by Andres Alegria &Claude Marks
2006, 28 min., DVD
In 2005 several former members of the Black Panther were held in contempt and jailed for refusing to testify before a San Francisco Grand Jury investigating a police shooting that took place in 1971. The government alleged that Black radical groups were involved in the 34-year old case in which two men armed with shotguns attacked the Ingleside Police Station resulting in the death of a police sergeant and the injuring of a civilian clerk.
In 1973, thirteen alleged "Black militants" were arrested in New Orleans, purportedly in connection with the San Francisco events. Some of them were tortured for several days by law enforcement authorities, in striking similarity to the horrors visited upon detainees in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
In 1975, a Federal Court in San Francisco threw out all of the evidence obtained in New Orleans.
The two lead San Francisco Police Department investigators from over 30 years ago, along with FBI agents, have re-opened the case. Rather than submit to proceedings they felt were abusive of the law and the Constitution, five men chose to stand in contempt of court and were sent to jail. They were released when the Grand Jury term expired, but have been told by prosecutors that "it isn't over yet."
"The same people who tried to kill me in 1973 are the same people who are here today, trying to destroy me. I mean it literally. I mean there were people from the forces of the San Francisco Police Department who participated in harassment, torture and my interrogation in 1973 ... none of these people have ever been brought to trial. None of these people have ever been charged with anything. None of these people have ever been questioned about that." -- John Bowman, former Black Panther