Jerry Brown brings Panthers to the people

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The Independent Online
NOBODY HAS heard a political activist shout "Power to the people!" for a good while but in Oakland - San Francisco's ugly sister across the bay, famous for its Sixties radicalism - the slogan has become quite fashionable in recent days.

First came Monday's inauguration of Jerry Brown, the mercurial former governor of California and twice presidential candidate, who has returned to the grass roots as the city's mayor. And now two old members of the Black Panthers, the radical movement that fanned out from Oakland to fight for self-determination for blacks, have announced that they are returning home.

David Hilliard, the Panthers' chief of staff who spent several years in jail for his involvement in a shoot-out with police, returned to his old high school in West Oakland and announced he would seek to represent the district in next year's city-council elections. His campaign manager will be Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Panthers and a man perhaps best known for being bound and gagged in court during the trial of the so-called Chicago Eight at the height of the anti-Vietnam counter-culture in the late 1960s. Mr Seale said he would move back to the West Coast from Philadelphia.

"All power to all the people!" the two men chanted happily in a nostalgic throwback to earlier, more hot-headed days.

Both made clear, however, that now whites and blacks can work together and armed struggle is no longer a political requirement. Mr Brown is their inspiration. "We now have a progressive mayor who sounds more like a Black Panther with every speech he makes," Mr Hilliard said.