California Primary Protests Evoke Jerry Brown’s Black Panther Ties

Huey Newton Black Panther Rusty Kennedy AP
Rusty Kennedy/AP

As leftists continue to intimidation and violent protests against Donald Trump in the California primary, a long-forgotten chapter of Gov. Jerry Brown’s past raises doubts about whether he can be counted on to uphold the law against radical protesters.

A rarely-seen interview with a former high-ranking member of the Black Panther Party raises troubling questions about current California Gov. Jerry Brown’s past political connections and assistance to the group.

The interview, which has been corroborated by other accounts from former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown, shows that when Gov. Brown was first elected in 1974 he owed a debt to the Panthers.

Further, the Black Panther Party leader has written that when Gov. Brown’s head of judicial appointments at the time was choosing judges, “white men need not apply.”

It’s notable that Brown came to the Panthers for the support after co-founder Huey P. Newton had fled the country to Cuba after being charged with killing a teenage prostitute and pistol-whipping a tailor.

Those connections alone would be enough for a scandal, but the interview also claims that Gov. Brown actually let the Black Panthers choose six black attorneys to become local judges, and that those judges were told that they owed their appointments to the Black Panthers.

The allegations are noteworthy today because Brown is governor again, and the man whose ultimate responsibility it is to protect the rights of all Californians, including supporters of the Republican Party, who have suffered an onslaught of violent protests in recent days in the Golden State.

Given the involvement of the Panther-inspired Black Lives Matter movement, Gov. Brown’s radical connections from the 1970s are concerning, and raise questions about whether and how Brown will take the steps needed to protect Californians who face a barrage of attacks from radicals leading up to the state’s June 7 primary.

The full “oral history interview” and transcript with former Panther Aaron Dixon is posted on the Library of Congress’s digital “civil rights” archive.

The state of the Black Panther party in 1974, when Jerry Brown first won the governorship, helps set the stage for today’s dilemma. Formed in 1966, the Black Panthers are often portrayed by the media as a passionate political group fighting for the rights of black Americans facing police brutality. However, by the mid-1970s, the Panthers had effectively become “the mafia” under the rule of co-founder Huey P. Newton, in the words of Elaine Brown herself. As she wrote in her book A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story:

I recalled a conversation I had had with several of the Brothers one night, including [Black Panthers] Bob and Larry. Chortling, they had suggested that “if all else failed” the party had the ability to become a kind of black version of the Mafia. We have the guns and the men, they had boasted. We could take what we want from the Establishment.

As journalist Kate Copeland wrote in an article titled “The Party’s Over,” published in New Times magazine in 1978:

Over the last few years, Newton and other Panthers have moved like a street gang through the Oakland area. They have, say reliable sources, committed a series of violent crimes-including arson, extortion, beatings, even murder. Unlike the skirmishes that marked the Party’s infancy in the late sixties, the recent incidents appear to have no political explanation. The Panthers are no longer under siege by the police. and this is not self-defense. It seems to be nothing but senseless criminality, directed in most cases against other blacks… sometimes Panthers themselves.

As the Copeland article details, in mid-1974 Huey P. Newton had been charged with the murder of a 17-year-old prostitute on the streets of Oakland and also for a brutal beating.  Newton fled to Cuba to avoid prosecution. With Newton gone, control of the Panthers went to the ambitious Elaine Brown, who often acted under direct orders from the exiled Newton.

Most politicians wouldn’t touch an organization in such disarray with a ten-foot pole. Enter Jerry Brown.

In her 1993 autobiography A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story, Elaine Brown herself explains what happened next:

Three months after I took on leadership of the party, Jerry Brown became governor of California. The Black Panther Party had supported Brown, although that support came only at the eleventh hour.

Aaron Dixon, Elaine Brown’s bodyguard and a “Captain” in the Black Panther Party, describes what happened in 1974:

Jerry Brown came to us and asked us to support his bid for governor for the state of California. And he had some close relationships with party members in L.A., and Elaine Brown knew him, so we said, “Yeah. Yeah, we’ll support you. We’ll work in your campaign.” So, lo and behold, he becomes the governor.

Elaine is spending a lot of time in the governor’s office, meeting with him and Tony Kline, who is the head legal person in the state of California and had also worked with the party in Southern California.

Then Dixon details how the criminal Black Panthers gained “some control of the judiciary” with Brown’s help:

Aaron Dixon: And Elaine is cultivating this relationship. Jerry Brown calls Elaine up and says, “I have six judgeships that I want to fill in Oakland. Can you help me?” She says, “Yes, I’ll get back with you with the names.” She gives him the names of six black attorneys, and they all become judges.

Interviewer: Wow.

Aaron Dixon: And so, you could say that we had some control of the judiciary in Oakland because of this. And those lawyers knew why they became judges, is because of the Black Panther Party. Elaine made sure they knew that. So, you know, damn! We’re getting some power here.

Tony Kline is currently one of the most powerful judges in the state of California, where he is the Presiding Judge for Californias 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Kline’s biography says he was appointed to the Court of Appeals during Jerry Brown’s last year in office during his first administration:

After graduation from law school, Justice Kline served as law clerk to Justice Raymond E. Peters of the California Supreme Court. Thereafter he was for four years an attorney in New York with the Wall Street firm of Davis Polk and Wardwell. In 1971, after returning to California, he served as a Legal Services Lawyer and was one of the founders of Public Advocates, Inc., the first non-profit public interest law firm in the west. He was Managing Attorney of Public Advocates when, in January 1975, he was appointed Legal Affairs Secretary to Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

As Legal Affairs Secretary, Justice Kline served on the Governor’s cabinet for six years, until he was appointed to the San Francisco Superior Court in September 1980. He was appointed Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal in December 1982.

In her book, Elaine Brown also wrote about the role of J. Anthony “Tony” Kline in the first Jerry Brown administration.

For our party an invaluable asset fell into place with Brown’s first act as governor. Brown named Tony Kline his appointments secretary. Kline’s role was to structure the apparatus by which the governor would appoint his Cabinet. This made him one of the most politically influential men in the state. Up until that moment, Tony Kline had been a lawyer for the Black Panther Party.

At one point in her autobiography, Elaine Brown visits Cuba and explains to the exiled Huey P. Newton exactly what Tony Kline’s role was for Gov. Brown. She writes that she said to Newton:

“I told you: he (Tony Kline) appoints judges, among other things. Titularly, he’s the legal affairs secretary to the governor, which means he coordinates all the legal matters that fall under the governor’s direct jurisdiction. So, he appoints judges and represents the state in things like extradition, and in relations with other states and the federal government. He also deals with other legal departments of the state, such as your favorite: the Department of Corrections. Since Tony and Jerry have been in, the world is just a better goddamned place.”

Elaine goes into further detail with Newton:

Every vacancy in the state is being filled with black men, women, or somebody of color. White men need not apply, unless they’re like Tony’s first appointment to the municipal court bench in Oakland, Rod Duncan, who’s married to a black woman and who endorsed me for City Council.

When Jerry Brown ran for President in 1976, Elaine Brown was one of his delegates at the Democratic National Convention. Again this was at a time when Black Panther Huey P. Newton was still exiled in Cuba.

Thus far, Gov. Brown seems to have suffered no political repercussions from those ties to the Black Panther Party.

That part of Brown’s history has been buried, but at a time when leftists have already declared open season on Donald Trump supporters and their civil rights, it is worth reexamining.

Jerry Brown tacitly supported thugs in the past. Will he do so now?

(Breitbart News received no response to a request for comment from the Governor’s office.)

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


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