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Hillary Clinton and the Black Panthers

On September 20, 2000, Gary Richardson sent me this inflammatory story via email:

Back in 1969 a group of Black Panthers decided that a fellow Black Panther named Alex Rackley needed to die. Rackley was suspected of disloyalty. Rackley was first tied to a chair. Once safely immobilized, his friends tortured him for hours by, among other things, pouring boiling water on him. When they got tired of torturing Rackley, Black Panther member Warren Kimbo took Rackley outside and put a bullet in his head. Rackley's body was later found floating in a river about 25 miles north of New Haven, Conn.

Perhaps at this point you're curious as to what happened to these Black Panthers. In 1977, that's only eight years later, only one of the killers was still in jail. The shooter, Warren Kimbro, managed to get a scholarship to Harvard. He later became an assistant dean at Eastern Connecticut State College.

Isn't that something? As a '60s radical you can pump a bullet into someone's head, and a few years later, in the same state, you can become an assistant college dean! Only in America!

Erica Huggins was the lady who served the Panthers by boiling the water for Mr. Rackley's torture. Some years later Ms. Huggins was elected to a California School Board.

How in the world do you think these killers got off so easy? Maybe it was in some part due to the efforts of two people who came to the defense of the Panthers. These two people actually went so far as to shut down Yale University with demonstrations in defense of the accused Black Panthers during their trial. One of these people was none other than Bill Lan Lee. Mr. Lee, or Mr. Lan Lee, as the case may be, isn't a college dean. He isn't a member of a California School Board. He is now head of the US Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

O.K., so who was the other Panther defender? Is this other notable Panther defender now a school board member? Is this other Panther apologist now an assistant college dean? No, Neither! The other Panther defender was, like Lee, a radical law student at Yale University at the time. She is now known as The "smartest woman in the world." She is none other than the Democratic candidate for the US Senate from the State of New York----our lovely First Lady, the incredible Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And now; as Paul Harvey says; you know (the rest of the story).

Pass this on! She deserves the press................

Now I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. She has ducked more speeding bullets than any single creep save her own husband. However having become accustomed at this point to Internet nonsense, I quickly smelled a rat, so I emailed Gary this question: 

"Interesting story. So who believes it??"

And Gary's answer: 

"Got me....    It was emailed to me.   I have no idea if it is true at all."

Well, at this point, I know the Way to San Jose, so sure enough I hopped on over to the Snopes Urban Legend Site (visit it yourself at ), went to their search section, typed in "Clinton" and within seconds came up with information debunking the entire affair. 

Here is the summary passage from the Urban Legends web site: 

So, what exactly did Mr. Lee and Ms. Clinton do to "defend" the Panthers in a legal sense? In Mr. Lee's case, he did absolutely nothing. He wasn't a lawyer, or even a law student; he was simply another Yale undergraduate who had nothing to do with the Black Panthers' trial. Ms. Clinton wasn't a lawyer then, either; she was a Yale law student. The sum total of her involvement in the trial was that she assisted the American Civil Liberties Union in monitoring the trial for civil rights violations. That a law student's tangential participation in one of the most controversial, politically and racially charged trials of her time (one that took place right on her doorstep) to help ensure it remained free of civil rights abuses is now offered as "proof" of her moral reprehensibility demonstrates that McCarthyism is alive and well -- some of us apparently believe in rights but don't believe everyone has the right to have rights. 

Of course, neither Mr. Lee nor Ms. Clinton had anything to do with "defending" the other twelve Panthers, who never even stood trial because the government declined to prosecute them or allowed them to turn state's evidence. The flimsy "evidence" typically mustered as "proof" of their "support" for the Black Panthers is that Hillary Clinton was co-editor of the Yale Review when it printed a derogatory cartoon depicting police as decapitated pigs, even though no one has demonstrated that she approved (or even knew) of it, and that in order to join a student group, Bill Lee once "acquiesced when pressed to write a statement expressing solidarity with the Panthers who were on trial." (If Mr. Lee was such a wholehearted supporter of the Panthers, one has to wonder why he had to be "pressed" into making such a statement.) 

Stripped of all the invective and blatant political ranting, the case here against Mr. Lee and Ms. Clinton comes down to nothing more than "We don't like their politics" and "They were there," so they must be as morally guilty as the Panthers themselves. As a junior senator from Wisconsin once demonstrated, if you can't defeat your political opponents at the ballot box, and you can't point to anything specific they've done wrong, simply declare them guilty for once having been associated (no matter how tenuous the association) with a group now reviled. "Vilification by association" tactics that worked for McCarthyites in the 1950s apparently still have their adherents today. 

For much more information:


As you have probably already guessed, at this point whenever something dubious comes along, I simply go visit the Snopes Urban Legend site to see what they have to say.  There is so much nonsense out there in cyberspace it is ridiculous. 

Now the truth is I have no idea how honest the Snopes Urban Legend site is, 
but what they say makes sense plus they list many references. 

I feel fortunate that someone has taken the time to check these stories out!

Rick Archer
September, 2000


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