Today, seven years after Black Panthers rallied 12,000 supporters on a tumultuous May Day here, most of the militants have turned mild.
In 1970, Ericka Huggins, co-defendant with Black Panther national chairman Bobby G. Seale, was charged with helping him torture and kill fellow Panther Alex Rackley, a suspected police informer. She admitted boiling the water used to torture him, kicking him and calling him obscene names as he sat tied to a chair.
Today, Huggins is serving a four-year, elected term on the board of education of Alameda County, Calif., and directs a Panther-run alternate school for children.
Warren Kimbro was a disillusioned New Haven anti-poverty worker when he became a Black Panther executioner by killing Rackley with a gunshot wound to the back of the neck in a Middlefield, Conn, swamp.
Today, after attending Harvard Unigersity, Kimbro is assistant dean at Eastern Connecticut State College in Williamantic, Conn.
As time won respectibility for some revolutionaries, it also transformed some of their accusers into the accused.
New Haven's former police chief, James F. Ahern, was one of a new breed of liberal, fashionably dressed police executives in 1970. He won a national reputation that May Day weekend by restraining his 430-man force in the face of taunting, bottle and rock-throwing demonstrators.
Today, he is accused of doing violence to civil liberties by allowing his men to illegally tap telephone coversations when he was chief. Now head of the Insurance Crime Prevention Institute in Westport, Conn., Ahern - like the Panthers in 1970 - has denied the charges and asked a federal court to block any action against him.
Ahern was part of law enforcement's national war against the Panthers when the nation's chief law enforcer, Attorney Gneral John N. Mitchell, said the Nixon administration had a duty to eavesdrop on those who might endanger the nation's security from within.
Mitchell, also a private citizen now, awaits a U.S. Supreme Court review of his conviction for conspiring, lying and obstructing justice in the Watergate affair.
One of Mitchell's pending arguments to the high court is that widespread publicity made it impossible for him to get a fair trial.
Yet as Attorney General, Mitchell, referring to the New Haven Panther case, said the federal government was determined to end "a preoccupation with fairness for the accused." He called "fatuous" the "argument that because Americans read the newspaper and watch television, it is impossible for us to get impartial juries."
National attention was focused on New Haven for May Day 1970. More than 7,000 paratroopers, Marines and National Guardsmen took up positions around the city, 1,200 with bayonets. Storekeeper boarded up their windows. Yale University students went on strike and opened their campus to throngs of demonstrators.
The major issue was the Black Panthers: rightfully prosecuted or unfairly persecuted?
Yale President Kingman Brewster Jr. inflamed conservative alumni by saying he wasn't sure black revolutionaries could get a fair trial anywhere in the United States. He was barraged with criticism.
Vice President Agnew said, among other things, "It is clearly time for the alumni of the fine old college to demand that it be headed by a more mature and responsible person." Angew left office in a kickback scandal three years later.
Brewster will leave the presidency of Yale this month to serve a presidential appointment as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain.
The hero of the demonstration was Panther Chairman Seale, who had been martyred by gag and shackles in the Chicago 8 conspiracy trial seven months earlier. The same crowd that cheered Seale reviled President Nixon as a "pig," the Orwellian word Panters applied to oppressive police and politicians.
Ironically, both Seale and Nixon avoided final legal judgment.
All federal and state charges against Seale, including those in Chicago, finally were dropped, Judge Harold M. Mulvey dismissed state murder charges against Seale here after a jury that took 17- weeks to pick could not agree on a verdict. Mulvey said it would have been impossible to find a second impartial jury to retry Seale.
Seale, after an unsuccessful run for mayor or of Oakland, Calif., left the Panther party and reportedly is living in Pennsylvania.
Richard M. Nixon has left the presidency and lives in California, pardoned of any presidential crimes by his successor.
Pardons from Connecticut officials for two Black Panther killers ahd mixed results.
A repentant Warren Kimbro, helped by his police sergeant brother, the prosecutor for whom he testified, and community leaders, became an assistant college dean.
In contrast, George Sams Jr., the confessed, convicted, hardened and paroled killer who was the chief state's witness against Seale and Huggins, was returned to a Connecticut prison cell eight weeks ago as a parole violator.
Sams, the volatile former Panther bodyguard and enforcer who directed Rackley's 1969 torture and execution, is the only one of the 14 original defendants in the New Haven Panther case now behind bars.
However, unless extraordinary legal maneuvers succeed, he will be joined by Lonnie McLucas, the only Panther to be convicted by a jury in the case. His appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court was rejected six weeks ago.
McLucas, like Sams, has been free - one appeal bond - much of the time since his conviction. However, unlike Sams, McLucas has married, worked steadily and stayed out of trouble. He has served less than four of his 12-to 15-year sentence.
Virtually all the other 14 defendants in the Panther case have slipped into obscurity. One, Rory Hithe, died in a gun battle.
Although seven years have reversed the roles of many major participants in the 1970 May Day events and the trials that followed, two key figures still do now what they did then.
State's attorney Arnold Markle still decides whom to prosecute for serious crimes in New Haven County.
Judge Mulvey, who patiently presided over all 14 Panther cases, still sits on the Connecticut Superior Court bench.
Despite official fears, the three-day May Day rally in New Haven that ended May 3, 1970, was relatively violence free. No one was seriousely injured. Only one shot was fired - by accident into the air by a National Guardsman who dropped his rifle as he jumped off the back of a truck.
Kent State, where Ohio National Guardsmen killed four persons, was to happen May 4, 1970.