Venerating Cop-Killers

FrontPage Mag | Mark D. Tooley | Dec. 17, 2007

Always determined to prove that America is the center of global injustice, the Religious Left is now championing the cause of 8 former Black Liberation Army (BLA) militants who face charges for having killed a San Francisco area policeman in 1971. The Marxist BLA was an offshoot of the Black Panthers, whom it deemed too moderate, and is believed to have assassinated 13 police officers during the early 1970’s in a deliberate terror campaign.

Hailed the militants as persecuted martyrs, a World Council of Churches (WCC) press conference in New York recently demanded the immediate release of the so-called “San Francisco 8.” A WCC official gravely intoned: “The time has come to set free those who have been bound. The case of the SF8 requires all of us to come together, and take an active stand for justice for all U.S. political prisoners.”

Armed with new forensics evidence that implicates the “political prisoners” in murder, San Francisco has reopened the 36 year old case, re-arresting 6 of the aging militants and charging two more who are already serving time in a New York prison for killing two New York police officers. Seven of the 8 are being charged directly in the murder of San Francisco Police Sergeant John Young. He was killed on August 29, 1971 when BLA activists shot him in a police station. The remaining BLA militant is charged with conspiracy in the killing. On the same evening, the California Department of Prisons in Sacramento and San Francisco were bombed, probably in a coordinated attack.

Besides Officer Young’s killing, the “San Francisco 8” are charged with the attempted murder of four police officers, the bombing of a police officer’s funeral, the murder of two New York City police officers, the attempted bombing of a police station and three armed bank robberies,
all between 1968 and 1973.

The two BLA militants already incarcerated in New York are Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom, also known as Jalil Muntaqim. They murdered two New York City police officers, Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini, by shooting them from behind in Harlem on May 21, 1971. The other former BLA militants who were arrested earlier this year for the San Francisco murder are Francisco Torres of New York, Ray Michael Boudreaux of Altadena, Calif., Richard Brown of San Francisco, Henry Watson Jones of Altadena, and Harold Taylor of Panama City, Florida. Richard O’Neal of San Francisco is charged with conspiracy. In 1971, Torres was unsuccessfully charged in the New York police killings. He later served time for a bank robbery whose intent was to fund the BLA.

Bell is believed to have shot the San Francisco officer with a shotgun, while Torres attempted to dynamite the police station, with help from Jones. Bowman, Brown and Taylor are charged with being the lookouts, while Boudreaux is charged as a getaway driver. On the same 1971 evening, Bottom and Washington shot at but failed to hurt another San Francisco police employee. When arrested, they possessed the 45-caliber gun that had earlier killed the two New York City officers.

Earlier this year, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly praised the recent arrests of the BLA militants. “They shot two New York City police officers in the back as part of a series of assassinations directed against police officers in those murderous days,” he said. “It may have been 35 years ago, but I certainly haven’t forgotten. Neither has anyone who was a member of the police department back then.”

San Francisco Deputy Police Chief David Shinn similarly reacted. “This was an organized group that went after police officers who were literally tasked with providing for the safety of San Francisco,” he said. “These were very heinous acts that resulted in the deaths of police officers. … We lost members of our family.”

Why is the Religious Left so interested in protecting 8 aging militants involved in police killings 36 years ago? Three of the “San Francisco 8” were arrested in 1973 in New Orleans. During their 1975 trial, the judge dismissed the charges by asserting that the evidence against them was gained through torture by New Orleans police. Torture! The Religious Left was almost never interested in torture until The War Against Terror allowed it to charge the U.S. with routinely torturing terrorist inmates.

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