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White Panther Party

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White Panther Party
Definition: Despite the fact that its name may conjure up potentially frightening racial overtones, the White Panther Party was not a racially charged movement formed in opposition to the Black Panther Party. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Formed in 1968 in Ann Arbor Michigan by political activists John and Leni Sinclair and Lawrence "Pun" Plamondon, the group was created after Black Panther founder Huey Newton stated that any white person who wanted to support the Black Panther Party could do so by forming a White Panther Party.

At the time, Sinclair was managing the MC5, effectively giving the White Panther Party a "house band" that also embraced its ideals. The MC5 was wildly popular in Detroit at the time, making a name for their legendary live shows, and their radical following found a distinct kinship with the White Panther Party and it's teachings. Eventually the band found the party's politics too heavy for them, and they parted ways in 1969.

The emblem of the party was a white panther, sometimes used in conjunction with the MC5 on a purple background with the phrase "Music is Revolution," and their ideals effectively followed the ideas laid out by many '60s radical groups of the time, and were laid out in the party's 10-Point Program, as issued by John Sinclair.

White Panther Party 10-Point Program

1. Full endorsement and support of Black Panther Party’s 10-Point Program.
2. Total assault on the culture by any means necessary, including rock ’n’ roll, dope and fucking in the streets.
3. Free exchange of energy and materials — we demand the end of money!
4. Free food, clothes, housing, dope, music, bodies, medical care — everything free for everybody!
5. Free access to information media — free the technology from the greed creeps!
6. Free time and space for all humans — dissolve all unnatural boundaries.
7. Free all schools and all structures from corporate rule — turn the buildings over to the people at once!
8. Free all prisoners everywhere — they are our brothers.
9. Free all soldiers at once — no more conscripted armies.
10. Free the people from their “leaders” — leaders suck — all power to all the people! Freedom means free everyone!

While the Panthers went on to span chapters throughout the country and throughout the world, with Abbie Hoffman proclaiming membership, the Ann Arbor chapter grabbed its own national attention. John Sinclair and Plamondon were indicted in 1968 in connection with the bombing of a CIA office in Ann Arbor, and Plamundon fled the country to Algeria, where he stayed with exiled Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver. In connection, Plamondon became the first hippie to make the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List. After he snuck back in the country in 1970, we was arrested in a routine stop that landed him in federal prison.

John Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1969, after giving two joints of marijuana to an undercover narcotics officer. In protest, The John Sinclair Freedom Rally was held on December 10, 1971, in Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Among others, the event featured a performance by John Lennon and was released as the film Ten For Two. Ultimately the defense of their cases would lead to their release and a reform of federal wiretapping laws, after it was revealed that investigators had been wiretapping their conversations without warrants.

During Plumondon and Sinclair's time in prison, the White Panther Party was renamed as the Rainbow People's Party before disbanding in 1973. Other chapters survived throughout the States, with California chapters lasting into the '80s. John Sinclair later joined forces with MC5 bassist Michael Davis, co-opting the old slogan to found the Music Is Revolution Foundation, a non-profit organization intent of supporting music education in public schools, utilizing music as way for students to explore self-expression, build self-esteem, and to channel their creative energies in a way that aids them to help improve academically.

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