Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, is shot to death in Oakland, California.
1989 (Aug 22)
Huey P. Newton, a cofounder of the Black Panther Party, was shot to death in Oakland, California. He was forty-seven years old. Since the demise of his racial activism in the 1960s, Newton continued to have numerous encounters with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. In 1974, he was charged with pistol-whipping his tailor, possession of a handgun, and murdering a seventeen-year-old prostitute. Before his murder trial, Newton fled to Cuba but returned to face the charges in 1977. He was tried twice on the murder charge, but both trials ended in mistrials with the juries deadlocked in favor of acquittal. The charges were later dismissed in 1979. In 1978, Newton was convicted of possession of a handgun, but was acquitted on the charge of assaulting his tailor after the alleged victim refused to testify against him. Newton served nine months in California's San Quentin Prison on the gun charge in 1987. In March of 1989, Newton was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading no contest to charges of misappropriating $15,000 in public monies which had been given for a school the Black Panther Party had operated in the early 1980s. At the time of his death, Newton, who had earned a Ph.D. degree in social philosophy from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1980, was attempting to rehabilitate himself from alcohol and drug abuse. After Newton's death, Charles Garry, his attorney, called Newton the founder of "the renaissance of the Black liberation movement." He said the Panther leader had a very sweet side, a humane side, a dignified side, a man who was theoretically in favor of a better world."