Jonathan P. Jackson

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Jonathan P. Jackson
Born Jonathan Peter Jackson
(1953-06-23)June 23, 1953
United States
Died August 7, 1970(1970-08-07) (aged 17)
United States
Cause of death Shooting

Jonathan Peter Jackson (June 23, 1953 – August 7, 1970)[1] is primarily known for initiating an attempt to negotiate the freedom of the Soledad Brothers (including his older brother George) through the kidnapping of Superior Court judge Harold Haley from the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California, an incident in which he was one of four people killed.[2]


Jackson was the youngest of five children born to Lester and Georgia Bea Jackson. Raised in Pasadena, California, he attended St Andrew's School from 1965-1967 for grades seven and eight, La Salle High School for ninth grade (1967–1968), and then Blair High School through his junior year.[3] Jackson was nicknamed "the Man-Child" by his brother George because of his tall, manly stature as a teenager.

Jackson's son, Jonathan Jackson Jr., was born eight and a half months after his father's death. As a writer living in San Francisco, California, Jackson Jr. eventually wrote the foreword to the reissue of George Jackson's Prison Letters.

Marin County incident[edit]

Jackson had occasionally worked as a bodyguard for UCLA professor and political activist Angela Davis. On August 7, 1970, Jackson brought three guns registered to Davis[4] into the Marin County Hall of Justice, where Judge Haley was presiding over the trial of San Quentin inmate James McClain.[5] He then drew weapons from his satchel, and with the assistance of McClain and inmates Ruchell Magee and William A. Christmas took judge Haley, Deputy District Attorney Gary Thomas and three female jurors hostage.[6]

Upon exiting the courthouse, Jackson and the other kidnappers attempted to flee the courthouse with the hostages in tow. Police responding to the incident opened fire on the van Jackson was driving.[5] At the end of the shootout, Jackson, Haley, McClain and Christmas were dead and McGee and Thomas were seriously injured. The judge had apparently been murdered by the kidnappers by the discharge of the shotgun which had been taped to his neck.

In popular culture[edit]


  • Nas pays tribute to George and Jonathan Jackson in his song "Testify" from his untitled album.
  • Hasan Salaam references to George and Jonathan Jackson in the song "Get High Riddum" found on "Tales of the Lost Tribe: Hidden Jewels"; "I fight for my freedom like George and John Jackson".
  • Dead Prez mentions Jonathan Jackson in the songs "I have a dream too" and "Over" from their mixtape "Revolutionary But Gangsta Grillz "
  • Jeffrey Cain honours Jonathan Jackson and recounts the Marin County tragedy in "Whispering Thunder" (Warner BS 2613, 1972).
  • Chris Iijima of the band, Yellow Pearl, wrote a song about Jonathan Jackson in "Jonathan Jackson" in the album, "A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle by Asians in America".[7]


  • The 2007 film Black August about Jackson's elder brother George also dramatizes the Marin County incident.