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Sunday, October 30, 2022

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Opinion | My Teenage Years With the Black Panthers

Opinion | My Teenage Years With the Black Panthers

The Black Panthers chairman, Bobby Seale, bottom right, outside the Alameda County Courthouse, where Huey Newton was on trial in 1968.
Photographs by Jeffrey Henson Scales/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, courtesy Claire Oliver Gallery

By Jeffrey Henson Scales

Mr. Henson Scales is an independent photographer and a photo editor at The Times.

In 2017, my mother died in Berkeley, Calif. When our family was preparing to sell the house, a long-forgotten collection of negative strips was found, revealing photographs I had made as a teenager during the turbulent 1960s in the San Francisco Bay Area. With these aged strips of film my mother had tucked away for half a century, fragmented pieces of my memory have been returned to me like broken artifacts that now can be mended back together for revisiting.

Panther supporters at the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland waiting to attend the trial of Huey Newton, July 1968.

The photographs in this collection start the way so many things do: with a gift.

While just 12 years old, in June 1967, as San Francisco’s “Summer of Love” was unfolding in the Haight-Ashbury district, I got caught climbing out a window of our Berkeley home one night to attend a Jimi Hendrix concert. I was sent to spend the summer with relatives in the Midwest. There, my paternal grandmother, Lillian, gave me a Kodak Instamatic camera and some film; it was meant to keep me busy and out of trouble as we traveled from city to city to visit cousins I’d never met.

Not long after I arrived in St. Paul, Minn., Black communities throughout the Midwest erupted in rebellion. What became known as the Long Hot Summer of 1967 had begun. It was soon after, in Chicago, that I first pointed my lens at an unfamiliar world around me, one where Black Americans were facing injustice and intense police repression. By the time I returned to Berkeley that fall, my worldview had been completely altered.

I found myself soon drawn to the Black Panther Party in Oakland.

“Black Power,” Chicago, summer 1967.

By the following year, protests for civil rights and against the Vietnam War and the draft were flourishing. I was not even 14 years old when I became fully engaged in photographing the Black Panther Party.

Kathleen Cleaver, the Panthers’ communications secretary, in Marin City, Calif., August 1968.

The leaders of the Black Panthers took me under their wing: I visited Huey Newton in jail frequently at the Alameda County Courthouse while he was on trial for murder in the killing of an Oakland police officer during a traffic stop. We talked on those old-style telephone receivers through a small viewing window framed by walls of thick steel.

Huey Newton at the offices of his lawyer, Charles Garry, on Aug. 5, 1970, the day he was released from jail after his manslaughter conviction was overturned by the California Court of Appeals.

The Black Panther Party chairman, Bobby Seale, encouraged me to be a photographer for the party’s newspaper, The Black Panther, which was the first place my photographs and illustrations were ever published. I would regularly cover the organization’s events as well as civil unrest at U.C. Berkeley.

Eldridge Cleaver in line at the Alameda County Courthouse waiting to attend Huey Newton’s trial.
Bobby Seale speaking to the media in 1968 in Oakland.

Eldridge Cleaver, who was a friend of my father’s and the editor of the Panther newspaper, often recruited me to accompany him around the Bay Area. We traveled with security in his gold Plymouth Fury, with KDIA, Oakland’s soul station, on the radio and the scent of cigarettes and black leather in the air. Eldridge, or El Rage, as he was often referred to by party members, would typically park on San Francisco’s narrow sidewalks. I didn’t even have my driver’s license yet. That car was the coolest place I had ever been.

Some photographs I took during that time haunt me more than others. Memories, of course, of those who were killed, others who may be still imprisoned or others who have died, and some memories of my disappointment in the decisions some of my then-idols made in their later years.

Bullet holes inside the home in West Oakland where Bobby Hutton was killed by the Oakland police while surrendering after a shootout on April 6, 1968.

Some photos bring back vivid moments of violence: It was April 1968, the Saturday after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Bobby Hutton, a 17-year-old Black Panther, was killed by the Oakland police. The next morning, the Panther leadership called me to take photographs. Charred debris from the basement where Eldridge and “Lil’ Bobby” had holed up had been dragged out to the street. The smell of burned wood, tear gas and gunfire still filled the rooms.

A year later, there were riots in Berkeley over People’s Park, a university-owned lot that had been turned into a park without permission. To stop the occupation, the police used shotguns with buckshot on the crowds, killing one young man and blinding another. I wasn’t a protester, just a teenager with a camera, standing on a balcony on campus when two officers, one with a standard 12-gauge pump-action shotgun and the other with a shotgun launching tear gas canisters, approached on the street below.

Police on Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street in Berkeley during a People’s Park protest in 1969.
On the balcony of the University of California, Berkeley, Student Union building as the Berkeley police released tear gas during a People’s Park protest, 1969.

The officer with the shotgun looked up at us and shouldered his weapon to fire. The shots rang out, buckshot splattering on the pillars we had hidden behind; then his partner fired a tear-gas grenade onto the balcony.

Black Panthers on guard duty at a 1968 rally at DeFremery Park in Oakland. John Huggins, second from right, was killed, along with Bunchy Carter, a fellow Panther, at the U.C.L.A. campus the next year. They were shot during an altercation that reportedly was incited by undercover government agents.
Panthers at a Free Huey rally outside the San Francisco Federal Courthouse on May Day, 1969.
Elbert Howard, center, known as Big Man, with other Panthers near a bust of Abraham Lincoln outside the Alameda County Courthouse.
From left, the Panther members Van Taylor, John Boweman and Richard Brown outside the Alameda County Courthouse, 1968.

This past has now come back to confront me in this new century. I changed tremendously during those years, as did so much in America. But some things sadly remain the same. In over-policed and underserved communities, the Black Panther Party focused the civil rights struggle on police violence and community needs, but so many of these inequities remain.

Self-portrait, Berkeley, 1969.

Today this historical narrative is not just etched in my memory or captured in these photographs but also fixed in America’s collective psyche. This archive of images has been returned to me as powerful forces are trying to push the clock back, to a time before these photographs were made.

Jeffrey Henson Scales is a photo editor at The Times, an independent photographer and the author of “In a Time of Panthers,” from which this essay is adapted.“

PBS NewsHour-Republican Momentum Cold Open - SNL

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Elon Musk Is Said to Have Ordered Job Cuts Across Twitter The billionaire planned to begin layoffs as soon as Saturday, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Elon Musk Is Said to Have Ordered Job Cuts Across Twitter

The billionaire planned to begin layoffs as soon as Saturday, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. Layoffs had been expected and feared by Twitter employees.
Constanza Hevia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk planned to begin laying off workers at Twitter as soon as Saturday, four people with knowledge of the matter said, with some managers being asked to draw up lists of employees to cut.

Mr. Musk, who completed a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter on Thursday, has ordered the cuts across the company, with some teams to be trimmed more than others, said three of the people, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation. The scale of the layoffs could not be determined. Twitter has around 7,500 employees.

Reports of layoffs at Twitter have swirled since Mr. Musk agreed to buy the company in April. The billionaire, who also leads the electric carmaker Tesla and the rocket company SpaceX, has told investors that he would take Twitter private, reduce its work force, roll back its content moderation rules and find new revenue streams.

The layoffs at Twitter would take place before a Nov. 1 date when employees were scheduled to receive stock grants as part of their compensation. Such grants typically represent a significant portion of employees’ pay. By laying off workers before that date, Mr. Musk may avoid paying the grants, though he is supposed to pay the employees cash in place of their stock under the terms of the merger agreement.

Twitter and a representative of Mr. Musk did not respond to requests for comment.

Ross Gerber, the chief executive of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, said he was told by Jared Birchall, the head of Mr. Musk’s family office, that layoffs were coming at Twitter. “I was told to expect somewhere around 50 percent of people will be laid off,” he said.

Elon Musk’s Acquisition of Twitter

A blockbuster deal. In April, Elon Musk made an unsolicited bid worth $44 billion for the social media platform, saying he wanted to turn Twitter into a private company and allow people to speak more freely on the service. Here’s how the monthslong battle that followed played out:

Mr. Gerber said his firm had invested less than $1 million to help finance Mr. Musk’s Twitter acquisition. Mr. Birchall did not respond to an email for comment.

Mr. Musk, 51, has moved swiftly since assuming ownership of Twitter on Thursday. He arrived at the company’s San Francisco headquarters on Wednesday and began meeting employees. Late Thursday, he fired Twitter’s chief executive, chief financial officer and other executives. He has also made an appeal to advertisers, who provide the bulk of Twitter’s revenue, to tell them that the platform will be a respected advertising destination.

But Mr. Musk is taking time to evaluate other areas of Twitter, such as deciding what posts to keep up and take down on the site. While he initially said he wanted Twitter to be a freewheeling place for all kinds of commentary and would bring back banned users, including former President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Musk on Friday made it clear that such changes would not happen immediately. Instead, he announced that he planned to form a council to handle content questions and would not immediately reinstate users who had been barred.

Mr. Musk also appears to be testing Twitter’s engineers. He and his team have assigned some of them projects to complete, three people with knowledge of the matter said. One project involved changes to Twitter’s login screen, they said. Some engineers worked late into the night on Friday to do the assignments, they said.

On Twitter, some users who accused the platform of muzzling them have been triumphant about the new ownership, while others have worried that the site will be overrun by hate speech and misinformation. Some users — such as the star producer Shonda Rhimes, the “This Is Us executive producer Ken Olin and the “Billions” showrunner Brian Koppelman — tweeted that they would leave the social media platform now that it was run by Mr. Musk.

Other Twitter users expressed concern over a surge of hate speech being reported on the platform since Mr. Musk took control. The National Basketball Association star LeBron James pointed to a report by the Network Contagion Research Institute, a private group that studies the spread of ideological content online, which said that the use of a racial slur on Twitter had increased by nearly 500 percent in the 12 hours after Mr. Musk’s deal was finalized.

“I don’t know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns twitter,” Mr. James tweeted. “But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because this is scary.” 

On Saturday, Mr. Musk took to Twitter to discuss food. “Fresh baked bread & pastries are some of the great joys of life,” he tweeted.“

At Least 149 Killed as Halloween Crowd Surge Turns Deadly in South Korea

At Least 149 Killed as Halloween Crowd Surge Turns Deadly in South Korea

“Another 150 were reported injured when they were crushed during a Halloween celebration in Seoul on Saturday night.

The Itaewon district in Seoul filled with emergency workers on Sunday morning.
Jung Yeon-Je/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SEOUL — At least 149 people were killed and another 150 injured after they were crushed in a large Halloween crowd in Seoul on Saturday night, the city’s fire department said, in one of the deadliest peacetime accidents in South Korea’s recent history.

The crowd surge happened during one of the most raucous celebrations of the year in the nation’s capital, where as many as 100,000 people, local news media said, had clogged the narrow streets of the Itaewon nightlife district Saturday evening for Halloween festivities. 

Injured people are helped after deadly crowd surge on Saturday.
Lee Jin-Man/Associated Press

SEOUL — Kim Seo-jeong, 17, a high school student, was wearing the traditional Chinese dress known as a qipao, holding a folding fan, and her friend was dressed as a maid as they joined a Halloween crowd in Itaewon, a popular nightlife district in central Seoul, on Saturday evening.

They were excited to be there, having missed previous Halloween festivities because of the pandemic. But what was expected to be an enjoyable evening out soon turned into a nightmare, as thousands of people cramming into a narrow, hilly alley next to the Hamilton Hotel created a deadly crowd crush.“

Friday, October 28, 2022

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Rev. Calvin Butts, iconic leader of Abyssinian Baptist Church and pillar of Harlem, dies at 73 - CBS News

Rev. Calvin Butts, iconic leader of Abyssinian Baptist Church and pillar of Harlem, dies at 73

"The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, who welcomed generations of worshippers as well as political leaders from across the nation and around the world at Harlem's landmark Abyssinian Baptist Church, died Friday at age 73, the church announced.

"The Butts Family and entire Abyssinian Baptist Church membership solicit your prayers for us in our bereavement," the church said on its website. No cause of death was given.

Butts began serving as a youth minister at Abyssinian in 1972 and was senior pastor there for more than 30 years. He also served as president of the State University of New York at Old Westbury, on Long Island, from 1999 to 2020.

He worked with political leaders across the ideological spectrum.

In 1995, Republican Gov. George Pataki appointed Butts to two state boards that controlled economic development grants to businesses. That same year, Butts hosted then-Cuban leader Fidel Castro at Abyssinian, where the fatigues-wearing communist received a hero's welcome.

The Rev. Al Sharpton called Butts a major pillar in the Harlem community. "He was a dominant faith and academic leader for decades," Sharpton said in a statement. "We knew each other for more than 40 years, and while we did not always agree we always came back together."

Sharpton said he had spoken to Butts recently and "he was still fighting cancer," CBS New York reported.

In a tweet, Mayor Eric Adams called Butts a "true giant of our city."

"Throughout my entire journey, Reverend Butts was a mentor, friend and advisor, even in his final days," Adams wrote.

CBS New York's Elijah Westbrook reported Friday from outside the Abyssinian Baptist Church, where residents were mourning Butts' death. Westbrook himself was christened by the reverend in 1995.

Tyler Perry and Bill and Hillary Clinton were among the mourners at a memorial service for actor Cicely Tyson that Butts presided over at Abyssinian last year. Butts praised Tyson as an example of "an example of how we all might live."

Rev. Calvin Butts, iconic leader of Abyssinian Baptist Church and pillar of Harlem, dies at 73 - CBS News