Larry Pinkney on Bill

The following are two letters, sent by Larry Pinkney,
in support of Bill Mandel.

Pinkney is a former member of the Black Panther Party, and the former Minister of Interior for the Republic of New Africa.

In the picture on the right, Pinkney speaks
at a Black History Month Progressive Speakout.
Photo by Bo Mehrad.

For more information on Pinkney,
Bill on Larry Pinkney.



As a former member of the Black Panther Party (BPP), and the former Minister of Interior for the Republic of New Africa (RNA), I am writing you to express my unequivocal support for the immediate returning of William (Bill) Mandel to the air waves of KPFA (Berkeley), with his own very much needed weekly show.

It is the very height of hypocrisy and irony that KPFA, a so-called “listener supported”, free speech, radio station continues to engage in the most disgusting practice of de facto censorship in the case of Bill Mandel.

The courageous on air actions of Bill Mandel literally saved my life and those of numerous other prisoners when he exposed the attempts by prison authorities to encourage a bloody prison riot. Notwithstanding the fact that Bill Mandel is a person of solid principles, his much needed and knowledgeable commentary is full of “combined gentleness and searing truthfulness; so powerful and yet so gentle” (my quoted words in William Mandel’s autobiography, Saying No To Power). Moreover, when the KPFA, News Director engaged in “an act of racism” by not covering the above-mentioned “prison riot” story, the on air broadcasts of Bill Mandel, combined with the efforts of many of his listeners, and the outcry from members of the state senate and U.S. Congress forced said News Director to finally cover the story.

Bill Mandel is a man of principle, experience, and immense knowledge. His show is needed by ALL thinking people on the air at KPFA now, more than ever. The apparent subterfuge being engaged in by certain staff of KPFA to gag and censor Mr. Mandel can only be characterized as utterly despicable and unacceptable! As a Black political activist who has been consistently targeted by U.S. authorities, I totally respect the courage, integrity, and enormous knowledge and experience of Bill Mandel — from his days as a warrior for the people against the censorship of McCarthyism, to the present day — of “saying no” to the de facto censorship of KPFA.

As I further wrote in a letter to William Mandel which he published in his autobiography, Saying No To Power, (Introduction by Howard Zinn), concerning Bill himself just prior to my release from imprisonment, “There are very few people indeed that I would want to be anywhere near on that day [the day of my release] as I doubt strongly that they would or could conceive of what it means to me, what I have been through, or my psychological state of mind. With you however, there is no doubt that you know all these things far more poignantly than most people could ever know or hope to know.” (pages 500-504)

Bill Mandel must be immediately returned to KPFA with his own show and with dignity and respect. The repugnantly slimy actions by certain KPFA administration to censor, play games, and gag Mr. Mandel would make the likes of Karl Rove and the rest of the George W. Bush regime proud; but such actions are not in line with the mission or intent of KPFA or Pacifica network. Bill Mandel is the people’s warrior and must be returned to the air now!

Sincerely yours…

In struggle,
Larry Pinkney

My dear brothers & sisters:

As a former member of the Black Panther Party (BPP), and former Minister of Interior with the Republic of New Africa (RNA), I strongly support Bill Mandel’s return to the air waves of KPFA. Knowing firsthand what it means to be a target of the infamous (and no doubt ongoing) COINTELPRO (U.S. Government program to “frame, discredit, murder, imprison, and otherwise neutralize” especially Black political activists), I do not give my support to Bill Mandel lightly. Indeed, too much is at stake.

Mandel’s serious support for the liberation struggle and especially people of color, is significant and impeccable. He is not some kind of old, white, worn out, arm chair revolutionary. To the contrary, he has been and continues to be, in a very real sense, the people’s warrior: tough, vibrant, analytical, delving, and for real.

Allow me to provide you with just a couple of examples (many of what I know of Bill Mandel):

1. When Black Panther Party offices were being shot up all across this nation (including in Berkeley/Oakland, California), and so many of my comrade brothers and sisters were being murdered by white racist cops, masquerading as humans; Mandel, (his now late wife Tanya, and only a handful of other white folks) went to the Berkeley/Oakland Black Panther Party office, stood outside and physically placed his/their bodies on the line between the murderous cops and their bullets — and the Black Panther sisters and brothers on the inside of that office. This was not chump rhetoric, BS, or some other form of intellectual masturbation: This was Mandel placing his life on the line for the struggle, and in this case, on behalf of Black people!

2. At a time when prisoners, and most especially Black prisoners, were being blatantly setup, brutalized, tortured and murdered at prisons all across this nation by prison officials from Attica to San Quentin, Mandel took action. As a then prisoner in the infamous California Department of Corrections, [reference: The Burning Spear (UHURU) newspaper, Oakland, CA, July 1983, article entitled, “U.S., Canada, in Case of Black Prisoner, Violate International Law”], I directly witnessed how Bill Mandel used his KPFA program to specifically expose on the KPFA air waves, the murderous attempts by California prison officials to murder me and hundreds of other mostly Black prisoners. Mandel’s exposé showed that California prison officials had sought to incite a very bloody prison riot and then attempt to blame it on me. Mandel’s unrelenting and hammering exposé resulted in members of the California Senate, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives launching an investigation, which saved the lives of hundreds of prisoners, including my own.

When some others who could have acted, ignored the situation, cringed and cowed; Mandel took rapid, repeated, and unrelenting action. He knew lives (mostly of Black prisoners) were at stake, and he would not and did not stop!

These are but two examples, out of many that I could cite, that address the for-realness, integrity, wit, intelligence, and courage of Bill Mandel. Moreover, his love for the people (including people of color) remains strong and  constant. Perhaps, the strongest testament to William (Bill) Mandel is from W.E.B. DuBois himself, who directly thanked Mandel for his stalwart “defense” of him (in DuBois’ book, In Battle For Peace).

My dear sisters and brothers of the programming council, we ALL need to have Bill Mandel back home on the air at KPFA. I urge you, as I’m certain that the  late W.E.B. DuBois would, to act energetically and swiftly to return Bill Mandel to the air. He belongs to us ALL.

The struggle continues. Know that I am and remain yours…

In struggle,
Larry Pinkney