The White Panthers


The White Panthers were a far-left anti-racist white American political collective founded in 1968 by Pun Plamondon, Leni Sinclair, and John Sinclair. It was started in response to an interview where Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, was asked what white people could do to support the Black Panthers. Newton replied that they could form a White Panther Party. The counterculture era group took the name and dedicated its energies to ‘cultural revolution.’ John Sinclair made every effort to ensure that the White Panthers were not mistaken for a white supremacist group, responding to such claims with ‘quite the contrary.’ The party worked with many ethnic minority rights groups in the Rainbow Coalition. The group was most active in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan and included the proto-punk band MC5 which John Sinclair managed for several years before he was incarcerated. From a general ideological perspective, Plamondon and Sinclair defined the White Panthers as ‘fighting for a clean planet and the freeing of political prisoners.’ The White Panthers added other elements such as advocating ‘rock ‘n roll, dope, sex in the streets and the abolishing of capitalism.’ Yippie co-founder Abbie Hoffman praised the WPP in Steal This Book and Woodstock Nation, and John Sinclair often referred to himself as a Yippie as well. The group emerged from the Detroit Artists Workshop, a radical arts collective founded in 1964 near Wayne State University. Among its concerns was the legalization of marijuana; Sinclair had several arrests for possession. It aligned itself with radical politics, claiming the 12th Street Riot was justifiable under political and economic conditions in Detroit. Plamondon was indicted with John Sinclair in connection to the bombing of a Central Intelligence Agency office in Ann Arbor on September 29, 1968, a year after the founding of the group. Upon hearing on the left-wing alternative radio station WABX that he had been indicted, he fled the U.S. for Europe and Africa, spending time in Algeria with exiled Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver. After secretly re-entering the country, and on his way to a safe house in northern Michigan, he was arrested in a routine traffic stop, joining John Sinclair, who had been sentenced to nine and a half years in jail for violating Michigan’s marijuana possession laws, in prison. Plamondon was convicted and was in prison when Sinclair was released on bond in 1971 while appeals were being heard on his case. Sinclair’s unexpected release came two days after a large ‘Free John’ benefit concert, with performances from John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Bob Seger, and Stevie Wonder, was held at the University of Michigan‘s Crisler Arena. …”
Wikipedia
WHITE PANTHERS’ “Total Assault on the Culture”
John Sinclair, the Icon and the Man
vimeo: WHITE PANTHER: The Legacy of John Sinclair

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