Delivering on Threats, 1971–1975

Daniel Burton-Rose

in Guerrilla USA

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780520264281
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520946033 | DOI:
Delivering on Threats, 1971–1975

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In the late 1960s, as anti-war activity reached its crest, a dramatic confrontation between young radicals and the criminal justice system took shape in the United States. Penal reform work had been a periodic cause in forward-thinking circles throughout American history; the “penitentiary,” as opposed to the prison, was one of its early innovations. Prison reform work in the mid-1960s was, in effect, a continuation of the civil rights movement by other means. Glaring differences between convicted criminals and “free” African Americans promised difficulties for would-be reformers. The Black Panther Party not only worked to improve prison conditions but elevated prisoners to the status of revolutionary actors. Unlike the Nation of Islam, which recruited heavily in prisons, college-educated Panthers did not seek to recreate the criminal element in their own, more respectable, image. Instead, they sought to imbue themselves with the “badness” of their street-level recruits. This chapter chronicles the violent acts, including bombings, of a number of radical organizations, including the Symbionese Liberation Army, the New World Liberation Front, and the Black Liberation Army.

Keywords: United States; radicals; criminal justice system; bombings; prisons; penal reform; civil rights movement; Black Panther Party; Symbionese Liberation Army; New World Liberation

Chapter.  3947 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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