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The “Panther 21 Trial”

May 11, 1971 — “Panther 21 Trial,” Criminal Courts Building, New York City


I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. I don’t know how I’m supposed to justify the charges that [Assistant District Attorney Joseph A.] Mr. Phillips has brought before the court against me. But I do know that none of these charges has been proven and I’m not talking about proven beyond a reasonable doubt. I’m saying that none of the charges have been proven, period. That nothing has been proven in this courtroom, that I or any of the defendants did any of these things that Mr. Phillips insists we did do.

So, why are we here? Why are any of us here?

I don’t know. But I would appreciate it if you end this nightmare, because I’m tired of it and I can’t justify it in my mind. There’s no logical reason for us to have gone through the last two years as we have, to be threatened with imprisonment because somebody somewhere is watching and waiting to justify being a spy.

So do what you have to do. But please don’t forget what you saw and heard in this courtroom . . .  Let history record you as a jury that would not kneel to the outrageous bidding of the state. Show us that we were not wrong in assuming that you would judge us fairly. And remember that that’s all we’re asking of you. All we ask of you is that you judge us fairly. Please judge us according to the way that you want to be judged.



Source: The Briar Patch; the People of the State of New York v. Lumumba Shakur et al, by Murray Kempton (New York: E. P. Dutton Co, Inc.) 1973, pp. 268-269.