The Real News Network interviews Eddie Conway, who was a lieutenant of security for the Black Panther Party from 1968 to mid 1970. Incarcerated in 1970, Eddie served nearly 44 years in prison after being convicted of shooting at two police officers. Released in March 2014, he has declared his innocence ever since his arrest and points to the absence of any direct evidence, his inability to secure legal defense of his choice during his trial, and the extent to which a notorious jailhouse informant's testimony was relied on by the prosecution for his conviction. While incarcerated, he earned three college degrees, organized a literacy program, and ran an education and conflict resolution group for gang members, or to use word Eddie's words, street organizations. He continues to work in Baltimore as an activist.
Mr. Conway, a former member of the Baltimore Black Panther chapter, says as a child he didn't understand politics, but he did understand oppression
Former Black Panther Eddie Conway says, while serving in the military, it dawned on him that the same army that was aiming its guns at the black community was doing the same thing in Vietnam
Mr. Conway describes the campaign by police agencies to destroy the Black Panthers, and how he joined the Baltimore chapter which he later found out was founded by an agent of the NSA
Mr. Conway says the Panthers were also a threat because they recognized the humanity of and worked with all ethnic groups
Mr. Conway says, by targeting the Panthers, the FBI and other state and local agencies were functioning as a national secret police. That was COINTELPRO; it carries on under The Patriot Act.
Mr. Conway tells the story of his arrest and trial, and being "represented" by a lawyer whom spent 45 minutes with him before going to trial
Mr. Conway says prisoners were treated like animals; and because he resisted and organized, he was in lockup twenty three and a half hours a day for six years
Mr. Conway says after 44 years in prison I considered people of value and to be respected, I refused to be dehumanized
After the Ferguson Grand Jury verdict, Mr. Conway says police are asked by society to control the poor as if they are fighting a war, so anything goes