A group of thirty young black men and women, dressed in black
leather jackets, berets, and dark glasses, crosses the lawn to the steps of the state
capitol. Many of them are armed with shotguns, though they are careful to keep the weapons
pointed towards the sky. As they approach the entrance to the capitol building, Governor
Ronald Reagan, speaking to a cluster of schoolchildren nearby, catches sight of their
advance, turns on his heel, and runs. Still marching in tight formation, the group reaches
the steps, faces the crowd, and listens attentively as their leader, Bobby Seale,  reads
Executive Mandate Number One of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense to the startled
audience. The mandate, addressed to the American people in general and the black
people in particular, details the terror, brutality, murder, and repression of
black people practiced by the racist power structure of America, and
concludes that the time has come for black people to arm themselves against this
terror before it is too late.  Cameras flash as Seale finishes reading and the
defiant group proceeds into the building. One wrong turn, and the delegation stumbles onto
the Assembly floor, currently in debate over the Mulford Act, aimed to prohibit citizens
from carrying loaded firearms on their persons or in their vehicles. Chaos ensues:
legislators dive under desks, screaming, Dont shoot! and security guards
hurriedly surround the party, grabbing at weapons and herding everyone into the hallway.
All the while cameramen and reporters run back and forth, grinning in anticipation of
tomorrows headlines. Who are you? one manages to shout before the
assembly is led into an elevator. Sixteen-year-old little Bobby Hutton is the
first to reply, and his words remain an echo in the hallway just before the doors slide
shut with a soft hiss:
Were the Black Panthers.
Were black people with guns.
What about it?