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The Panther 21 is a group of twenty-one Black Panther members who were arrested and accused of planned coordinated bombing and long-range rifle attacks on two police stations and an education office in New York City. The trial eventually collapsed and the twenty-one members were acquitted.
Three attacks were planned for Friday, January 17, 1969 at 9 am. Dynamite had been placed in the three locations:
|Bronx Forty-fourth precinct police station||Dynamite sticks at the Forty-fourth Precinct station had been switched by a police undercover agent with phonies, so that only a blasting cap exploded|
|Manhattan Twenty-fourth Precinct police station||The fuse on the phoney sticks had been improperly lit|
|Queens Board of Education office||Real dynamite which was from a source other than the undercover police blew a hole in the side of the building|
At the Queens school near the forty-fourth precinct station, one Panther, nineteen-year-old Joan Bird, was arrested, while two men escaped. The men left behind a long-range rifle with which they had planned to shoot at the police as they rushed out of the burning building after the explosion.
Indictments and incarceration
On April 2, 1969 twenty-one Black Panther members were indicted. The number dropped from twenty-one to thirteen, who were arraigned before Judge Charles Marks with bail set at $100,000. Joseph A. Phillips from the District Attorney's Office led the prosecution, with Jeffrey Weinsten as his assistant. The Panthers were charged with conspiracy to kill several police officers and to destroy a number of buildings, including four police stations, five department stores, and the Bronx Botanical Gardens.
At the time, the eight-month trial was the longest and most expensive in New York State history.
- Political Trials in History: From Antiquity to the Present, Ron Christenson.
- The Black Panther Party (reconsidered) Charles Earl Jones.
- One Year Later: The Radicalization of the Panther 13 Jury, New York Magazine May 29, 1972, Catherine Breslin
- The Briar Patch: The Trial of the Panther 21, Murray Kempton, (1973).
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