In the tumultuous year after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, twenty-nine-year-old Pete O'Neal became inspired by reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and founded the Kansas City branch of the Black Panther Party (BPP). The same year, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover declared the BPP was the "greatest threat to the internal security of the country."
Arrested in 1969 and convicted for transporting a shotgun across state lines, O'Neal was free on bail pending his appeal when Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the BPP, was assassinated by the police. O'Neal and his wife fled the United States for Algiers. Eventually they settled in Tanzania, where the O'Neals continue the social justice work of the Panthers through community and agricultural programs and host study-abroad programs for American students.
Paul Magnarella—O'Neal's attorney during his appeals process from 1997 to 2001—describes his unsuccessful attempts to overturn what he argues was a wrongful conviction. He lucidly reviews the evidence of judicial errors, the prosecution's use of a paid informant as a witness, perjury by both the prosecution's key witness and a federal agent, as well as other constitutional violations. He demonstrates how O'Neal was denied justice during the height of the COINTELPRO assault on black activists in the United States.
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