Thomas “Blood” McCreary, a veteran of the Black Liberation Movement, started working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the early 1960s and later became a member of Black Panther Party (BPP) in New York City in 1967 after returning from service in Vietnam.
In 1972, McCreary was captured in Saint Louis Missouri during a shootout involving a police officer, incarcerated and pardoned after five years. But with many of his liberation brothers still in prison, McCreary has continued to press for their freedom and recognition of their rights.
He became a member of the Black Liberation Army (BLA), fighting for the release of other prison comrades who are serving long prison sentences.
Here are five things you need to know about Thomas “Blood” McCreary:
The McCreary family was originally from South Carolina and he said he learned respectful mannerisms that are associated with people from the South. ”On long trips I drove, I had the southern manners, you know. ‘Yes sir, whatever you say sir’”.
“Good” manners got him out of trouble in some cases with the police, he said — the kind of language he needed when police stopped him and his associates. “Our younger guys, Twymon (Meyers) and them, they didn’t have the manners. If a cop car stopped us, they always wanted to shoot.”
When McCreary got out of prison in 1977, he started campaigning for other still-imprisoned Panthers to be freed. Together with other BLA member Frank Chapman and a number of Panthers, mainly in New York, they visited all those with whom they had been in prison.
Herman Bell, who was Anthony Bottom’s co-defendant and one of the longest-held political prisoners, was later released in August 2018. McCreary said this was achieved by getting rid of the members of the parole board.
“Some of the members of that board had been appointed by Gov. Rockefeller (who served from 1959 to 1973),” McCreary told Fight BACK News. “We’re trying to end the practice of the Police Benevolent Association giving impact statements at the parole hearings.”
McCreary told Politico Magazine in a 2015 interview that together with the other members of a group known as Carter-Chesimard, they once planned to break other incarcerated BLA members who had been captured in New York and Detroit.
“We were going to break them out.” McCreary said.
Nevertheless, when they went to Detroit and looked things over, it was clear it was never going to work so they opted for a new plan — to battle it out with the police. He described the period of the movement as “some pretty hot moments.”
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McCreary said he and his group were stopped by a police officer and asked to get out of the car. McCreary kept on asking the police officer, “Why is that necessary? All our papers are in order.“ When it was evident that the police officer was not going to back down, one of McCreary’s colleagues, Twymon Meyers, shot the police officer. Other narcotics officers who were nearby heard the shooting and gave them a chase. A BLA bullet fired by Sha Sha Brown killed one of his friends, Ronnie Carter. When he ran out of ammunition, McCreary threw down his pistol and surrendered.
McCreary served as a member of the Black History Month Committee for Project Renewal, an organization in New York City with the goal of ending homelessness. His role on the committee was to plan the celebration of the acquittal of 21 members of the Black Panther Party who were arrested and charged with conspiracy to blow up the New York Botanical Gardens in 1969.