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Ex-radicals arrested in 1971 cop killing, police say (AP Repost)
Police continue harassment of Black Panther elders.
Ex-radicals arrested in 1971 cop killing, police say
POSTED: 10:15 p.m. EST, January 23, 2007
• Eight people, seven linked to the Black Panthers, arrested in 1971 slaying
• Victim was San Francisco police Sgt. John V. Young
• Suspects were members of Black Liberation Front, a violent offshoot
• Defense attorney: "prosecution based on vengeance and hate from the '60s"
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SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Eight men were arrested Tuesday in the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer that authorities say was part of a militant black group's five-year campaign to kill law enforcement officers in California and New York.
Police said seven of the eight are believed to be former members of the Black Liberation Army, a violent offshoot of the Black Panther Party.
The August 29, 1971, shooting death of Sgt. John V. Young, 51, was one in a series of attacks by BLA members on law enforcement officials on both coasts, police said.
The attacks, carried out between 1968 and 1973, also included the bombing of a police funeral in San Francisco and the slayings of two New York City police officers, as well as three armed bank robberies that helped fund their operations, police said.
The arrests were just the latest attempt in recent years to hold antiwar radicals and black-power militants responsible for crimes committed a generation ago.
The investigation of the Black Liberation Army killing spree was reopened in 1999 after "advances in forensic science led to the discovery of new evidence in one of the unsolved cases," the San Francisco Police Department said in a statement.
Morris Tabak, the department's deputy chief of investigations, would not elaborate on the evidence except to say: "It could be fibers. It could be DNA. It could be other biological evidence."
Murder and conspiracy charges were filed against Ray Michael Boudreaux, 64, of Altadena; Richard Brown, 65, of San Francisco; Herman Bell, 59, and Anthony Bottom, 55, both behind bars in New York state; Henry Watson Jones, 71, of Altadena; Francisco Torres, 58, of New York City; and Harold Taylor, 58, of Panama City, Fla.
Bell's lawyer, San Francisco attorney Stuart Hanlon, called the arrests a "prosecution based on vengeance and hate from the '60s."
"There's a law enforcement attitude that they hate these people, the Panthers," Hanlon said. "Now they're going after old men."
Richard O'Neal, 57, of San Francisco, was also arrested on conspiracy charges.
A ninth suspect, Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth, 62, was still being sought. Police said he could be in France, Belize or Tanzania.
It's unclear whether Bridgeforth and O'Neal were members of the Black Liberation Army.
None of the suspects will face the death penalty, said Maggy Krell, deputy state attorney general. The death penalty law in effect at the time of the attack was declared unconstitutional in 1972.
The slain officer was killed when Bell and Torres, armed with guns and dynamite, raided a neighborhood police station, firing a shotgun through a hole in the lobby's bulletproof window, as accomplices were posted outside as lookouts, according to police officials in New York. A civilian clerk was wounded. Torres is accused of trying to ignite the dynamite as the pair fled the station, but the explosives failed.
The station was nearly empty that night as most officers responded to a diversionary bombing of a bank by other conspirators, according to the NYPD.
After his arrest Tuesday in New York, Torres called the case "a frame-up."
Three men, including Taylor, were charged in the attack in 1975. But the charges were thrown out by a San Francisco judge because of a ruling that evidence was obtained by torture after the suspects were arrested in New Orleans.
Bell and Bottom are serving life sentences for the killings of two New York police officers.
Brown, Boudreaux, Jones and Taylor were jailed in 2005 for refusing to answer questions before a grand jury investigating Young's death.
Three men, including Taylor, were charged in Young's attack in early 1975, but those charges were dismissed by a San Francisco judge because of an earlier ruling that evidence was obtained by torture.
Another suspect in Young's slaying, John Bowman of Oklahoma, died in December, according to his lawyer, Ann Moorman of Ukiah.
In some other cases dating to the Vietnam era, Sara Jane Olson, formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, was arrested in 1999. A former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army -- the radical group that kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst in 1974 -- she pleaded guilty and was sent to prison for the 1975 attempted bombings of Los Angeles police cars and a Sacramento-area bank robbery that left a woman dead. Four other former SLA members were also sent to prison in the robbery.
Katherine Ann Power, an antiwar radical implicated in a fatal bank robbery in Boston in 1970, surrendered in 1993 and pleaded guilty to manslaughter.