The Briar Patch: The People of the State of New York v. Lumumba Shakur et al
American justice...and the violent fears that underscore it...is the theme of Murray Kempton's brilliant examination of the landmark trial of a group of young men and women who came to be called the Panther 21.
At five o'clock in the morning of April 2, 1969, approximately 100 members of the Special Services Division of the New York City Police Dept. were dispatched to capture 19 of the 21 persons,' many of them Black Panthers,' who had been indicted for arson, conspiracy and attempted murder.
The narrative of 'The Briar Patch' explores both the mechanics of the police undercover operations that brought the Panthers to the bar, and those of their highly publicized trial. What especially distinguishes this book is the way Kempton illustrates each of the contending forces...prosecution, defense, member of the jury...acting out this great human drama from their own angle of alienation.
As Mr. Kempton states, 'A man's spirit can be marked most clearly in its passage from the reform to the revolutionary impulse at the moment when he decides that his enemy will no longer write his history.' The furious heroics and posturings of the defendants in this extraordinary trial grew out of one such moment of self-determination. That moment, a watershed of American history, is recorded in 'The Briar Patch.'
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