Saturday, February 23, 2008

Black Panther, Now Inspired by Barack Obama, Gets 30 Days For 1969 Cop Shooting

I guess such a light sentence will free him up in plenty of time to stump for Barack Obama this fall.

He's a changed man, after all.
A former Black Panther Party member has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years' probation for the 1969 shooting of a Chicago police officer.

Joseph Pannell spent years living in Canada, working as a researcher and raising a family under the name Gary Freeman.

In 1969 as a 19-year-old member of the militant group, Pannell shot Terrence Knox three times in the right arm, wounding him. Pannell was arrested after the shooting but he ran after being released on bail in the early 1970s. He spent years fighting his extradition until voluntarily returning to Chicago this month and pleading guilty to an aggravated battery charge.
Naturally, the New York is very sympathetic to Pannell. So sympathetic, in fact, they bury the fact he was a Black Panther deep in the story.
What punishment should be imposed on a man who shot a police officer almost 40 years ago and fled to Canada, but went on to live an upstanding life as a husband and father who worked in a library?
How the hell do they know he lived an upstanding life?

Ah, what does that matter? Now he's inspired by the political climate of change sweeping the land.
The case began on March 7, 1969, when Mr. Knox, then 21, was patrolling near a Chicago high school in a squad car. Prosecutors said that when he pulled over and asked Mr. Pannell, then 19, why he was not in school, Mr. Pannell fired several shots at him. While on bail, Mr. Pannell fled to Canada. He married a Canadian and worked as a library research assistant.

In 2004, he was arrested, but fought extradition. Last month he gave up that fight, saying he was inspired by the new political climate he saw in Chicago, symbolized, he said, by the support of Mayor Richard M. Daley and other political leaders for the presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama.

Mr. Pannell, who has long gone by the name Gary Freeman, called the incident “an American tragedy” and said he took responsibility for his actions.

We must seek to move away from adversarial confrontation and towards peaceful reconciliation and conflict resolution,” Mr. Pannell went on. “Today is about acceptance of responsibility, atonement and redemption.”

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