A little self-promotion here. I have a piece in this month’s LA Times Magazine about the previously untold tale of a 5-hour, 5,000 round shootout between the Black Panthers and SWAT. The fight was the death of organized American radicalism and the birth of the paramilitary American police force–SWAT’s very first operation.
It was two hours before sunrise on that Monday morning, and dogs were barking all over the neighborhood—up the alley off Central, in business parking lots, in back and front yards. Nineteen-year-old artist Gil Parker had a bad feeling as he stood on the roof of party headquarters, automatic weapon in hand. Something wasn’t right…something was setting off all these dogs. The strange feeling lingered, but he couldn’t see anything—until it was too late.
Staring out into the L.A. night, Parker suddenly turned to see a line of men in black climbing up the walls behind him. Soon they were swarming the roof. A floodlight hit his face from a helicopter above. “Drop your weapon,” he heard a cacophony of voices screaming. Parker complied, but before he was overwhelmed, he had signaled his sleeping comrades.
“They’re here!” he yelled, stomping on the roof. After tackling him and pushing a gun into the base of his skull so hard it tore his flesh, the police grilled him in whispered screams. How many inside? Was Geronimo Pratt there?
Blood running down his face and into his mouth, Parker remained silent. Gunshots soon erupted all around him. Cotton Smith had gotten the warning. For the next five hours, the Panthers put up the fight of their lives.
That’s all you get. Go read the piece you crazy kids.