Copyright © 1995-1996, Paul De Rienzo, Dana Beal
and Members of the Project
All Rights Reserved
Chapter 3: Dhoruba Moore
Sitting together in early 1974, Dana and the Lotsofs were not the first people to realize methadone has serious problems. Today Ron Fogel works on Ibogaine, but he happens to be one of the with Dr. Robert DuPont. He says they knew it had serious liver and kidney toxicities almost from the beginning, but that Nixon and Rockefeller (Rockefell er University owned the patent) were hell-bent on solving the rising crime rate. To serious concerns among early researchers, the word on the street soon added that it can rot your bones, make your teeth fall out, and cause ballooning of your joints.
(To be fair, many people tolerate it. Lotsof credits it with getting him off the street so he could put his life back together. But not all opposition is based, as proponents think, on moralistic objections against any addictive drug.)
In 1968-9, the Black Panthers initiated a whole movement in the Bronx that seized Lincoln Hospital Methadone Detox, the pilot project for New York City and the country. They agitated, picketed and, after shutting it down, occupied it. Then they re-open ed it as Lincoln Drug-Free Detox, using non-Western techniques such as acupuncture and “Social” re-education through the ideology of the Black Panther Party. Only much later would it become clear that one of the longest-lasting impacts of the Panthers was in this area–that a section of the B.P.P. in fact survived, minus guns, in the movement of black acupuncturists.
The New York Panthers were never as well known outside the city as the Oakland bunch, who as the Central Committee controlled the party paper and so on. The image that really made it out to white radicals across the country was this Myth of Black Pan thers waging a war against police-controlled heroin dealing in Harlem. It was all publicized during the three trials of Dhoruba Bin Wahad (then known as Dhoruba Moore) in the early seventies. His story left a lasting impression amongst the YIPs.
Born Richard Moore, Dhoruba grew up in the Southeast Bronx in the ’50s, which he describes as a “time warp for Black people, who had not yet fully begun to struggle for their liberation.” His father was a heroin addict. He was raised by his mother, m ostly. As a teenager, he joined a gang, but because of his father he never dealt anything but marijuana (and, later, a bit of acid).
In 1962, he was sent to prison for five years for what he describes as “an act of self-defense.” In prison he sharpened his mind with the works of various Black and revolutionary writers. His comrades gave him the name “Dhoruba,” which is Swahili for ” He who is born in the storm.” He was released in 1967, into the Vietnam protest era.
Wanting to become an artist, he began to frequent the East Village. He had an apartment on East Third Street across from a jazz bar called Slug’s. It was the Summer of Love, but there is no indication that he attended happenings in nearby Tompkins Squ are Park.
He became politically active only after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4, 1968. With the assassination of King, young Blacks everywhere felt that non-violence was not enough–that they had to make things happen faster. Black Panther chapters popped up like mushrooms. Dhoruba decided to go by the Harlem office and check them out.
Belying the guns and black leather, nine-tenths of the Panther program consisted of organizing rent strikes, community health clinics and free breakfasts for school children (liberally mixed with Black Consciousness education), as well as campaigning against hard drugs. This last included both harassing local dealers and, as mentioned, the ground-breaking takeover of Lincoln Detox. Introducing accupuncture or T’ai Chi was a logical extension of the community health focus and the Maoist ideology of t he Panthers. (It’s said the Oakland Panthers just sold the LITTLE RED BOOK, the NewYork Panthers actually read it.) But taking on the feds’ pet treatment initiative was enough to get them in a peck of trouble, even if the New York red squad and J. Edgar H oover hadn’t had COINTELPRO (the Counter-Intelligence Program) to physically eliminate the Black Revolution. In a memo issued just forty days before the shooting of King, J. Edgar Hoover directed all agents to “prevent the rise of a Messiah” who could u nify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement.
The New York Police Department red squad (BOSS–Bureau of Special Interests) had infiltrated spies into the Panthers from the beginning. In the spring of 1969 they made their move. Based on the actions of provocateurs in their ranks, twenty-one leading New York Panthers were indicted en masse on conspiracy charges of plotting to assassinate various public officials, blow up the subways, the Bronx Botanical Gardens, commit kidnappings, and so on.
The trial dragged on for more than a year, the longest and most expensive in New York history. In early 1970 Abbie Hoffman donated his $20,000 advance from STEAL THIS BOOK, enough for bond to bail out two of the twenty-one. After joint consultations t he twenty-one elected Dhoruba and Michael Tabor, who were the best public speakers, to represent them on the outside. In the next ten months Dhoruba displayed the kind of leadership that was only bound to get him in more trouble.
Taking a leaf from their successful elimination of Malcolm X, COINTELPRO next planted letters warning that Dhoruba intended to assassinate Huey Newton. They knew New York was supporting Cleaver in his dispute with the rest of the Oakland central commit tee. A couple people had already been shot in this feud. When Dhoruba got word he was next, he went underground; there was no choice. He and Michael Tabor were immediately denounced as “enemies of the people” on the front page of THE BLACK PANTHER. The C entral Committee said he did it to sabotage the defense of the twenty -one. He was accused of ripping off defense monies.
The response of his faction was to escalate the struggle in the most creative way. NBC video footage still exists of heavily armed New York Panthers raiding a major Harlem dope distributor, dumping quarter-pounds of heroin into the gutter in the rain , to be washed away.
It was wildly popular with the Black Community. Even before he and Dhoruba were released on bail, Michael Tabor had published “Capitalism Plus Dope Equals Genocide” through the BPP, denouncing
“the plague, poisonous, lethal…sold….to Black youths who are desparately seeking a kick, a high…anything that will help make them oblivious to the squalor, to the abject poverty, disease and degradation that engulfs them in their daily existence. …By weakening , dividing and destroying us, [the plague reinforces] the strength of the oppressor enabling him to perpetuate his dominion over us.
“It is also the practice of…narcotics agents to seize a quantity of drugs from one dealer, arrest him, but only turn in a portion of the confiscated drugs for evidence. The rest is given to another dealer who sells it and gives a percentage of the p rofits to the narcotics agents. …In return for information, [informers who are dealers] receive immunity from arrest. The police cannot solve the problem, for they are part of the problem.”
Tabor turned out to be right on–prescient even. Things had gotten so far out of control, you see, that the police themselves were about to be busted, by the Feds. For all intents and purposes, the smack Panthers were dumping in the gutter belonge d to the NYPD.
It’s all a matter of public record, thanks to the KNAPP Commission: how the heroin from the French Connection bust, the biggest haul in U.S. history, had been systematically spirited out of police evidence lockers downtown, replaced with flour, and sol d on the streets of Harlem. And that scam, which brought down the whole house of cards, was only tip of the iceberg.
New York was unique, because half the junkies in America lived in its five boroughs. All five Mafia families were represented in New York. According to Alfred McCoy’s THE POLITICS OF HEROIN IN SOUTHEAST ASIA, the Cosa Nostra had by then established ne w connections in Southeast Asia under the cover of the Viet Nam war, bypassing the now-too-well-known Turkish connection. And as documented by the Knapp Commission, the entire NYPD central narcotic squad (Special Investigations Unit-SIU) was working hand in glove with the five families, selling protection and dealing drugs. For the interlocking directorate of the CIA/SIU/Cosa Nostra, that French Connection heroin was only a tiny bit of a constant flow that kept a quarter million New York addicts in schma goo.
But that particular house of cards would not come crashing down until Nixon’s second term–too late to do much good for Dhoruba and the Panthers. Dhoruba was already on the lam when word came out that the twenty-one had beat their charges. In early Ma y, 1971, the entire case was thrown out by the jury, a humiliating defeat for the criminal justice system.
For Panthers staffing the Harlem office, waiting for the next move by the police, mere vindication by a jury was like the taste of ashes in their mouths. They might tweak the NYPD by expropriating police drug money and giving it away as breakfasts for school children, but that was a scant substitute for the ability to raise funds via mass organizing, which now seemed certain to expose them only to new conspiracy charges, or death.
Chicago police had assassinated Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in a fusillade of bullets as they lay sleeping. Cops in Los Angeles laid siege to the Panther head-quarters there and shut it down. For the New York Panthers, the waiting became unbearable. Ma ny of them decided to stay one step ahead of the law, to join Dhoruba underground.
A new organization was formed, the Black Liberation Army. Jettisoning the community programs, they waged an armed struggle against the police, which of course they were bound to lose. The last black guerrilla was wiped out by 1975. You can’t win agains t atom bombs with a machine gun.
The very first action of the BLA freaked out the cops, though. Someone machine-gunned two cops guarding D.A. Hogan’s house–didn’t kill them, but ruined them for life. A few days later, two more cops were shot, dead. Now financially dependent on exprop riating smack dealers, the underground continued the campaign of taking the money, destroying the dope, “punishing” the dealers. At a place called the TRIPLE-O social club in the Bronx, an after-hours club catering to dealers and their girlfriends, Dhorub a was caught. Somehow this dope den had pretty incredible police protection. He had just lined the patrons up against the wall, stripped them naked and was collecting their valuables, when the look-out came running upstairs and told Dhoruba the street was full of cops.
A day or so after the bust, a machine gun found at the scene was linked to the shooting of the two cops guarding D. A. Hogan. One of the patrons of the “Triple O” was trying to become a corrections officer; he was persuaded to tie Dhoruba to the mach ine gun. (Ballistics also matched the shooting to another gun later seized in California, but that was not disclosed for many years.) A fingerprint taken from a copy of the NEW YORK POST wrapped around the communique from the Hogan action was matched wi th Dhoruba’s. (Unfortunately, it “had to be destroyed” to get it off the newsprint.)
The chief government witness was Pauline Josephs, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who was on medication for that. Her first statement to the police was that they’d gotten the wrong man, because Dhoruba had been at her place until 9 P.M. The shooting was at 9:08 PM–too soon for anyone to drive from the Bronx to Manhattan. But by holding her in protective custody for almost a year, the D.A.’s men cooked her testimony until they got it just right.
Nonetheless, there were so many inconsistencies when she got on the stand that the first jury refused to convict, as did a second jury. Finally, during trial three, Dhoruba snapped, rose from the defense table and said, “I’m not going to listen any mor e to that lying bitch!” The display of temper alienated the jury. It took just forty-five minutes for them to convict a man who had gone in four years from ex-con to contender for the mantle of Malcolm X.
Nineteen years for a crime he didn’t commit. For nineteen years he took whatever they threw at him and absorbed it, transformed it. By the end he saw that the problem wasn’t just radicals being held political prisoner, but the 40 per cent of all bla ck males in N.Y.C., enmeshed in jail, prison, the courts, or some other phase of the System. In a letter to his wife Tanaquil, dated September 7, 1989, he wrote:
“I’m tired of being tired, and winters are the loneliest and worst times in prison. I remember the feeling of being “up north” in Clinton or Attica during the winter, so far away from the source of any care or love or warmth–not that anybody really lo ved me during those harsh, bitter times. In Clinton–it’s on a mountain–it was so cold your hair would freeze, and the long, heated corridors of that dismal place made you feel like you were underground.
“Clinton county is one of the poorest in the state, so it’s always getting a new prison. It’s major growth industry is the traffic in Black and Latino flesh…”
The new Involuntary Servitude.
The major, unintended side effect of putting Dhoruba on ice was that he survived to do something about it, while the BLA went down in flames, and even whites in the wing of the movement that practiced armed struggle were finished off in 1981 , in Rockland, New York, in the Brink’s job.
Dhoruba was freed in February 1990, due to the diligence of his attorneys (and his own diligence) in combing through 35 0,000 pages of FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, which proved conclusively that he had been framed.
The narcs who sold the French Connection heroin in Harlem went down well. Ninety-seven out of 100 members of the SIU resigned in disgrace, were convicted, or committed suicide.
When the U.S. later invaded Panama to snag Noriega, President Bush propound ed an interesting doctrine, that whenever a government is so riddled with corruption, from to bottom, the people have a right to rebel.
Much of the rest of the Panther serve-the-people program survived, shorn of armed struggle, in community-based movements of the’70s and ’80s like the Black accupuncturists. In fact, YIPSTER TIMES, in 1977, ran a story about the mysterious death of the head of Lincoln Detox only hours before he was to meet Carter Drug Czar Peter Bourne. The Editor who solicited the story, Bob Sisko, attributed it to followers of Lyndon LaRouche, who were vying to take the program over from ex-Panthers. In the fall-out, Dr. Michael Smith became the head of Lincoln Detox.
Later, Smith would confirm to writer Dennis King that a LaRouche supporter on staff at Lincoln had been feeding info on the Panthers to the New York Police Department. A public campaign emerged against the nest of radicals and Black Panthers at Lincoln Detox. As Ed Koch swept into office as Mayor of New York City, on a platform of cutting all city funding of drug treatment–a shortfall the State of New York was supposed to pick up, but never did–then-State Senator Charles Schumer and other questioned why any government funds at all were going to programs that promoted Black history and community activism as part of treatment.
Mutulu Shakur and the Panthers who had occupied Lincoln Detox without a break for almost 10 years were lured to downtown Manhattan, to a meeting that was supposed to decide their fate. When they returned to the Bronx, they found Lincoln Detox occupied by 500 police.
All the radicals refused to accept the new regime, so they automatically didn’t get their jobs back. Michael Smith decided to stay for the sake of some kind of continuity.
As for the LaRouchoids, after riding the National Anti-Drug Coalition (NADC) to mass-movement status in ’76 and ’77, LaRouche was denounced in ’78 by then Black Muslim leader Wallace Muhammed, who called him “hateful.” NCLC propaganda (Queen of England dealing dope and all) turned out to be carelessly borrowed whole cloth from the rantings of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, with anti-Semitic references too bold even for the Black Muslims. But perhaps in return for ratting out Lincoln Detox, cooperation and support was unimpeded at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in the person of Dr. Thomas Gleaton and the “parents’ groups” (including Sue Rusche of suburban Atlanta and Otto Moulton of Massachusetts) that NIDA had put together to publicize the anti-marijuana pseudo-science of one Gabriel Nahas.
In interviews much later with Dennis King, the name that LaRouche defectors linked to the eviction of the Panthers from Lincoln Detox was Dr. Ned Rosinsky. With the Black movement against heroin neutralized, the Nahas group had no problem working closely with Dr. Rosinsky and LaRouche’s “War on Drugs” Organization well into the ’80’s. They incorporated key LaRouche tenets into their “drug prevention” message, e.g., confounding addictive and non-addictive druts, and the attitude that any drug-induced experience constituted a theft from Society. They also co-sponsored conferences at NYU in ’79 and Columbia in ’80, featuring supposed findings of Nahas (the student of the Nazi Stringaris) first presented in 1978 at the University of Rheims, his alma mater.
Mutulu Shakur moved to Harlem and started BAANA–the Black Acupuncturists Association of North America–only to be caught up on the Brinks fiasco in Nyack, New York. BAANA fell apart when Mutulu and others drew long prison sentences. Acupuncture itself became politically suspect. Those were the years that LaRouche “Executive Intelligence” personnel had twice-weekly access to the White House–years when marijuana arrests returned from 25% under Carter to the 50/50 parity with hard drug busts that had existed under Nixon. It took the crack epidemic of 1985-86 to get the public to wake up–and to rehabilitate acupuncture as well, since nothing else seemed to work for crack.
On August 22, 1989, Huey Newton was shot dead by a drug dealer who was tired of being shaken down for donations to Huey’s crack habit. Ironically, Bobby Seale had been informed of Ibogaine earlier that year. But by May of 1989, Seale no longer had much to do with Newton, who apparently was hard to deal with on coke.
Six months later, Dhoruba was released on a showing of gross prosecutorial misconduct during his trial. That day, Dana Beal walked across town to the house of his lawyer, William Kunstler, who was also one of Dhoruba’s lawyers. Dana found Dhoruba relaxing with his wife, Tanaquil Jones, on the second floor, and presented him with a summary of information on Ibogaine. So that he would never again need to confront the armed might of the State with a machine gun, just to fight heroin.
Shunned by the BPP Oakland leadership, with no bail money, Geronimo Pratt was convicted in 1972 of a 1968 murder, despite FBI wiretap logs showing he was 400 miles away at the time; he languishes to this day, with Leonard Peltier and 250 other internationally recognized American political prisonsers, victims of a COINTELPRO that never ended.