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By Scotty Reid – Former CEO of USA Inc, Mr. Barack Obama departed the pomp and ceremony of Washington, DC after the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. He did so with out pardoning or commuting the sentence of a single US held political prisoner from the Black Power and Self Determination movements of the 60s, 70s and 80s, particularly prisoners who were associated with the Black Panther Party and targets of the FBI’s notoriously brutal COINTELPRO operation with stated goals to marginalize, demonize and assassinate Black leaders to prevent the rise of a messiah like figure who would unite Black people and organize them more effectively to combat racism.
Sadie Barnette is in New York this telling the story of a victim of the United States war on black people, her father, Rodney Barnette who was one of those Black Panthers. Rodney Barnette was inspired to be apart of the Black Power and Self Determination movements that sprang up in the face of state sponsored terrorism and founded a chapter of the Black Panther Party in Compton, California in order to serve the needs of the poor and underserved of the community.
As required by all of the Panther chapters, The Compton Black Panther Party chapter provided a children’s breakfast program and that is where Barnette focused his activities. FBI Director J Edgar Hoover at the time said the social services that the Black Panthers were providing made them the greatest threat to US national security and the Congress allowed Hoover to run roughshod over the people’s civil liberties and outright criminal activity. For his charity, Rodney Barnette was put on a government watch list and the US government set about to punish him for his political affiliation with the Black Panthers. Unfortunately, the US government openly admits to maintaining such lists today including a kill list that both past Presidents Bush and Obama used to extra judicially determine who would be killed by way of missiles launched from remote controlled drones. Some of the victims have included Americans.
Barnette’s daughter, Sadie Barnette is telling her father’s story in the exhibit “Do Not Destroy,” which opened Tuesday at Baxter Street at the Camera Club of New York where she told reporters about her father’s mistreatment at the hands of the US government
“They had my dad fired from his job at the post office because of his involvement in the Panthers,” Sadie Barnette told the Cut during the exhibit’s installation. “The law they used to get him fired was the fact that he was living with a woman he wasn’t married to — even though they had a child together.” She said the FBI classified this as “unbecoming” behavior for a government employee. “That law was actually put on the books by Truman, to get gay people out of jobs in the government. To me, it’s one of those examples where people think, ‘Oh that doesn’t affect me, that law is about somebody else,’ but it can be used on whoever the government deems to be an enemy at the time.”
On the subject of the recent 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California, Sadie Barnette brought up the subject of current political prisoners who were affiliated with the group.
She said. “While we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers, I think it’s really important to remember that there are a lot of people who are still imprisoned because of their activism. It’s always important to question the government, because the government works for the people — not the other way around.”
Obama did pardon a few political prisoners like Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez Rivera but that there was no such relief coming from him to any of the many Black political prisoners. As the chapter is closed on his administration with Donald Trump being sworn in, that chapter must include how the nations first “Black President failed to do anything to address the Black political prisoners of America.