Panther 21

The Panther 21 is a group of twenty-one Black Panther members who were arrested and accused of planned coordinated bombing and long-range rifle attack on two police stations and an education office in New York City.[1] The trial eventually collapsed and the twenty-one members were acquitted.[2]

Attempted bombings

Three attacks were planned for Friday, January 17, 1969 at 9 am. Dynamite had been placed in the three locations:

Attack Result
Bronx Forty-fourth precinct police station Dynamite sticks at the Forty-fourth Precinct station had been switched by a police undercover agent with phonies, so that only a blasting cap exploded
Manhattan Twenty-fourth Precinct police station The fuse on the phoney sticks had been improperly lit
Queens Board of Education office Real dynamite which was from a source other than the undercover police blew a hole in the side of the building

At the Queens school near the forty-fourth precinct station, one Panther, nineteen-year-old Joan Bird, was arrested, while two men escaped. The men left behind a long-range rifle with which they had planned to shoot at the police as they rushed out of the burning building after the explosion.[1]

Indictments and incarceration

On April 2, 1969 twenty-one Black Panther members were indicted. The number dropped from twenty-one to thirteen, who were arraigned before Judge Charles Marks with bail set at $100,000. Joseph A. Phillips from the District Attorney's Office led the prosecution, with Jeffrey Weinsten as his assistant.[1][3] The Panthers were charged with conspiracy to kill several police officers and to destroy a number of buildings, including four police stations, five department stores, and the Bronx Botanical Gardens.[4]


The District Attorney read Chairman Mao Zedong's Little Red Book and showed the court the movie The Battle of Algiers.[3]

At the time, the eight-month trial was the longest and most expensive in New York State history.[3]


The Black Panther members were acquitted on May 12, 1971 of all 156 charges.[2][3]


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