Jonathan P. Jackson

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Jonathan Jackson
Jonathan Peter Jackson

(1953-06-23)June 23, 1953
DiedAugust 7, 1970(1970-08-07) (aged 17)
Cause of deathShooting

Jonathan Peter Jackson (June 23, 1953 – August 7, 1970),[1] initiated the armed kidnapping of Superior Court judge Harold Haley, prosecutor Gary Thomas, and three jurors from a courtroom in Marin County, California, in August 1970, when he was 17. Fleeing with the hostages, Jackson demanded the Soledad Brothers' release from prison. Black activists for prisoner rights and for civil rights, the three Soledad Brothers, none in the courtroom that day, included Jackson's elder brother George Jackson.

In the ensuing shootout, Jackson and Judge Haley were among four killed, the others being two inmates who, already in the courtroom, had promptly aided Jackson, and prosecutor Thomas was paralyzed and a juror was seriously injured.[2] Since the guns that Jackson used were registered to political activist Angela Davis, who had formed a committee supporting the Soledad Brothers, Davis was implicated and stood trial for alleged involvement in the kidnapping. She was acquitted.

Personal life[edit]

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 1965-67 for grades seven and eight, La Salle High School for ninth grade (1967–68), and then Blair High School through his junior year.[3]

Contributions to revolutionary theory of the Black Panthers[edit]

George Jackson includes passages in his 1971 book Blood in My Eye which he attributes to his brother Jonathan. These passages figure prominently in the development of the elder Jackson's theory of revolutionary praxis.[4]

Marin County incident[edit]

Jackson had occasionally worked as a bodyguard for political activist Angela Davis. On August 7, 1970, Jackson brought a satchel containing three guns, which were registered to Davis,[5] into the Marin County Hall of Justice, where Judge Haley was presiding over the trial of San Quentin inmate James McClain.[6]

Once inside, Jackson drew an automatic gun, and, aided by McClain and Black Panther inmates Ruchell Cinque Magee and William Arthur Christmas, took Judge Haley as well as Deputy District Attorney Gary Thomas and three female jurors hostage.[7]

Jackson and the other kidnappers fled with the hostages. Responding police fired on the van that Jackson was driving.[6] During the shootout, Jonathan Jackson, inmate Christmas, inmate McClain, and judge Haley were killed, while inmate Magee and attorney Thomas were seriously injured.[citation needed]

Jackson's son, Jonathan Jackson Jr., was born eight and a half months after his father's death.[citation needed]

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" on the album Tales of the Lost Tribe: Hidden Jewels (i.e. "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 "
  • Chris Iijima of the band, Yellow Pearl, wrote a song "Jonathan Jackson" in the album A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle by Asians in America.



  1. ^ California Deaths, 1940-1997
  2. ^ Aptheker, Bettina (1969). The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8597-5.
  3. ^ Timothy, Mary (1974). Jury Woman. Palo Alto, California: Emty Press. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  4. ^ Blood in My Eye (1971), pp. 11-12, 20, 23-24, 46, et. al.
  5. ^ Millies, Stephen (August 3, 2009). "Long live the spirit of Jonathan Jackson". Workers World Newspaper.
  6. ^ a b "Justice: A Bad Week for the Good Guys". Time. August 17, 1970.
  7. ^ Associated Press (August 8, 1970). "Courtroom Escape Attempt/Convicts, Trial Judge Slain". Sarasota Herald.

External links[edit]