Members of the Black Panther Party, stripped, handcuffed, and arrested after Philadelphia police raided the Panther headquarters, August, 1970.
Credit: Courtesy of Urban Archives, Temple University
Members of the Black Panther Party, stripped, handcuffed, and arrested after Philadelphia police raided the Panther headquarters, August, 1970. "The Black Panther Party had its local Philadelphia headquarters in a storefront on Columbia Avenue, from which a group of young men and women went forth to sell the party's news paper and in other ways agitate for the Panthers" Ten Point Program, calling for ‘land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace." When the party decided on Philadelphia as the site of its Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention - to begin to draft ‘a constitution that serves the people, not the ruling class, the Church of the Advocate was the location for the convention's registration center, 1970. On the Saturday before the convention a murder was committed when a Philadelphia policeman was shot and killed in a Fairmont Park guardhouse. There were also other attacks on policemen. Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo used this opportunity to attack the Black Panther Party in Philadelphia. At dawn, August 31, 1970, heavily armed police raided three Panther Offices in the city, 2935 Columbia Avenue, 3625 Wallace Street, and 428 W. Queen Lane. Around the world flashed news photos of young black men arrested in the raids, who were ordered to strip. One photo showing them in their underwear and another showing them stripped naked at gunpoint." Reggie Schell, local defense captain, organizer for the party remembers it this way, "Each cop took an individual Panther and placed their pistol up the back of our neck and told us to walk down the street backyard. They told us if we stumble or fall they're gonna kill us. Then they lined us up against a wall and a cop with a .45 sub would fire over our heads so the bricks started falling down. Most of us had been in bed, and they ripped the goddamned clothes off everyone, women and men. They had the gun, they'd just snatch your pants down and they took pictures of use like that. Then they put us in a wagon and took us to the police station."