Talk:Elaine Brown

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As a young woman and activist, she was known for her explosive temper, and as being "crazy and dangerous."[1]

This has NPOV problems because of the source being a blantantly conservative news source, the lack of balance of present or past alternative accounts of her attitude or temperament, and the wording itself, since hateful is a subjective term and never appears in the article itself. Colby 07:23, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Someone put a picture of this Mulatto up.

--Chueyjoo 12:17, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

The first paragraph, apropos of nothing, declares, She is one crazy woman. This article is messy and needs work. And while I've only seen photos of her from the 70's and earlier, I think that this picture may not be of the same Elaine Brown.

Wow - Talk about biased writing: Horowitz is described as a "radical right-wing writer" but Elaine Browne is simply a "prison activist." Gee, she sounds nice. LOL. Is there no editorial oversight on wikipedia? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:34, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Adding David Horowitz's "Radical Son" to the bibliography. (talk) 01:09, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

Questions? Ask them through Wikinews[edit]


I'm Nick Moreau, an accredited reporter for Wikinews. I'm co-ordinating our 2008 US Presidential election interviews. We will be interviewing as many candidates as possible, from the Democrats, Republicans, and other parties/independents.

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I am wondering if it would be a good idea to create a disambiguation page, since there is a woman named Elaine Brown in New Hampshire who is the wife of Edward Lewis Brown. The couple have been convicted of tax evasion and refuse to surrender to police. Many people have been paying attention to this story in New Hampshire, and there is already a page for Edward Lewis Brown. What do we think? Smashrgrl 14:22, 13 September 2007 (UTC)Smashrgrl

Quoting Sources Known To Be Heavily Biased Or Espousing Agendas[edit]

sorry caspere, wikipedia has policies that aren't free for you to ignore. if our source accuses elaine brown of murder, that doesn't mean the source is inadmissable. (talk) 23:47, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

The reliability of sources can certainly be called in to question. There appears to be no legitimate continued NPOV issue here Rotovia (talk) 00:09, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

--While the footnotes from David Horowitz's Radical Son remain, the text has been removed. There is no dispute that Horowitz had a very involved relationship with the Panthers including Huey Newton and Elaine Brown as detailed in Radical Son and other publications. Whether you like his politics or views now or then, his view should be represented as he was a seminal figure in Bay Area left wing politics- otherwise the article reads like an Elaine Brown PR flack piece! the comment at the top of this section appears to be driven more by animus towards Horowitz for his purported betrayal of the Movement (surprise! surprise!) rather than any interest in the facts and life of Elaine Brown —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sftokyo (talkcontribs) 01:45, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

More citations needed[edit]

Along with the issues stated above, the final section is completely uncited, and reads like a resume. It also says she lives in Oakland, while the lead says she is "based in Oakland" yet also "lives in Atlanta". Most of this might have to be deleted if no verifiable sources can be found.--Chimino (talk) 02:13, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

Green Party nominee[edit]

Green party section needs more details -- a presidential campaign generates lots of material that could be used. Rjensen (talk) 10:29, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

Jay Kennedy[edit]

The Jay Kennedy material inserted by AvengingAngel is fascinating but unsourced, and of debatable relevance to this article. I suggest making a new article for Kennedy. WRT this article, there should be discussion on the talk page before making such major changes.Pokey5945 (talk) 21:32, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

The Early Life section states: "Kennedy was the first person to politicize and radicalize Brown." This may or may not be true. The following sentence is utterly tendentious: "Because of the thorough education on the Civil Rights Movement, Capitalism, and Communism, that Kennedy gave her, Brown became involved with the Black Liberation Movement." "Thorough"? Really? How is one to know that this education was actually thorough? Based on what criteria? And what did Jay Kennedy know about civil rights, capitalism and communism? The sentence is neither neutral nor verifiable. It is merely someone's opinion and of the lowest standard. Viniamator (talk) 15:43, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Horowitz material[edit]

The Horowitz material is unacceptable per WP:BLP. It represents scurrilous and uncorroborated accusations of a serious crime, made only by a fringe right-wing writer. We may not republish such allegations absent significant evidence of mainstream acceptance of these claims. As there is none given, it stays out. FrontPage Magazine is not a reliable source for allegations about living people. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 04:53, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

Agreed, leaving it out is exaxctly the correct thing to do per BLP.--ukexpat (talk) 13:47, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
It's not uncorroborated. There were other sources cited. Why say otherwise?Pokey5945 (talk) 14:53, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
The Salon article you cited was an op-ed by Horowitz that (presumably because Salon wouldn't let him) didn't even mention the accusation. What other reliable sources were there, and did they do more than regurgitate Horowitz's unsupported allegations? NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 16:13, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
Convenient - the other source cited, by Kate Coleman, was published in David Horowitz's magazine. Yeah, no, that is not an independent reliable source. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 16:34, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
I am your colleague on WP, not your enemy, and I would prefer to engage in a mutually respectful discussion. I don't think I entered those citations and I do understand the concerns about Horowitz and see some validity there, but he did work closely with the Panthers and Van Patter. Coleman is a well-published journalist. I did enter the East Bay Express cite, which you have not discussed. Kelley also worked with the Panthers. I would also refer you to Coleman's New Times piece, Hugh Pearson's book, and Brown's autobiography.Pokey5945 (talk) 16:45, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
The sources are there to validate it. And Horowitz is a right-wing writer, not a "fringe right-wing writer." He is a valid source (I don't care for his politics either, but I note that when he was an associated of the Black Panthers, he was a lefty and was in deep with them). Finally, let's not be naive about the kind of violence the Black Panthers were capable of. Chisme (talk) 22:39, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
Well, no, the reputable secondary sources aren't there. And until there are, it can't go in Wikipedia. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 00:32, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Pretty hard to find "reputable secondary sources" about a murder. Ask any homicide detective. How about if we change this to say that she was the head of the Black Panthers when the murder occurred? Or that she was the last person known to have seen her alive? Or both? Chisme (talk) 01:23, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
I don't think you understand what Wikipedia is and is not. It is not a "true-crime" book or a place to play amateur detective. Your speculation and innuendo has no place here. If it is hard to find reliable secondary sources about it, we don't publish it. The end. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 03:00, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
I quite understand that Wikipedia is a good place to white-wash bad reputations. You're doing a good job and should be patted on the back. Chisme (talk) 15:14, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

Mainstream Sources re the Van Patter Murder[edit]

Van Patter fell out with Brown for asking too many questions about the Party’s dubious expenditures. [1] Brown began to suspect that Van Patter may have been involved with the FBI or CIA, and could harm Brown’s election campaign.[2] Brown knew that: “there was no question that many of our money transactions could be ruled illegal. [3]

Berkeley police suspected that Brown was an accomplice or conspirator. [4] Brown told the police that she had fired Van Patter on December 6, a week before Van Patter’s disappearance. But Fred Hiestand, a Panther lawyer, contradicted her claim in his interview with the police.[5] When questioned on the matter by a friend of Van Patter, Brown sought to discourage further probing into the issue with a “thinly veiled threat”.[6]

A number of authors have discussed Brown’s alleged involvement in Van Patter’s murder and other Panther crimes. Ollie Johnson states that Brown’s campaign for City Council was “seriously hampered by drug charges and accusations that she was involved in the murder of Betty Van Patter”.[7][8] Margo Perkins observes that in Brown’s autobiography, her “memory appears notably selective with regard to [Van Patter’s disappearance]”, and states that “Brown appears defensive in the autobiography when she seeks to reframe the incident by raising questions about Van Patter’s character and past”. Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page). Michelle Wallace states that Brown: “is a little too precise in the descriptions of crimes that fail again and again to implicate her.[9] Jill Nelson observed that: “Brown has an uncanny ability to be off the scene when prosecutable events occur”. .[10] Several authors assert that Brown conferred with Huey Newton on Van Patter.[11]

No arrests were ever made in the case, and it remains officially open. However, most observers agree that the Van Patter was most likely murdered by the Black Panthers, “most likely because she discovered financial dealings that the party wanted to keep hidden”.[12][13] . Christopher Hitchens asserts that: “There is no doubt now, and there was precious little then, of the Panther leadership’s complicity in this revolting crime”.[14]


  1. ^ Brown, 363-367
  2. ^ Brown, 365
  3. ^ Brown, 364
  4. ^ Brown, 364-65
  5. ^ Kate Coleman, The Party’s Over, New Times, July 10, 1978, p. 39
  6. ^ Pearson, 272
  7. ^ Ollie Johnson, Explaining the demise of the Black Panther Party, in Charles Jones (Ed) The Black Panther Party Reconsidered, Black Classic Press, 1998, p. 408
  8. ^ Brown, 365
  9. ^ Perkins, 97
  10. ^ Perkins, 97-98
  11. ^ Pearson, 272; Kelley
  12. ^ Eve Pell, We used to own the Bronx: Memoirs of a former debutante, SUNY Press, 2009, p. 182
  13. ^ Christopher Hewitt, Political Violence and Terrorism in Modern America: A Chronology, Greenwood Publishing, 2005, p. 101
  14. ^ Christopher Hitchens, Left-leaving, left-leaning, Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2003
So what you have is speculation, innuendo and guilt-by-association (someone saying "it must have been the Panthers" is not proof or evidence that it was Brown.) You've demonstrated precisely why this doesn't belong here. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 17:31, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
The passage doesn't indict Brown at all. It merely reports what *numerous* scholars have said about the case in books published by university presses. I haven't found a single scholarly expert on the BPP that disagrees the Party was responsible for the murder. Even Ward Churchill thinks so. There is nothing in this passage stating that "Brown did it". In fact, most of the cites are to Brown's autobiography. She devotes five pages to the Van Patter episode. If Brown herself sees it as that important in her life story, why would WP decide otherwise?19:06, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Three people claiming, without evidence, that "she sounds guilty," is fodder for the Nancy Grace program on HLN, not Wikipedia. You've carefully worded it so that the reader is left with the strong impression that Brown is guilty of a crime she has never been so much as arrested for, based on nothing more than unsupported rumors, scurrilous innuendo and guilt-by-association. That isn't going to fly.
"I haven't found a single scholarly expert on the BPP that disagrees the Party was responsible for the murder" is irrelevant. This isn't an article about the Black Panther Party. You can't use a general claim about a large political group to indict one specific member. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 19:16, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Please note that there is no indictment of "one member" in the passage above. Please also note that for the published scholarly experts on the BPP, the Party's responsibility for the murder does not seem irrelevant to an historical analysis of Brown's tenure as Party head. That's why such discussions appear again and again in the literature. I would invite you to rewrite the passage above as you see fit. I've done the research and given you the sources. Note that the majority of cites are to Brown herself. Do you object to using her own writing on this event?Pokey5945 (talk) 19:48, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
please read WP:SYN . -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:56, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the policy link. What do you see as synthetic in the quotes and paraphrases above? How would you rewrite it to meet your conception of WP policy?Pokey5945 (talk) 19:59, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
duh, that you want the article to read as if a living person is guilty of murder. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom
I would ask that you assume good faith and not make personal accusations about my motives. I've done my best to report what the scholarly literature says about Brown's relationship to the Van Patter case. If you don't like my version, how would you propose to rewrite it?20:21, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
One can "assume" good faith. However, when one is presented with glaring evidence of bad faith, one must not close their eyes, particularly in matters of WP:BLP living people and accusations of criminal behavior. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:13, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
This is a personal attack, and not at all constructive. I am open to revisions. Indeed, I expected them. I've provided quotes and paraphrases from the literature, and I would expect other editors acting in good faith to address the literature head on instead of questioning my motives and accusing me of "bad faith" simply because you don't like what the literature says.Pokey5945 (talk) 22:17, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
You still dont get it. The literature is NOT saying it. YOU are. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:28, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
I've provided the community of WP editors with some of the relevant quotes and paraphrases from the literature. It's raw material from which we can collectively create a usable article. But instead of negotiating a workable article from the research I've provided you, you've instead inferred a nefarious agenda on my part and thrown allegations at me. This is not constructive or collegial.Pokey5945 (talk) 23:57, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Frankly, yes there is an indictment of one member in the above passage. Any objective observer can see what POV you're attempting to put across there, and it's not going to fly here. It's not a matter of a "rewrite," it's a matter of simply leaving it out entirely. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 20:05, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
How about doing some work yourself? So far, I am not getting any good faith negotiation here. I'm just getting non-constructive rejection and ad hominem accusations. The fact is that Brown herself wrote five pages on this in her autobiography, and numerous scholars have written about it. Given the notoriety of this episode, "leaving it out entirely" is in itself a violation of NPOV.Pokey5945 (talk) 20:21, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
So you claim. A number of other editors disagree.
There are many people who have written about the speculation that Bill Clinton was responsible for killing Vince Foster. You will not find a single mention of that conspiracy theory in either Bill Clinton or Vince Foster's Wikipedia biographies. That is not "a violation of NPOV," it is a recognition that there is no mainstream support for that POV and that Wikipedia is not a catalog of fringe conspiracy theories or unfounded speculation about criminal acts. Until there is something more than unsupported allegations and thinly-veiled innuendo from a handful of writers who admit that they have no evidence to support their claims, it would be a violation of NPOV and our policy on fringe theories to provide their claims with any credence whatsoever. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 20:40, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Please observe that: (1) I have not proposed incuding a conspiracy theory or accusation; and (2) I have cited mainstream sources published by scholarly presses. You are attacking a straw man.Pokey5945 (talk) 20:50, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
I agree that this speculative material does not belong in a BLP. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 18:28, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Which material do you consider to be speculative, and how does it violate BLP? How would you propose to rewrite it?Pokey5945 (talk) 19:59, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
The scholar you cite unequivocally states "no material evidence has ever been produced to link Brown directly to the murder." That pretty much ends the story — if there's no evidence, then there's nothing but speculation, rumor and innuendo. Wikipedia doesn't publish those things. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 20:28, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Again, you are attacking a straw man here. There is no proposal on the table to link Brown directly to the murder. But the fact is that she was a suspect, and that had a profound impact on her life. It's part of her biography according to her own perspective and that of numerous scholars.Pokey5945 (talk) 20:50, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
This material does not belong in this BLP. I see no way that it can comply with policy. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 20:44, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Which material? How does it violate policy? Do you disagree with including material from Brown's own autobiography?Pokey5945 (talk) 20:50, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
That would be the material under discussion, at the beginning of this section. I would have no problem using her book for uncontroversial things like what high school she attended or the birth of her daughter. But this material clearly violates WP:BLPSELFPUB as inherently and understandably self-serving. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 21:02, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand this policy objection, mostly because her book is not self-published and thus not addressed by your link. I see Brown's perspective as self-serving only if she is indeed somehow involved with the murder. But if she's not hiding her complicity, then what is self-serving about it? Is there policy that requires us to avoid controversy? I don't think there is. The editors' task is to present the various perspectives as they apear in the relevant sources.Pokey5945 (talk) 21:44, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Exactly the same concerns apply to an autobiographical book. Self-serving material does not meet the threshold of reliability, no matter who the autobiographer is. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 01:43, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
Can you please cite the policy that would inhibit usng Brown's autobiography as a source, given that it is not self-published. Would you also please state which specific statements of hers from that book you consider to be self-serving and why?Pokey5945 (talk) 01:51, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
"Alleged", "accusations", "appears".... This is a lot of absence of evidence dressed up as evidence of hiding evidence (Nelson, Wallace, Perkins). The concepts relied on here, "noteworthy silence" and "failure of the suspected to convincingly dispel suspicion", are conspiracy theory level stuff. Absence of evidence is just that. Instead of a smoking gun, there's content showing this subject had a hand, alongside a reminder that hands often hold smoking guns. __ E L A Q U E A T E 20:54, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
I agree, those are speculative arguments. I personally have no problem removing that part. I wrote it up so that newbies to the topic would have a sense of where the scholarly literature is and what it says.Pokey5945 (talk) 21:44, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
And let me guess, Pell, Hewitt, and Hitchens do not even have a mention of Elaine Brown, do they?__ E L A Q U E A T E 21:55, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
From my memory, they do not. I included them because it's crucial contextual material for anyone interested in learning about the Van Patter murder, such as WP readers, or editors who've only recently come to this topic. The Van Patter article currently cites only Mother Jones on that point, and I think that cite should be bolstered with these three as well.Pokey5945 (talk) 22:07, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
WP:SYN then obviously it has absolutely NO PLACE here at all - we do not bolster allegations. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:14, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
I understand this argument. Do you have any problem with these cites on the Van Patter page?Pokey5945 (talk) 22:20, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
They are absolutely objectionable if you or the article is making any connection to Elaine Brown. BLP and SYN apply to all pages and article content.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:27, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Once you know that BPP leadership is considered responsible for the murder, and you also know that Brown was part of that leadership, then intelligent readers are going to make that connection on their own. Just like the scholars and journalists have already.Pokey5945 (talk) 22:48, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
And you're allowed to do that on your own blog if you want. You're not allowed to do that on Wikipedia. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 22:51, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
It depends what you mean by "that". WP:SYN restricts editors from making original links between two concepts. It does not restrict editors from describing links that already exist in the literature. It also does not restrict editors from putting two facts into an article for fear that a reader might incorrectly infer a link between them.Pokey5945 (talk) 23:52, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
I'm glad that you can explain WP:SYN to people now; it means you're aware of the policy. It has to be a reliable source that makes the implied argument. And we can't reach or imply a conclusion not found in reliable sources. This goes beyond a simple prohibition against a direct statement of that conclusion. It means we can't juxtapose statements when there is a clear and obvious chance that readers will see a connection that is not directly supported by reliable sources. And you are the one arguing that "intelligent readers" are sure to make a connection between your statements. This isn't a case of unforeseeable "incorrect inference". You say it will happen.__ E L A Q U E A T E 00:26, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
With that much agreed to, we're making progress. Now, what are the specific violations of SYN that you object to, and how can they be rewritten to avoid violating the policy?Pokey5945 (talk) 00:31, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
I haven't seen a reliable source that directly says Elaine Brown was complicit in the murder. If there's no reliable source that says specifically that, then we can't reach or imply that conclusion by content juxtaposition. It doesn't matter if unreliable sources have ever made the claim, or even if there are a large number of unreliable sources (100 blogs could be wrong). We can't imply the connection if all reliable sources say there's no actual evidence it happened that way. You would need a reliable source that said Elaine Brown was directly involved in murder. A sourced legal conviction would work. Every reliable source I've seen says there is no actual evidence of who did it, just a popular "belief". There's no getting around BLP here. You have to admit the possibility that it could have been a random robbery, or it could have been a nefarious plot, but we can't imply it was incited by the subject of a BLP, in the voice of Wikipedia. You need something considerably more than instances of "Someone thinks she had a motive" or "Someone very strongly thought she might have done it but they can't say for sure" or "A thousand people think it's highly plausible". __ E L A Q U E A T E 01:28, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
Again, we agree on this much. Again, what specific SYN issues do you have with the material at hand and how would you rewrite to fix them?Pokey5945 (talk) 01:51, 18 May 2014 (UTC)

These sources clearly show a lot more than "speculation, innuendo and guilt-by-association." Let he who has ears, hear; and he who has eyes, see. Chisme (talk) 22:32, 17 May 2014 (UTC)

One of the sources cited states that there has never been a single piece of actual evidence to connect Brown with the murder. If you have a reputable source that says differently, please produce it. Otherwise, there's really not much to debate here because it is all "speculation, innuendo and guilt-by-association." NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 22:54, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
I think this argument is over-generalized. There is some speculation in the literature, no doubt, but there are also some basic facts of the case that even Brown herself has written about. I would ask you to please familiarize yourself with the sources, so that you can separate the various elements out.Pokey5945 (talk) 23:52, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
I suppose the ultimate question here is how much has actually been written about this supposed link between Van Patter & Brown; is it a subject which continually comes up when discussing Brown, or is it an isolated theory based on the speculation/assertions of a select few? Basically, a WP article should not be an activist front (one editor, now supposedly retired, was infamous for pushing his personal agenda on articles like these as "fact"); a biography should encompass only well-established facts and material immediately relevant to the subject.--Chimino (talk) 20:46, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
I agree that your question is key. The link between Van Patter and Brown is made by Brown herself in her autobiography. Brown describes the falling out between them after Van Patter began asking questions about BPP accounting. Brown acknowledges that there were illegalities, and that she suspected Van Patter of being CIA or FBI. There is much more along this line in the autobiography, in which Brown admits to many crimes, and knowing about or witnessing many more crimes, and thinking that what they were doing was horrible. There are a number of relevant secondary works as well, with Coleman and Pearson being the best places to start. In summary, if Brown herself thinks this is relevant to her own biography, why would WP leave it out?Pokey5945 (talk) 22:15, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
WP:DEADHORSE. because we are not detectives putting together a case to convict or merely smear a living person. take your activism elsewhere. if you get her convicted, then come back.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:41, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
Straw man, ad hominem accusations are not conducive to productive collaboration. What can you bring to the table to make this article better? Perhaps reading Elaine Brown's autobiography would be a good start for people interested in this article.Pokey5945 (talk) 01:15, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
What I can bring to this is advice to drop your stick and walk away. The horse is dead and not going to move and you are NOT going to get content into the article that implies Brown has a connection to criminal activity. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:48, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

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