Written: March 1, 1968
Source: Pamphlet titled Essays From the Minister of Defense published by the Black Panther Party, 1968, Oakland
Transcription/Markup: 2021 by Philip Mooney
Public Domain: Marxist Internet Archive 2021. This work is completely free.
So Let This Be Heard:
Because of the St. Valentine Day massacre of February 14, 1929, in which outlaws donned the uniforms of Policemen, posed as such, and thereby gained entrance to locked doors controlled by rival outlaws with whom they were contending for control of the bootlegging industry in Chicago; and because these gangsters, gaining entry through their disguise as Policemen, proceeded to exterminate their rivals with machinegun fire, we believe that prudence would dictate that one should be alert when opening one’s door to strangers, late at night, in the wee hours of the morning — even when these strangers wear the uniform of policemen. History teaches us that the man in the uniform may or may not be a policeman authorized to enter the homes of the people.
Taking notice of the fact that (1) on January 16, 1968 at 3:30 A.M., members of the San Francisco Police Department kicked down the door and made an illegal entry, and search of the home of Eldridge Cleaver, Minister of Information. These Pigs had no search warrant, no arrest warrant, and were therefore not authorized to enter. They were not invited in. Permission for them to enter was explicitly denied by the Minister of Information. Present were Sister Kathleen Cleaver, our Communications Secretary and wife to our Minister of Information, and Brother Emory Douglas, our Revolutionary Artist.
Taking further notice of the fact that (2) on February 25, 1968, several uniformed gestapos of the Berkeley Pig Department, accompanied by several other white men in plainclothes, bearing an assortment of shotguns, rifles, and service revolvers, made a forceful, unlawful entry and search of the home of Bobby Seale, Chariman of our Party, and his wife, Sister Artie Scale. These Pigs had no warrant either to search or to arrest. When asked by Chairman Bobby to produce a warrant, they arrogantly stated that they did not need one. They had no authority to enter — what they did have was the power of the gun. Thus we are confronted with a critical situation. Our organization has received serious threats from certain racist elements of White America, including the Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco Pig Departments. Threats to take our lives, to exterminate us. We cannot determine when any of these elements, or a combination of them, may move to implement these threats. We must be alert to the danger at all times. We will not fall victim to a St. Valentine’s Massacre. Therefore, those who approach our doors in the manner of outlaws, who seek to enter our homes illegally, unlawfully and in a rowdy fashion, those who kick our doors down with no authority and seek to ransack our homes in violation of our HUMAN RIGHTS, will henceforth be treated as outlaws, as gangsters, as evildoers. We have no way of determining that a man in a uniform involved in a forced outlaw entry into our home is in fact a Guardian of the Law. He is acting like a law-breaker and we must make an appropriate response.
We draw the line at the threshold of our doors. It is therefore mandated as a general order to all members of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense that all members must acquire the technical equipment to defend their homes and their dependents and shall do so. Any member of the Party having such technical equipment who fails to defend his threshold shall be expelled from the Party for Life.
…So Let This Be Done.