On June 21, 2018 we lost Richard Brown. Former and forever Black Panther, grand jury resister, father, grandfather, and life long fighter for liberation. When he said, “All Power to the People” – he meant it!
Richard Brown was born on March 21, 1941 in Tulsa, Oklahoma and moved to San Francisco as a child. He joined the Black Panther Party early on and was a tireless fighter for Black liberation, taking Point One of the BPP program to heart: “We want Freedom. We want the power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.”
He lived in the Fillmore for more than fifty years and was a mentor to countless young people. He was instrumental in the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, the African American Community Relations Board and the Community Court.
In the early 2000’s, after the passage of the Patriot Act, the FBI and San Francisco police reopened a cold case stemming from the murder of a police officer in 1971. Richard was one of 8 Black activists who refused to testify in front of a grand jury and went to jail. In 2007, the SFPD brought charges against 8 former BPP members and Richard went to jail again for over a year. The eight were all in their 60s and 70’s, yet they refused to give in. After years of litigation and millions of dollars spent by the government to convict them, the charges were dropped. (see FreetheSF8.org)
In a speech advocating resistance to the grand jury, Richard said: “We in the SF8 understood full well that we could not say anything about anybody and expect any kind of justice. I say hell no to the FBI, I say hell no to the grand jury, I say Hell No to the police. They’re the real terrorists!”
Richard was a fierce advocate for political prisoners and a spokesperson against racism, government misconduct and grand jury witchhunts. In 2014, he went to Geneva to testify about the issue of US political prisoners before the UN Human Rights Commission during their review of the US.
Richard was a humanist – he truly believed in the liberation of all people. He was willing to listen and change. He loved science fiction and would watch anything that had zombies in it. He loved his community and his children.
Even in the last years of his life, when he was hooked up to an oxygen machine, he would go to events, speak on panels and advocate for justice. He was a fighter to the very end. He said:
“I can’t stop. If the people understand and take control like they can, they can turn this around and they will. As long as I can be effective and as long as I can try to continue to do that, I’m going to be working toward that. I guess I’m doing this out of love for the people and love for peace and freedom. And until we get it I’m going to continue to fight.”
We miss you, RB.