox in 1973, also testified about an encounter he had with Woodfox in a New Orleans courtroom where Woodfox purportedly raised his shackled hands to spectators and said, “I want all of you to see what these racist, facist pigs have done to me.” Finally, the State presented a letter Woodfox had written after he was accused of Miller’s murder in which he spelled the word “America” with three “k”s.

Of course, this description of the police as “racist, fascist pigs” lives on to this day in the Black Lives Matter movement, where after the brutal execution of a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth in Texas, Black Lives Matter activist in Minnesota chanted “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon!”

History of Whitewashing Black Panthers Goes Back Decades

The lies about Robert King Wilkerson are just latest attempt by the left and their intellectual allies at the New York Times to whitewash and cover-up the violent history of the Black Panthers and to make it appear as though the group has been the victim of malicious prosecution.

Why can’t you find a single black liberation activist to admit that crimes were committed?

The answer is shocking: the black liberation movement believes that all black prisoners are political prisoners. Point 8 of the Black Panthers 10 Point Program states this explicitly.

8.   WE WANT freedom for all black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.

WE BELIEVE that all black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.

Note that the Black Panthers were unequivocal on this point. It’s not that some black prisoners should be released, it’s not even that many black prisoners have been treated unfairly and therefore should be released. Their contention for 50 years has been that every, single solitary black prisoner in America should be released immediately

Although the liberal media seldom repeats it, this is a baseline belief of the black liberation movement.

As this extensively documented article by investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein from a 1971 issue of the New Yorker magazine shows, the whitewash of the Black Panthers goes back decades and involves a combination of deception or outright lies from attorneys representing the Black Panthers. The falsehoods are then rebroadcast by a media that is both biased and lazy.

As Epstein documented 45 years ago after the 1969 raid that led to the deaths of Illinois Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark:

Charles R. Garry, chief counsel and spokesman for the Black Panther Party, whose membership at the time was estimated at between eight hundred and twelve hundred, declared to the press that Hampton and Clark were “in fact the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth Panthers murdered by the police,” and that the deaths and the raids were all “part and package of a national scheme by various agencies of the government to destroy and commit genocide upon members of the Black Panther Party.”

Garry’s assertion that twenty-eight members of the controversial black-militant group had been killed by the police was widely reported. On December 7 and December 9, 1969, the New York Times reported as an established fact, without giving any source for the figure or qualifying it in any way, that twenty-eight Panthers had been killed hy police since January, 1968. On December 9, 1969, the Washington Post stated flatly, “A total of 28 Panthers have died in clashes with police since January 1, 1968.” In a later article, the Post declared, “Between a dozen and 30 Panthers have been killed in these confrontations.”

After Epstein quickly gets Black Panther attorney Garry to admit that he actually only has 18 documented cases of Black Panther deaths, he painstakingly goes through each case and shows that only 10 of the deaths of Black Panthers happened at the hands of police.

Ten deaths is obviously significantly less than the 28 that the Black Panther attorney reported and the media regurgitated, but Epstein’s article goes through each one of those cases and shows that the vast majority of them were the result of attacks on the police by the Panthers. Epstein concludes that only two of the deaths were “cases in which Black Panthers were killed by policemen whose lives were not being directly threatened by those men.” One was the case of Bobby Hutton, “who was shot while allegedly running from the scene of a ninety-minute. gun battle in which three policemen had been wounded” and the other was Fred Hampton, who was accidentally shot as he slept after his associate Mark Clark opened fire on the police as they attempted to serve a search warrant.

Epstein ends his article with the conclusion that is still true for in a half decade later:

…the basic issues of public policy presented by the militancy of groups like the Panthers and by the sometimes brutal police treatment of angry and defiant black people in general can be neither understood nor resolved in an atmosphere of exaggerated charges whether of “genocide” against the Panthers or of “guerrilla warfare” against the police that are repeated, unverified, in the press and in consequence widely believed by the public.

It comes as no shock same pattern is happening in cases hyped by Black Lives Matter such as the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson or the suicide of convicted criminal Sandra Bland in Texas. In these stories, key information is left out in order to put police actions into the worst possible light and deceive the public, especially the liberal activist base.

As this latest case of the media’s misreporting on admitted murderer Robert King Wilkerson shows, when it comes to media malfeasance the more things change the more they stay the same.

Follow Breitbart News investigative reporter and Citizen Journalism School founder Lee Stranahan on Twitter at @Stranahan.


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