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Fact Check: Black Panther Party’s Elaine Brown Groomed By A US Government Informant

Fact Check: Black Panther Party’s Elaine Brown Groomed By A US Government Informant

Panther

Photo: Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown (center right) and founder Huey Newton (center left), July 4, 1977 (Jim Palmer/AP)

It is an established fact that the U.S. government infiltrated civil rights organizations in the 1960s and groomed members of these organizations to turn them into informants. One group that was heavily targeted was the Black Panther Party.

Some claim that former Black Panther Chairwoman Elaine Brown was being groomed as a government agent.

In an open letter to Green Party leadership during her bid to be a presidential nominee in 2007, Brown addressed the rumors head-on. The letter was reprinted by Drums In The Global Village blog.

“The vicious rumor being floated among Green Party members that I am or ever have been a government agent is a lie,” Brown wrote. “I have never consorted with the U.S. government or any of its myriad agencies against the interests of Black people, the Black Panther Party—of which I was a leading member—or any other people.

“I have dedicated my very life to the freedom of all oppressed people. Because these rumors are unfounded, unsupported by one scintilla of evidence or any citation to any specific act, they are, in the end, indefensible and, therefore, all the more insidious. I stand on my history of struggle in the Black Panther Party and since that time as the strongest refutation of this lie.”

In the letter, Brown blamed a former Black Panther Party member as being the source of the rumor. She wrote that in 2000, Cynthia McKinney, who was a member of Congress, held a meeting about the FBI’s COINTELPRO activities against Black people. Two former members of the Black Panther Party were in attendance, Kathleen Cleaver and Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt. 

COINTELPRO was a covert and illegal program conducted by the FBI aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic American political organizations, in particular Black organizations.

“At the meeting, Pratt is recorded to have asserted that I was an ‘agent.,'” Brown wrote. “This is a statement he has never dared make directly to me, and I challenge him now to do so and to present one iota of evidence to support his J. Edgar Hoover-like accusation against me. And, I would assert that, as McKinney has stood by surreptitiously and allowed her so-called forum to be used to validate Pratt’s lie, she has endorsed that lie.”

Brown also discredits Cleaver and Pratt, who she claimed were “expelled from the Black Panther Party in early 1971, as conspirators in a plot led by Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver to take over the party, whereby they denounced Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, David Hilliard, Fred Hampton and others, called for their deaths…”

While Brown outright refuted the claim that she was an FBI agent, others on the insider said her motives in the party were questionable.

Sadiki “Bro. Shep” Ojore Olugbala, who said he used to work in security for Eldridge Cleaver, remembered Brown as sort of a groupie. “At that time, Elaine was dubbed as another girl who wanted to have sex with men in leadership positions which placed her in a higher suspicion in my security files,” Olugbala wrote in a letter to Drums In The Global Village.

He also recalled an incident that he said was incited by Brown but in which Brown claimed to be the victim. During a Jan. 17, 1969 meeting on the UCLA campus, Brown screamed that she’d been assaulted by one of the attendees. Los Angeles Black Panther chapter leader John Huggins, with whom Brown was sexually involved, said Olugbala shot at the accused. A shootout ensued resulting in the deaths of Huggins and Black Panther Party leader Bunchy Carter.

“During the police investigation, Elaine Brown lied…She then continued this lie all the way to the witness stand in LA Superior court,” Olugbala wrote, charging that Brown’s lies led to the wrongful conviction of two people she claimed were shooters.

Brown testified for the prosecution, which in the eyes of the Panthers and Olugbala made her a “snitch.” Olugbala banished her from events, he wrote.

Later in the 1970s, Olugbala claimed that Brown became Huey Newton’s lover and inflamed his “hatred against Eldrgige.”

As the relationship between Brown and Newton soured, “Huey called her out as an FBI agent,” Olugbala wrote.

In addition to Olugbala’s claims, released FBI records revealed more than 500 reports on a wide range of activists and political groups in the Bay Area filed by early Panther member Richard Aoki, who was also an FBI informant. In the files was information on Brown that the FBI was collecting, Reveal News reported. 

The question of whether or not Brown was an informant played out on Twitter recently.

Tweeter ghetto intellectual mentions another of Brown’s lovers, Jay Kennedy.

Kennedy was a record executive, and Harry Belafonte’s business manager. He also worked for Frank Sinatra. He was a CIA and FBI informant. It was well known that he and Brown were involved.

While there is no definitive evidence that Brown was indeed an informant, there is circumstantial evidence that she may have been groomed or prepped to become one.

Photo: Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown (center right) and founder Huey Newton (center left) stand atop a ticket counter at San Francisco International Airport to address a large crowd gathered to greet Newton on July 4, 1977. With Newton is his wife Gwen, left. The man on the right is unidentified. (Jim Palmer/AP)

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