"I don't think I could have won without the Panthers' help. They are a strong force in Oakland politics."
John George, recently elected the first black suprvisor of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] county, [WORD ILLEGIBLE]
It is just short of 11 years ago that a strong young endre of street-tough ghetto blacks in Oakland burst on the national consciousness carrying loaded shortguns and riding vigilante patrols on police in black neighborhoods. Today, the years when power grew [TEXT ILLEGIBLE] the barrel of a gun seem to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] behind the Black Panther party as [WORD ILLEGIBLE] for party confounder Huey Newton.
Newton, who left the country three years ago to avoid prosecution on a murder charge is expected to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] his journey house Sunday night, according [WORD ILLEGIBLE] close to the Panthers who have been invited to meet him at San Francisco International Airport.
There are some who say the party the 35-year-old Newton is planning to rejoin is a political power in Oakland and an influence within California's Democratic Party.
Others, such as Kathleen Cleaver, wife of former Panther minister of information Eldridge Cleaver, claim years of government harrassment have reduced the party to little more than "a school in Oakland."
Opinions aside, times [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] since Newton and [WORDS ILLLEGIBLE] founded the party in [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and two years later happened to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] when Cleaver engaged in a bloody gunbattle with police in the streets on Oakland.
The Panthers have regrosped under the leadership of Elaine Brown, 34, one of the original members and a former [LINE ILLEGIBLE] called [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and tough-minded by acquaintances, Brown reportedly is responsible for moving the partnerway from confrontation. A politics [WORD ILLEGIBLE] community [LINE ILLEGIBLE]
The Panthers have established a health clinic, a free food program and the private Oakland Community School, which was purchased three years ago from a white Southern Baptist group. Headquarters have been moved from a shaby storefront at the edge of Berkeley to east Oakland's black community and the atmosphere there is described as "much more mellow" than in years past.
Politicans credit Brown with developing the pantients highly efficient voter registration and get-out-the-vote operation, which are the basis for their emerging, political clout. In addition [WORD ILLEGIBLE] in [WORD ILLEGIBLE] campaign [LINE ILLEGIBLE] a major factor in [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Oakland's first black mayor, Libbel [WORD ILLEGIBLE] last month.
Jack wasserman, transition team coordinator for Wilson, said "The Panthers are an important force in politics in Oakland; they can mobilize lots of bodies."
Membership is not know, although the FBI last year estimated that it had declined front a high of 2,000 in 1968 to fewer than 200 today A Friday press conference - following the filing of a 64.6 suit against officials fo adleqdly conspiring to murder her - Kathleen Cleaver said the party once had 22 chapters in the United States and numerous other overseas, but that systematic harassment had "blown them away."
Today it is know only that small groups exist in Chicago, Seatle, Los Angeles and Winston-Salem, N.C. Most of the old leaders are gone, and two of those who earlier tried d politics are now in disfavor.
The Panters have established a health clinic, a free-food program and the private Oakland Community [TEXT ILLEGIBLE] than in years past.
Politicians credit Brown with developing the Panthers' highly efficient voted [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and get-out-the-vote [WORD ILLEGIBLE] are basis for their emerging polices clout. In addition to workingin John George's campaign the party some say was a major [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] Oakland's first black [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Lionel Wilson, last month.
Seale, the onetime party chairman who unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of Oakland in 1973, was out of the party by 1975.
Cleaver unsuccessfully sought a ballot spot as the Peace and Freedom Party's 1968 presidential candidate. He split with the Panthers in 1971 while in exile in Algeria. Since return Peach and Freedom Party's 1968 presidental candidate. He split with the Panthers in 1971 while in exile in Algeria. Since return [TEXT ILLEGIBLE] partner leaders of turning information a change he has repeatedly denied it.
Of the early membersships only Newton seems to have remained in the party's good graces.His likeness still appears on the masthead of the party newspaper (claimed circulation is 30,000), and or the past 48 hours the Panthers have been recruiting friends and members for a "Welcome Home, Huey" demonstration at the San Francisco airport Sunday night, when he is expected to arrive on a flight from Canada.
Newton faces murder charges in connection with the Aug. 6, 1974, shooting of 17-year-old Kathleen Smith in Oakland. he also has been charged with the August, 1974, pistol-whipping of Preston Callins.
It is rumored that Newton was in regular, sometimes weekly, contact with the party during his exile in Cuba, but several people close to Elaine Brown express wonderment that the party is so ready to re-embrace him.
"I know Huey has been an embarrassment to them, even before he jumped bail," said one. "This renegade, tough guy image be affected has been totally counter productive to what they are attempting to accomplish. But they've obviously decided to support him."
The party turned down all interviews this week, claiming the leadership was too busy preparing for Newton's return.