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Warren Aloysious Kimbro (April 29, 1934 – February 3, 2009) was a Black Panther Party member in New Haven, Connecticut who was found guilty of the May 21, 1969, murder of New York Panther Alex Rackley, in the first of the New Haven Black Panther trials in 1970.
Murder and trial
Kimbro had been a resident of the New Haven Panther headquarters at 365 Orchard Street, where Rackley was held and tortured for two days under suspicion of being an informant for the FBI's COINTELPRO program. It was established at the trial that afterwards, Kimbro, Bridgeport, Connecticut Panther Lonnie McLucas, and national Panther field marshal George W. Sams, Jr. had driven Rackley to the marshes of Middlefield, Connecticut, where Kimbro and McLucas had each shot Rackley, on Sams' orders. Sams testified that national Panther leader Bobby Seale, who had been speaking at Yale University the day before the murder, had personally ordered the killing, but there was no corroborating evidence; the jury in Seale's subsequent trial was unable to reach a verdict, and the prosecution chose not to re-try the case.
Many commentators[who?] believed that, in fact, Sams had not only orchestrated the murder, but had done so to cover up the fact that he was the informant and agent provocateur, even though they have no corroborating evidence to prove this claim. According to Michael Koskoff, one of the lawyers for McLucas,
- "Many of the people in the New Haven chapter of the Panthers were middle class. They were defined more by their propaganda than by their own personalities. And they were young and impressionable.
At the trial, Sams and Kimbro both turned state's evidence in exchange for the reduced charge of second degree murder, for which each received the mandatory life sentence and served four years. In 1972, Kimbro met with a parole board and was permitted to attend Harvard University's School of Education.
The case later became part of an urban legend that Hillary Clinton defended Bobby Seale and helped him get acquitted. This was not, in fact, the case as Clinton was a student at the time and not a lawyer. The legend also claims that Kimbro and Al Gore became friends at Harvard, although Gore attended Harvard from 1965 through 1969, several years before Kimbro.
For more than 20 years, Kimbro was president and CEO of Project MORE, a non-profit agency in New Haven that offers both day programs and residence to ex-convicts, helping them to re-enter society.
The Rackley case and Kimbro's journey from murderer to one who rehabilitates convicts were the subjects of a 2006 book, Murder in the Model City: The Black Panthers, Yale and the Redemption of a Killer by Paul Bass, editor of The New Haven Independent, and Douglas Rae, professor of management and political science at the Yale School of Management. (Basic Books, 304 pages).
- "Bobby Seale's Shadow +". gadflyonline.com. Retrieved 2006-02-14.
- "Black Panthers +". snopes.com. Retrieved 2006-02-14.
- "Hillary Clinton Defended Black Panther Member Accused of Murder +". truthminers.com. Archived from the original on 2006-01-18. Retrieved 2006-02-14.
- Biographical page for Douglas Rae
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