Headquarters #3

Turning victims into potential aggressors

The third Black Panther Party headquarters building was shot up by police on September 10, 1968 just two days after J. Edgar Hoover declared the Party to be “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” This was not the first time the Party had relocated either. One year prior their Peralta Street address saw similar violence which required the move to what is now (ironically) M. L. K. Jr. Way.
Mayor Reading condemned the officers’ actions and had them fired from the force and arrested. However, BPP members and allies expressed frustration with the way public officials handled the event overall. Despite people of color being the targets of the September 10 shootout, Police Chief Charles Gain and Oakland Mayor John Reading expressed concerns about riots in the area following the attack: specifically riots by angry people of color.
In a short excerpt from a KTVU broadcast (linked below), Party leader Eldridge Cleaver nearly takes over a man-on-the-street interview. In closing his passionate speech, he says “we have got to get together, get our black army together and drive these dogs [police] out of the community” which is followed by enthusiastic cheers from bystanders. Later, Panther and Reverend Earl Neil called Oakland Police “the aggressors in the community.” Later in the footage, however, Chief Gain mentions his concerns about potential “trouble” at the location following the attack but refuses to elaborate on the nature of that trouble or his grounds for concern when prodded by the interviewer.
In 2015, media coverage of attacks against black bodies reveals similar trends. For example, coverage of the Charleston church shooting in June was framed by concerns of riots in response to the attack. Although concerns of more church shootings arose, media and community leaders of all races focused on fears of a “race war.” At least one black church in the surrounding area fell victim to arson each week following the shooting. However, these additional attacks took a backseat to concerns about a violent black response. Church leaders preaching respectability among their congregations in response to the shooting became a media focus while discussing prevention of future attacks faded into the background.

Access Information:

Location no longer exists as Black Panther Headquarters and is now an apartment for rent.

Street Address:

4421 M.L.K. Jr Way, Oakland, CA 94609 [map]

Cite this Page:

Camille J. Brown, “Headquarters #3,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 14, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/89.

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