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What was the White Panther Party?
The White Panther Party was an anti-racist political organization formed in late 1968 by activist Pun Plamondon, photographer Leni Sinclair, and poet John Sinclair. The three founders created the White Panthers as a ‘sister’ group to the famous Black Panther Party. The party collaborated with many ethnic minority rights groups in Michigan through the Rainbow Coalition.
The Zero Theft Movement is working to bring together citizens from all backgrounds in the fight against the rigged economy. The history and work of the White Panther Party can serve as a lesson on the importance of allies in effecting wholesale change. Without the help of all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, political allegiances, etc., we will have little chance of eliminating economic foul play and establishing an ethical financial system.
Thirty brokerage firms paid about $900 million to settle the civil suit contending they “schemed with one another for years to fix prices on the NASDAQ stock market,” according to The New York Times. They allegedly did so by not using odd-eighth NASDAQ quotes, skimming profits off of quarter quotes.
See what the ZT community has uncovered about the matter…
The Origins of the White Panther Party
Turbulence perhaps best encapsulates life in the 1960s. News of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and growing dissatisfaction with the status quo dominated the airwaves. People could sense that the nation would not come out of this tumultuous period the same.
Within the U.S., the 60s saw the growth of the closely related counterculture and civil rights movements. The youth, disillusioned as they always seem to be, began to subvert societal institutions and values. Even the civil rights movement, led by the venerable Martin Luther King Jr., had its (more) radical branches that resonated most with young African Americans. One group particularly captured the attention of the Black youth: Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale’s Black Panther Party.
The Panthers on the left, Martin Luther King Jr. on the right
Source: Teen Vogue
Garbed in black and toting guns, the Panthers had a sharp-tooth edge completely foreign to the clean-cut King and his close constituents. Students at Merritt Community College in Oakland, Newton, Seale, along with the help of Richard Aoki (the Panthers’ gun supplier) drew from past hardships and the left-wing texts to create the foundations of the Panthers in 1966.
During an interview in 1968, Newton planted the seed of the White Panther Party. He spoke of white Americans forming their own group to help forward the cause against imperialism: “Well as I put it before Black Power is people‘s power and as far as organizing white people we give white people the privilege of having a mind and we want them to get a body. They can organize themselves. We can tell them what they should do, what their responsibility is if they’re going to claim to be white revolutionaries or white mother country radicals, and that is to arm themselves and support the colonies around the world in their just struggle against imperialism. But anything more than that they will have to do on their own.”
Newton’s words eventually reached the Detroit Artists Workshop, a group of bohemians, beatniks, artists, and musicians in Motor City. They followed through with his suggestion and formally created the White Panther Party. Founding member of the White Panthers and photographer Leni Sinclair once recalled that period in America: “There was just something in the air that wanted change real bad.”
The White Panther 10 Point Program
In November 1968, John Sinclair (Leni Sinclair’s wife) published the “White Panther Statement” through the Fifth Estate. The end of the manifesto follows the structure of the Black Panther 10 Point Program or Platform, which underpinned the latter’s efforts.
- We want freedom. We want the power for all people to determine our own destinies.
- We want justice. We want an immediate and total end to all cultural and political repression of the people by the vicious pig power structure and their mad dog lackies the police, courts and military. We want the end of all police and military violence against the people all over the world right now!
- We want a free world economy based on the free exchange of energy and materials and the end of money.
- We want free access to all information media and to all technology for all the people.
- We want a free educational system, utilizing the best procedures and machinery our modern technology can produce, that will teach each man, woman and child on earth exactly what each needs to know to survive and grow into his or her full human potential.
- We want to free all structures from corporate rule and turn the buildings over to the people at once!
- We want free time and space for all humans—dissolve all unnatural boundaries!
- We want the freedom of all prisoners held in federal, state, county or city jails and prisons since the so-called legal system in America makes it impossible for any man to obtain a fair and impartial trial by a jury of his peers.
- We want the freedom of all people who are held against their will in the conscripted armies of the oppressors throughout the world.
- We want free land, free food, free shelter, free clothing, free music, free medical care, free education, free media, EVERYTHING FREE FOR EVERYBODY!
Sinclair also published the document in the Ann Arbor Sun, his own newspaper that later became the voice of the White Panther Party. It eventually transitioned to an independent publication discussing local issues, left-wing politics, music, and arts.
Winning over the Black Panthers
But the White Panther Party did not exactly receive a warm welcome. The Black Panthers
called the Sinclairs and their motley crew “psychedelic clowns.” Despite the poor first impression, the White Panthers quickly earned their ‘sister’ organization’s trust by handing out the Black Panthers’ newsletter in southeast Detroit.
The White Panthers found creative ways to promote their own message of total freedom and the Black Panthers’ causes. For instance, John Sinclair was the manager of the rock band Motor City Five (MC5), whose members had joined the White Panther Party. The MC5’s high octane and politically charged songs became one of the organization’s major promotional channels for the organization. They also hosted political education classes alongside the Black Panthers, as well as urged white allies to protest against police brutality and other injustices affecting the Black community.
Wehe, a group of researchers at Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts–Amherst and Stony Brook University, conducted a study on traffic shaping showing evidence that “nearly every US cellular ISP (CISP) throttles (i.e., sets a limit on available bandwidth)…for at least one streaming video provider.”
Is your internet service provider giving you the service you paid for? See what the ZT community has reported on the matter…
The John Sinclair Freedom Rally
Perhaps the crowning achievement of the White Panther Party came in the form of the John SInclair Freedom Rally, a concert involving some of the nation’s most famous musicians, activists, and poets.
The White Panther Party organized the event to try and get John Sinclair’s prison sentence cut short. He’d been arrested by the end of 1968 for giving two marijuana cigarettes to undercover narcotics officers. In July 1969, Sinclair received a 10-year sentence under Michigan’s stringent narcotics laws.
Leni Sinclair and Sinclair’s brother led the White Panthers, organizing a string of small concerts and demonstrations to raise defense funds and public awareness. Nevertheless, Yippee (Youth International Party) leaders Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman managed to convince Beatles legend John Lennon and Yoko Ono to perform at Ann Arbor in support of Sinclair’s release.
With Lennon and Ono’s attendance secured, the White Panther Party found other activists, poets, and musicians willing to show up in support of Sinclair. Music icon Stevie Wonder, local hero Bob Seger, folk singer Phil Ochs, Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale, jazz giant Archie Shepp were some of the more notable figures who attended. As you might imagine, it was a star-studded affair that took place on the 10th December, 1971.
Poster for the John Sinclair Freedom Rally
By Gary Grimshaw
Source: Oakland Museum of California
Funnily enough, the goal to free Sinclair had already been achieved before the rally even took place. Just before the concert, the Michigan State Senate approved legislation to remove marijuana from the state’s narcotics code. Penalties for the use of marijuana were cut from a 10-year maximum sentence to just 90 days, and the Senate also decided to reevaluate existing convictions. The White Panther Party claimed the outcome as a ‘victory’ over the establishment when Sinclair was released a few days after the concert.
Counterculture Fizzles Out
Despite the successful concert and John Sinclair’s release, the White Panther Party had been slowing down.The successes of various counterculture movements in the late 60s made many in the public content, and other activist groups had started to disband.
Members of the Rainbow People’s Party
Source: Ann Arbor News
In fact, the White Panthers had changed their name to the Rainbow People’s Party years before Sinclair returned. They changed the name for two reasons: to emphasize positive community engagement, and eliminate any misconceptions regarding their associations with white supremacist groups. With the world again shifting towards structure, the Rainbow People’s Party formally disbanded in 1973.
The Importance of Allies
The White Panther Party (and later, the Rainbow People’s Party) can teach all of us a lesson on the importance of allies. Without the help of others, especially those who perhaps have privileges others don’t, major systemic change cannot happen.
The same applies to the elite when tackling the potentially rigged U.S. economy. We understand that there are many in the 1%, or even the 1% of the 1%, who have made their wealth through ethical means. Average Americans need your help to identify the rigged parts of the economy.
But how do you fight this potential problem?
The Zero Theft Movement has created an independent voting platform where you and your fellow citizens work together to calculate the most accurate estimate for the monetary costs of corruption in the United States.
The public investigates potential problem areas, and everyone votes on whether (1) theft is or isn’t occurring in a specific area of the economy, and (2) how much is being stolen or possibly saved. Through direct democracy, we can collectively decide where the problem areas exist and start working on addressing them systematically.
Only through hard evidence can we prove where the rigged parts of the economy exist and force Congress to hold all the bad actors accountable.
The Zero Theft Movement does not have any interest in partisan politics/competition or attacking/defending one side. We seek to eradicate theft from the U.S economy. In other words, how the wealthy and powerful rig the system to steal money from us, the everyday citizen. We need to collectively fight against crony capitalism in order for us to all profit from an ethical economy.
Terms like ‘steal,’ ‘theft,’ and ‘crime’ will frequently appear throughout the article. Zero Theft will NOT adhere strictly to the legal definitions of these terms (since congress sells out). We have broadly and openly defined terms like ‘steal’ and ‘theft’ to refer to the rigged economy and other debated unethical acts that can cause citizens to lose out on money they deserve to keep.