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Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression

This book examines generated information by the media regarding the interac-
tion between the Black Panther Party and government agents in the Bay Area
of California (196773). Christian Davenport argues that the geographic locale
and political orientation of the newspaper inuences how specic details are
reported, including who starts and ends the conict, who the Black Panthers tar-
get (government or nongovernment actors), and which part of the government
responds (the police or court). Specically, proximate and government-oriented
sources provide one assessment of events, whereas proximate and dissident-
oriented sources have another; both, however, converge on specic aspects
of the conict. The methodological implications of the study are clear; Dav-
enports ndings prove that to understand contentious events it is crucial to
understand who collects and distributes the information about who reportedly
does what to whom and why.

Christian Davenport is a Professor of Peace Studies and Political Science at the

Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame, as well as Director of two projects:
the Radical Information Project (RIP) and Stop Our States (SOS). He is the
author of State Repression and the Promise of Democratic Peace (Cambridge, 2007),
co-editor of Repression and Mobilization (2004), and editor of Paths to State Repres-
sion: Human Rights Violations and Contentious Politics (2000). His articles have
appeared in journals including the American Political Science Review, the American
Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the Journal of Conict Resolution,
Mobilization, Political Research Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, and the
Monthly Review. See www.christiandavenport.com.
Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics

Mark Beissinger Princeton University
Jack A. Goldstone George Mason University
Michael Hanagan Vassar College
Doug McAdam Stanford University
Suzanne Staggenborg University of Pittsburgh
Sidney Tarrow Cornell University
Charles Tilly (d. 2008) Columbia University
Elisabeth J. Wood Yale University
Deborah Yashar Princeton University

Ronald Aminzade et al., Silence and Voice in the Study of Contentious Politics
Javier Auyero, Routine Politics and Violence in Argentina: The Gray Zone of
State Power
Clifford Bob, The Marketing of Rebellion: Insurgents, Media, and
International Activism
Charles Brockett, Political Movements and Violence in Central America
Gerald F. Davis, Doug McAdam, W. Richard Scott, and Mayer N. Zald,
Social Movements and Organization Theory
Jack A. Goldstone, editor, States, Parties, and Social Movements
Doug McAdam, Sidney Tarrow, and Charles Tilly, Dynamics of Contention
Sharon Nepstad, War Resistance and the Plowshares Movement
Kevin J. OBrien and Lianjiang Li, Rightful Resistance in Rural China
Silvia Pedraza, Political Disaffection in Cubas Revolution and Exodus
Sidney Tarrow, The New Transnational Activism
Ralph Thaxton, Jr., Catastrophe and Contention in Rural China: Maos Great
Leap Forward Famine and the Origins of Righteous Resistance in Da Fo
Charles Tilly, Contention and Democracy in Europe, 16502000
Charles Tilly, Contentious Performances
Charles Tilly, The Politics of Collective Violence
Stuart A. Wright, Patriots, Politics, and the Oklahoma City Bombing
Deborah Yashar, Contesting Citizenship in Latin America: The Rise of
Indigenous Movements and the Postliberal Challenge
Media Bias, Perspective, and State


The Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore,
So Paulo, Delhi, Dubai, Tokyo

Cambridge University Press

The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York

Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521766005
Christian Davenport 2010

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the

provision of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part
may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published in print format 2009

ISBN-13 978-0-511-65853-2 eBook (NetLibrary)

ISBN-13 978-0-521-76600-5 Hardback

ISBN-13 978-0-521-75970-0 Paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy

of urls for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication,
and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain,
accurate or appropriate.
To/For/Against/Because of
Charles (Chuck) Tilly
Friend, Mentor, Antagonist, Supporter, and Inspiration
Let us be on guard against the dangerous and old conceptual ction that
posited a pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject; let us guard
against the snares of such contradictory concepts as pure reason, absolute
spirituality, knowledge in itself : these always demand that we should
think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular
direction, in which the active and interpreting forces through which alone
seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; these always
demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense. There is only a perspective
seeing, only a perspective knowing; and the more affects we allow to speak
about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one
thing, the more complete will our concept of this thing . . . be.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals (1969) (emphasis in original)

Figures and Tables page x

Preface and Acknowledgments xi


Part I. Conceptualization

Part II. Cases


Part III. Conclusion


Appendix: The Black PantherU.S. Government Event Catalog 193

Bibliography 201
Index 231

Figures and Tables

1. Explaining Perspectives on State Repression page 12
2. Perspectives in the Black Panther Party Case 16
3. Comprehensive Event Coverage 28
4 Realistic Event Coverage 30
5. The Narrative Structure of Contentious Politics 57
6. The Informants for Contentious Information 62
7. Contextualizing Informants 70
8. Covering Conict between the Black Panthers and
the U.S. Government 128
9. Onset and Termination of Conict, across Newspapers 131

1. Court Activity in Five Newspapers 134
2. Police Activity in Five Newspapers 136
3. Dissident Activity in Five Newspapers 138
4. Shootings in Five Newspapers 139

Preface and Acknowledgments

Geoffrey Hawthorn once stated (1991: xi) that possibilities haunt the
human sciences. Although the phrase refers to counterfactuals, it has stuck
with me because at the time I came across it, I was just beginning to inves-
tigate a rather complex research problem. In 1994, when I started what
would become this project, I was interested in understanding why and how
repressive behavior was directed against the Black Panther Party (BPP) in
Oakland, California, between the years 1967 (the rst full year of their exis-
tence) and 1973 (the ending for the rst and most well-known cohort of
members). Simply put, I was interested in understanding why and how the
Bay Area Panthers were harassed, beaten up, wiretapped, arrested, shot,
and tried by authorities throughout the United States. Although opinion
on this matter remains bitterly divided to this day, systematic investigation
of the topic is not to be found.
As for an explanation for the organizations demise, there is plenty of
blame to go around. Some, for example, point to the BPP themselves for
the repression directed against them because of their rampant criminality,
violence, and radicalism. Others place the blame squarely on the shoulders
of political authorities because of their pervasive racism and the extensive
use of violence against African American social movements, in particular,
as well as against blacks in general. Still others blame both the Panthers
and the police for what took place, noting that the combination of the two
created and perpetuated a situation that led to political repression.
To address the question of interest, I followed a research strategy that
Charles Tilly (2002) referred to as event cataloging and collected infor-
mation from ve newspapers both in and outside the Bay Area regard-
ing exactly who did what to whom during the relevant period. From start
to nish, it took about a year and a half to complete the coding of the
Preface and Acknowledgments

information, after which I plotted the data on state repressive behavior of

the BPP. Looking at the gures, it was immediately apparent that the listings
of events provided in the newspapers were different from one another. The
catalogs did not show redundant illustrations of the same event-sequence
as the conventional perspective would lead one to expect (i.e., numerous
versions of the same series of repressive events over time). Quite to the
contrary, each of the graphs identied a unique set of actions, which varied
in magnitude, in the timing of peaks and valleys, and in the time when the
repression ended. In certain respects, the characterizations were so differ-
ent that it was not obvious that one was looking at the same time, place,
and actors.
In response to this situation, I believe I followed the appropriate proce-
dures. First, I made sure that the correct commands had been entered into
the program used to generate the graphs and that the correct variables had
been selected. Second, after ensuring that these conditions had been met
and observing the same results, I disbelieved the ndings and assumed, given
the varying accounts that had been recorded, that something was wrong
with either the coding procedure or the coders themselves. Accordingly, I
hired and trained a new group of assistants (in several different institutions
throughout the United States), large amounts of data were recoded, and
extensive reliability tests were conducted. After attending to these issues
over the course of another six months, I was astonished to nd that not
much had changed. I had to make a choice about what to do next.
Thinking about the subject for a while, I decided to change assistants (for
a third time), check and recode my data, and spend another year collecting
information. Following this activity and discovering the same pattern, I con-
cluded that the data were correct and that each of the newspapers revealed
distinct event-sequences of state repression. In other words, I accepted that
each paper revealed different things about the authoritys behavior directed
against the Panthers and that, therefore, in a very important way, sources
mattered. The key for me was to gure out exactly what to do with this
information and to identify the implications of my discovery. I had under-
taken the study of U.S. repression against the Panthers in the rst place
because I wanted to know what had happened and why. When I began my
research effort, however, it had not occurred to me that these questions
would be answered in plural form; conventional events-based research led
me to expect a singular response to such an inquiry.
As time progressed, I began to think more about these issues, moving
beyond the Black Panther case to repression of another Black nationalist
Preface and Acknowledgments

organization the Republic of New Africa in Detroit, between 1968 and

1973 (1999b; 2005). Later, I considered Guatemalan state terror from 1960
to 1996 (Davenport and Ball 2002), and Rwandan state violence in 1994
(Davenport and Stam 2003). Most recently, I have begun to examine source
variation in the context of state and societal repression of the untouchables
(Dalits) in Gujarat, India, from 1985 to the present. These efforts led me
to think still further about what other individuals interested in conict (but
also other topics) did with varying accounts of what transpired. Contem-
plating the sheer volume of event cataloging in the eld of conict studies,
I assumed that there must be hundreds of decisions being made all the time
about what to do with contradictory event-sequences. What were these
decisions and how were people making them? Equally important, what
impact did these decisions have on our understanding of state repression
and conict/contentious politics? These questions began to preoccupy my
time, though answers were not immediately forthcoming. It is in this con-
text that I came to Rashomon and to the current book. By saying this, I
mean two things.
First, I saw the Akira Kurosowa lm Rashomon at some small theater
on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (always lucky is the wandering New
Yorker). Essentially, Rashomon is a story about a series of events retold by ve
different people (a woodcutter, a priest, a bandit, a wife, and a husband
through a medium). Within the event-sequence of each account, three
individuals meet, a woman and a man have sex (the wife and the bandit),
and another man (the husband) dies. This is basically where consensus ends,
for one is never really sure what they are seeing/hearing or why (e.g., the
bandit may have raped the wife, he may have seduced her, or she him; the
husband may have been killed in a duel, or he may have committed suicide).
The lm was important not only because of what it inspired within me but
also because it reminded me of an obscure phrase the Rashomon Effect,
which appeared in the beginning of James Scotts seminal book Weapons
of the Weak (1985: xviii). This recollection prompted me to reread Scott,
and although he merely mentioned the phrase in passing, its use compelled
me to think yet further about how alternative accounts might be explained
and about how they might illuminate our understanding of what takes place
when governments and dissidents square off.
Second, I began reading outside of my area of expertise (conict/
contentious politics in political science and sociology), into the elds of
communication (i.e., media studies and research on newspapers) and histo-
riography (i.e., debates concerning postcolonial and postmodern history).
Preface and Acknowledgments

This reading in other elds led me to realize how my own thinking about
event catalogs/cataloging (and that of others) had been constrained by the
work done in my specic domain of interest. I came away opened to other
views about what was going on when data were compiled and analyzed.
After another year of reading within these diverse areas, I was over-
come by a sense that the realm of what was deemed relevant was innite.
I concluded that one needed to add to Hawthorns original comment that
possibilities haunt the human sciences the observation that the human
sciences need not pursue all specters indenitely, but only for a certain
amount of time lest the phantoms take over. Within this book, I believe
that I have pursued the most important ghouls, nding a way with which
we can live with them and from which we can learn.
Here, I wish to apologize for dragging everyone along with me on my
attempt to navigate through the Rashomon Effect. I would also like to thank
them for coming along for at least part of the way. Many have supported me
along this journey by lending an ear, hounding me to weather the storm, or
providing me with a valuable insight, drink, couch, ride, and/or swift kick
not necessarily in that order. I especially wish to thank Charles Tilly, Mark
Lichbach, and Cambridge University Press (the series editors and Lewis
Bateman) for their continued and tireless efforts. The members of the D.C.
Area Workshop on Contentious Politics at the University of Maryland
(especially Jillian Schwedler and Marc Howard) and those of the Workshop
on Contentious Politics at Columbia University (especially Vince Boudreau
and Kelly Moore) were also particularly supportive. I wish to thank the
members of the Contentious Politics summer workshop at the Center for
Advanced Study for the Behavioral Sciences in 2000 (especially David Cun-
ningham and Doug McAdam and [again] Charles Tilly) and in 20089, Will
Moore, Allan Stam, Ron Francisco, Padraic Kenney, Claudia Dahlerus,
Diana Mutz, John McCarthy, Ruud Koopmans, James Scott, Marika Litras,
Carol Mueller, Ted Gurr, members of the Laboratory in Comparative
Ethnic Processes (LICEP, especially Kanchan Chandra, James Fearon, and
David Laitin), and the numerous research assistants who were essential for
the completion of this effort (particularly Stephanie Savage, David Leonard,
Julia Johnston, Ranya Guma, Siomara Santos, and Jessica Flaggs). Fur-
ther, I would like to thank three dear friends: John Sparagana, Katie Kahn,
and Darren Davis (Meos). It was not always clear where I was going with
Rashomon or where it was taking me, but by clarifying, enraging, suggest-
ing, editing, and challenging me, all of these individuals brought me to a
greater understanding of what we do as people interested in comprehending
Preface and Acknowledgments

human events and why we do it in the rst place. A nal thanks goes to Ilene
Cohen (my copy editor) whose marvelous interventions always claried
what was intended and to Julia Petrakis (my indexer) whose artistry makes
the searching/perusing of the book that much easier. Only I should be held
accountable for the pages you are about to read.
While conducting this research, I beneted from three grants from the
National Science Foundation (SBR-9617900 and SBR-9819274 and SES-
0321518). One cannot do research without such support and thus I wish
to especially thank Frank Scioli, Marrianne Stewart, and James Granato as
well as the anonymous reviewers who favorably evaluated my proposals. I
wish to thank the Harry and Frank Guggenheim Foundation for rejecting
my initial proposal and prompting me to change it and seek funds else-
where. Additionally, I received support from the University of Houston,
the University of Colorado, and the University of Maryland, my three
places of employment during this research. Of course, when I received
the support noted above, I did not yet envision the Rashomon Effect, nor
did I understand the profound inuence it would have on my work. Thus
what was actually funded was over time somewhat undermined and altered.
Nevertheless, these individuals and the institutions noted above were sup-
portive of my efforts to address important questions and conduct original
data collection and analysis; for this, I thank them. I hope they do not mind
where Rashomon took me. As with any archival project, several libraries
(special collections) and librarians from around the country proved to be
invaluable: the University of Houston, the University of Colorado at Boul-
der, Michigan State University, Stanford University, and the University
of California at Berkeley. I thank all of them for putting up with my ques-
tions/requests, opening their doors, and providing me with an environment
within which I could search as well as nd.
Finally, as I completed this work, I came to understand what a toll books
place on the relationships of those around the author. When you are writ-
ing, people in your immediate environment must live with a shadow-like
remembrance of the person you once were. Incessant discussion of perspec-
tives is one thing, but when this is combined with the half-living, I suppose
that this can be almost too much for most to bear. For tolerating phantoms
and bizarre moving objects at all hours of the day, I wish to thank Juliet
Ndidi Seignious and Nejla Yatkin. Without the two of you and the peace
that you provide, I could not have completed this or any other work.

Stanford, California, 2009

Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression

On the morning of October 28, 1967, at about 4:30 A.M., Ofcer John Frey
pulled over Huey P. Newton and Gene McKinney for questioning at the
intersection of Seventh and Willow in West Oakland, California. At the
time, Newton was cofounder and leader of the Black Panther Party for Self-
Defense (hereafter the BPP) an African American organization that was
challenging diverse actors as well as political and economic conditions in the
Bay Area1 ; Mckinney was an associate of Newtons with unclear connections
to the Panthers; and Frey was a white rookie ofcer with the Oakland Police
Department who was well known for his hostility to blacks and, in fact, was
about to be transferred to another precinct because of numerous citizen
complaints about his racism. In line with standard procedure, upon stopping
Newton and McKinney, Frey immediately called the dispatch for backup
and several minutes later Ofcer Herbert Heanes arrived.
In many respects, this trafc stop was typical of the BPPauthority inter-
action. For about a year up to that point, the Panthers and various local,
state, and federal authorities had been engaged in a low-level tit-for-tat
conict. The former employed armed monitoring of the police, engaged
in mass protest, gave ery speeches about repression and social struggle,
conducted political-education classes, and distributed communist litera-
ture; the latter employed physical and verbal harassment as well as raids

1 This includes the following counties: Alameda, Contra Cosa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco,
San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. Because of the high degree of uidity and
coordination within the Panther organization as well as police behavior, I also consider
Panther as well as government activity throughout California. Within the latter group,
actors had to have some direct connection with the Bay-area chapter (e.g., be selected by
one of the members in this area, be frequently visited by a member or have a consistent
relationship with them). Non-Bay-Area events were minimal in the event catalog.

Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression

and arrests for diverse offenses (e.g., loitering, illegal use of a loudspeaker,
and robbery). In other respects, however, the interaction was very different
from those that had taken place previously. This particular exchange ended
with both Frey and Newton being shot with the police ofcer dying at
the scene and the black nationalist leader lying on the ground, bleeding,
later to be taken to nearby Kaiser Hospital on Howe Street, where he was
handcuffed to his bed and attended to.
Exactly what took place next varied according to whom one consulted.
Within the Black Panther newspaper (the Black Panther Intercommunal News
Service, or BPINS), the shooting was followed the next day (October 29)
with an arrest of several other Panther members; on October 30, Newton
was arrested (while in the hospital recovering), and, on October 31, he
was charged with murder as the BPP legal defense team led a motion
to postpone all legal activities directed against their comrade. According to
the moderate black newspaper, the Sun Reporter, the BPPpolice interaction
went no further than the shooting, at least not immediately. According to
this source, Frey and Newton were shot and that is where it ended, not
to be mentioned again for several weeks. According to the white, radical
newspaper, the Berkeley Barb, the shooting was immediately followed by
Newtons arrest and, concurrently with this event, the Panthers held a press
conference at which they denounced the police activity and declared the
innocence of the black activist. Several days later (on October 31), the Barb
reported that several other BPP members were arrested, presumably as a
continuation of the campaign to identify as well as demobilize the Panther
organization. According to the white, conservative newspaper, the Oakland
Tribune, the day after the shooting (October 29), numerous members of
the BPP were arrested (not including Newton). On October 30, there was
a funeral for Ofcer Frey and the following day a warrant was issued for
the arrest of the Black Panther leader, who was subsequently arrested and
charged with murder. The shooting would not be mentioned again for some
time in the Tribune, but when it was (at the trial of the slain ofcer), it was
mentioned almost daily for several weeks.
The type of variation in accounts identied above is not unique in the area
of conict studies/contentious politics.2 Indeed, in many ways, it denes it.

2 This includes several authors: Sorokin 1937; Eckstein 1965; Gurr 1970; 1993; Hibbs 1973;
Tilly, Tilly, and Tilly 1975; McAdam 1982; Taylor and Jodice 1983; Scott 1985; Tilly 1986;
Olzak 1992; Khawaja 1993; White 1993; Poe and Tate 1994; Davenport 1995a; Koopmans
1995; Francisco 1996a; McCarthy et al. 1996a; McAdam et al. 1996; 2001; Rummel 1997;
Moore 1998; Sambanis 2004).


In trying to nd out about and understand any instance of conict or any

series of contentious interactions between two actors at least one of which
involves the state it is generally the case that interested parties encounter
widely varying accounts of exactly who did what to whom, with events
seeming to vary by the source. In academic literature, this is referred to
as the Rashomon Effect, after the Akira Kurosowa lm Rashomon3 (e.g.,
Condran and Bode 1982; Scott 1985; Mazur 1998; Hama 1999; Roth and
Metha 2002; Kacowicz 2005).4
Seldom acknowledged, the Rashomon Effect is crucial for social science
research, as well as for popular understanding of sociopolitical phenomena
because it prompts us to ask very difcult, yet fundamental questions. For
example, why is there more than one account of events and what is the full
range of accounts that could be encountered when one attempts to investi-
gate conict? What source(s) should one use in trying to understand what
happened during an episode of contention? Perhaps most important and
this is the focus of this study what explains the variation across accounts and
how does such knowledge contribute to understanding conictual activity?
This is important. Unless these questions are answered, we are left with dif-
ferent versions of what took place, no clear strategy for sorting them out,
and serious doubt regarding our ability to observe as well as understand
what occurs around us. The present book is motivated by such issues.
Differing from conventional wisdom, my contention is that it is nec-
essary to examine the variation in accounts of conict behavior when we
investigate contentious activity. There are two reasons for this. First, exam-
ining the Rashomon Effect provides insight into data generation. Unless
we understand the range of alternative accounts that can be produced, our
efforts at compiling data will be poorly understood (e.g., Foucault 1979;

3 Made in 1950, the lm is described quite simply:

[s]et during the chaos of 12th-century Japan, a woodcutter, a priest, and a commoner wait
out a thunderstorm in the shadow of a ruined gate. To pass the time the woodcutter and
priest tell the commoner of a recent investigation in which they both took part. They tell
the tale of a samurai and his wife who were attacked by the infamous bandit Tajomaru
while traveling. The husband is killed and the wife and bandit have sex. However, during
the investigation the specics of the attack are called into question as those involved relate
conicting versions of the events. The lm cuts back and forth between the gate and the
various versions accounting for the attack ( Johnson 1998).
As to what actually happened, one is never quite sure; invariably this is the point, however,
to get one to question reality itself and to engage the perspectives of the viewers of reality.
4 I am thus not addressing situations where sources are purposefully attempting to mislead
the reader.

Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression

Said 1993; King, Keohane, and Verba 1994; Lustick 1996; Oliver and
Maney 2000). Second, the Rashomon Effect provides deeper insight into
conict itself. Exclusively using certain sources in a way that ignores source
variation, we have been unable to examine the robustness of our theories
about contentious politics, and we have been hindered in our ability to
develop new insights (for important exceptions, see Scott 1985; Goodman
1994; Kelley 1994; Brass 1997). After rst reviewing developments in the
relevant area of inquiry over the last forty years, each of these issues will be

Event Cataloging and the Birth of Conflict Studies

The problem of the Rashomon Effect nds its origins in the early conict
or internal war studies of the late 1960s and early 1970s.5 At that time a
group of American and European academics, including some of the most
prominent scholars in social science of the period, such as Karl Deutsch,
Harry Eckstein, Ted Gurr, Samuel Huntington, Rudolph Rummel, Bruce
Russett, and Charles Tilly (see Zimmerman 1980 for a thorough review),
set out to understand how and why citizens engaged in dissident action
(e.g., protest, sit-ins, strikes, terrorism, guerrilla warfare, civil war, and
revolution) and, to a lesser extent, how and why governments engaged in
repressive behavior against those within their territorial jurisdiction (e.g.,
mass arrests and political bans). These researchers focused on seven specic
characteristics: onset, intensity (the frequency of occurrence), magnitude
(scope), lethality (the degree of violence), tactical variety (the repertoire of
activities employed), duration, and termination.
Interest in this phenomenon was not limited to the academy. The topic
was clearly important to a large audience whose lives, property, and ideas
were directly threatened by the relevant behavior. During the period in
question, much of the Third, or underdeveloped, World was engulfed
in anticolonial and/or rebellious struggles to modify or undermine specic
political-economic relations. In response to this, the relevant authorities
(inside the country and frequently with assistance from outside) engaged
in counterinsurgent efforts to establish or maintain these same conditions.
Simultaneously, in the United States and parts of the West, the developed

5 In 1937, Sorokin conducts perhaps the rst analysis in this tradition, but there were no
others for quite some time.


world, numerous protests were undertaken by ethnic groups (especially

blacks), students, women, and peace movements. In response to this behav-
ior, the relevant authorities once again responded coercively albeit with
less violence. Here, they engaged in policing to control the challengers and
given the openness with which these activities were undertaken as well as
the relative freedom of the media to cover them, these would become some
of the most well-publicized repressive activities of any period. It was clearly
a contentious moment in history, and around the world people were trying
to understand what was taking place.
Representing the state of the art at the time, most of the researchers
engaged in conict studies identied above relied upon newspapers for
information about exactly who did what to whom constructing what
Charles Tilly (2001)6 refers to as event catalogs (listings of discrete activ-
ities that identify actors, actions, locales, times, and to the extent possible
objectives as well as outcomes).7 Falling under the broader category of
content or textual analysis, these catalogs had been employed within this
area since the early to mid-1930s (e.g., Sorokin 1937; Lasswell and Blu-
menstock 1939),8 but it was during the 1960s and 1970s that one saw a
dramatic rise in the use of this technique. Following these data-collection
efforts, a tremendous amount of information was developed about polit-
ical conict. Moreover, analyses of relevant data provided a tremendous
amount of insight into why this behavior varied across time and space (see
Zimmerman 1980; Jodice, Taylor, and Deutsch 1980; Lichbach 1992; 1995;
Merritt, Muncaster, and Zinnes 1993).
Event catalogs have always been straightforward in design. To construct
them, researchers developed explicit coding rules that dened the behavior
of interest as well as specic characteristics that were identied during the

6 Tillys innovation in the development of event catalogs is particularly noteworthy. Indeed,

as Olzak (1989: 129) notes in her examination of event analysis, Charles Tilly and associates
remain the leaders in providing methods and techniques for collecting information on events
of political and contentious actions.
7 An event is a discrete occurrence that is bound by time (it occurs within a specic and
relatively brief period), space (it occurs within a specic space), and actors (it involves the
same actors for the duration of the occurrence). While numerous individuals have been
critical of an event-focused analysis of sociopolitical life (e.g., Fernand Braudel ([1980]
1969), who preferred an analysis of the deep, underlying currents of history), there is a
long tradition within the social sciences that relies on the identication and analysis of this
information (e.g., see Bloch 1953; Tarrow 1998).
8 Lists of events had been used even earlier than this (e.g., Finer 1997; Desrosieres 1998).

Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression

coding process (e.g., action type, actors, place, time, objectives, and out-
comes). Following this, a source was selected and read by researchers to
extract information (e.g., Tilly, Tilly, and Tilly 1975; Taylor and Jodice
1983; Koopmans 1995; Francisco 2000); later, these tasks would be com-
pleted by computers (e.g., Schrodt and Gerner 1994; Bond and Bond 1995;
Franzosi 2001). After the catalog (the list) of events was completed and
entered into a spreadsheet, the data were ready to be examined with what-
ever procedure one wanted to employ (e.g., graphs, statistics, or narrative
In many respects, this approach to data collection and analysis made
sense. Event catalogs put information into a format that could be easily
compiled, stored, sorted, and examined in a variety of ways. At the time,
the approach was coming to be widely applied throughout the social sciences
from a diverse range of topics (e.g., conict, public as well as elite opinion,
negotiations, and treaties). Given the questions posed by the group of con-
ict researchers and the available technology, the source selection made
sense as well. Newspapers were generally believed to be continuous in their
coverage of conict, easily accessible, fairly attentive to the different coun-
tries of the world, and relatively reliable (Rucht and Neidhardt 1998: 18).9
This reected a larger turn to the news media by those associated with the
behavioral movement.
While most in conict studies have employed the approach identied
here (continuing to the present day), there are important limitations with

9 Although the earliest known daily news paper/sheet was the Acta Diurna (Daily Events)
in ancient Rome (circa 59 B.C.), I am referring to the mass printed penny presses of the
early 1800s, which through numerous technological innovations (e.g., continuous rolls of
inexpensive paper and a steam-powered press) made these products available to a wide
audience. Mass production is important to my argument because within this context, the
newspaper generally seeks a large, more diverse audience; it provides a signicant amount
of coverage with regard to different types of events; and it wields a great impact on society.
Prior to the use of newspapers, researchers considered numerous sources: government
reports, police records, hospital records, and for some ancient conicts tablets/stones.
These tended to be more focused on certain types of behavior, less consistent over time
(frequently because of our capacity to unearth them), and clearly tied to the functions of
specic organization whose identication itself was intricately connected to what they did
(e.g., the police). Additionally, observers tended to be directly tied to the state. When mass
produced newspapers became available, however, and when the connection to political
authority varied from mouthpiece to challenger, researchers were afforded a great
opportunity to investigate a wide diversity of sociopolitical events; the last thirty years
clearly bears witness to this pattern.


this strategy. Over the last forty years, these issues have been the subject of
much attention.10
The most signicant critique of this work is that newspapers identify
only a fraction of the events that exist in the real world and that these
fractions are generally treated as wholes.11 Specically, research discloses
that source material normally focuses on events that are large, violent, prox-
imate, and bizarre. Numerous reasons are advanced to explain this cover-
age. First, there are threshold effects, where only events above a certain
level of signicance are identied because of the large market to which this
would appeal and the decreased costs that are involved with nding rel-
evant actions (e.g., Taylor and Jodice 1983: 179; McCarthy et al. 1996a).
Second, there are fatigue effects, whereby only events that are short-term
in duration receive attention in an effort to establish as well as maintain con-
sistent readership and again to hold costs down (e.g., Gerner and Schrodt
1996; Moeller 1999). Third, there are newshole effects, whereby cover-
age is determined by the amount of available space within the pages of a
newspaper (e.g., Stempel 1964; Lacy and Bernstein 1988; Honig, Walters,
and Templin 1991). Regardless of the specic reason highlighted, the out-
come is the same: small, nonviolent, distant, and commonplace events are
generally ignored and efforts to identify conict emergence, intensity, mag-
nitude, variety, duration, and termination (in different places as well as at
different times) are all likely compromised by source selectivity.
Unwilling to accept these limitations, researchers have attempted to
address these deciencies in numerous ways. For example, some use only
sources that are proximate to the events in question.12 Some use only sources
that are not subject to the specic problems identied earlier. For instance,
Rude (1964), Tilly, Tilly, and Tilly (1975), McCarthy et al. (1996a), Oliver
and Myers (1999), Oliver and Maney (2000), and Maney and Oliver (2001)

10 For example, McClelland and Hoggard (1969); Smith (1969; 1971); McClelland and Young
(1971); Burrowes and Spector (1971); Azar et al. (1972); Burrowes (1974); Hoggard (1974);
Dangzer (1975); Snyder and Kelly (1977); Lichbach (1984); Valencia-Weber and Weber
(1986); Olzak (1989); Brysk (1994); Hocke (1998); McCarthy et al. (1996a); Poe et al.
(1999); Oliver and Myers (1999); Oliver and Maney (2000); Wooley (2000); Maney and
Oliver (2001); Davenport and Ball (2002); Earl et al. (2004); Ortiz et al. (2005).
11 Of course, it is not likely the case that any source or collection of sources will ever provide
such information, but this is simply the reality that social scientists confront.
12 For example, White (1993); McCarthy et al. (1996b); Mueller (1997); Beissinger (1998);
Hocke (1998); Sommer and Scarritt (1999); Khawaja (1993); Oliver and Myers (1999);
Oliver and Maney (2000); Maney and Oliver (2001); Snow, Soule, and Cress (2005).

Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression

use police records to generate event catalogs, while Schrodt and Gerner
(1994), Bond and Bond (1995), and Francisco (1996a) use news wires.
Finally, some use a large variety of sources simultaneously to develop event
catalogs, including sources such as newspapers, police as well as govern-
ment reports, NGO records, and personal histories, allowing them to be
as comprehensive as possible (e.g., Tilly, Tilly, and Tilly 1975; Horn and
Tilly 1986; Davis, Leeds, and Moore 1998; Oliver and Myers 1999; Oliver
and Maney 2000).13
Each of these strategies has its strengths. All provide some leverage
for understanding what has been missed within traditional newspaper-
generated event catalogs that rely on a single source. With regard to
the proximate approach (using only local sources), it is clear that closer
information-providers are likely more interested in smaller, commonplace
activities, more knowledgeable about topics, and more aware of a wider vari-
ety of contacts (informants) from which to get information about what has
occurred. With regard to the nontraditional, specialized approach (using
specic information-providers), it is clear that interest and focus are cru-
cial for overcoming many of the reasons events are ignored. Finally, with
reference to the encompassing approach (when multiple sources are used
at once), if one type of source missed an event, it is possible that another
might catch it, improving the overall quality of the catalog.
While moving us in the right direction, however, these efforts have not
moved us far enough to understand what is going on in the BPPauthority
interaction discussed at the beginning of this chapter; nor does it tell us
what to do with the Rashomon Effect more generally. For example, the
rst approach provides only part of the story the spatial component.
Here, it is suggested that event catalogs emerging from sources closer to
events would differ from those emerging from more distant sources. How-
ever, the sources are typically all the same (e.g., mainstream/commercial
newspapers), and there is no discussion about whether different types of

13 Sources such as memoirs and biographies are not employed by these researchers for: (1)
these are generally kept by only selective individuals (particularly elites) and thus much
about a particular groups interaction with another group would be missed, and (2) these
generally do not discuss as many collective activities as those sources that are created for a
wide distribution. Given the collective orientation of newspapers (sales) and police records
(understanding of mass dissent), it is believed that they cover a larger number of events,
relevant to a larger number of people. At some point, I expect that someone will attempt to
generate event catalogs from the Internet, but conict/contentious politics scholars have
not yet adopted this practice.


sources, equally proximate to relevant events, would cover events in a similar

manner.14 The second approach also provides part of the story the inter-
est component. Here, we would expect that sources directly focused on the
behavior of interest would provide more detailed information when com-
pared with sources that were more diffusely focused, but the silences of
this work are again left unexamined. For example, police records might be
great at identifying dissident activities but not very good at identifying what
authorities do to those who challenge them (e.g., McCarthy et al. 1996).15
Finally, the third approach homogenizes all information, ignoring simi-
larities and differences across the distinct sources consulted. Adopting this
approach, we would have no understanding about what is covered or why.
Although accepting that diverse accounts exist when one considers the
cataloging of conict events, all three approaches are unable to take the next
step and explain why Rashomon exists, how distinct accounts are connected
to one another in a system of observation/reporting, and what the variation
can reveal to us about conict itself. This problem is addressed in the next

Explaining the Rashomon Effect

How can one begin to understand the source-variation issue? To date,
there have been few efforts to understand systems of observation/reporting
across observers/reports within the context of a conict situation (e.g., Scott
1985; Brass 1997; Goodman 1994; Roy 1994; Wolfsfeld 1997; Mazur 1998).
Although this work has emerged in multiple disciplines (history, sociology,
and political science), it is limited because it is exclusively qualitative in
nature largely prompting quantitative scholars to ignore it. Additionally,
researchers from the event cataloging tradition, the audience most likely
to benet from its consideration, have never addressed it.16 There are

14 In many respects, an important exception here is the work of Oliver and Myers (1999),
Oliver and Maney (2000), and Maney and Oliver (2001), but even this study was limited by
the ideological orientation of the sources involved mainstream commercial presses that
well represented the type of newspapers that were available in the United States during the
time period under consideration.
15 There may also be some limitations regarding the type of events that are covered by wires.
As designed, newspapers still need to select events and thus even though the overall volume
might be higher, it is likely the case that the same events might receive coverage a different
version of the Spilerman problem.
16 Oliver and Myers (1999) provide perhaps one of the most thorough quantitative investi-
gations of observation systems; nevertheless, Madison, Wisconsin, during the time period

Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression

numerous reasons, however, for drawing upon the previously identied

research and connecting it to work on contentious politics.
First, while both areas of research are interested in documenting events
from a variety of sources, the literature regarding systems of event obser-
vation/recording is not interested in generating a uniform and comprehen-
sive account of what occurred. Rather, it is interested in identifying and
explaining several versions of what occurred at the same time. This ren-
ders it particularly sensitive to the Rashomon Effect. Second, while con-
ventional research focuses on newspapers, the other work also employs
different sources. In addition, the less traditional efforts have attempted
to place distinct versions into a system of observation/recording, arguing
that diversity in accounts largely reects the social, political, and economic
structure within which conictual interactions and observations/recordings
take place. Not only does this account for what is covered within any one
source but it also accounts for what is covered within a variety of sources
directly addressing the variation issue. Third, the less-traditional work
directs one to reect upon what it means to create and distribute infor-
mation about repression and dissent within newspapers, human rights doc-
uments, police and government reports, and individual memories. Most
in the event cataloging tradition suggest that creation and distribution
reect the importance and newsworthiness of the events in question
a somewhat domestic realist orientation. This approach does not, how-
ever, consider why specic events are important to sources or to what ends
such information is put. In the context of the mass media, for example,
prot provides part of the answer, but even here there is generally more
to the explanation (e.g., Gans 1979; Schudson 1978; 1989). I maintain that
to understand why events are covered in different sources, one must move
away from the orientation that is normally employed to highlight the com-
municative aspects of state repression and dissent.
Within the communicative view of conict/contentious politics, it is
acknowledged that authorities respond to dissent in an effort to maintain
actual sociopolitical control. But, it is also necessary to acknowledge that
the very acts of identication, retention, and distribution of information
about state-dissident interactions of a conictual nature also attempt to
promote control (Foucault 1979). When reported, dissent signies an act

between 1993 and 1996 did not experience much political conict or state repression
especially that deemed particularly violent. Consequently, it does provide an important but
very different baseline.


of deviance, instability, and disorder a challenge to existing personnel,

policies/practices, and institutions. In contrast, reported repression signi-
es an act of control, stability, and order a means of upholding existing
personnel, policies/practices, and institutions.
With this understanding, it makes sense that a realist orientation is gen-
erally maintained within event catalogs of contention because this behavior
identies mechanisms of power that have very real effects on citizens, move-
ments, and states. Conict causes physical as well as psychological harm,
and it depletes nancial resources, seriously inuencing the lives of targeted
individuals and organizations. What is generally ignored however is the fact
that identifying, retaining, and distributing information about repression
and dissent is done not to reect events as they occur in the real world
but rather to create a story about authorities and their interaction with
dissidents in the unreal created world a story about order and disorder
intended for distribution to authorities, dissidents, and citizens who may
be within or outside the locale in question.
These narrative contests are extremely important because they remind
us that what is covered is not a comprehensive assessment of what takes
place out in the streets and/or countryside and that it was never meant to
be. Quite the contrary, what is covered is merely a purposeful sampling of
the world for ends distinct from conveying the past (and present) as it was
(and is). Additionally, as many scholars of contentious politics remind their
readers, most individuals have no direct contact with conict behavior or the
combatants, but stories about contention reach a much larger audience (e.g.,
Gitlin 1980), thereby further increasing the necessity for understanding
what is contained in them.
How does one get a x on these narrative contests? The argument is
fairly straightforward. At any one time and place, there exists an array of
observers/recorders. These different observers/recorders tell different sto-
ries about conict that has taken place within their relevant jurisdiction, but
the variation is not random. First, given the importance of political author-
ities, the ease with which these actors can be found, and the effort they exert
in order to provide observers/recorders with information about their activ-
ity, I expect that the coverage of repression will generally be greater than
that given to dissent.17 Second, I argue that event coverage is inuenced by
space (physical proximity) and orientation (political interest), albeit more by

17 Specically, this applies to overt, less violent behavior not covert or highly violent behavior
that the government frequently hides.

Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression



Authorities Challengers

B C Orientation


Figure 1. Explaining Perspectives on State Repression

the latter than the former. Thus in quadrant D of Figure 1 (where sources
are distant from the specic state-dissident interaction and are explicitly
interested in challenges/challengers), sources should cover more dissent
relative to repression. The attention given to dissident behavior would not
provide quite as much information about dissent, however, as a source that
is interested in challenging political authorities and is physically proximate
to the dissent/dissidents (quadrant C). In this context, I expect that even
more and better coverage would be allocated to challengers/challenges.
Similarly, I expect that sources in quadrant A would cover more repressive
behavior relative to dissident action, but this would not provide quite as
much information about repression as a source that is both interested in
authorities and physically proximate to them (quadrant B).
This conceptualization inuences existing research because it suggests
that instead of selecting the best sources or combining all sources
together, we need to consider an array of information-providers within
different parts of the gure and then explain the variation across them.
This allows us to understand what is observed/reported within source
material, what is not observed/reported as well as why. It also provides
us with a better understanding of the data that we can generate and the
data we cannot generate with the sources employed within a particular
To examine this argument, I consider uses of state repression against
a dissident organization where distinct sources covering the conict
appear in different parts of the gure. As I am interested in understanding
how distinct sources cover the same behavior across time and space, the
material emerging from each source is viewed as a distinct case. The period

of the Black Panther Partyauthority interaction provides a rare window

of opportunity to explore conict, information about conict, and the
Rashomon Effect. There are several reasons for this.
First, by most accounts, the period under examination here was one of
the most sustained periods of high-level contentious activity in American
history outside of the civil war. During this time, there were repeated gun
battles on the streets, large-scale protests, riots, protest policing, National
Guard call-outs, extensive property damage, and enforced curfews. On both
sides of the conict, there were increasingly beleaguered, hostile, and mil-
itant factions gaining control over the agencies of conict (respectively,
social movements and policing organizations). Within the African Ameri-
can community, the once democratic and nonviolent orientation gave way
to an increasingly radicalized and militant black power orientation bent
on destroying the fascist, racist, and capitalistic institutions that controlled
black lives, bringing forth revolution. Within the policing community, the
once tolerant/facilitative period of the war on poverty gave way to a more
aggressive and militant approach that was bent on taking back the streets
and restoring law and order. It is the co-evolution and co-emergence of
these two sides that makes the relevant period so interesting in American
Immediately prior to this period (in the late 1950s and early 1960s dur-
ing the ascendance of the civil rights movement) there was a completely dif-
ferent scenario for African American state-dissident confrontations. During
this time, one would observe largely passive, nonaggressive, and nonmili-
tant black protestors initially treated in a comparable manner (with passivity
and nonaggression). Later, these same actors were treated in a more violent
and aggressive way. The shift to black power thus reestablished an equilib-
rium of contention (matching force with force), and it is within this context
that my research is focused.
Of course, mine is not the only effort to reexplore this historical period.
Indeed, in the last few years there has been something of a wholesale revis-
itation of scholars moving back to this time (Tyson 1999; Woodard 1999;
Cleaver and Katsiacas 2001; Hill 2004; Jeffries 2006; Joseph 2006a,b). The
work emerging in this area has consistently identied several elements.
For example, it is now clear that we know very little about the late
1960s and early 1970s because it has not been examined rigorously and
the scholarship that does exist is largely focused on select individuals or
organizations. Indeed, it is clear that the majority of effort has been made
to understand the period of the civil rights movement (1930s and early
Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression

1960s) the one that was the least radical, extensively involved whites, and
was more favorably treated by the U.S. government.
Even though there were important differences between the civil rights
and black power movements (e.g., the former generally advocating integra-
tion while the latter generally advocating separation; the former generally
advocating nonviolence while the latter generally advocating armed self-
defense), there was greater interaction and overlap between the two move-
ments in terms of ideas and approaches than commonly believed. For exam-
ple, regarding the use of armed resistance, it turns out that the conventional
division with the former movement being wholeheartedly against certain
activities and the latter movement being wholeheartedly in favor of others
is untrue. Several civil rights organizations contained elements within them
that were armed and engaged in coercive activity largely defensive; this
includes two of the more prominent ones, such as the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference and the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People (e.g., Tyson 1999; Hill 2004). Moreover, several black
power organizations contained elements within them that were largely dis-
interested with coercion, preferring to engage and transform the minds of
African Americans and whites (e.g., Woodard 1999).
Additionally, it turns out that the impact and legacy of the black power
movement was quite extensive throughout different aspects of African
American as well as American culture (e.g., language, culture, and political
aspirations [Kelley 1994; 2003]). Conventional wisdom has inappropriately
maintained that only the civil rights movement was important.
Finally, there was a large variety of organizations and ideological ori-
entations contained within the black power movement that differed across
several dimensions: (1) revolution vs. reform, (2) integration vs. separation
vs. statehood, (3) working with whites vs. not working with whites, (4) allow-
ing women to have a leading role in the movement vs. relegating women to
a limited role, (5) acting aboveground vs. acting underground, (6) engag-
ing in nonviolence vs. armed self-resistance/self-defense, and (7) focusing
on the political domain vs. the cultural domain vs. the economic domain.
This led to some interesting combinations. For example, the Republic of
New Africa sought to use existing political processes to facilitate the seces-
sion of ve states in the Deep South for people of African descent without
the assistance of whites in an aboveground organization. The Revolution-
ary Action Movement sought to destroy the capitalistic system through an
all-black semiclandestine and underground movement that would either
engage in legal protest or guerrilla warfare and urban rebellion depending

upon the particular phase that one was discussing (Ahmad 2006: 260). In
contrast, the Panthers (the focus of my research) advocated working above-
ground within the existing political system, denouncing efforts to separate,
working with whites, and using armed self-defense. There were thus a wide
variety of black power organizations, and the BPP merely represented one.
Second, the period of interest to this study is important because it takes
place during a time after the modern newspaper adopted its current prac-
tices but before these practices had become xed as well as formulaic. For
example, the 1960s is an ideal period to examine because it is basically after
this period that journalists develop the desire for elite status and are pro-
vided with an opportunity to achieve it at least to some degree. During
the period of interest to this study, however, there was some serious debate
about such an aspiration, and there were some opportunities for alternative
paths (e.g., employment in radical, alternative, and dissident presses). These
opportunities were less available later; indeed, the diversity in the type of
newspapers decreased over time. The late 1960s and early 1970s thus repre-
sents an extremely important period in American journalism and an impor-
tant environment within which one could conduct an examination of state-
dissident interactions in newspapers.
To investigate the topic of interest, I address repressive responses of
local, state, and federal authorities to the Black Panther Party in Oakland,
California, between the years 1967 (the rst full year of BPPs existence)
and 1973 (the year commonly identied as the end of the organization). To
operationalize repression, I principally focus on the activity of the police
directed against the civil liberties and personal integrity of Panther mem-
bers (e.g., arrests and raids), while also paying some attention to the activ-
ities of the courts (e.g., trials and grand jury investigations). This reects
not only the concerns of researchers but also those of the BPP,18 of the
authorities (who viewed the police as their rst defense against the African
American dissidents), and of African Americans themselves (who at the
time were more concerned with this form of state power than perhaps any

18 As Singh (1998: 78) argues

the Panthers reasoned that police power exercised within Black sections of the city (against
the lumpen) operated in a manner similar to the uses of colonial power that Fanon had
described. Policing within Black communities functioned as a language of pure force
untempered by forms of ideological suasion or meditation in which the consent of the
governed was sought out and gained without the use of violence.

Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression


New York Times

Authorities Challengers

Sun Reporter

Oakland Tribune Berkeley Barb

The Black Panther

Proximate Newspaper

Figure 2. Perspectives in the Black Panther Party Case

Although numerous organizations followed the interaction between the

Panthers and the authorities, in line with conventional research, I use news-
papers to identify and analyze relevant behavior. Deviating from existing
work, however, I examine event catalogs from ve very different presses
the widest variation thus far examined within one study: (1) the New York
Times, a white, mainstream/commercial, authority-oriented, and distant
press; (2) the Oakland Tribune, a white, mainstream/commercial, authority-
oriented, and local press; (3) the Berkeley Barb, a white, countercultural,
dissident-friendly, and local press; (4) the Sun Reporter, a black, politically
moderate, and relatively neutral local press; and (5) the Black Panther Inter-
communal News Service, the newspaper created and distributed by the Oak-
land chapter of the Black Panthers. Developed from my archival research,
the placement of these newspapers on the two dimensions discussed earlier
is displayed in Figure 2 (this is discussed later).
Examining the event catalogs derived from these sources, I nd that while
all paid attention to state repression, only sources close to the Panthers
highlighted BPP dissident behavior to any reasonable degree. Additionally,
only those sources close to the Panthers (Sun Reporter, Berkeley Barb, and
the Black Panther Intercommunal News Service) identied behavior that did
not directly challenge the agents of the state (such as the police), highlight-
ing protest that targeted nonstate actors (such as businesses and commu-
nity leaders). In contrast, more authority-oriented sources (the New York
Times and Oakland Tribune) tended to focus on dissident action that explic-
itly confronted state institutions with coercive behavior. Results further

disclose that not all repressive activity was covered equally well. Specically,
more mainstream, authority-oriented sources reported events involving the
courts, while more dissident-oriented sources were more inclined to cover
police action.

The Meaning of Rashomon

It is of course one thing to identify and account for the variation in reported
conict events across different sources and to assess the importance of this
variation for data generation (e.g., why the Oakland Tribune, Sun Reporter,
and BPINS covered the events that they did). It is quite another to explain
exactly how and why such variation is important for understanding con-
ict (e.g., how coverage in the Oakland Tribune, Sun Reporter, and BPINS
inuences our understanding of BPPauthority interactions).
While most describe the impact of dissent and prior repressive behavior
on contemporaneous values of state repression as being straightforward,
there are some that discuss the matter in great detail, revealing a signicant
amount of complexity in the states motivations and activities (e.g., Duvall
and Stohl 1988; Jackson et al. 1978; Tilly 1978; 2005; Ziegenhagen 1986;
Davenport 1995a; Shellman 2007). This literature is important to consider
for it suggests that the overly simplistic manner in which inuences are
generally conceptualized has hindered our capacity to understand when,
how much, and why authorities use repression. One specic challenge to
existing research is examined within this book.
All Explanations Are Not Created Equal. Research on repressive
behavior has consistently advanced and supported the argument that vio-
lent dissent as well as lagged repression are among the most important
determinants that one could use to account for variation in government
coercive activity. Even though they are both mainstays within the litera-
ture, the explanations associated with these two variables are distinct.
Concerning the rst the domestic realist (Stanley 1996) or threat
(Earl 2003) model political authorities are believed to respond to behav-
ioral challenges from citizens in order to counter or eliminate relevant
behavior and maintain the status quo. Rooted in older discussions about
what governments are and how they function, this work expects that citizen-
initiated conict behavior will increase the likelihood and severity of state
repressive action and, following, that when the challenge diminishes, coer-
cive behavior will as well (the nobody-moves-nobody-gets-hurt thesis).
The positive inuence is expected in particular when the nature of the
Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression

challenge is violent. Indeed, given the scholarly neglect of nonviolent dis-

sident behavior, the research appears to suggest that violent challenges are
the only ones that provoke authorities and the use of coercion.
Concerning the second explanation generally referred to as bureau-
cratic inertia or Law of the Instrument (Gurr 1986) coercive state
behavior is attributed to the preexisting institutional preferences/habits of
government institutions as well as to repressive agents themselves. As con-
ceived, once the decision to engage in repression is made, organizations
are created and relevant behavior is enacted. In this context, acceptance of
repression increases among policymakers as well as among coercive agents,
and the willingness to change this policy diminishes. Here, while previous
repression increases the likelihood of subsequent coercive behavior, lower
levels of prior repressive action decrease the likelihood of later activity.19
The relevance of source coverage for these arguments is clear. Adopt-
ing the Rashomon perspective, we would expect that diverse sources cover
high-prole contentious behavior (e.g., violent dissident activity and violent
state behavior) in a similar manner, yielding comparable causal inuences
on state repression across sources. At the same time, Rashomon would
lead us to expect that inuences vary by source orientation. For example,
within authority-oriented sources, the inuence of lagged repression and
violent dissent would generally be stronger because these events are cov-
ered more consistently. By contrast, dissident-oriented sources would gen-
erally be associated with stronger inuences for variables that involved chal-
lengers, such as violent behavior but also less violent or nonviolent dissident
The Rashomon Effect could inuence our understanding of existing
results because it prompts us to be cognizant of the fact that different the-
oretical arguments and empirical ndings are more likely identied when
particular sources are consulted. Furthermore, Rashomon compels us to
investigate differences across sources as a way of gauging the robustness of

19 In this research, it is not clear exactly how one breaks the cycle, but one could link it to
diminishing values of dissent; decreasing behavioral challenges invariably decrease repres-
sion as relevant organizations no longer deem it necessary. This, in turn, reduces the
likelihood that subsequent repressive behavior would be enacted. Of course, there may
be some lag. Similar to the acknowledgment that organizations interested in crime con-
trol have a vested interest in creating/cultivating crime and therefore their efforts and
resources allocations are worthwhile, repressive institutions confront the same situation.
Indeed, where bureaucratic inertia exists, one expects a weakened relationship between
conict and repression.


our arguments. The threshold below which repression will not be applied
is also worthy of investigation. For example, within authority-oriented
sources, repression responds to previous repression and violent dissent (a
relatively high-level threat), whereas in dissident-oriented sources, repres-
sion responds not only to violent dissent but also to nonviolent behavior (a
much lower-level threat).
Using the exploration of BPPU.S. authority interactions, I nd that
the evidence is generally in line with these expectations. Results disclose
that all sources identied the activities of authorities, whereas only some
paid attention to dissidents. This leads to distinct perspectives on state-
challenger confrontations. For example, within mainstream/authority-
oriented sources, the BPP is depicted as (1) engaged in few instances of
dissent, (2) engaged for brief periods of time, and (3) largely overwhelmed
by the sheer volume of government activities directed against them (espe-
cially those enacted by courts). In contrast, sources more sympathetic to the
black power organization generally identied (1) a higher degree of con-
tentiousness with both dissidents and political authorities engaging in rele-
vant behavior, (2) with greater frequency, and (3) for longer periods of time.
As expected, across newspapers, the ndings concerning lagged repres-
sion were the most consistent in their positive inuence on state repression:
repressive behavior was most likely to take place when it had been applied
earlier. Results disclose further that shootings between the BPP and author-
ities the most violent form of interaction were consistent in their positive
inuence on police activity.
Again, as expected, the ndings concerning the impact of dissident
behavior differed somewhat across sources. For example, in all event cata-
logs, conventional aspects of dissent (e.g., demonstrations) both preceded
and followed repression, but with large gaps between them. In mainstream
sources, conventional aspects of dissent were reported to be in response
to repressive behavior itself. For example, there would be a rally held for
someone who was arrested or a demonstration to show support for someone
appearing in court that day. Revealing an interesting dynamic, this essen-
tially reactive dissident behavior increased subsequent repression even
further. In sources closer to the BPP (black and radical sources), however,
the causal dynamic was different. Within these event catalogs, one clearly
sees that nonviolent behavior directed against nonstate actors prompted
repressive activity, which in turn prompted more conventional dissident
behavior. This reveals that repression was responsive to BPP actions not
typically identied by traditional event catalog research or covered within
Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression

mainstream newspapers. It also reveals that the largest and hence most visi-
ble activities undertaken by the Panthers were prompted by the authorities
These ndings are important for they compel us to acknowledge that
both the BPP and government agents played a role in prompting state re-
pression, albeit in different ways. These ndings are also important because
they force those interested in the topic to think about how different theories
receive support from different sources. For instance, before 1969 both the
threat and the bureaucratic inertia arguments generally nd support. Some
newspapers support the threat argument earlier (the Berkeley Barb) whereas
others support bureaucratic inertia earlier (Oakland Tribune); additionally,
some newspapers reveal that authorities were responsive to nonviolent dissi-
dent activities (the Black Panther Party Intercommunal News Service), whereas
others did not really support this relationship at all (The New York Times).
After 1969 (when there was a shift away from armed, violent, and con-
frontational activity by the BPP), however, only the argument concerning
bureaucratic inertia was supported consistently across event catalogs. Some
support was also derived for the threat argument, but this is specic to the
newspapers closer to the BPP and for behavior that was generally not asso-
ciated with traditional operationalizations of dissent. For example, within
the Berkeley Barb and the Black Panther Intercommunal News Service, the
Panthers were not quite done challenging authorities, and in this context
state repression could still be thought of as still responding to challengers.
The uniformity of the earlier period is missing in the latter part of the cata-
log. Focusing on a diverse array of sources, therefore, we are provided with
information that dramatically transforms the understanding of repression
an understanding that would have been ignored had we relied only upon
conventional sources or had we homogenized all available information into
one event catalog, approaches generally applied in the literature.

To address the issues outlined here, in Chapter 1 I turn to the shift that has
taken place within the social science literature concerning the use of sources
in event cataloging. Whereas initially events were held sacred and objective
sources were used to provide information about what had occurred, later
sources emerged as something subjective in orientation and just as worthy
of examination as the events being analyzed.


Chapter 2 provides the theoretical framework for understanding what I

call systems of observation/reporting the complex relationship between
protagonists in a conict situation and observers/recorders of the events in
question. Most importantly, the chapter seeks to account for the Rashomon
Effect, that is, the variance we see across source accounts.
Chapter 3 explains the substantive implications of perspective for conict
studies. Specically, it focuses on state repression the use of coercive tactics
against citizens identied as enemies of the state for the explicit purpose
of controlling their beliefs and/or activities. Here, I detail exactly what we
know about repressive behavior, how existing event cataloging research
supports this work, and how Rashomon challenges popular understanding.
Chapter 4 outlines the historical background of the BPPauthority inter-
action between 1967 and 1973. Specically, I detail how the Black Panthers
came into being and adopted the particular approach to activism that they
did. Additionally, I address where the governments approach to the social
movement came from, highlighting the general approach to protest polic-
ing and countermovement activity applied at the time.
In Chapter 5, the data-collection effort concerning the BPPU.S. gov-
ernment conict is discussed. Here, I move through each of the sources
identifying its geographic location, political orientation, and relevant edi-
torial practices.
Investigating the hypotheses developed earlier, within Chapter 6, I ex-
plore how the Rashomon Effect manifests itself in the BPPauthority con-
ict as well as how it inuences our understanding of state repression within
the statedissident interaction. This involves a detailed discussion of the
patterns identied within and across each of the sources with regard to how
they discussed the origins, dynamics and termination of the conict.
I conclude (Chapter 7) with a review of my argument as well as a dis-
cussion of which aspects were supported by the examination. I then outline
exactly how we can improve existing practices of source selection, data
generation, and empirical analysis of repressive behavior.



Objectivity and Subjectivity

in Event Catalogs

There is a great advantage in the way traditional content analysis has used
newspapers in its studies of newspaper or communication content, propa-
ganda, and public opinion . . . that what newspapers say is what you are really
interested in. That is your reality. But if you are using newspapers as a source
of socio-historical data, as a way to get to reality, as a mirror of that reality,
then what the papers say is more crucial than we have been willing to face up
to. Otherwise, we might as well face up to one thing. Lets change our titles
to read: Mobilization and Counter-Mobilization Processes: From the Red
Years (191920) to the Black Years (192122) in Italy according to Il Lavoro,
Democracy and Disorder according to Il Corriere della Sera.
Roberto Franzosi From Words to Numbers: Narrative, Data and Social
Science (2001) (emphasis in original)

In Pitirim Sorokins path-breaking Social and Cultural Dynamics: Fluctuation

of Social Relationships, War and Revolution (1937), one will not nd a single
reference to the sources that were used to generate the data analyzed in
the book, at least, not in the text itself.1 Those wanting information about
how data were compiled for the twenty-ve hundred years of interest to
the study would have to consult the appendix (1937: 578620). There,

1 Sorokin comes closest to providing this information when he says:

[t]he material of this study includes most of the recorded internal disturbances of importance,
from the relatively small disorders to the biggest revolutions, which have taken place in the
life history of Greece, Rome, France, Germany (Central Europe), England, Italy, Spain,
the Netherlands, Byzantium, Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. The very fact of its mention
in the annals of history is considered a sign of importance of an internal disturbance. Quite
insignicant disorders which do not affect the life of the country in any appreciable way
usually pass by without leaving traces in the records of history. (1937: 385)


one would nd a detailed listing of the historical monographs employed

within the data-collection effort, as well as the relevant page numbers from
which information was obtained. As to how the monographs collected the
information they provided and how other researchers at the time viewed
these sources, there are no answers in Social and Cultural Dynamics (not in
the text nor in the appendix). Regarding these questions, one simply has to
accept that Sorokin did a good job or track down on ones own all of the
research materials that he used to conduct his analysis, conducting ones
own analysis.
By the mid-to-late 1960s and the early 1970s, at the founding of modern,
quantitative conict studies, things changed a great deal. Event catalogers
of this period were more likely to explicitly identify the sources they used
to create data within the text of the written work. Additionally, it was quite
common to nd an assessment of the quality of the consulted material as well
as some discussion of how others viewed the relevant sources. Regardless of
these differences, the basic orientation of the latter research was the same as
that put forward by Sorokin: the information about sources was secondary
in importance to the events themselves.
At the end of the millennium, the practices established earlier had essen-
tially remained the same. Deviating from this work, however, a small num-
ber of scholars began to pose serious challenges to the objectivity of sources
perspective. Specically, they expressed doubt about whether one could
simply extract information from historical material without paying atten-
tion to the sources themselves. Moreover, information providers that had
previously been given secondary importance were now beginning to receive
as much attention as the events they covered. This change has had impor-
tant implications for social science. Indeed, it has prompted declarations
of the death of history, sociology, and political science and heralded the
birth of new elds of study, associations, journals, and book series. In many
respects, it has been a brand new age for those seeking to identify and ana-
lyze conict. As is so often the case, only a few saw the change coming and
even fewer attempted to use it within their analyses to understand why as
well as how dissidents and authorities go at each other. Although small in
number, however, the changes put forward by this group were as extensive
as they were profound.
In this chapter, I describe these two very different perspectives on event
cataloging and data generation, highlighting the diverse levels of impor-
tance given to sources within them. In the next chapter, I use this distinction

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

to develop an explanation for the Rashomon Effect, accounting for the vari-
ation in what we see when multiple sources are consulted for information
about conict/contentious politics.

Incomplete Vision and the Perils of Reporting Bias:

The Early, Conventional View
From the beginning of conict studies up to the last ten years or so, the
event has been paramount, and little attention has been given to the source
of information about the events in question. Invoking Franzosis comment,
within this work, there are no titles that reect the importance of sources
like Social and Cultural Dynamics in the Encyclopedia Britannica, no Why Men
Rebel in the New York Times, no Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the
Soviet State in Pravda, and no Dynamics of Contention in Newsweek. Indeed, it
is telling that one cannot nd references to a source within the title of any
major book in this area of research. Perhaps one can be found in an article,
but this will likely be identied only within an obscure journal, nothing
central to the eld.
The reason for this practice is clear: event catalogers generally view
sources as simply the means to an end, a window through which they can
look upon events in the past. Ignoring the window frame here makes sense.
Essentially, the conventional view maintains that things happen, they get
recorded in sources, and when interested individuals consult these artifacts
to nd out something about the world (e.g., when conict occurred, how
many individuals were involved, or when relevant behavior ended), they
are provided with information about the phenomena of interest. Although
emerging from the explicitly scientic method of content analysis, which
had grown slowly in use from the 1930s up through the 1960s (Franzosi
2001: 3940), the objectives of these research efforts were clearly historical
in nature. By design, event catalogers seek to identify a uniform, complete
chronology of all events over a particular time and place or at least enough
of them to get a general sense of what had transpired. As stated by Novick
(1988: 50):

[t]he assumptions on which [the historical tradition rests include] a commitment

to the reality of the past, and to truth as correspondence to that reality; a sharp
separation between the knower and known, between fact and value, and above
all, between history and ction. For them, the past was contained within the






Figure 3. Comprehensive Event Coverage

Although fundamentally reliant upon the truth of the matter, source

material was never really expected to be identical to what occurred. Becker
(1931: 112) is clear on this in stating that

[n]o doubt throughout all past time there actually occurred a series of events which,
whether we know what it was or not, constitutes history in some ultimate sense.
Nevertheless, much of the greater part of these events we can know nothing about,
not even that they occurred; many of them we can know only imperfectly; and even
the few events that we think we know for sure we can never be absolutely certain
of, since we can never revive them, never observe or test them directly. The event
itself once occurred, but as an actual event it has disappeared; so that in dealing with
it the only objective reality we can observe or test is some material trace which the
event has left usually a written document. With these traces of vanished events,
these documents, we must be content since they are all we have; from them we infer
what the event was, we afrm that it is a fact that the event was so and so.2

Following from this, a strong version of the conventional event-

cataloging tradition maintains that sources identify most events at all
times, places, and magnitudes within the relevant domain (displayed in
Figure 3). In this best of all possible worlds, an ideal situation is provided
for those interested in identifying and investigating human actions; here,
things occur and in their coverage they are comprehensively identied for

2 Hamlin (1979: 4056) is clear on this: [h]istory is not the past, any more than biology is
life, or physics, matter. History is the distillation of evidence surviving from the past. Where
there is no evidence, there is no history.

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

later analysis. Within the eld of contentious politics, there have been many
that have maintained such a position.3
This approach is not without its critics. As more individuals consulted
sources in an effort to create event catalogs, they repeatedly discovered the
inadequacies of the scenario described earlier. Although this did not cause
the majority of researchers to critically challenge the objectives of event
cataloging, it did cause them to question some of the results. Specically,
there were three problems.
First, it was relatively clear that not all events were covered in sources,
especially in the newspapers that were generally relied upon for this research
(e.g., Tuchman 1978). At any moment in time, there was a variety of dif-
ferent events, all competing with one another for attention, implicitly and
sometimes explicitly for placement in the same source. This is displayed in
Figure 4, where we see that if one were interested in conict events, differ-
ent press observers in the same or different newspapers identify different
events of different magnitudes and at different times.
Second, those responsible for the content of sources (i.e., editors) do not
generally allow those generating content (i.e., journalists) full reign over
what appears in the nal product.4 Thus, even if events were identied,
there is no direct correspondence between observation and placement in
the distributed material (e.g., De Sola-Pool and Shulman 1959; Fisher and
Lowenstein 1972; Bagdikian 1972; Gans 1979; Taylor and Jodice 1983;
Gaunt 1990; Hocke 1998).5 Indeed, it is possible that non-conict events
receive coverage (also displayed in Figure 4).
Third, not all events covered within newspapers are covered equally
well (the top panel concerning conict events within Figure 4). There are
different explanations for this variation. For example, some events might
be neglected by certain sources because they were too low in severity,
threshold effects (e.g., Taylor and Jodice 1983: 179; McCarthy et al.
1996a); because they went on for too long, fatigue effects (e.g., Gerner

3 For example, see Rummel (1963); McClelland and Hoggard (1969); Tanter (1966); Dangzer
(1975); McAdam (1982); Taylor and Jodice (1983); Tarrow (1989); Henderson (1991); Olzak
and West (1995); Davis, Leeds, and Moore (1998); Moore and Lindstrom (1998); McAdam
and Su (2002).
4 The position is advocated much earlier by White (1950).
5 This is not necessarily explicit competition as people play to the media (with their choice
of actions, targets, and such) but is more often implicitly revealed, as it is understood that
there is only a nite amount of space involved with which to report events.


Conflict Events
Press Observer 1 100

Press Observer 4

Press Observer 2

Press Observer 3

Press Observer 5 0

Type A Non-Conflict Events

Press Observer 4

Press Observer 1

Press Observer 3

Press Observer 5

Type B Non-Conflict Events


Press Observer 1
Press Observer 3

Press Observer 5


Figure 4. Realistic Event Coverage

and Schrodt 1996; Moeller 1999); or because reporting on these items

would require too much space, newshole effects (e.g., Stempel 1964;
Lacy and Bernstein 1988; Honig, Walters, and Templin 1991). After this
research emerged, it became clear that whether or not some event or series
of events would be covered in a source was not just a function of what was
Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

taking place out in the real world but was also a function of other forces as
Of course, the minute that this more realistic model is acknowledged,
one is confronted with an important question: in the pursuit of an accurate
listing of conict events, what does one do with the different sources and
accounts identied in Figure 4 (i.e., press observers/recorders 15)? The
answer to this question varies within the existing literature.

Bias Is the Problem

According to the conventional perspective, the depiction of conict events
is subject to bias7 because there is generally an incomplete representation
of conict behavior reported in sources (i.e., different information providers
highlight different aspects as well as magnitudes of the unattainable true
event sequence, and when consulted a complete as well as comprehensive
listing of conict behavior will not be identied). One can discuss bias in
this context by taking into account exactly how much of the overall event
sequence is covered by the different sources (Wooley 2000).8 Within Fig-
ure 4, for example, it is reasonable to conclude that observer 4 is biased
in their coverage of conict because (1) during the earlier period it misses
activities that did not exceed a certain threshold, and (2) in the latter period
it did not pay attention to anything at all. One who relied upon observer
3 would again confront bias, as this source missed events occurring in the
later period as well as those that exceeded a certain number (even during the
time period for which it did cover the subject). Additionally, one who relied
upon observer 1 would observe contention over a decent amount of time but
again would miss those events that occurred below a certain threshold. In

6 I am not discussing such problems as inconsistently coding information out of sources (i.e.,
reliability). Rather, I am paying explicit attention to those efforts that are coded reliably but
still are subject to coverage problems such as those listed above (i.e., validity).
7 There are two types of bias normally identied (Ortiz et al. 2005: 398): (1) selection (i.e.,
what events are in/out of a source), and (2) description (i.e., how events are reported). My
effort explores the inuence of these two, but most attention has been directed toward the
8 This is similar to the phrase attributed to Von Ranke where history is merely an effort to
study the past as it was or as it actually happened. The labels here are numerous (e.g.,
copy theory, correspondence theory Duffy 1994: 148). Other historically oriented
researchers have advocated this position as well (e.g., Blundevill 1574; Camden 1586; Sidney
[1595] 1948; Charleton 1692; Durkheim [1895] 1938; Bloch 1953; Bury 1957; Collingwood
[1946] 1961; Carr 1964; Winks 1968; Plumb 1969; Von Ranke 1973).


this example (as with the others), the observers and hence the researchers
observation of the phenomenon under examination is incomplete.9
How does one confront this problem? In an effort to get an under-
standing of what is taking place, some researchers try to understand the
variation in coverage. In this work, the most common explanations for the
difference between reality that was and reality that was covered involves
three factors: (1) organizational capacity to identify events (e.g., the num-
ber of news reporters employed and the size of the operating budget for
travel), (2) intrinsic news characteristics (e.g., the number as well as impor-
tance of participants and the degree of violence), and (3) spatial distance
(i.e., how far is the event in question from someone afliated with the news
organization).10 With regard to capacity, it is maintained that sources vary in
their coverage of events because there is an uneven distribution of resources
across reporting agencies. Those organizations with more resources are
simply better able to cover more events and in greater depth, whereas those
with fewer resources are unable to cover as many events and in less detail.
With regard to news characteristics, it is maintained that sources vary in
their coverage because of the occurrences themselves and because of the
sources perceptions about what their audience wants to read. Here, some
events (e.g., those that are violent and large) are believed to be more news-
worthy than others.11 As a result, coverage would reect this concern in the

9 It is important to note that the conception of bias found within this view assumes that the
unreported parts of the sequence are known by someone, which according to the example is
incorrect there are parts of the sequence that are not observed/reported. This assumption
is extremely problematic. In the area of political repression, it is largely understood that
the only actors that know or can approximate the full event sequence are the political
authorities themselves and/or god; neither of which has largely assisted researchers with
the data collection process. It is thus acknowledged and accepted that gaps exist within
reporting and that those who know are not going to tell.
10 Research also identies that the sheer number of similar events has an inuence as well
(Myers and Caniglia 2004).
11 Descriptions of the relevant factors can be somewhat exhaustive. For example, Gaunt (1990:
129, 131) notes that there are four general headings:
managerial inuence, professional values, intrinsic news characteristics and exogenous
factors. It is argued that the actual [news] selection process is guided by professional and
personal values . . . but that these values are constrained by a number of managerial inu-
ences, and dened by the intrinsic characteristics of the news items they are selecting.
Furthermore, intrinsic news characteristics may also be a factor in those decisions that
determine managerial inuences. Finally, the entire news selection process is shaped by
the twin exogenous factors of competition and ownership and their joint alter ego
prot. (emphasis in original)

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

effort to command the attention of their audience. With regard to distance,

it is maintained that sources vary in their coverage of events because there
is uneven access to occurrences across different information providers as
gauged by the physical distance of the source from the events taking place.
Proximate sources have better access to information about what has tran-
spired and hence their coverage would generally be superior, and distant
sources have less effective information and, consequently, their coverage
would be poorer.12
Alternatively, acknowledging that not all sources are created equal,
researchers try to develop appropriate resolutions to the perceived problem
of varying accounts. On this point, responses vary.
One answer concerns deferring to sources with the best reputation for
event coverage; in the United States, this frequently involves The New York
Times the historical go-to source for those most interested in media con-
tent (e.g., McAdam 1982; McAdam and Su 2002). Reputable sources are
generally well endowed nancially, have been around for a while, employ
large numbers of people, are widely used by others, and have close con-
nections with governing ofcials. In many respects, the selection makes
sense. Resources are essential for overcoming many of the limitations iden-
tied earlier. A large staff assists in covering a large number of stories and
producing/distributing the nal product in a timely manner. Additionally,
since governments have always been one of the main actors involved with
the collection of information about society, thereby defraying the cost of
acquisition (Salmon 1923; 1976), an association with this actor could prove

Although not disagreeing with the basic content of this model, some would disagree with the
manner in which the different model components are described. For example, the separation
of the different elements into distinct categories is severely challenged by Schudson (1995)
who seems to favor a news-generation model that is much more uid in nature. As he states
(1995, 14):
[t]he news . . . is produced by people who operate, often unwittingly, within a cultural sys-
tem, a reservoir of stored cultural meanings and patterns of discourse. It is organized by
conventions of sourcing who is a legitimate source or speaker or conveyor of information
to a journalist. It lives by unspoken preconceptions about the audience less a matter of
who the audience actually may be than a projection by journalists of their own social worlds.
In this context, one would be hard pressed to separate exogenous factors (such as news
characteristics or managerial inuences) from endogenous factors (such as professional
values). Indeed, from Schudsons view they would all tend to fuse together.
12 One would think that this could be overcome in an age with faxes, cell phones, satellite
connections, and so forth, but this is not the case because resources are not generally
employed in a manner that facilitates coverage of distant events. Local news sells.


to be important for an organization interested in compiling as well as dis-

tributing information.13
Another group of researchers suggest that different information pro-
viders should be evaluated competitively to identify the best source (e.g.,
Doran, Pendley, and Antunes 1973; Hazelwood and West 1974; Jack-
man and Boyd 1979; Gerner and Schrodt 1996; Huxtable and Pevehouse
1996; Mueller 1997; White 1993; Sommer and Scarritt 1999). According
to this view, reputation is rendered operationalizable and researchers seek
some form of measurement validity or concurrent validation for derived
event sequences. This is achieved by examining patterns across different
sources14 and trying to assess which of them reports the most events or which
13 There are several points worth making here. First, as many have identied, the history of
the states involvement in knowledge production is quite long (e.g., Finer 1997; Scott 1998;
Desrosieres 1998; Seltzer and Anderson 2001; Djankov et al. 2002; Starr 2004). Given the
complexity apparent within everyday life and the difculties involved with trying to observe
diverse phenomena, any actor that held a wealth of resources to engage in data collection
would have a comparative advantage over all other actors in the relevant territorial domain,
lacking access and resources. Consequently, such interest and endowment afforded states
the best view in the house (Shapin 1994: 32), generally possessing the best capability
to monitor what took place within their jurisdiction. Second, especially after the French
revolution, a certain amount of legitimacy was given to governments who were concerned
with their populations (e.g., their conditions and problems). This concern led directly to a
signicant increase in monitoring and the recording of events and simultaneously a certain
amount of acceptance that this was the right thing to be done by these people.
14 In an effort to gauge the degree of association between the indicators employed, earlier
scholars usually investigated the correlations between diverse measurements of the same
phenomenon i.e., conict taking place over the same time and place (e.g., Azar et al.
1972; Doran et al. 1973; Hazelwood and West 1974). The use of factor analytic techniques
was used because scholars attempted to identify exactly how well different event counts
loaded on particular factors, across newspapers. Such information served as an important
basis for comparison as it allowed one to compare factor scores and identify which variables
were related, which direction they fell on the factor, and how highly they were associated.
These methods tended to reduce the issue of similarity/difference in historical accounts
to one or a series of numbers that conveyed a sense of commonness or difference. As
Hazelwood and West (1974, 319) mention:
[p]articularly strong objections to much of the study of source coverage have come from
those who are primarily concerned with pattern delineation (generally identied by factor
analysis) instead of specic event sequences (generally identied by regression). For exam-
ple, some argue that the central question for research focusing on pattern delineation is the
continuity and consistency of those patterns rather than on the frequency and magnitude of
the events reported in various sources. Accordingly, emphasis in pattern delineation stud-
ies tends to be placed on the structure of the patterns isolated rather than on the absolute
numbers of events coded. Studies of source coverage in the worlds elite press . . . as well
as at least one comparison of a Western and a non-Western elite press source . . . suggest
that some common event reporting patterns exist even when different sources yield varying
event frequencies.

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

most neatly ts with alternative conceptualizations of the event sequence(s)

under analysis (e.g., comparing a newspaper account with anecdotal evi-
dence or the recollection of experts).15
Other researchers suggest that a few sources should be used at the same
time to address the incompleteness problem (e.g., Rummel 1963; Azar et al.
1972; White 1995; Moore and Lindstrom 1998). The logic underlying this
strategy is rather straightforward. Since any one source is an incomplete
and potentially biased record of events (in the sense illustrated earlier), it
is only logical to try to avoid this problem by utilizing several information
providers simultaneously, while making sure not to use too many, such that
the cost would be signicantly increased.16 It is hoped that by combining
information derived from different sources, others would cancel out the
biases existing within any one of them.17
Relevant to the previous strategy, another group of researchers advocates
using a large number of sources collectively to assemble the most com-
prehensive event sequence possible (e.g., Rummel 1997; Beissinger 1998;
Davis, Leeds, and Moore 1998; Francisco 2000). In this case, source mate-
rial is compiled from as many actors as one is able to nd and event catalogs
from all information providers are placed into formats within which sys-
tematic investigation of trends and causal relations can be conducted.18
The basic logic of the approach is similar to that discussed earlier, but the
concern with cost is less consequential.
In perhaps the most innovative approach, still others suggest viewing
the topic as a missing-data problem.19 Here, it is suggested that rather than

15 It may be that training in validity assessment is similar in nature to belief in objectivity

(Schudson 1997: 159).
16 Of course, it is essential to make sure that sources are indeed different from one another.
Spilerman (1970) and Lichbach (1984) note that many newspapers are reliant upon the
same sources for information and thus they end up telling you the same things.
17 One is left somewhat unclear, however, about exactly what sources should be left on the
short-list and how one derives such a list. Such an approach led some individuals to
investigate exactly how many sources were sufcient, that is, after how many newspapers
did research no longer benet (e.g., Jackman and Boyd 1979).
18 This comes close to paraphrased comment that Braudel once made that read something
like history is the sum of all possible histories, a collection of skills and points of skills and
points of view, of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
19 For example, McClelland and Hoggard (1969); Smith (1969; 1971); McClelland and Young
(1971); Burrowes and Spector (1971); Azar et al. (1972); Burrowes (1974); Hoggard (1974);
Dangzer (1975); Snyder and Kelly (1977); Lichbach (1984); Valencia-Weber and Weber
(1986); Brysk (1994); Hocke (1998); McCarthy et al. (1996a); Poe et al. (2001); Oliver and
Myers (1999); Ortiz et al. (2005).


trying to identify which source has the most events or assuming that increas-
ing the number of sources resolves the problem, individuals should engage
in a form of bias assessment by which they attempt to gure out what
is and what is not covered when particular sources are relied upon. These
efforts are different from the competitive-evaluation approach identied
earlier, for invariably researchers are not interested in selecting one infor-
mation provider. Rather, they are interested in comparing across them.20
Within this case, the research maintains that approximations of the true
but unknowable event sequence (i.e., all conict events that exist in the real
world during a particular time and place) are underrepresented and that the
key lies in understanding deciencies as much as possible. This approach
has led to some informative research as individuals explicitly grapple with

20 These more advanced examinations of similarities/differences conduct their analyses with

regression analysis. In this case, researchers investigate the impact of different variables
that are normally used to explain the behavior of interest on different newspaper accounts
of protest (e.g., McCarthy et al. 1996a; Oliver and Myers 1999), repression (Davenport and
Litras 2001), and the overall magnitude of contention (e.g., White 1993). These results are
then used to make judgments about the similarity or difference of newspapers in their cover-
age of contentious politics. For example, in a study conducted by White (1993), regression
was used to compare counts of political violence deaths from The New York Times Index
(NYTI) with a comparable count from Agenda (a collection of events from newspapers
from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain, as well as reports put forth
by different governments) where each source was used as a dependent variable. Draw-
ing on some of the existing literature, different explanatory factors were incorporated into
the estimated model to predict deaths across measures; including regime repressiveness,
regime repressiveness squared, the existence of a truce between the British army and the
Irish Republican Army, and unemployment (as a surrogate indicator for economic devel-
opment/deprivation). What is important to identify here is that this approach assumes, but
does not explicitly state, that if the results from the different equations reveal the same sta-
tistically signicant variables (each with comparable causal impacts on the two death-count
measures), then the NYTI and Agenda event sequences are considered to be revealing
the same underlying sequence (i.e., the same account of events). That is, if the results are
similar, then the sources used to collect them are deemed similar as well. Finding just this
type of result, White feels justied in concluding that
(t)he statistical inferences produced by a general measure of political violence using counts
of total deaths from The New York Times Index are basically identical to the statistical
inferences produced by a comparable measure from the Agenda database. If such mea-
sures are the primary concern of a researcher, using standard, newspaper-based, sources to
measure political violence is not problematic. (White 1993: 583)
Right after this White identies that additional research is necessary to improve upon his
analysis, but regardless of this qualifying statement the claim of commonness has been
made and substantiated by the author (at least to a degree).

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

trying to gure out what is missing when different sources are used to
understand contentious politics.
While a strength in certain respects, this strategy also represents a weak-
ness. While providing some of the most useful information about the subject
of interest, the work is hindered to the extent that it seems content with
merely identifying that similarities/differences exist across sources and that
the efforts at data collection ignoring these assessments are nave or, at
worst, a waste of time (e.g., Brockett 1992).
For example, Snyder and Kelly (1977) compare reports about riots in The
New York Times to forty-three local newspapers around the United States
between 1965 and 1969 (the latter believed to represent a more complete
as well as reliable information provider). They nd that the intensity of
conict (size, violence and duration) increases the likelihood that coverage
would take place but that the location of a wire service in the relevant city
had no impact. In another analysis, McCarthy et al. (1996a) compare reports
about protest behavior that were published in different news sources
two newspapers as well as three television programs (portrayed as distinct
information providers about protest events), against police reports (por-
trayed as a more complete as well as reliable information provider about
protest). From the empirical investigation, newspapers and television pro-
grams were found to report protest events only under certain circumstances
such as when the amount of dissent was extremely large, violent, or bizarre
or when many people were involved (McCarthy et al. 1996a: 480, 487,
491).21 When these factors were not present, the likelihood of event cover-
age was low. By contrast, police records were not subject to these censoring
Now, one could conclude from the latter work that: (1) police records
provide better catalogs for dissent in that they identify more events,22 (2)
this source should be used by scholars interested in examining this phe-
nomenon, and (3) if only the news media were used (at least in the case
examined here), empirical results would be invalid. McCarthy et al. (1996a),

21 Some differ from this approach advocating that proportions rather than event counts be
compared across sources. As Doran, Pendley, and Antunes (1973: 176) state, the magnitude
of . . . disparity (between sources) may not be crucial, provided that the same approximate
distribution of events holds throughout the database and for every level of analysis or
combination of variables.
22 It should be noted that they do not provide a complete listing (again this is not likely to
ever be the case) but a more comprehensive catalog.


however, do not make this argument. Instead, their interest appears to lie
exclusively with comparing police records of demonstrations in Washing-
ton, D.C., in 1982 and 1991 with media coverage of the events in the New
York Times, the Washington Post, and on three national television networks
(McCarthy et al. 1996a: 478). This position is not unique to this work. Most
individuals within this research area adopt such an approach.23
In many ways, the research on bias has advanced the study of event cat-
alogs, for it at least acknowledges source variation and attempts to explain
it. At the same time, however, all observers are still taking note of the same
characteristics and trying to choose one source or combine information
derived from several of them at once in order to extract a catalog of events.
From this vantage, the basic theme of Rashomon is that different sources do
not provide distinct versions of events; rather, they vary in their ability to
record and report what has occurred. An investigation of the Rashomon
Effect is further hindered here because of the limited comparisons that
are made. For example, most researchers select the best source approach,
either ignoring comparisons entirely or considering a small number of alter-
natives. Those studies employing a few sources together in their event cat-
alogs generally select sources that are similar in terms of their orientation
toward news and contentious politics (e.g., mainstream/commercial news-
papers). This situation is remedied somewhat when event catalogs employ a
larger number of sources, encompassing a wider variety of types (still heavily
reliant upon mainstream/commercial newspapers), but these investigations
do not explore source variation, preferring to collapse all information into
one uniform chronology.24
In the next section, I consider work that explicitly makes the argument
that distinct information providers should be used because they cover dif-
ferent types and/or aspects of events. It is maintained here that researchers
maximize the differences between consulted sources in order to better
understand what is covered and why.

23 While a strength in certain respects, this strategy also represents a weakness because, while
providing some of the most useful information about the subject of interest, this work is hin-
dered to the extent that it seems content with merely identifying that similarities/differences
exist across sources and that the efforts at data collection ignoring these assessments are
naive or, at worst, a waste of time (e.g., Brockett 1992).
24 Even in these efforts there is still a limited degree of diversity among the sources (i.e.,
they are similar to one another in their orientation toward the protagonists of contentious

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

Partial Vision and the Promise of Perspective:

The Later, Contested Period
Largely emerging in the last twenty years specically in the humani-
ties has been a growing sense that the old event-cataloging tradition has
missed something. The new thinking (which I refer to as the contested
perspective)25 maintains that catalogs of the same activity vary not because
observation of events is uneven across observers but, rather, because differ-
ent types and/or aspects of events are observed/recorded by sources for a
specic purpose.26
The difference between approaches is signicant. In contested research,
it is not bias but perspective that must be understood as one attempts to
investigate source variation. In this view,27 there is an acknowledgment that
what one sees in consulted information and later in event catalogs has less

25 For example, Said (1993); Guha (1982); Wolf (1982); Scott (1985); Hirschman (1987);
Vaillancourt (1987); Nelson and Grossberg (1988); OHanlon (1988); Kruger and
Mariani (1989); Anderson (1995); Chakrabarty (1992); Doherty, Graham, and Malek
(1992); Rosenau (1992); Cooper (1994); Duffy (1994); Goodman (1994); Kelley (1994);
Ashscroft, Grifths, and Tifn (1995); Currie (1995); Pandey (1995); Trouillot (1995);
Lustick (1996); Mazur (1998); Roth and Mehta (2002); Kacowicz (2005).
26 As Duffy (1994: 156) would maintain, while event research privileges a particular world
view (or slightly variant versions), the contested approach privileges all views simultane-
ously especially those of the oppressed.
27 One can nd strands of this thinking within many areas of research and under a variety
of labels. For example, attempting to describe the new historicism, Kruger and Mariani
(1989: x) suggest that
[i]t is cross-disciplinary: its most productive tools of analysis are originating in feminist
literary-critical studies and in their re-readings of psychoanalytic texts; in poststructural,
sociolinguistic examinations of ideology construction and its operation through political,
cultural, and social; out of cultural studies from the perspective of race and experiences of
exclusion; and out of a recognition of the power of the image, its centrality in ideological
formations and its usefulness in analyzing change and reformation.
Rosenau (1992: 13) suggests an even broader origin for this work when she states that post-
modernism appropriates, transforms, and transcends French structuralism, romanticism,
phenomenology, nihilism, populism, existentialism, hermeneutics, Western Marxism, Crit-
ical Theory, and anarchism. Horkheimer and Adorno (1972), similar to Graham, Doherty,
and Malek (1992), take an even broader sweep arguing that all that I describe emerges out
of a larger critique of Enlightenment and modernist thinking. Regardless of its beginnings,
by the turn of the century, the ideas that sought to place an investigation of subjectivity on
equal footing with objectivity (which advocated that our sources be analyzed as much as
events and which advanced a position that mainstream as well as ofcial sources should be
replaced with those that were marginalized and ignored) could be found throughout the
social sciences (e.g., Fox-Genovese and Lasch-Quinn 1999).


to do with some objective reality out there than it has to do with some
subjective impulse to see and report that exists within an observer. Here,
observation is not objective and, as a result, a uniform chronology of events
within and across catalogs is not possible. In fact, this work goes one step
further in suggesting that it is not desirable either, arguing that what should
be pursued are nonuniform chronologies. These represent the different
points of emphasis within sources and in particular the stories of those that
have historically been neglected by more mainstream observers/recorders
of events. To do this, individuals are (again) guided to sift through multiple
sources such as newspapers, but they are also guided to NGO reports, and
government records. Additionally, they are also led to other, less formal,
less institutionalized forms of communication such as oral histories and
The view of sources and data collection discussed here is crucial because
the most important contribution of the contested perspective is its position
that information is not something neutral, merely responding to that which
presents itself (i.e., makes itself known to some observer/recorder). Instead,
information is identied, distributed, and used for a reason. As Dixon and
Mullenbach (1998: 1) state quite clearly:

events are not inherently noteworthy, nor are they naturally bounded from the
continuous ebb and ow of ordinary . . . life. [Rather] [s]ignicance is conferred on
events, their outlines and highlights refracted through the same perceptual lens that
renders the background a common gray. (emphasis added)

With this, we reach the conclusion that multiple accounts of events are
found when one consults different sources because of what diverse observers
bring to the table in the process of identifying and recording.
The difference between the conventional and contested perspectives can
be observed in yet a different way. Returning to Figure 4, it is clear that
if one adopted the view discussed here, what was considered reporting
bias earlier would not be deemed problematic because the differences in
the accounts would be exactly what one would expect to nd. Addition-
ally, they would be considered worth knowing (e.g., Lustick 1996: 613).
Adopting this view, the problem of avoiding reporting bias is recong-
ured to one of avoiding perspectival bias, where only sources from cer-
tain positions would be relied on (e.g., that that were mainstream, dom-
inant, and elite oriented). Here, bias would not come from ignoring a
particular observer/recorder that is considered to be the best at event
identication. Instead, bias would come from ignoring what each observer
Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

(especially those that had been typically marginalized) had to say regarding
what events took place.28
Interestingly, it is here that the two approaches seem comparable. Where
conventionally oriented researchers focus on selecting the most compre-
hensive and ofcial source, contested researchers focus on selecting the most
underrepresented. Each thus highlights different actors from a wide variety
of observers, but both discuss the same factors in observation/recording.
For instance, in both, observers use resources to document what takes place,
with some attention being given to organizational interests as well as to the
relationship between the reporting agency, the events in question, and exist-
ing authorities (the conventional pays more attention to resources than the
other factors, while the contested reverses this prioritization). The funda-
mental difference resides in the actors/observers and what each does with
the information after it has been collected.
Almost as immediately as one begins to perceive a similarity between the
perspectives, however, he or she is reminded of exactly how different they
are. For example, with the growth of the contested perspective the con-
ception of facts objectively coming to people from nowhere or, equally
plausible, from everywhere has been signicantly challenged. In fact, more
and more attention is given to the sources of information, the agents of
legibility as Scott (1998) would call them, and the structure within which
they exist the matrix of relations between dissidents, political authorities,
and the observers/recorders.

28 Shapins (1994) discussion is particularly relevant to this discussion for he reminds us that
much of what we consider information is merely derivative of who and what we decide
to trust and use as a source, something directly linked to the position and status of the
observer. As Shapin (1994: 38) suggests:
[t]o trust is to join with others and to show estimation of their worth; to distrust is to disrupt
cooperative relations and to dishonor. To trust people is to perform a moral act, proceeding
on the basis of what we know about people, their makeup and probable actions with respect
to our decisions. Insofar as knowledge comes to us via other peoples relations, taking in
that knowledge, rejecting it, or holding judgment in abeyance involves knowledge of who
these people are. (emphasis in original)
In direct contradiction to this, conventional research seems to conclude that objectivity
(is) . . . the characteristic attitude of those who could freely come and go, belong to and
disengage from a society and its system of knowledge: it is a particular structure composed
of distance and nearness, indifference and involvement (Shapin 1994: 40). Within this
view, there are no inuencing factors on the observation by anything outside of the events
in question. Indeed, as Shapin (1994: 40) argues the objective individual is bound by no
commandments which could prejudice his perception, understanding, and evaluation of the
given this assumption is heralded as one of the conventional traditions greatest strengths.


Scholars of the news media have been particularly attentive to this.

Schudson (1978: 160), for one, reminds us that objective reporting (what
I associate with the conventional approach) reproduced a vision of social
reality, which refused to examine the basic structures of power and priv-
ilege. It was not just incomplete, as critics in the thirties had contended,
it was distorted. In direct contrast, arguments associated with the con-
tested approach seem to take as part of their quest a systematic identi-
cation of power and privilege as they inuence what occurs as well as
what is observed/reported. Accordingly, the contested perspective compels
one to consider not just what some event-sequence reveals, as seen from
the perspective of some omniscient, all-encompassing observer/recorder
of human behavior (depicted in Figure 3). On the contrary, it compels one
to ascertain exactly which protagonists and observers existed at the time
of the relevant events, how the different actors were related, and what the
different observers had to say about what was occurring while acknowl-
edging that this varies signicantly with proximity, interest, privilege, and
Again, exactly how one conveys information about events, observation,
and context with and through sources tends to vary across scholars.29 Con-
founding this further, unlike the previous area of research, within the
tradition of the contested approach, there really is no distinct method-
ological literature about how problems should be detected and the way in
which sources are (or should be) used. Despite this lack of transparency, an
approach to studying events and sources can be found within this work. In a
sense, the strategy lies embedded in the analyses themselves. For instance,
within contested research, sources are not used to provide some overar-
ching narrative of what has happened, but they are used to reveal the
complex web of competing narratives that exists within a situation, high-
lighting the positions, actions, and beliefs of the actors in as rich detail as
As designed, much of the contested tradition is concerned with no more
than countering a dominant view of events and putting forth another

29 My interest here is not with exhaustively identifying all instances where sources were used
in ways differing from the conventional approach. Rather, I am interested in identifying a
general body of work that is relevant to understanding what those interested with events
were doing with their research material (data).
30 Interestingly, regardless of these objectives (as revealed later), the literature is never fully
able to remove itself from the conventional perspective; there are certain elements of both
that exist if one looks closely enough.

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

perspective, for example, that of ethnic minorities (e.g., Kelley 1994), gays
and lesbians (Duberman, Vicinus, and Chauncey 1989), workers (Thomp-
son 1966), oral traditions (e.g., Dunaway and Baum 1996; Perks and Thom-
son 1988), or the so-called Third World or subaltern (e.g., Guha 1982;
Scott 1985).31 Directly relevant to this research is the point that any event
sequence (catalog or account) that exists is invariably juxtaposed against
another. When researchers identify, codify, and assemble the events of
interest to them, they are always confronted with the selection of certain
sources out of an array of those available. Thus one author conscientiously
decides to use events compiled from one source, eschewing another; at
the same time, another author decides to use events compiled from some
other source, eschewing others; and so on.32 Perhaps the biggest differ-
ence between contestants and conventionalists is that the former are more
explicit about the process of exclusion and the implications of such activity,
not only for the generation of event catalogs but also for how this alters our
understanding of events and reinforces existing power relationships.
Although moving in an important direction, this work proves to be of
limited assistance in addressing the Rashomon Effect. Within the contested
view, although the selected source is changed, there are still sources of
information that are ignored; in this case, the dominant or mainstream
sources, rather than the marginalized or subaltern ones, are neglected. I
am not suggesting that this is not reasonable and/or worthwhile. After
all, ofcial and colonial sources have had their opportunity to inuence
(if not control) discussion and understanding about sociopolitical events
for quite some time. That the postcolonial or subaltern sources should
have their day is clearly applicable, and there is much that can be learned
from such an enterprise. At the same time, however, if one is trying to
understand the problem of the Rashomon Effect outlined earlier, then this
is not appropriate for it still neglects accounts.
A few research efforts afliated with the contested approach have come
close to investigating a broad mosaic of sources during a contentious inter-
action between states and their challengers. Within these investigations, the

31 Of course, intersections exist between these different works. Frontiers: A Journal of Womens
Studies has explored the subject of womens oral history directly within several volumes.
Moreover, there has been some interesting work conducted on the subject of everyday, life
experiences of Third World women (e.g., Johnson and Bernstein 1982; Navarro 1989).
32 There is never a comparison made across sources so that one could ascertain the best
source, for in this perspective there would be no such thing. Each source is important, as
it gives voice to a particular community.


sources vary considerably: some rely on the news media (e.g., Carmichael
1993; Goodman 1994; Linenthal and Englehardt 1996; Mazur 1998), some
rely on oral history (e.g., Scott 1985; Roy 1994; Brass 1997), some use
archival documents (e.g., Foucault 1979), some use novels (e.g., Said 1993),
and some utilize everything from participant observation to lyrics from hip-
hop recordings (e.g., Kelley 1994). Regardless of the sources employed, all
of this work is important for the current research because it attempts to
grapple with understanding events from a wide variety of perspectives. At
the same time, this research presents some of the greatest difculties for
the present work because the authors themselves really do not address how
they select and use their sources. As a way of identifying a methodologi-
cal technique, therefore, I engage one piece in detail, attempting to reveal
exactly what the advocates of this approach do when they study topics.

Difference Is the Key

In a book by James Goodman (1994) entitled, The Stories of Scottsboro, the
contested approach is observed quite clearly.33 Within this work, the author
consults a diverse array of sources that were available after the supposed
rape of two white women by nine African American males in northern

33 Initially, I thought of using Michel Foucaults (1979) I, Pierre Riviere, Having Slaughtered
My Mother, My Sister and My Brother for this section but felt that it would be easier for
the audience to follow and more appropriate for the study to utilize an American case that
involved contentious politics and the U.S. news media. Foucaults (1979: x) work is clearly
relevant to Rashomon for it addresses
a dossier, that is to say, a case, an affair, an event that provided the intersection of
discourses that differed in origin, form, organization, and function the discourses of the
cantonal judge, the prosecutor, the presiding judge of the assize court, the Minister of
Justice; those too of the county general practicioner and of Esquirol; and those of the
villagers, with their mayor and parish priest; and, last but not least, that of the murderer
As stated:
[a]ll (of these discourses/informant testimonies) speak, or appear to be speaking, of one and
the same thing; at any rate, the burden of all these discourses is the occurrence of June 3
(the day of the murders). But in their totality and their variety they form neither a composite
work nor an exemplary text, but rather a strange contest, a confrontation, a power relation,
a battle among discourses and through discourses. And yet, it cannot simply be described
as a single battle; for several separate combats were being fought out at the same time and
intersected each other.
This is clearly relevant to the topic.

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

Alabama, on March 25, 1931.34 Sources for this research include mem-
oirs, private correspondence, legal transcripts, and (most prominently as
well as most relevant to this analysis) newspapers. Not only were multiple
sources available for studying the Scottsboro case, but there were differ-
ent accounts derived from multiple actors: for example, police ofcers in
the South, various courts in both the North and the South, the NAACP
(the national ofce as well as regional and local branches), the Interna-
tional Labor Defense principally in the North but also the South, protesters
throughout the United States and abroad, and numerous reporters and edi-
tors throughout the country.
Goodmans research uses diverse sources to illustrate different aspects
of what occurred (i.e., they provide different accounts of the events from
distinct observers/recorders). Clearly placing himself within the contested
tradition, he (1994, xii) begins:

What follows is a history of the court case and controversy, a narrative history
in which I move, chapter by chapter, from one point of view to another, until I
have recounted the events on that freight train [where the women were supposedly
raped], at the depot in Paint Rock [where a posse had apprehended the nine African-
Americans], outside the Scottsboro jail [where the accused were initially held], in and
around the Scottsboro courthouse, and all over the country in subsequent years from
the perspectives of a wide range of participants and observers. I answer the question
What happened? with a story about the conict between people with different
ideas about what happened and different ideas about the causes and meaning of
what happened a story about the conict between people with different stories of

How is this done? The text provides numerous examples.

For example, Goodman observes that initially few newspapers covered
the rape and the legal activity surrounding the case, but coverage was signif-
icant in communist newspapers, which immediately rallied to the defense

34 Initially, one might question the relevance of this type of research to a study of contentious
political relations (given the topic of criminal behavior rape), but to ask the question is
to disregard the events involved, the context, and the consequences. Indeed, the quickest
response would probably be that you havent been to Alabama, have you? This case
involved not only rape (the act and the accusation) but mob violence, threats of lynching,
racism, censorship, police brutality, economic oppression, protests, speeches, rallies, and
letter-writing campaigns undertaken by social movements, Advocacy groups, and everyday
private citizens simply, the case is very much about contentious politics. Additionally,
as the lm Rashomon concerns a supposed rape, this case is tting in another manner as
well. Historically, there has been extensive reliance upon eyewitness testimony and the
confrontation of diverse perspectives within rape cases.


of the Scottsboro Boys (Goodman 1994: 28) identifying that court

treatment of the youth was a clear instance of race prejudice and capi-
talist exploitation (Goodman 1994: especially 267, 35). This made sense
because communists believed that the reporting case was especially impor-
tant as this allowed them to show African Americans in particular and the
rest of the U.S. population in general the importance of resisting injustice.
In other words, coverage of the legal battle was contentious politics in and
of itself because it showed that the existing political-economic system could
and, indeed, should be challenged.
After the rst trial (March 30, 1931), when the accused were found
guilty, the situation was reported with greater frequency across different
sources/different perspectives. Coverage increased even more dramatically
both during and following the second trial, as individuals expressed either
their outrage or support for what had transpired. As Goodman (1994: 148)

[u]nlike the rst trials, which few paid attention to until after they were over, this
one had been followed as it happened. Unlike reports critical of the original verdicts,
broadcast most often and most vociferously in African-American and Communist
Party newspapers, the reliability of which was not taken for granted by most people,
the reports of the Decatur trial were written by widely respected [white, mainstream]
journalists Tom Cassidy of the Daily News, Raymond Daniel of the New York Times,
and staff writers for the United Press and the Associated Press all of whom had
been right in the courtroom.

This created something of a self-reinforcing dynamic. Goodman continues:

[p]eople who had cried out about the trial before cried louder. . . . Newspapers all
over the country covered the melee that ensued when part of the throng that met
[the Scottsboro Boys lawyer] Leibowitzs train in New York tried to march back
to Harlem without a permit for a parade. (Goodman 1994: 149)

In response to mass protests that took place around the country, coverage
increased still further.
Commensurate with the expectations of the contested position and the
Rashomon Effect, signicant differences could be found across sources in
their discussions of the Scottsboro case. Communist papers covered intri-
cate details about court motions, rulings, appeals, lynch mobs, and protests
occurring around the country; Southern white papers covered rulings and
discussions about the Boys prior activities and (ever so infrequently)
information about protest behavior taken on their behalf unless of course
it was taking place in the South, in which case it was ignored; Southern black
Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

papers covered information about the trials, but steered clear of discus-
sions about lynch mobs, perceived injustice, and white racism; and, nally,
Northern white newspapers covered many aspects of the court activity, but
avoided any protests they associated with communists. Newspapers varied
as well in their retelling of the events that led up to the trial (Goodman 1994:
25962), of the willingness to discuss the background of the supposed rape
victims (Goodman 1994: 188), of the general assessments of court behavior
(Goodman 1994: 205, as opposed to 208), of the assessments of protesters
(Goodman 1994: 201), of an alleged escape attempt where one of the
Boys was shot and a sheriff came away with a cut (Goodman 1994: 2634),
and even of the age of the accused (Goodman 1994: 267).
Regardless of the contested nature of the research effort, the conven-
tional approach was not completely absent from Goodmans research. For
example, one can read the Chronology provided at the end of the book
as the ultimate conventional assessment of the subject. Here, the author
attempts to distill the commonly agreed-upon event sequence down to its
barest elements: the trial dates, the convictions, the paroles, and the deaths.
Creatively and persuasively, Goodman also conveys a certain degree of com-
monality in event sequences by overlapping the story lines presented in the
different chapters. For example, on page 259, from the Boys perspective,
he discusses an interaction between several of the Scottsboro prisoners and
their police escorts:

Handcuffed together in one car were Clarence Norris, Roy Wright, and Ozie
Powell. Sheriff Sandlin drove, and Deputy Sheriff Blalock sat beside him in the
front seat. Twenty miles outside of Decatur, one of the sheriffs said something
about Lebowitz that the boys didnt like. . . . A few minutes into it Powell sassed
the deputy, and Blalock reached back and smacked him in the head. Powell pre-
tended to take it without complaint, but with his free hand he pulled a knife out
of his pants. . . . A few minutes later, Powell reached forward and slashed Blalocks
throat. . . . Sandlin turned and shot him in the head.

This story is retold three pages later (p. 262), this time from the sheriff s

Sheriff Sandlin said Andy Wright pulled a knife on him at the same moment Ozie
Powell pulled one on Deputy Sheriff Blalock. Sandlin put his foot on the brake, let
go of the steering wheel and grabbed Wright, pinning him to the back of the front
seat. Then he realized that Powell had slashed Blalocks throat and was going for
his gun. Sandlin threw open his door, turned toward Powell on his way out, drew
his gun, and dropped him.


Interestingly, each version was utilized by different audiences and served

as a rallying cry for, alternatively, the Boys vicious treatment or their
viciousness. The key for the current research effort is the fact that cer-
tain events were held in common, while others were not. Indeed, herein
lies one of the most important methodological contributions of the Scotts-
boro book and the contested approach it represents, for it explores some of
the tensions underlying source variation.
As discussed by Goodman, different communities were collecting and
distributing information in their newspapers according to what they wanted
to know and/or what they wanted to tell their audience/constituents. Thus
the accounts varied, according to some logic, being tied to where they
came from as well as to where they were going. Specically, the event
sequences tended to vary in systematic fashion, according to the newspapers
geographic location and political orientation.
Not surprisingly, communist newspapers highlighted white violence (by
police and vigilantes) and injustice (at different levels of the court system)
as well as the massive activist campaign that was organized on behalf of the
accused. As Goodman (1994, 27) notes:

[i]n early 1931, mass protest was the key (to communist success). Since the Sixth
World Congress in 1928, the Party had been arguing that capitalisms end was near.
More than a year before the stock market crash of 1929, the Party had predicted
that worldwide economic depression would usher in the third period of postwar
capitalism, ending ve years of relative stability that had begun in 1923 with the
defeat of the German revolution. Massive unemployment and agitation would pre-
pare the way for the radicalization of the masses, and militant workers, taking the
offensive, in demonstrations, marches, and strikes, would seize capitalism by the
throat and deliver the last blow.

He continues:

[w]here the facade of capitalist justice looked especially thin, Party leaders and orga-
nizers leapt at the opportunity to get Americans to look through it. By publicizing
the plight of the boys and defending them in court, the Party saw the chance to
educate, add to its ranks, and encourage the mass protest necessary not only to free
the boys but also to bring about revolution. (1994: 267)

The situation thus proved ripe for communists to gain new members and
reveal to Americans the efcacy of and the necessity for organized, mass
Similarly, African Americans in the South provided a type of coverage
of the Scottsboro case that was tied to their own needs and interests. In
Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

part, the information provided by these actors was determined by their

position (or lack thereof ) relative to Southern whites one largely denoted
by fear, subjugation, and powerlessness.35 In part, the information provided
by these actors was determined by their familiarity with everyday forms
of resistance (e.g., Scott 1985; Kelley 1994). For example, according to
Goodman, one did not see the overt indications of activism (or rage for
that matter), within these newspapers that was clearly identiable within the
communist presses. Southern blacks tended to be more judicious, although
occasionally they were no less critical. As such, the event sequences reported
here tended to be tied to court activity (initially at local and later at federal
levels). By contrast, those activities that take place outside of the courts
lynch mobs, the International Labor Defense protests, and so forth were
ignored. In this way, African Americans kept within the parameters dened
for them by white Southerners while still providing a venue for discussing
the Scottsboro case in a nonthreatening manner.36
Event coverage by whites in the South provided another angle. Given the
position of this group, their interest lay in protecting a particular way of life
that elevated Anglo Americans, the positive characterization of white wom-
anhood, and the evils of Northern inuence over Southern affairs. Con-
sequently, the event sequences emerging from these sources highlighted
court activity (at all levels), lynch mobs within different areas of the South,
letter-writing campaigns directed against Southern ofcials from North-
erners, and contentious events taking place up North. This information
simultaneously reinforced (1) the perception of white justice (that blacks
would receive what they deserved a trial in court and a conviction, to be
replaced by a lynching if this did not work), (2) the view that the South
was under assault from outsiders just as during Reconstruction, and (3)
the perception of Northern instability that Northerners could not handle
their Negroes and/or communists.
Finally, whites in the North provided yet another view. Given the dis-
tance of this group from the South, a general lack of familiarity with the
political-cultural situation within the Southern part of the United States,

35 See Tolnay and Beck (1995) for good discussion.

36 Both African American writers and readers seemed to develop within this situation. Despite
the obvious fear of persecution for addressing controversial subject matter, writers were
still able to get information across often quite innovatively (Goodman 1994: 634). Addi-
tionally, readers seemed to be able to read between as well as through the lines and see
exactly what was being discussed about the white South.


and distinct perceptions of African Americans held by Northerners,37 cov-

erage of events in the North tended to highlight court behavior exclusively
(initially at the local level, later at the federal level, and then at both levels).
This reected the ease with which these events could be covered from afar,
a point of familiarity because it was expected that Northerners had an idea
of how these institutions function and, it emphasized the backwardness of
the South in terms of its improper methods of adjudication.38 Moreover,
these newspapers paid attention to mass protests surrounding the case but
only if they were undertaken by noncommunists. From coverage of such
issues, Northern whites could maintain that challenges were being raised by
everyday folk against an oppressive system of governance, largely unlinked
to the illegitimate activities of the Communist Party.
Sources thus varied but they all remained in character so to speak. This
is a theme to which I return later.

In this chapter, I have discussed two very different approaches to the study
of conict: an older, conventional view that emphasizes events as well as
objectivity (adopted by the majority of those quantitatively investigating
conict/contentious politics) and a newer contested position that empha-
sizes sources and subjectivity (adopted by a small number of qualitative
researchers of conict/contentious politics). I discussed these two ap-
proaches because before one can address the Rashomon Effect, it is neces-
sary to understand the context within which an awareness of source variation
Invariably, I do not expect the reader to immediately see the relevance of
the contested position to the work of conventionalists. For many within the
latter community, the methodological differences between the two perspec-
tives are sufcient grounds for ignoring the insights into data generation
and conict behavior provided by the other. Indeed, to conventionalists the
research conducted by the contestants is interesting but inconsequential.
The relationship between event catalogs and qualitative research is tentative

37 Grounded in their experiences, the historical association of many Northern whites with
abolition and a belief that Southern attitudes were undeveloped as well as a bit savage led
them to have a negative view of whites in the South.
38 In fact, the anti-Southern attitude was so intense that upon receiving information from
the South, printed within that regions newspapers, Northerners would frequently rewrite
what they received (Goodman 1994: 148).

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Event Catalogs

at best, especially regarding the sources that are generally used by quanti-
tative researchers.39 In the following chapter, I attempt to overcome these
differences and opinions about usefulness, revealing how an understand-
ing of event catalogs and conict can be improved by utilizing the insights
of both approaches. Specically, I outline a quantitative investigation of
source coverage informed by the contested tradition.

39 One could also make a case in the other direction, for qualitative researchers rarely, if ever,
mention the work of quantitative counterparts.


The Rashomon Effect, Observation,

and Data Generation

[C]onfrontations involving [contentious politics] almost always lead to the

construction of interpretations of them by authorities, media, politicians, and
political activists. . . . Where, then, can [those] interested in questions of [con-
tentious politics] place [themselves] in relation to these constructions? One
possible posture is to seek to expose the falsications contained in all of them.
However, if one starts with the premise that [contention] in which innocent
persons are harmed and killed is an evil, such a rhetorical strategy provides a
poor vantage point. One must, therefore, take a stand in relation to the whole
process of construction and contextualization.
Paul Brass, Theft of an Idol: Text and Context in the Representation of
Collective Violence (1997)

In Akira Kurosawas lm Rashomon1 a woodcutter, a priest, and a commoner

take shelter from a torrential thunderstorm. While waiting for the rain
to stop, the woodcutter and priest tell the commoner of a recent event
involving a samurai, his wife, and a bandit. As the woodcutter and the
priest tell their respective tales, the commoner (and audience) learns that
at some point the wife and bandit had sex and later the husband was killed.
The two explain that during the testimony given to the court about these
events, the specics of the attack were repeatedly called into question as the
protagonists related their overlapping but conicting versions of what took
place. This is the heart of the lm: the puzzle of the story lies in the diverse
accounts of the different actors and in the judgments about guilt/innocence
that hang on the credibility of these competing versions of reality.

1 What is Rashomon exactly? This was the largest gate in Kyoto at the time (the ancient
capitol of Japan) behind, over, and around the place where the stories in Kurosawas lm
were retold. Lurking in the background, like some all-seeing eye of historical memory, the
gate serves as judge, as witness and as shelter for the lm.

Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation

For instance, according to the captured bandit (Tajomaru), after meeting

in a chance encounter, the Samurais wife gives in to his sexual advances.
Horried at her conduct afterward, the wife tells the bandit to kill her
husband because she cannot bear to be shamed in his eyes. The wifes version
of what took place differs markedly from Tajomarus. In her version, the
bandit stalks, cons, and abducts an innocent husband and wife. He later
rapes the woman and ees the scene of the horrible crime. Recovering
from the attack, the wife frees her husband and asks him to kill her in
order to eliminate the shame of what had transpired. Before the husband
can act, however, the woman faints and upon awakening nds her husband
dead, lying with a dagger in his chest.2 The deceased husbands version of
what occurred is provided through a medium who conjures up his presence
before the court. In this account, everything up to the sexual interaction is
the same. Differing from the others, after Tajomaru rapes the wife, the thief
begs her to marry him. Denying the request, the wife replies that the thief
must kill her husband so that she can be free to pursue their relationship
socially and psychologically. Tajomaru, shocked by the unexpected request,
turns against the woman and defers to the samurai asking what he, as the
rapist but more importantly as a man, should do. Perceiving the two men
to be conspiring against her, the wife runs off, and the thief chases after
her. Left alone, the disgraced samurai takes his wifes dagger and commits
suicide. With some prodding by the two men at the gate, the woodcutter
(who was hidden in the woods and found the husbands body) delivers a
fourth version of the tragic story. In this one, the woodcutter acknowledges
the abduction of the couple and rape of the wife, but he claims that after the
attack, the woman baited both men into ghting a duel over her. During
the ensuing ght, the samurai trips and falls onto the thiefs sword, dying
almost instantaneously. Upon witnessing the murder, the wife runs away
and the bandit unsuccessfully follows her.
Rashomon closes with none of the protagonists (or the audience) any
closer to the truth and no more certain of objective reality than the sub-
jective as well as distorted versions constructed by the various characters.
No one can be condent about what has been seen or heard. In this context,
one is never really sure about what they are seeing/hearing. For instance:
perhaps the husband really loved his wife, was lost without her and hence felt he
must kill himself; perhaps [the wife] really thought to save her husband by a show
of affection for the bandit, and thus played the role of faithful wife; perhaps the

2 She admits that it would appear to many that she must have killed her husband.


woodcutter knows much more, perhaps he too entered the action mirror within
mirrors, each intention bringing forth another, until the triangle fades into the
distance. (Richie 1987: 13)

What really happened and why? We never really know, and in fact we stop
pondering these and other questions to focus instead on the versions and
why they were told.
What is clear about Rashomon is the fact that the different accounts are not
random in what they convey. Just because sources have somewhat distinct
objectives and employ diverse criteria for collecting as well as distribut-
ing information does not mean that they focus on completely different
things. Richie (1987) points out, for instance, that all of the characters in
the Kurosowa lm are motivated by one single element pride, which
derived from their station in life. As he states (1987: 11):
[e]ach is proud of what [they] did because, as [they] might tell you: It is just the sort
of thing that I would do. Each thinks of [their] character as being fully formed,
of being a thing, like the rape or the dagger is a thing, and . . . of being capable of
only a certain number of [consistent] reactions. They are in character because they
have dened their own character for themselves and will admit none of the sur-
prising opportunities which must occur when one does not. They had no choice;
circumstances forced their various actions; what each did could not be helped.
(emphasis in original)

To explain this, Richie (1987: 12) highlights the fact that

Rashomon [is essentially] a historical lm . . . because this limitation of spirit, this tacit
agreement [social in its scope] that one is and cannot become, is a feudalistic precept.
(emphasis in original)

Indeed, within this context, individuals are trapped by the sociopolitical

structure in which they exist; they act and they tell their stories according
to their station in life. The Rashomon Effect thus describes the dual pro-
cess of allowing for multiple perspectives and using this variation to reveal
something about the phenomena under discussion as well as about the con-
text within which events take place. In this light, the Rashomon Effect falls
squarely within the contested tradition discussed in the last chapter.
With the insights of Rashomon, the key to piecing together the history
of the rape and murder or any other conictual events is to identify the
protagonists, discover the underlying structure in which they operate, and
probe the type of behavior that different actors would engage in if placed in
this situation. In this chapter, I outline such an argument for the observation
of state repression and political dissent.
Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation

Stories of Contention
One can see that it is difcult to discuss coverage of an event in an abstract,
general way without specically identifying the event itself. Addressed ear-
lier, not all occurrences are likely to be discussed or discussed equally well
because observation/recording does not function in this manner and it
should not be treated as though it does. This having been said, event cover-
age essentially comes down to two factors: (1) how observing/recording orga-
nizations think and write about the topic of interest (e.g., Schudson 1989: 1997),
and (2) whom relevant organizations use for information about the event being
discussed (e.g., Lippmann [1922] 1997; Molotoch and Lester 1974; Tuchman
1978; Strentz 1989). Both issues are addressed in the next section.

Narrative Conceptions and Conventions

How do individuals understand political or state repression and societal
dissent? Why do they believe that these events occur? How do the answers
to these questions inuence the manner in which information about con-
tention is conveyed? Although these questions are extremely important, one
nds, in consulting the existing literature, that they are not answered in a
straightforward manner. The clearest answers emerge from the research on
newspapers and thus most of my discussion is based upon work developed
in that context.
Putting the case in its most simplistic form, I maintain that understand-
ing and coverage of conict/contentious politics is generally cast as some-
thing of a dynamic interaction between two actors3 : the state and the states
challengers.4 This is consistent with most scholars relevant to the topic. As
discussed by Keen (1999: 81):

3 What is the origin of this perspective? Two answers readily come to mind. First, this basically
follows a rationalist explanation of conict that has existed for quite some time, whereby the
cost of one contentious action (protest) is altered by the other contentious action (repres-
sion), prompting a response on behalf of the former actor to maximize the chances of
achieving desired goals (see Lichbach 1995 for review). Second, this view follows a rela-
tively commonsensical approach of how social order is maintained and disturbed (e.g., for
decent explanation, see Dallin and Breslauer 1970; Lule 2001: 33, 36).
4 On this point, Schudson (1987: 99) notes:
[t]his is what the press handles best: stories that are timely, that have anticipatable end points,
and that have end points that gure in simple, binary possibilities the election or the game
will be won or lost, the Dow-Jones will go up or down, the defendant will be judged guilty
or not guilty, the criminal is apprehended or at large, the patient survives or dies, the child is
missing or has been found, the state or dissidents cause more damage to the other through


[a] very common framework . . . portrays [conict] as a contest between two or more
sides. Those operating within this framework, when they are confronted by a [con-
agration], are like an outsider arriving at a sporting event whose rst question is:
Whos it between? Such analysts may be quickly reassured with a set of compet-
ing initials (for example, UNITA versus the MPLA), or, better, a set of compet-
ing . . . groups (the Serbs versus the Muslims or the Hutus versus the Tutsis).

In this approach, a combatant metaphor5 is applied, whereby the actions of

authorities and challengers are reported in opposition to the actions of dis-
sidents and governments, respectively.6 The actions out in the real world
thus interact with this narrative convention, which becomes the (news) story
distributed to the public and later used by researchers in their event catalogs
(Figure 5).
Adopting this approach, one is provided with an understanding of who
and what is involved, but one is also provided with the basic explana-
tion as to why contentious events take place. Here, repression is used by
authorities in an effort to establish/secure/extend the control of those in
power (i.e., those institutions and individuals that wield inuence over soci-
ety) against those without power (i.e., those who currently lack signicant
inuence over relevant individuals and institutions but who challenge this

their behavior). Stories that are more complex than this the budget, for instance if they
are to be covered well at all, are translated into a binary opposition of this sort: the president
is going to get his way or he is going to lose to the Congress.
5 One may automatically think of a possible scenario where states sanction some citizens for
apparently no reason (perhaps death squad activity directed against a previously peaceful
shing village [i.e., one with no overt manifestations of conict]). In this situation, one
would maintain that there is no challenge. I disagree with this position and argue that
if a challenge could not be observed, it would be created. News organizations can portray
the governments perception of citizens as being essentially combative. Here, the challenge
exists because the state believes that they are threatened. Simply, the narrative convention
mandates that opposing actors exist either in actualized (through their behavior) or latent
form (as it is perceived by those involved).
6 Sanctions might be applied against individuals not directly engaged within a contentious
interaction with the state. I maintain that within the context of a news report this approach
would not frequently be taken for the narrative structure of the story maintains that both
actors in the repressive situation play a role (however imbalanced that role might be). I
would contend that the combatant metaphor (which is based on the underlying reality of
a higher frequency of occurrence relative to situations of large-scale violence) accounts for
some of the difculty that the media has with the coverage of genocide; they attempt to
apply another news frame that involves state authorities and contentious behavior but one
that is very different in nature because of the inherent inequitable distribution of the actions
involved. Similar arguments have been made about the genocide in Bosnia (Gutman 1993:

Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation


Act * Narrative


Authorities Challengers


Figure 5. The Narrative Structure of Contentious Politics

situation directly). Similarly, protest is used by those outside of power in an

effort to establish/secure/extend their inuence over those who currently
wield it.7
The application of this narrative schema makes sense for several reasons.
Within an oppositional framework, repressive and dissident behavior are
things that one actor does against another. As most suggest that reporting
is largely focused upon specic actors/actions around which stories can
be written (i.e., it is actor/action-centric), such an approach is logical.8
Additionally, the use of opposites within the coverage of contentious politics
provides one of the clearest ways to convey information about the events
in question as well as to understanding what has occurred (e.g., Altheide
1976; Barnouw 1978; Trew 1979; Hartley and Montgomery 1985).
This framework determines the way in which stories are told about rel-
evant activity because upon coming to an event, reporters (readers as well

7 This only applies to specic forms of protest that which targets government ofcials,
policies, and institutions. I believe that much of the difculty with documenting non-state-
oriented protest (e.g., identity-based movements) emerges from the narrative convention
employed within the news industry. Additionally, this would account for the fact that once
these protests target or come physically close to those afliated with governments (e.g., in
Washington, D.C.), they are more likely to obtain coverage.
8 Alternatively, one could consider one action without the other, a single actor or that the
behavior emerges in response to some structural characteristic (e.g., the level of economic
development or the degree of democracy).


as researchers that use this information) are relieved of the need to exert
much energy, resources, or time in deciphering what is going on (e.g., Lule
2001: 33). As designed, reported behavior merely responds to some other
reported or assumed behavior. With such a characterization, one does not
need to understand the context within which actors exist or within which
action takes place.9 Adopting this approach, all are able to drop (or, using
the language of media studies, parachute) into a situation and immedi-
ately have some understanding of what is occurring and what needs to be
written (e.g., Moeller 1999). Indeed, all one needs to do to get up to speed
is identify the type of event taking place,10 apply the labels of authorities
and challengers to the designated actors, and assess which one is good
(i.e., ghting for justice and freedom or, alternatively, law and order)11
and which is evil (i.e., ghting for chaos, anarchy, or greed). With that

9 This is probably why Sidney Tarrow refers to specic event counts derived from newspapers
as instances of eventless history.
10 This is similar to Tuchmans (1973) argument that the way that an event actually takes
place inuences the way that it is covered. Specically, he provides a useful example of the
[d]iscussing a plane crash, Bucher . . . argues that, faced with a disaster, persons try to locate
the point in the process that caused the accidents so they may prevent future accidents
from happening in the same manner. Buchers ndings suggest that the way in which
an event happens, the classications used to describe the event, and the work done to
prevent a recurrence are related. They prompt the proposal that newsmen do not catego-
rize events-as-news by distinguishing between kinds of subject matter. Rather, they typify
events-as-news according to the way these happen and according to the requirements of
the organizational structure within which news stories are constructed. (Tuchman 1973:
I merely suggest that confronting an instance of contention, news organizations engaged
in a similar process.
11 Generally, the authorities would receive the label of the good actor, with the challengers
receiving the label of the bad one (Molotoch 1988: 778). In part, this is because the state
at any one time is one of the most newsworthy organizations and hence one of the most
important organizations within the society for the media. To retain acceptable relations
with this actor, I believe that the media is more inclined to be deferent. Now, the assignment
of different actors to positions of good and evil will likely vary by the type of news-
paper being considered, but it is clear that some attention to sides will be mentioned. As
Barkin (1984: 30) notes:
[t]here must be villains and heroes in every paper, and the storylines must conform to the
usage of suspense, conict, the defeat of evil, and the triumph of good that have guided
the good sense and artistry of past storytellers and controlled their audiences ability to

Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation

framework in hand, one is ready to create as well as comprehend stories

about political conict.12
The use of this approach also allows the media to retain a sense of objec-
tivity by providing a story format within which (at least at some level) both
sides of an event can be told. The pursuit of objectivity has long been an
explanation for why reporters especially within the American and Western
contexts (e.g., Novick 1988; Schudson 1995; Haskell 1998) collect infor-
mation and tell stories in the way that they do. This is important because
the narrative element not only provides structure to the way information is
conveyed but also provides reinforcement for the reporters identity. The
implications of this practice are threefold.
First, it suggests that news reports reect not only the underlying reality
being discussed but also the narrative conventions that organizations (like
newspapers, human rights organizations, and governments) use to convey
information about events. It should be clear: I do not maintain that there
is some malicious agenda being enacted when this approach is undertaken
(e.g., Chomsky 1989; Barsamian 1992). Rather, I suggest that if the story
form . . . chosen is a heroic tale (a format which many news stories take), then
there must be a protagonist and an antagonist. It is not political favoritism
but simply a formulaic understanding of how the world operates (Sperry
1976: 137).13 More broadly, Schudson (1995: 55) makes the same point
when he states:

[n]ews is not ctional, but it is conventional. Conventions help make messages

readable. . . . Their function is less to increase or decrease the truth value of the

12 As Tuchman (1976: 1066) identies, very frequently this reading of the situation is only
done once and by some centralized informant who all news organizations later consult for
understanding of what took place (or what noticed facts) establish the core around which
the court narrative can be told. The orientation discussed here explains part of the difculty
that existing media sources have had cataloging death squads and militia who are frequently
associated with states but whose connection is generally unclear.
13 By this argument, it would be unfair as well as inappropriate to criticize event catalogs
(databases) such as the World Handbook of Political and Social Indicators or the WHPSI (Taylor
and Jodice 1983) for collecting their data on repression with its relationship to protest in
mind something that was believed to create bias in the indicator and lead the WHPSI to
certain types of behavior and away from others. Indeed, the approach suggested within my
research indicates that such data are not biased. Rather, it is merely being deferent to an
explicit literary convention used within the newspapers employed by the WHPSI (the New
York Times in this case), something that conditions what the WHPSI (or anyone) would be
able to nd when these stories are consulted.


message they convey than to shape and narrow the range of what kinds of truths
can be told.14

Second, if one is interested in identifying contentious activity, then he

or she needs to pay attention to the relative balance between repressive
and protest events within source material and not simply pay attention to
only one form of contention without noting the other (as is frequently
done within statistical analyses of conict and somewhat less so in qual-
itative descriptions of event catalogs). As repression and dissent are both
embedded within the narrative construct of how contentious politics is gen-
erally written/reported and understood, this orientation is crucial.15 Even
though exclusive coverage is possible, I believe that this varies across types
of sources. For example, consulted material will likely highlight both actions
to some extent for narrative effect, allowing both sides to speak and facil-
itating the understanding of events. Within a more specialized reporting
agency (e.g., as a nongovernmental human rights organization or a gov-
ernment report of a human rights violation), however, I would expect that
coverage would be more myopic in nature exclusively highlighting only
one type of action and actor (e.g., Davenport and Ball 2002).16 Even here,
though, I would expect some attention to be directed to other actions, other
Third, and last, the juxtaposition of states and repression against dis-
sidents and dissent suggests that particular ways of storytelling emerge
from the context surrounding the storyteller. This is similar to the pro-
cess by which audiences of one group asked to retell the tales developed
by another alter them according to their respective cultures (e.g., with

14 The narrative construct of juxtaposition is not used in an infrequent manner. Such practices
are sustained as quick reference guides for how to cover these types of events (as well as
others) across time and context for all reporters and news agencies (e.g., Tuchman 1973;
Bird and Dardenne 1988; Schudson 1989).
15 Wolfsfeld (1997: 69) develops a similar typology arraying the role of the news media in
domestic conict as either faithful servants to authorities, semi-honest brokers who
equally discuss challengers as well as authorities, and advocates of the underdog who
discuss challengers. Again, the principle difference between Wolfsfelds interest and my
own are: (1) he is interested in how the media inuences political conicts, and (2) he is
interested in how conict is framed by the media. Additionally, my characterization of
the difference in news coverage (incorporating such newspapers as alternative, community,
and dissident presses, which Wolfsfeld does not address) allows for exclusive focus on
challengers distinct from Wolfsfelds characterization that all challengers can do is hope
to chip away at the media monopoly enjoyed by authorities.
16 These are subject to other narrative constructs that I address in other research (Davenport
and Ball 2002).

Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation

English audiences and Kwakiutl folk tales [Bartlett 1932] or Americans with
Eskimo tales [Rice 1980]) or, more relevant to this analysis, how newspa-
pers, human rights NGOs, and governments differ in the way that they
tell stories about political violence. Such a topic must be addressed because
we must explicitly consider both alternative ways of telling stories and the
surroundings/contexts within which diverse story forms emerge if we are
to understand what the reported information can convey. In short:
[t]he approach to the topic of coverage advocated here directs us to conclude that the
[construction] of [stories] does not operate so much through an obvious alteration
of an event . . . as much as through the downplay or the insistence on some particular
features of an event [over others]. (Livolsi 1971, 264)17

Narrative style thus selects (Barkin 1984). It is responsible for a sort of

selective perception of the world which is common to members of a given
(group) and which has the effect of imparting a characteristic interpreta-
tion to the phenomena under consideration (Rice 1980: 1612). Narrative
style claries. It conveys specic information about actors, and actions, as
well as occasionally about motives and aftereffects. Finally, narrative style
discourages. As Bird and Dardenne (1988: 342) note:
[r]eaders ignore much of a newspaper . . . because the narrative form repels them.
The inverted pyramid style (where the lead contains most of the important infor-
mation and the rest of the article merely lls in some of the details summarized
up front) encourages partial reading . . . and it may help ensure that readers forget
much of what they do read.18

Conceptions and conventions thus play a major role in creating as well as

understanding source content and variability.

The Source and the Subject

Knowing the topic of interest and the relevant convention used by sources
to cover events is only part of what needs to be understood about the

17 Some would disagree with this point (e.g., Hersey 1981 and Chibnall 1981).
18 This likely accounts for one of the major reasons why Rashomon has been neglected
fundamentally, the medium of communication that one must consult to understand what
is covered and how diverse perspectives differ is so unattractive that the idea of spending
time with it, reading through hundreds if not thousands, is not something that most would
consider pleasurable or even worthwhile. Of course, it is possible that the sheer costs
involved with such activity and the unclear nature of the payoff would deter some as well.
For the time being, we shall ignore the displeasure and move on to further consider how
contentious news stories are constructed.


5) Witness Nx removed 11) Coverage 10) Witness Nx removed

4) Witness 2x removed 9) Witness 2x removed

Act * Narrative

3) Witness 1x removed Repression 8) Witness 1x removed

1) Authorities
6) Challengers
2) Spokesperson
7) Spokesperson

Figure 6. The Informants for Contentious Information

observation/reporting of contentious politics. As Sigal (1987: 63) tells us,

news is not what journalists or observers think, but what their sources
direct them to say.19 Such a realization leads one to seek out the who
of the story; in the case of repression and protest, this concerns authorities
and challengers, respectively.
From whom does one obtain information about conict? There are sev-
eral different actors, whom I refer to as informants, who provide infor-
mation to observers/reporters about what has taken place. Informants vary
with respect to which side of the interaction they have an interest in and
access to. These individuals also vary with respect to how far removed they
are from the events in question.
As depicted in Figure 6, in any one act of conict/contention (i.e., any
instance of repression or protest), there are at least two actors present20 an
authority and a challenger, each of whom can serve as perpetrator/initiator
and target/victim of action.21 Each of these actors can also serve as an infor-
mant about what took place to some observer/reporter (11 in the gure)
if they directly choose to talk about what they have seen unofcially (1 and
6 in the gure) or ofcially in their capacity as a spokesperson for the rele-
vant organization (2 and 7). Moreover, perpetrators and targets/victims can

19 This is a point supported by numerous others (Lippmann [1922] 1997; Tuchman 1978;
Gans 1979; Brasch and Ulloth 1986).
20 There is presumably some upward limit but not one that is necessary to identify at this
21 Much of this has been drawn from anecdotal accounts of human rights investigation (e.g.,
Rosenberg 1991; Gutman 1993) and extensive reading about how news organizations collect

Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation

turn into indirect informants when they provide information to some other
individual, who, in turn, passes on information to an observer/reporter (3
through 5 with regard to authorities and 8 through 10 with regard to dis-
sidents, respectively).
Ideally, all informants would be able to communicate valuable and reli-
able information about what acts were committed, which perpetrators were
involved, what happened to different victims, and what specic locales expe-
rienced activity. Even after thinking about the situation for a few seconds,
however, one would readily acknowledge that the ideal situation is not likely
to exist (as the quote by Brass at the beginning of the chapter reminds us).
Indeed, each informant probably has different observational advantages.
In most circumstances, authorities would have an advantage over chal-
lengers in terms of their capacity to understand and convey what took
place. Authorities generally have access to extensive resources (relative to
citizens), a large apparatus that can assist them in times of need, and special-
ized operations that are directly involved in the process of documenting and
analyzing contentious events (Finer 1997; Desroisieres 1998; Seltzer and
Anderson 2001). By contrast, challengers are less well equipped, prepared,
and frequently interested in observing, recalling, or conveying information
about what occurred. Everyday bystanders are even less equipped and less
Other differences in observation exist as well. For example, perpetrators
(the initiators of action)22 would have a better understanding of what took
place and where, who was present at the event, and so forth. Being the
ones initiating the action, they would be more apt to be comprehensive
about what occurred (they did after all plan the event, pick the location,
allocate resources and personnel, and so forth). By contrast, those who were
targeted/victimized are not generally as well positioned to comprehend the
events in question, as they were preoccupied with trying to survive.23
Of course, this argument varies across types of behavior. In the case
of repression, state authorities can probably answer most of the questions
regarding what took place during an event or series of events. Alternatively,
victims within a situation of repressive behavior would be quite aware of
what happened to them (where and how they took place), but they would

22 One could also select/consult those in a position to oversee the events (from some height) or
those with the largest number at the relevant occurrence (providing a collective knowledge).
23 There has been some discussion in the literature about the capacity of Holocaust victims to
serve as historians, that is, individuals who document past events (Dawidowicz 1981: 129).


probably be less able to identify other dimensions of the repressive acts (who
the perpetrators were and why they did it). When one alters the behavior
of interest from repression to protest, switching the perpetrator and targets
accordingly, it is expected that observational advantages also change, albeit
not as much as one might think. For example, within dissident-initiated
events, it is expected that informants emerging from the challengers side
would be best able to provide information about what they were doing.
Unlike the situation with regard to dissident understanding of repressive
behavior, however, I would expect that authorities have better awareness of
what challengers were engaged in during a dissident event than dissidents
have regarding what authorities were engaged in during repressive behavior;
this is after all part of their job (e.g., Rude 1964; Goldstein 1978; 1983;
Giddens 1989; Donner 1990; McCarthy et al. 1996a).24
Thus far, I have addressed only the content of what can be communicated
as a function of the different sides within a contentious event (i.e., the left
and right sides of the gure). It is also important to identify the informants
distance from the events in question (i.e., the number of miles from the
conictual act itself ).
As in most cases where human behavior is observed/recorded, the ide-
alized situation, in which disclosure is provided from the immediate par-
ticipants, is rare. State authorities directly involved with repressive activity
seldom come forward to rat out their associates or themselves (num-
ber 1 in Figure 6).25 Additionally, the willingness and capacity of victims
of repression to come forward is frequently limited because coercion has
either eliminated this possibility entirely (e.g., victims and witnesses were
killed) or rendered the possibility quite remote (e.g., victims were too fright-
ened to speak about what happened).26 Protesters (number 6 in Figure 6)
might be less able to recall specic events when they have more immediate
concerns (e.g., not getting arrested or killed, undertaking the next protest,

24 Such informational capacity is clearly revealed within the protest literature where records
from police agencies (e.g., Rude 1964; McCarthy et al. 1996a; Hocke 1998) and other
government organizations (e.g., Congress and the FBI) were used to catalog dissident
25 There have been several interesting examples of this. Churchill and Vander Wall (2002:
27281) identify a situation where an FBI informant/provocateur was paid to testify before
congress and Koehler (1999) identies numerous instances where the arrest or defection
of spies resulted in important information within and about repressive organizations.
26 There have been some important examples of people coming forward (e.g., Solzhenitsyn

Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation

or simply paying their rent). Also somewhat infrequent is the presence of

observers/reporters at the event(s) in question especially those on the
states side events that may be undertaken specically because they are
hidden from public view. Of course, this happens. The media were present
when protesters were attacked at the 1968 U.S. democratic national con-
vention in Chicago, and several members of the media were present for
some of the acts of genocide/politicide in Rwanda during the events of
1994. The basic point is that such occurrences of direct access are incon-
sistent, and it is clear that they are not relied upon exclusively to provide
reporting organizations with information about what is taking place.27
Consequently, any assessment of observed/reported behavior must allow
for the fact that much of the information about contentious events com-
ing to an organization is from individuals not present at the specic acts
in question. For example, it is possible that perpetrators or victims tell
some other individual about what happened, and that person, in turn, tells
a member of the news media or human rights NGO (number 3 and 8 in the
gure, respectively). Alternatively, it may be the case that some represen-
tative for the actors involved (e.g., a government ofcial) issues a statement
about what happened (relationships 2 and 7, respectively). This latter situ-
ation occurs within those contexts in which the perpetrator(s) had exclusive
access to the events of interest (either by chance, because of the geographic
locale of the act, or because others were deliberately kept from the area in
question), or in those contexts in which the initial target/victim had con-
veyed information to some other actor who, in turn, ofcially in his or her
capacity as a legal representative or human rights advocate communicated
the relevant information to a news organization.
Finally, there is another manner in which observers/reporters can dis-
cover information about contentious events. Specically, it may be the case
that perpetrators and/or victims directly involved with the contentious act
communicate what they experienced to someone else, who, in turn, com-
municates to another person, who, in turn, tells an observer/reporter (4
as well as 9 in Figure 6). Obviously this can be extended several times,
resulting in a very large number of stages before information is conveyed

27 The situation is somewhat different for protestors, but the outcome is frequently the same.
In this case, individuals engaged in challenging political authority would have to discern
what they were engaged in, who was there, and what was accomplished. Unfortunately,
most activities are not deemed of interest to an audience and thus they are ignored (at least
from those directly at the scene).


to observers/reporters and placed in relevant publications (5 and 10 in Fig-

ure 6).28 Regardless, it is important to acknowledge these alternative paths.

Understanding Contentious Coverage

From Figure 6 one can readily observe that there are a wide variety of
informants that observers/reporters can use in creating their stories about
contention. Although diversity can be found, however, I believe that the
likelihood of both perpetrator-oriented and/or victim-oriented informants
being used by reporting organizations varies, as does the willingness and
the capacity of the organization to cover different events. This is important
because modifying a comment identied earlier, although stories are not
what reporters/observers think but what their sources direct them to say, it
is also important to acknowledge that not all sources are directed to the same
informants. Indeed, there are numerous factors that inuence the sources
decision to tell particular stories in the rst place. The key here is twofold:
(1) to understand the conditions under which one type of actor/behavior
is selected for coverage over another, and (2) to understand what stories
are told when one form of actor/behavior is covered relative to another. I
address this in the next section.

Stories of Control, Stories of Struggle

Generally, I am interested in identifying the number of events reported
within news articles. This is very different from more standardized mea-
sures of contention derived from human rights records as well as govern-
ment reports that attempt to assess how badly (frequently) human rights
have been violated or how extensive dissident mobilization has become mea-
sured on some scale and placed into distinct categories. Although the latter
relies upon event counts to establish relevant values, these coding efforts
shy away from making specic numerical estimates. I maintain that the
counting of discrete actions is important because it provides a measure of
effort exerted by one actor against another during a specic time and place.
In fact, what becomes important about the characterization utilized here
is that stories about repression are essentially stories about the amount of

28 The model is less complex than reality in many respects. For example, I do not consider
those situations identied by Strentz (1989: Chapter 1) where reporters serve as interme-
diaries between sources and where they inform sources about what is going on.

Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation

effort exerted by authorities against those within their jurisdiction reported

by some observer and that stories about dissent are essentially stories about
the amount of effort exerted by challengers against those in power reported
by some observer. With this information, similar to older conceptions of
force, one can make the case that when reported repressive events outnum-
ber reported protest events, authorities are exerting signicant amounts of
effort to establish/maintain order as they confront some amount of effort
to disrupt or modify the existing order. When protest events outnumber
repressive events, the situation is reversed. In situations where repressive
events equal the number of protest events, it can be concluded that each
actor is exerting comparable levels of effort to inuence the other.29
This approach is somewhat different from the existing literature, which
does not specify what the reported event count actually means. It is clear that
a larger number of events represent more of something, although the exact
nature of that something is unclear. The something cannot be magnitude,
for the events could be small (involving only a few individuals) or extremely
large (involving hundreds of thousands of individuals). The something can-
not be intensity either. Yes, conicts are more intense (more heated) when
they occur more frequently, but what is really important is not the degree of
heat. Rather, it is the number of times that diverse sociopolitical actors take
it upon themselves to mobilize their resources and employ them within a
particular time and place (highlighting the meaning of each instance, each
occurrence itself ). Such a perspective is important because most sources
conict (especially newspapers) do not chase levels static conditions;
rather, they chase rate changes in levels.30
The efforts of authorities and challengers reported in sources, as well as
event catalogs, are signicant because they guide individuals in establishing
a broader conception of order and disorder. For example, as discussed by
Foucault (1979: 489), an instance of state repression has a simple juridico-
political function:

29 Spin is generally the focus of most research that concerns media coverage of contentious
events: is the effort to establish order or create disorder deemed legitimate? I am not inter-
ested in the perceived legitimacy with the actions involved, something that is extremely
contentious as one individuals opinion about what signies legitimacy/support for a par-
ticular action might vary from anothers. Rather, I am interested in the more basic facts of
the matter: does an event get reported at all?
30 This is particularly interesting in the eld of human rights violations for although the most
prominent measures are standards-based (e.g., Poe and Tate 1994), the categories used
to differentiate between the levels are events.


[i]t is a ceremony by which a momentarily injured sovereignty is reconstituted.

It restores that sovereignty by manifesting it at its most spectacular. The public
execution, however hasty and everyday, belongs to a whole series of great rituals in
which power is eclipsed and restored (coronation, entry of the king into a conquered
city, the submission of rebellious subjects); over and above the crime that has placed
the sovereign in contempt, it deploys before all eyes an invincible force. Its aim
is not so much to reestablish a balance as to bring into play, as its extreme point,
the dissymmetry between the subject who has dared to violate the law and the all-
powerful sovereign who displays strength. Although redress of the private injury
occasioned by the offence must be proportionate, although the sentence must be
equitable, the punishment is carried out in such a way as to give a spectacle not a
measure, but of imbalance and excess; in this liturgy of punishment, there must be an
emphatic afrmation of power and of its intrinsic superiority. And this superiority
is not simply that of right, but that of the physical strength of the sovereign beating
down the body of his adversary and mastering it: by breaking the law, the offender
has touched the very person of the prince; and it is the prince or at least those to
whom he delegated his force who seizes upon the body of the condemned man
and displays it marked, beaten and broken.

Accordingly, dissident behavior is best viewed as an effort to challenge to

reverse the perceived imbalance in coercive power and thereby reveal the
states vulnerability.
Contemporary statedissident interactions thus provide an excellent
example of the signication contest identied previously, but one that is
somewhat more diffuse in nature than that discussed by Foucault. In the
more recent period, contests take place in different locales throughout
a nation-state, with a variety of political actors as well as targets being
involved. Additionally, and equally as important, they reach a much larger
audience via the mass media. Coverage of these activities therefore serves
an important objective. Diverse source materials thus yield the following:
some observers/recorders attempt to (re)establish the perception of order
and legitimacy; other sources similarly attempt to (re)establish the percep-
tion of disorder and illegitimacy.
Why is it that particular actions and actors are of interest to a particular
source? As suggested earlier, I argue that there are two factors involved
political orientation and physical proximity.

Political Orientation First, I believe that the process of observing state

dissident interactions is largely dichotomous in nature. Given the immense
effort at informant cultivation that must take place and the conictual nature
of interactions between states and dissidents (where an afliation with one
could signicantly inuence ones access to the other), I do not expect
Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation

sources to have a comparable interest in or ability to tap both sides of a

conict. Objectivity in reporting is therefore rarely encountered in actual
political confrontations especially those occurring in the 1960s and 1970s.
Additionally, given differences in organizational stability, resources and
outreach, I expect that most sources will have greater access to political
authorities and fewer connections with dissidents; hence the coverage will
likely favor the former. The reasons for this are simple. Political authori-
ties are located in places that can be easily found and accessed: government
buildings, military bases, police stations, and courthouses. Moreover, gov-
ernment leaders frequently go out of their way to provide information about
establishing and/or reconstructing order through reports, press releases,
conferences, public addresses, and so forth. Finally, if one were to invest
time cultivating relationships on one side of a statedissident interaction,
it makes sense to select state informants because they are able to provide
information not only about the specic governmentdissident interaction of
interest but about other topics as well (e.g., additional statedissident inter-
actions, political scandals, taxation, welfare, and war). By contrast, afliation
with dissident organizations is relatively more limited, as they are harder
to nd/cultivate and not likely to provide observers/reporters with access
to many other stories.
Existing research tends to support this argument. For example, Ortiz
et al. (2005: 401) nd that:

Leftist newspapers are more likely to cover social movement events (Franzosi 1987;
Kriesi et al. 1992), and liberal newspapers are more likely to cover protest events
than conservative newspapers (Oliver and Myers 1999). Periodicals may also target
certain demographic groups (such as young adults, a particular racial group, or
women), which will affect the types of stories that they are likely to cover.

Physical Distance Political orientation is only part of the story. Just

because one is generally sympathetic to the relevant cause and knows whom
to contact does not mean that he or she automatically has the ability or
interest in contacting the participants (or those close to them). Indeed, as
with most things, it is generally expected that local knowledge is superior
in terms of accessibility and that efforts to comprehend conict without
this recognition are likely to miss a great deal.31 The reasons for this are
fairly straightforward. Proximate sources are better able to identify events.
Thus, at varying levels of scope and intensity, they are better able to identify

31 See Scott (1998: 31617).


5) Witness Nx removed Distance 10) Witness Nx removed

4) Witness 2x removed 9) Witness 2x removed

3) Witness 1x removed
8) Witness 1x removed


1) Authorities
6) Challengers Orientation
2) Spokesperson
7) Spokesperson

Figure 7. Contextualizing Informants

the combatants and to know where to seek out informants, especially those
closest to the relevant action.
By contrast, distant sources (even those similarly oriented) are less able
to navigate the local terrain (physically but also politically and socially).
Outsiders are less able to identify events, less able to understand who the
combatants are, and less able to know where the best informants can be
found. Distant sources may nd themselves relying on the ones most readily
available but farthest from the events of interest. Consequently, they end
up interacting with individuals in major cities, airports, hotels, taxicabs, and
bars the usual sources for those seeking information in faraway places.32
Research has generally supported these arguments about the importance of
Overlaying the model discussing informants with the model concerning
these two dimensions, we are left with Figure 7.
Employing the schema identied here to develop hypotheses, I put for-
ward two groups: one concerns the nature of the contest between dissidents
and authorities as covered by the sources, and the other concerns the impor-
tance of this coverage for understanding why contention takes place.

32 Invariably, I believe one is able to overcome space more easily than orientation through the
use of stringers and wire services. It is much more difcult to switch sides in a contentious
interaction and cultivate relationships.

Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation

Regarding the coverage of conict, I expect that the two dimensions

(space and orientation) will directly inuence what is covered/reported. For
example, distance will inuence several characteristics as sources employ
their operatives to identify informants and compile information about who
did what to whom. These efforts have very real implications for source
content. For example:
Hypothesis 1: Sources that are physically closer to the conict will (1)
cover events sooner, (2) identify the largest number of events (in abso-
lute and/or relative terms), (3) maintain a more equitable balance between
repression and dissent, (4) identify conict on a consistent basis (with fewer
breaks in the action), and (5) identify events for a longer period of time.
By contrast, distant sources will (1) identify events later, (2) identify a smaller
number, (3) maintain skewed coverage of events in one direction or another,
(4) identify events sporadically, and (5) end the coverage sooner.
The nature of the contest is inuenced by orientation as well. For exam-
ple, I anticipate that
Hypothesis 2: Sources closer to either governments or dissidents are more
attentive to conict behavior, covering events more frequently (in absolute
and/or relative terms) and with fewer lapses between discrete occurrences.
Differing from this,
Hypothesis 3: Sources somewhere between the two orientations are less
likely to be attentive, covering fewer events, with greater lapses between
them but with greater equity in who/what is covered.
Related to this, I expect that authorities and dissidents are most aware of and
most interested in communicating information about their own activities.
Hypothesis 4: Authority-oriented sources cover repressive behavior ear-
lier, in greater amounts relative to dissent but in a less biased manner (favor-
ing one actor over another), consistently, and for longer periods in time.
Hypothesis 5a: Dissident-oriented sources cover dissent earlier, in greater
amounts relative to repression, consistently, and for longer periods in time.
Given the nature of the struggle, with governments generally having an
advantage, I further anticipate that


Hypothesis 5b: Dissident-oriented sources are not as skewed as govern-

ment-oriented sources in their coverage of conict behavior (they more
evenly cover dissident and state actions).
Justifying repression, it is further expected that each contestant will identify
the other actor as drawing rst blood. As a result,
Hypothesis 6: Authority-oriented sources identify dissidents as acting
rst, whereas dissident-oriented sources identify authorities as acting rst.
Although challengers are believed to be generally interested in covering
repression (in a sense legitimating their struggle as being a threat to author-
ities and therefore meriting such a response), it is also possible that sources
sympathetic to challengers may concern themselves with other issues. This
leads to a different expectation where,
Hypothesis 7: Dissident-oriented sources highlight their own behavior
rst, as being followed immediately by repression.
The amount of coverage is not the only aspect of observation/reporting that
is involved. I also expect the type of dissent and repression to be inuenced
as well. For example,
Hypothesis 8: Authority-oriented sources cover a wider variety of repres-
sive events involving distinct agents of the state and targets of repression
whereas dissident-oriented sources identify a smaller repertoire, with fewer
agents and fewer targets.
Hypothesis 9: Dissident-oriented sources cover a wider variety of dissi-
dent events involving distinct social-movement agents and targets of dis-
sent, whereas authority-oriented sources identify a smaller repertoire, with
fewer agents and fewer targets.

In this chapter, I have attempted to provide an explanation for the
Rashomon Effect. I began by discussing the narrative convention that is
generally employed by observers/recorders to comprehend repression and
dissent as well as the way in which observers/recorders obtain informa-
tion about relevant actors and the actions associated with them. Within
the argument outlined here, variation in source accounts was attributed
Rashomon Effect, Observation, and Data Generation

to two factors, which concern the interest in, identication of, and access
to information regarding contentious politics: (1) the similarity in politi-
cal orientation between the observer and the actors involved, and (2) the
sources physical proximity to the events in question. As discussed, more
frequent and detailed coverage is expected when an expressed interest in
the relevant conict participant exists and when sources are proximate to
events; coverage is poorer when there is less interest in the relevant conict
participant and sources are distant.
Given the objectives of observers/recorders and the costs involved in
both cultivating sources and obtaining information, I argue that sources are
generally not interested in and do not have access to informants on both
sides of a contentious interaction; nor is it expected that each side would
provide as much information about the other actors behavior. In brief,
most coverage of contentious politics is narcissistically one-sided in nature.
Depending upon which sources are employed, this has serious implications
for how one examines and understands repression and dissent. Additionally,
these coverage issues directly inuence what is found in analyses of the topic.
I address the implications of Rashomon in the next chapter.


Understanding State Repressive


Repression evokes an image of a central political authority using the formal

apparatus of the state to put down rebellions, whether overtly or covertly hold-
ing the reins and directing the actions being taken in its defense. Repression
is (in a sense) what states do.
Myra Marx Ferree Soft Repression: Ridicule, Stigma and Silencing in
Gender-based Movements in Repression and Mobilization (2005)

State repression1 is strangely familiar. Almost all individuals feel that they
have at least some understanding of what it is. When asked, most identify a
few prominent examples, such as the Jewish Holocaust during the Second
World War, the counterinsurgent efforts of the U.S. government against
radicals during the 1960s and 1970s (COINTELPRO), the police response
to protestors in Chicago outside the Democratic National Convention in
1968, the actions of the Apartheid regime in South Africa as it confronted
the African National Congress (ANC) in the 1970s and 1980s, the activi-
ties undertaken by Rwandan political authorities against ethnic Tutsi and
moderate Hutu in 1994, or the action taken by authorities in Darfur against
the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups in the early 2000s. There
is of course more to repressive behavior than what can be garnered from
popular accounts of these isolated events. For example, there are a large
number of empirical analyses of event catalogs that are basically hidden
within academic journals and behind inaccessible jargon; these reveal sys-
tematic patterns in government activity that hold across time, space, and
context. Indeed, forty years of research dedicated to the subject have yielded

1 There are other labels as well: for example, political repression, negative sanctions, protest
policing and human rights violation.

Understanding State Repressive Behavior

a great deal of information about state coercion, though there is also much
that we still do not know well at all. I detail in this chapter exactly what we
have learned about repressive action from forty years of analyses as well as
how Rashomon challenges this work and how we can further improve our

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about State Repression

and Were Prepared to Ask
For most individuals, the denition of repressive behavior is pretty straight-
forward. Essentially, it is a mechanism of state inuence (i.e., a power
attempt) that involves force or the threat of force used in an effort
to (1) counter and/or eliminate domestic challenges, (2) create specic
political-economic arrangements, and (3) sustain domestic order as well
as political-economic arrangements once they have been established (Dav-
enport 2007b). The general category includes a wide variety of activity:
electronic surveillance, the use of agents provocateurs, physical harass-
ment, mass arrest, political banning, torture, targeted assassination, and
genocide.2 From just glancing at modern history, it is clear that government
coercion is not inconsequential to human affairs. As conceived, it lies at the
core of what a state is, and it is a major part of the denition of a state (Weber
1946); it is one of the principal means used to create this form of political
organization (Tilly 1990); it is one of the main strategies used by those in
power to maintain control after it has been formed (Walter 1969; Dallin and
Breslauer 1970; Davenport 1995a; Stanley 1996); and it is a crucial factor in
determining the quality of life as well as whether there will be any life at all
for those subject to its power. Indeed, researchers, theorists, activists, and
ordinary citizens may debate the signicance of repression, but few deny it a
role as one of the most important phenomena in modern political existence.
Of course, not all researchers are of one mind in their understanding of
the topic. Some emphasize certain aspects over others. For example, Dallin
and Breslauer (1970) highlight the creative dimension of repressive behav-
ior, whereas Tilly (1978; 2005) and Ziegenhagen (1986) stress conict man-
agement. Some focus on beliefs as being important for the classication of

2 There has recently been some effort to extend the denition in particular directions. For
example, Earl (2003) suggests that relevant work should include activities such as chan-
neling behavior (e.g., inuencing tax breaks given to dissident organizations), and Ferree
(2005) suggests that studies of repression should include soft techniques such as shaming
and stigmatization. These modications have not yet been widely adopted.


domestic challenges (Goldstein 1978), while others focus on diverse behav-

ioral characteristics (Hibbs 1973; Khawaja 1993; White 1993; Davenport
1995; 2007a; Earl and Soule 2006; Soule and Davenport 2009). Some focus
on state action that is violent in nature (e.g., Poe and Tate 1994; Gibney
and Dalton 1996), while others focus on occurrences that are nonviolent
or less violent (e.g., Taylor and Jodice 1983; Ferree 2005). Some focus on a
broad variety of state actors (e.g., Davenport 1995a; Moore 2000), and some
focus on a specic subset of actors like the police (e.g., Earl and Soule 2006).
Some focus on activities that are overt in nature (e.g., Taylor and Jodice
1983; Poe and Tate 1994; Cingranelli and Richards 1999; 2009; Soule and
Davenport 2009), while others focus on covert behavior (e.g., Cunningham
2004; Davenport 2005). Some focus on activities that are directed against
collectivities (e.g., Taylor and Jodice 1983; Poe and Tate 1994), while others
are more attentive to actions directed against individuals (e.g., Davenport
2005) or to behavior directed against both simultaneously (e.g., Ball et al.
1999; Francisco 2000). Regardless of these differences, however, the same
elements are consistently identied.
In the last ten or fteen years, repression has come to receive greater
attention. Compared with the sheer volume of work dedicated to other
forms of political conict (e.g., dissent [McAdam et al. 1996] and civil
[e.g., Sambanis 2004] and interstate war [Huth and Allee 2003]), how-
ever, the amount of attention focused on repression is quite limited. Part
of the reason for this is that the most prominent theories of state behavior
either ignore repression entirely (McCamant 1981) or dismiss it as being
episodic in nature and therefore not worthy of attention (e.g., Huntington
1968; Wrong 1979).3 Not all accept this view. Some researchers argue that
repressive behavior could be applied by governments on a more or less con-
tinuous basis, but they maintain that this behavior is applied only in specic
political-economic contexts (e.g., within autocracies Rummel 1997; Linz
2000).4 Still other researchers accept that repression can be found within
almost any political-economic context, at almost any time (e.g., Taylor and
Jodice 1983; Poe and Tate 1994; Davenport 1995a; 1999a; Zanger 2000).5
As for why governments use coercion, accounts vary. Although most
research in the quantitative literature focuses on an eclectic combination

3 Eckstein (1980) refers to this as a contingent view of conict behavior.

4 When in a particular phase (i.e., a level or type of social, economic, or political development),
repression is applied; when out of this phase, however, repression would not be expected.
5 Eckstein (1980) refers to these latter two perspectives as an inherent view of conict

Understanding State Repressive Behavior

of independent variables linked through either diverse path dependent/

structural-functionalist explanations (e.g., Dallin and Breslauer 1970; Hibbs
1973; Poe and Tate 1994; Davenport 1995a) or equally vague decision
calculi that lump them together (e.g., Walter 1969; Gartner and Regan
1996; Davenport 1999a), I focus on two clearly dened and operational
explanations. One concerns behavioral challenges put forward within the
relevant territorial domain; the other concerns the repressive apparatus
and its effort to maintain morale, access to resources, and the fulllment of
organizational objectives. Each is discussed below.

Protection and Domestic Realism

The rst explanation for repressive action arguably the oldest and the
core of any theory centers on the fact that coercive behavior is used
by political authorities in an effort to establish and keep order within a
nation-state (e.g., Kautilya 4 [1997]; Hobbes [1651] 1950; Eckstein 1965;
Walter 1969; Wrong 1979; Davenport 2007a). The argument itself is quite
simple. When challenges arise (e.g., strikes, demonstrations, guerrilla war-
fare, terrorism, and civil war), repression is applied in an effort to hin-
der and/or eliminate the capacity to challenge government authorities by
altering the challengers recruitment, resource acquisition, communication,
morale, and perceived probability of success. Additionally, repressive behav-
ior is used to inform challengers, the general population, and foreign actors
that such behavior will not be tolerated. Largely implicit is the belief that
state responses are generally proportional to the behavioral challenge put
forward. Political conict that is small, nonviolent, and infrequent is thus
met with state repression that is small in scale, nonviolent, and infrequent;
challenges that are large in scale, violent, and frequent, however, are met
with commensurate repressive behavior. When challenges are not present,
repression is not expected.6
Here, in what Stanley (1996: 17) refers to as an opposition/reaction
model,7 realist assumptions from international relations are applied
directly to the domestic setting. As he explains (1996: 17):

To the extent that states face internal threats, they depend upon force to deter their
enemies. If their enemies are not deterred, states use force to conquer them. In this
process . . . states are acting rationally to protect themselves.

6 Snyder (1976) identies that this is somewhat nave noting that authorities might proactively
use repression before challengers emerge.
7 Earl (2003) refers to this as the threat model.


This view is important because of its characterization of the state and its
behavior. Political authorities do not broadly survey a wide variety of fac-
tors (the eclectic combination of political-economic characteristics iden-
tied earlier) to determine whether or not these will compel authorities
to use repression. Rather, in this work, governments respond to illegiti-
mate and/or illegal8 challenges posed by those who are unwilling to work
within the existing system.9
As such, the basic premise of this research is clear: states do not repress
their citizens without just cause. Rather, governments utilize their coercive
power to counter/eliminate challenges: (1) to the personnel, policies, prac-
tices and institutions that govern the society in question, and (2) to the lives
and property of those within the relevant territorial jurisdiction.
By most accounts, the decision to use repressive behavior is not under-
taken lightly. As Pye (1966: 167) notes:

8 Conceptually, Franks (1989) tells us that threatening dissident behavior is that which is
deemed both illegal (not viewed favorably by law or by political authorities) and ille-
gitimate (not viewed favorably by the mass population). Although he argues that political
authorities accept dissent as a part of normal political life, he also acknowledges that there
are limits in all states to what those in power consider to be acceptable dissent (Franks
1989: 6). As such,
[t]hose in authority accept and tolerate legal-legitimate dissent but would not accept
illegal-illegitimate dissent. The other two (combinations) are contentious. From a liberal-
democratic viewpoint, a goal of government and society should be to include as much as
possible in the legal-legitimate category. . . . In countries that are not liberal democracies,
while the grounds for legitimate dissent are often greater, those accepted by the state as
legal are even more restricted. (Franks 1989: 67)
Practically, we know that violent dissent is the easiest form of behavioral challenge to label
as both illegitimate and illegal. Most do not accept the validity of nonstate political actors
going around destroying property or killing citizens and political leaders. How do authorities
view the rest of the dissidents repertoire? On this point, existing research is somewhat
9 This last point is actually one of the reasons why individuals started paying attention to other
political-economic characteristics in the rst place. Acknowledging that what is deemed ille-
gitimate and illegal varies and the authoritys desire to wait for actual behavioral challenges,
researchers began to explore the conditions under which political leaders maintained strict
conceptions of acceptable behavior and when they were more likely to initiate repression
before behavioral challenges were made. For example, autocracies are generally believed
to be responsive to political dissent (actual as well as potential) with totalitarian systems
being the most responsive applying repression in a manner that seeks to eliminate the very
possibility of resistance (Walter 1969; Dallin and Breslauer 1970; Rummel 1997; Linz 2000;
Davenport 2007b). Similarly, countries with large populations or high levels of poverty are
believed to be especially attentive to behavioral challenges for if these got underway, it is
expected that they would quickly grow within the dissatised population.

Understanding State Repressive Behavior

[t]he initial decisions of a government confronted with the threat of internal

war are usually the most fateful and longlasting of any it will be called upon to
make. . . . These decisions tend to have a binding effect, which to an extreme degree
gives structure and form to the entire ensuing conict. In a sense, the rst acts of the
government establish the crucial parameters of the conict, because they generally
dene the issues at stake, the presumed character of the struggle, and the legitimate
basis for any eventual termination (of the hostilities).10

Regardless of the difculty of such a decision, it is also clear that this type of
response is presumed to be widespread across political systems and cultures.
Indeed, if authorities did not adequately counter behavioral challenges, it
is expected that constituents would have the right and responsibility to
remove their leaders for failing to adequately protect them (Hobbes [1651]
As for the investigations of this hypothesis that behavioral challenges
increase repressive behavior, all quantitative analyses in the last forty years
have identied that the former increases the likelihood and severity of the
latter (Davenport 2007b). Unfortunately, there is little to no support for
the proportional argument because researchers rarely consider the differing
inuence of violent and of nonviolent or less violent challenges. In fact,
existing work typically focuses on high-prole, violent dissident behavior,
in large part because it is believed to be the most important. Without also
considering the low-prole activities of dissidents and state repression of
this activity, however, we end up with only part of the picture and not
necessarily the most interesting part. This is because most dissidents cannot
sustain high-prole, violent activity for more than a brief period of time,
whereas nonviolent behavior is more readily sustained especially within
a democracy, which is the context of concern in this book. As a result, it is
crucial to disaggregate behavioral challenges because it may be the case that
authorities respond to all forms of dissent equally in their efforts to counter
or eliminate behavioral threats. This provides a completely different view of
state repression than that traditionally applied, for it shows a higher degree
of concern for diverse forms of citizen activity.
Considering this research, four hypotheses appear worthy of consider-
ation. The rst two directly follow from prior work, attempting to gauge
the robustness of the threat hypothesis across different forms of dissident

10 It is important to note the composition of Pyes argument: governments are confronted

with a threat, and they are contemplating their rst acts. These are clearly reactive in


Hypothesis 10a: Violent dissent increases repression.

Hypothesis 10b: Lagged violent dissent increases repression.

Hypothesis 11a: Nonviolent dissent increases repression.

While identied separately, it is also possible that there is some lagged inu-
ence. For example, if a group becomes known as violent, then one could
expect that repressive behavior would be directed against them regard-
less of what they actually do (i.e., whether they use violent of nonviolent
dissent). Although it is possible that the tactics are switched (e.g., when a
previously nonviolent group becomes violent) and media sources underre-
port the switch, I do not believe that such an inuence would persist for
very long.
Such issues are clearly relevant for the Panthers because very quickly
they became labeled as a violent organization. For some, this has become
the only salient characteristic worthy of discussion (e.g., Pearson 1994;
Horowitz 1998). This is not something only recognized by individuals with
little connection or questionable connections with the BPP. The leaders of
the Panther organization acknowledged this themselves when they decided
to highlight/emphasize their cultural/survival programs and downplay
their more aggressive political programs like the monitoring of the police.
Accordingly, I consider two other hypotheses:

Hypothesis 11b: Lagged nonviolent dissent increases repression.

The next two hypotheses differ signicantly from existing research in that
they have not been considered previously:

Hypothesis 12: Authorities are more likely to respond to dissent with

repression when behavioral challenges target the agents of repression

Hypothesis 13: Authorities are more likely to respond to dissent with

repression when behavioral challenges do not target repressive agents.

These hypotheses highlight a distinction that is well known to individ-

uals who study social movements (e.g., Gamson 1975; Soule and Dav-
enport 2009), but that has largely been ignored by repression scholars.
When engaging in behavioral challenges, dissidents can direct their activi-
ties specically against government institutions that engage in repression,
or they can focus on some other target, one that is not connected to the
Understanding State Repressive Behavior

states coercive power (using the very same technique as others). The for-
mer is enacted to explicitly threaten, counter, change, and/or weaken the
states monopolization of repressive action one of the core aspects of
government authority; the latter is enacted to threaten, counter, change,
and/or weaken other actors.
The differences are captured well by the distinction between old and
new social movements. The former (generally dated between the mid-
1930s to the 1970s) directly attempted to alter fundamental power rela-
tionships in the nation-state: who wielded political, economic, and coercive
power as well as who was targeted by these actors for benets and sanctions.
This led to a high degree of conict within the United States and West-
ern Europe because if the challengers had won, then existing authorities as
well as the political-economic elites afliated with them would have lost a
tremendous amount. By contrast, new social movements (i.e., those gen-
erally that arose after the 1970s in Western countries) are not interested in
targeting, challenging, or transforming political-economic power. Rather,
they are interested in gaining some measure of symbolic acknowledgment
and/or acceptance for their cause within the existing political-economic
Following from this, if one were to evaluate different movements with
regard to how the state would treat them, one would conclude that the old
social movements would be far more threatening to political authorities
and more likely to be repressed than would the less threatening, newer
social movements. Competitively, dissident behavior that directly targets
the agents of repression (e.g., a protest in front of a police station, court, or
military base) is even more likely to be targeted for repressive action than
are those that do not challenge repressive agents (e.g., a logging company or
coffee shop). Indeed, this difference in treatment might be a primary reason
for the dramatic shift in the demands made by the two movements; that is,
dissidents changed objectives in an effort to reduce the costs of collective
Now, to the degree that different types of challenges are repressed
at comparable levels, this tells us a great deal about state coercion. For

11 Others highlight different factors that account for the varying treatment of social move-
ments even those applying the same strategy. For example, some highlight the vulnera-
bility of the social movement itself (Earl and Soule 2006), noting that the weaker/less stable
the mobilizing institution and/or more marginalized the population of interest, the higher
the likelihood that they would be repressed. In contrast, strong/stable organizations and
centralized populations are less likely to be sanctioned.


example, if violent and nonviolent protests directed against government

agents as well as nongovernment agents, are treated differently, with
violent behavior against government agents receiving greater amounts of
repression, then the existing characterization of the coercive process has
been supported. If, however, these diverse forms of dissent and targets result
in similar types and levels of repressive action, then this suggests that author-
ities are sensitive to all types of challenges and, additionally, that the pro-
portional argument underlying existing research is inappropriate as there is
no sense of meeting force with equivalent force. Indeed, equality in coercive
responsiveness will compel us to explore whether something else is affecting
the behavior of political leaders (e.g., the content of the claim being made).
Such a concern is clearly relevant to the interaction between the Black
Panthers and the U.S. government as the former engaged in a wide variety
of activity. For example, the Panthers monitored the police while carrying
weapons, and they engaged in numerous street battles with coercive agents.
At the same time, the BPP also led protest demonstrations and boycotts,
circulated petitions, fed children, ran educational facilities, conducted tests
for sickle cell anemia, and held press conferences. The impact of these
diverse actions on repression is not at all clear. Some suggest that all were
targeted, some suggest that only the most violent were treated in a coercive
manner, and some appear to take no position whatsoever. Detecting simi-
larities/differences would thus tell us a great deal about what happened as
well as about how different observers/reporters perceived the interaction
between the state and the dissidents. Not only did the Panthers engage in
different activities, but they also targeted diverse actors. Perhaps the most
controversial and best known targets were authorities (e.g., politicians at the
state assembly in Sacramento and police on the streets of Oakland). But,
again, there were other targets as well (e.g., supermarkets, liquor stores,
newspapers, and businesspeople throughout California). The inuence of
target selection on repressive behavior would be very informative about
what took place and what takes place more generally when dissidents chal-
lenge different aspects of the status quo.
Conceived in this manner, it is argued that dissidents engage in diverse
forms of behavior that challenge the political economy in specic ways
differentiated by the degree of violence employed and the target against
which challenges are made. As such, this argument is similar to the work
of Gamson (1975) and others who, when addressing a range of dissidents,
argue that there will likely be some range of responses from the government.
Specically, organizations high in violence and government targeting are
Understanding State Repressive Behavior

likely to be repressed greater than nonviolent organizations that target

nongovernment actors.
These are of course not the only characteristics of dissident organi-
zations that are considered by authorities but they largely structure the
governments response. This is especially the case in the BPPauthority
interaction where race gures prominently (discussed further in the next
chapter). Again, such an observation is consistent with the work of others.
For example, Cunningham (2004) nds that both black and white hate
organizations advocating violence engaged in some activity consistent with
this rhetoric but the response of the authorities was different based on the
race of the opponent. In the case of countering white hate organizations
(the Ku Klux Klan, or KKK), the FBI felt sympathetic so they attempted
to inltrate and direct the organization in a nonviolent direction. In the
case of black hate organizations (the Black Panthers), however, the FBI felt
no sympathy and attempted to inltrate, disrupt, and destroy the relevant
organizations entirely. Similarly, Davenport and Soule (2009) nd that
for diverse reasons African American protestors are perceived to be more
threatening to public order than other Americans, and they are more likely
to be sanctioned with some form of social control, resulting in what we call
Protesting While Black (PWB) similar to Driving While Black (DWB).
This is very different from the treatment of nonblacks.

The Law of the Instrument

Related to the last point, a second explanation for repression focuses not
on the behavioral challenge put forward by dissidents but rather on the
agents who are directly responsible for implementing repressive behavior.
The latter is important for three reasons.
First, repressive organizations (e.g., the police or counterinsurgent units
of the military) are the ones directly responsible for identifying behavioral
threats, and they are the ones that actually respond. Consequently, these
institutions are the government agencies most closely connected to the
behavior of interest; indeed, repression is a primary function of these orga-
nizations. This is important and consistent with recent work on the topic.
For example, Earl and Soule (2006) note that even though behavioral chal-
lenges are important, these activities are ltered through repressive agents.
Specically, those responsible for policing dissident events perceive behav-
ioral challenges as they attempt to limit perceptions of societal loss of
control and retain their legitimate monopoly on the means of coercion.

Additionally, in another study by Earl and Soule (2005), it is argued that

while government ofcials are interested in identifying, monitoring, and
countering general diffuse threats to the political-economic system, the
police are interested in identifying, monitoring, and countering specic sit-
uational threats to themselves and those directly proximate to protesters
on the street (e.g., pedestrians, counter-demonstrators, and shopkeepers).
Here, threats still matter but they do so through relevant political actors.
The involvement of the repressive organization creates not a detached
agency and membership but given the highly emotional nature of state-
dissident confrontations as well as the type of training and socialization that
characterize these institutions it creates an extremely charged attachment
to the objectives pursued by the organization as well as to the other members
themselves. This is important, for most argue that in the throes of a heated
confrontation, these institutions would be the most inclined to continue or
escalate coercive behavior. It is also the case that the momentum within the
organizations of repression inuences other actors as well. For example, as
Gurr (1986a: 160) states:
[o]nce [specialized agencies of state coercion] are in operation, elites are likely to
calculate that the relative costs of relying on coercion are lower. . . . These strategic
considerations tend to be reinforced by habituation; in other words, the develop-
ment of elite norms that coercive control is not only necessary but also desirable.
Moreover, a bureaucratic law of the instrument may prevail: The professional
ethos of agencies of control centers on the use of coercion to restrain challenges
to state authority. Their directors may therefore recommend violent solutions to
suspected opposition, or use their position to initiate them, as a means of justifying
the agencies continued existence (thus providing a benet to the agents as well as
to those who rely upon them).12
Second, the agents of coercion derive benets because of their capac-
ity to wield repression in the form of material rewards, social status, and
political inuence. Exactly what agents derive and how they behave is thus
critical for understanding what happens on the ground. Indeed, we would
anticipate that repressive agents actively lobby for coercion-related poli-
cies, requesting training, weapons, funds for research and development,
access to other organizational resources, and inuence over the decision to
employ or continue relevant behavior.
Third, focusing on the agents of repression is important for this leads
us to argue that coercive behavior is ended only when something (e.g., a

12 Viewed at a broader level of social control this argument is consistent with Lasswells
discussion of the Garrison State and Garlands discussion of crime control.

Understanding State Repressive Behavior

regime change, scandal, or shift in public opinion) or someone (e.g., a politi-

cal leader) disrupts the strength/presence of the repressive apparatus in
society.13 Without transforming this characteristic of the system, nothing
will be changed and relevant behavior will persist.
To date, research has been largely supportive of the points identied
here. When one considers the impact of previous repressive behavior and/or
the inuence of a well-positioned/resourced coercive apparatus within the
nation-state, the likelihood of subsequent coercive action is increased (e.g.,
Poe and Tate 1994; Davenport 1995b, 1996b; Cunningham 2004; Earl and
Soule 2006). Unfortunately, however, most research in the area does not
pay attention to the role of repressive agents especially those that do not
carry rearms like the court. The last issue is especially important for it may
be the case that certain agents of repression are more responsive to dissent
than others (e.g., those that are given greater discretion and focus on street-
level exchanges such as the police, as opposed to courts and legislatures).
Alternatively, it may be the case that certain repressive practices preclude
the necessity for subsequent action because they set in motion a chain of
events that requires future repressive activity (e.g., an arrest that leads to a
court sentence and imprisonment).
To shed some light on these dynamics, I explore four hypotheses specif-
ically tailored to address techniques relevant to statedissident confronta-
tions in the BPP case. Again, the rst two follow existing work, attempting
to gauge the robustness of the Law of the Instrument argument across
different types of agents. Accordingly, I argue that
Hypothesis14: Previous police action relevant to repressing a social move-
ment begets subsequent police activity.
Hypothesis 15: Previous court action relevant to repressing a social move-
ment begets subsequent court activity.
The next two hypotheses differ from existing work in that they have not
been considered:
Hypothesis 16: Previous police action begets subsequent court activity.
Hypothesis 17: Previous court action begets subsequent police activity.

13 Such a position is clearly observable in discussions about large-scale state repression like
genocide where it is presumed by most observers that these events are only ended when
repressive agents are physically stopped through military intervention. This position is also
maintained by others focused on less violent repressive action.


The latter two highlight distinctions that are familiar to individuals studying
social movements but also to those who are familiar with repressive tactics
applied in the United States. The rst moves the Law of the Instrument
argument away from one that is essentially emotional and instrumental in
nature to one that is more administrative and procedural. In this case, one
form of repressive behavior is prompted by another form because specic
routines must be followed. For example, when someone is arrested in a
democracy, that person is generally charged and brought to court for judg-
ment as well as punishment. The use of police action such as arrest thus
increases subsequent court action like trials. Of course, this need not be
the case. The police could arrest someone and later release him or her,
something commonly referenced in the Panther case as harassment.
The inuence of court activity on police behavior is something differ-
ent. In this context, it is not standard procedure for the police to follow
the courts unless it involves acting on a warrant that has been issued or
testifying in court about action they undertook in investigating the case
and apprehending the accused. Indeed, in most respects, these two agents
of repression are purposefully kept separate from one another. After the
police arrest an individual and provide evidence to the court, their rela-
tionship is over. At the same time, it is possible that the police take a cue
from the court in identifying a particular group as being dangerous and
worthy of additional attention. In this context, a ruling or judgment in the
courtroom could prompt police ofcers to respond to dissidents in a more
aggressive manner.
Again, the relevance of these issues to the Panther case is obvious. The
battles between the BPP and the police have always been prominently fea-
tured in discussions about the organization and its relationship with the
U.S. government, but the Panthers also spent a great deal of time in dif-
ferent courts (e.g., grand juries). While it has been argued that there was a
tremendous amount of coordination between diverse agents of repression
regarding how best to handle the BPP threat, very little is known about
how true this was and exactly what took place. Investigation on this topic
would thus be worthwhile.

Coverage and Comprehending Contention

In reecting on what an event catalog of repression and dissent would
reveal when examining the preceding relationships, the Rashomon Effect
becomes important because it provides an explanation for the variation

Understanding State Repressive Behavior

we would likely encounter. For example, in the last chapter, I suggested

that coverage of contentious behavior was uneven across types of con-
ict. Specically, it was expected that activity undertaken by important
sociopolitical actors (e.g., state authorities) and high-prole, violent behav-
ior would be covered consistently because of their perceived importance
to an audience and the ease with which these activities could be identied
across informants. At the same time, activity undertaken by relatively less
important sociopolitical actors (e.g., social movements) and lower-prole,
nonviolent behavior would receive less consistent attention across infor-
mants and therefore across sources and catalogs. With regard to the latter
behavior, it was expected that the closer the observer/recorder was to the
relevant actor/action, both spatially and in terms of political orientation,
the higher the likelihood that it would be identied. By contrast, the far-
ther the observer/recorder was from the relevant actor/action, the lower
the likelihood that relevant behavior would be identied.
The importance of this coverage pattern to a discussion of how behav-
ioral challenges and the repressive apparatus inuences state coercion is
clear. One who relied on a source closer to authorities would consistently
identify repressive behavior but would simultaneously tend to underesti-
mate dissent especially nonviolent action. By contrast, one who relied
upon a source closer to dissidents would tend to underestimate repression
but would consistently highlight the behavior of dissidents. This inuences
our understanding of why coercion is used by governments for one would
expect authority-oriented sources to identify more repressive activity rel-
ative to challengers and thereby identify a well-functioning state as well
as a weak societal challenge. These catalogs would identify the Law of
the Instrument as the driving force behind state repression. By contrast,
dissident-oriented sources would tend to identify a more contentious (and
equitable) battle between challengers and authorities and thereby identify
a more vulnerable authority and a more competitive societal challenge.
Consequently, these catalogs would be associated with domestic realism.
In addition to this, it is likely that both sources would attribute repres-
sive behavior to high-prole dissident activity, for this is precisely what
they would be inclined to cover. This would lead to highlighting a cer-
tain aspect of political order and domestic realism. At the same time, it
is only the dissident-oriented source that would likely nd an inuence of
lower-prole dissident activity, expanding the conception of what is deemed
threatening and extending the realist argument over a wider range of activ-

As a result of event coverage, therefore, I expect that how one under-

stands repression is conditioned by perspective. Clearly, the inferences
derived from the distinct sources are not random. Rather, in line with
Kurosawas logic behind Rashomon, they reect the position occupied by
the source relative to the combatants involved in the contentious interac-
tion and the existing political economy.
For example, acknowledging different capabilities in accessing informa-
tion, I expect that

Hypothesis 18: Physically distant sources generally support explanations

involving authorities (i.e., the Law of the Instrument).

Governments and their activities are the easiest to access relative to dissi-
dents and dissent. In the context of urban conicts, they also tend to engage
in visible activities, thus facilitating identication. In contrast, I expect that

Hypothesis 19: Physically proximate sources generally support arguments

highlighting both authorities and dissidents.

The implications regarding orientation are similarly straightforward. For


Hypothesis 20: State-oriented sources should highlight dissent when the

onset of repression is considered (i.e., behavioral threat) but then highlight
authorities when continuation and magnitude of repressive behavior are
being discussed (i.e., bureaucratic inertia).

This communicates that challengers started it and that authorities

responded with overwhelming coercive power, a position similar to that
described by Foucault. Coverage of this type suggests that activism and
resistance are futile as well as illegitimate.
In contrast,

Hypothesis 21: Dissident-oriented sources should highlight authorities

initially and then focus on dissidents.

This communicates that authorities started it and that challengers

responded with overwhelming or at least consistent levels of activism. Such
coverage is intended to show that citizens can not only challenge the status
quo but also possibly defeat it.
As identied earlier, dissidents may be self-sustaining in their narrative
accounts of contention. Here,
Understanding State Repressive Behavior

Hypothesis 22: Dissident-oriented sources highlight dissident activities,

thereby focusing the explanation of the states actions on challenges (i.e.,
behavioral threat).
Here, those taking on the state begin dissident activity to address a par-
ticular need, and they continue to engage in relevant behavior essentially
without government interference. This position is likely adopted by a source
interested in the demands of the Panthers but not in their contentious rela-
tionship with the U.S. government.
The relative balance of coverage is not the only aspect of reporting that
is deemed important. The range of activities identied by sources is also
relevant. For example, the type of repression and dissent covered is useful
in evaluating explanations for state repression because
Hypothesis 23: Highlighting a smaller range of dissident activities, au-
thority-oriented sources suggest that the behavioral threats prompting state
repression is fewer in number.
By contrast,
Hypothesis 24: Highlighting a larger range of challenging behavior,
dissident-oriented sources increase the range of repression-worthy targets
and the perceived sensitivity of the state.
These differences are not simple artifacts of data collection; rather, they
convey important information about why different actors believe conict
exists. For example, authority-oriented sources highlight dissident activities
they are aware of and thus focus on those that are largest in scale and those
that target government explicitly. This legitimates the repressive effort by
making it appear as if state behavior is merely directed against the most dan-
gerous types of challenge and those that are least likely to generate resistance
from ordinary citizens if repressed. Indeed, when dissent of this type takes
place, repression seems like an almost natural response (of course author-
ities would sanction those that directly confront them). Having greater
access to and interest in dissent, however, dissident-oriented sources not
only highlight activities that are large scale, violent, and state focused but
also identify events that are smaller, nonviolent, and not aimed at the state.
This complicates the repressive effort as well as the legitimacy of such
behavior, for both the obviously dangerous and the less obviously threat-
ening dissident activities are targeted for state sanction. In this context, the
response to dissent seems less natural, less straightforward; indeed, in cases


when repression is employed against less threatening dissident behavior,

repression seems unnatural, illegitimate, and illegal.

Within this chapter, I provided an overview of the academic literature con-
cerning repressive behavior and identied how investigations of the topic
using event catalogs have at once advanced and hindered our ability to
understand what takes place. How is the Rashomon Effect relevant and
what does it tell us about state repression? Within this framework, it is
clear that not all observers/recorders are equally responsive to different
types of dissent and coercive action. Some forms are more consistently
covered in sources than others. For example, it is expected that repressive
behavior is generally important to everyone, diverse forms are more easily
identiable (e.g., restrictions on civil liberties as well as violations of per-
sonal integrity) and are more frequently covered in distributed information,
and causal inuences concerning this behavior will be fairly stable across
sources. Additionally, it is expected that violent dissent is threatening to
political authorities and domestic order as well as relatively easy to iden-
tify. As a result, these types of contentious behavior will be found more
consistently in sources, and causal inuences concerning this behavior will
be more stable across them. By contrast, nonstate, nonviolent behavior is
less likely to be covered and causal inferences concerning it will be fairly
The investigation of these claims is undertaken in Chapter 5. In the next
chapter, I provide the background for the interaction between the Black
Panthers and the U.S. government, as well as the information about how
the database was created.



The Black Panther Party vs. the

United States, 19671973

The original vision of the Black Panther Party was to serve the needs of the
oppressed people in our communities and defend them against their oppres-
sors. When the Party was initiated we knew that these goals would raise the
consciousness of the people and motivate them to move more rmly for their
total liberation. We also recognized that we live in a country which has become
one of the most repressive governments in the world; repressive in commu-
nities all over the world. We did not expect such a repressive government
to stand idly by while the Black Panther Party went forward to the goal of
serving the people. We expected repression.
The Black Panther Party Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation (2008)

The U.S. governments response to the Oakland/California wing of the

Black Panther Party is a very complex one that is difcult to comprehend.
Essentially, events took place throughout the Bay Area and throughout
California related to the Bay Area chapter: in the streets, in community
centers, at the state capitol, at courthouses, in police stations, in parks, and
in front of supermarkets. These activities involved thousands of people,
with some more visible than others. Because of this situation, there has
never really been a rigorous investigation of repression directed against
the BPP nor of the behavior of the Panthers themselves directed against
authorities and other political-economic elites ( Jones 1998). My objective
in this chapter is to begin to overcome this limitation.
Specically, I discuss the origins of the Bay Area Black Panthers, as
well as their objectives and tactics. I then discuss the governments gen-
eral approach to repression directed against the BPP. Two categories of
coercive behavior are considered: (1) protest policing (i.e., questioning,
arrests, and raids) at public events but also in private locales such as homes,

meeting places, driving, and on a street corner,1 and (2) court activity (i.e.,
trials, rulings, and grand juries). Following this, I discuss the newspapers
used to create the event catalogs of BPP and anti-BPP activity. In the next
chapter, these are used to understand how the political orientation of con-
sulted sources and to a lesser extent spatial distance inuenced what was
reported. I then use these catalogs to examine how event coverage impacts
our comprehension of state repressive behavior.

The Black Panther Party and Fighting the Man

In many ways, understanding the BPP is like trying to hit a moving target.
Some aspects of the organization are clear as day, whereas others appear,
like clouds, shifting repeatedly. As conventionally told, the beginning of
the Panthers is simple. In 1965, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale (the
cofounders of the organization as well as the theoretical and tactical driv-
ing forces throughout its history) met at Merritt College, where they had
been student activists in the Afro-American Association and the Soul Stu-
dents Advisory Council (Pickney 1976: 98). Leaving college, the two con-
ducted research about the problems aficting blacks in Oakland and the
surrounding counties, discussing and later developing numerous resolu-
tions to what they discovered (e.g., armed self-defense and social service
delivery). In October 1966, Newton and Seale formally joined with other
African Americans throughout the Bay Area and later in California as well
as different parts of the United States to form the Black Panthers. First and
foremost, the primary focus of this group was the end of police brutality and
economic inequality. In addition to these objectives, the organization also
espoused an interest in establishing black control over diverse aspects of
African American life (e.g., education, housing, and health care), achieving
exemption from military service, and obtaining just treatment throughout
American society. The organization later began to open chapters through-
out the country most notably for the purposes of this research, California.
The reality of the Panthers was more complex than conventional wisdom
suggests. For example, neither Newton nor Seale were as unfamiliar with
activism as commonly believed. Both had been afliated with the Revolu-
tionary Action Movement (RAM) a Maoist organization devoted to over-
throwing the capitalist system although they left the organization prior to
creating the BPP (as early as 1965). RAM was notable for its twelve-point

1 Traditional protest policing literature is exclusively focused on public events.

BPP vs. U.S. Government, 19671973: Background

program, which included a call for rie clubs and an underground vanguard.
The Bay Area BPP adopted the rst two approaches (i.e., the twelve-point
program and rie clubs). Additionally, RAM started the rst Black Pan-
ther Party chapter in New York. Newton and Seale were therefore not the
youthful entrepreneurs of urban radicalism they were commonly portrayed
to be; rather, they had cut their activist teeth on a foundation established
by Robert F. Williams, Malcolm X, and Max Stanford black radical theo-
rists and practitioners who together founded RAM and inaugurated a new
vision of African American political engagement.
The paths followed were not identical. Indeed, the difference between
the Panther organizations on the different coasts was signicant. For exam-
ple, the New York/East Coast chapter did not engage in public, high-prole
activity. Instead, they fashioned a black struggle that would move under-
ground in isolation from other organizations, prior to overtly challenging
the U.S. government. This would be done until the movement could com-
mand enough personnel and resources to bring about social change. The
Bay Area/West Coast Panthers were very different on this score. For them,
the struggle was to be waged in full view of America and the world, building
alliances along the way with other diverse oppressed people. In addition,
the struggle was not to be fought underground, and it would not be fought
in isolation. In fact, the West Coast Panthers adopted strategies that were
extremely brash and attention getting. The logic in this approach was clear:
only by overt confrontation would the black power movement capture the
imagination of African Americans, getting them to join these organizations
and begin to repair the psychological damage that they suffered within the
black community. An overt confrontational approach sent a clear message
to whites as well: Dont fuck with us.
With this in mind, the Bay Area Panthers openly carried weapons, col-
lectively monitored interactions between police and African Americans,
and boycotted high-prole political-economic adversaries. Less visible but
directly related to addressing the needs of African Americans, the BPP also
ran educational facilities, distributed food, and created a newspaper the
Black Panther Intercommunal Newservice. Although it is the case that the pre-
viously identied activities constituted the BPPs full repertoire of action,
it would be incorrect to suggest that all were applied equally at all times. A
number of differences have been identied in the literature. For example,
from the BPPs origins until the time that Newton was released in 1970,
the organization was highly combative and confrontational. After Newton
came out of prison, however, party leadership made a conscious effort to

decrease aggressive political engagement and to increase community ser-

vice (e.g., conducting tests for sickle cell anemia, which disproportionately
affected African Americans, and expanding free breakfast programs). These
changes were made to explicitly alter the popular image of the BPP as well
as to reduce the amount of repression directed against the organization.2
As to what the Panthers believed and what they were trying to create,
we nd greater complexity. While many viewed the BPP, with its advo-
cacy of armed self-defense, ery rhetoric, discussion of progressive cultural
programs, and revolution (at home and abroad), as representing something
of a distinct change in African American activism from what had preceded
it, there is actually quite a bit of support for the fact that they were just
part of a larger trajectory within black contentious activity and political
thought dating back to the early 1900s. Indeed, the simplistic caricature
frequently used to describe the BPP grossly misrepresents the reality of the
Part of the difculty with understanding the BPPs objectives is a lack of
understanding about black nationalism in general. As discussed by Marable
(1991: 55), the ideas of nationalism include the

rejection of racial integration; a desire to develop all Black socio-economic institu-

tions; an afnity for the cultural and political heritage of Black Africa; a commitment
to create all-Black political structures to ght against white racism; a deep reluc-
tance to participate in coalitions which involved a white majority; the advocacy of
armed self-defense of the Black community; and in religion and culture, an ethos
and spirituality which consciously rejected the imposition of white western dogmas.

Accordingly, the fundamental principles of the Panthers were varied

and complex. The situation was further complicated by the fact that
the BPP did not wholeheartedly adopt all aspects of this belief system
simultaneously.3 For example, in the beginning the BPP advocated armed
self-defense and in certain respects this dened the organization as well as

2 The toll of these activities by 1970 was signicant. Indeed, in the January 4 issue of the
BPINS, they had a long, detailed article called Review of Panther Growth and Harassment,
which identies precisely what activities were targeted against Panther leadership as well as
grassroots members. This article identies a wide range of charges (from concealed weapons,
possession of marijuana and/or explosives, assault, robbery, assaulting an ofcer, conspiracy
to commit arson, attempted murder to murder) and a large amount of bail (from $75 for
Dexter Woods in San Francisco for violating a curfew to $30,000 for Geronimo Pratt in
Los Angeles for conspiracy to commit murder).
3 This is similar to the situation for individual African Americans (e.g., Marable 1991; Davis
and Brown 2002).

BPP vs. U.S. Government, 19671973: Background

its relationship with authorities (e.g., Umoja 2001). Viewing police as an

occupying army, Panther members attempted to simultaneously inspire/
empower African Americans, intimidate police ofcers, and shock the
media. No incident better captured this than the events at the state capitol in
Sacramento, California, on May 2, 1967, when approximately thirty armed
Panthers inadvertently invaded the senate oor and read a statement
protesting the Mulford Act, which attempted to limit private ownership of
Countering hostile police activity, however, was only one of the BPP
concerns (even if it was a crucial component and in many ways a dening
element). Frequently emphasizing race in its discussion of social, economic,
and political issues (especially in the early days) the Panthers also focused
on the problems, grievances and demands of the dispossessed Black popu-
lation (Hayes and Kiene 1998: 162). Further highlighting their distinction
from the traditional civil rights movement, which tended to focus exclu-
sively on middle- and working-class individuals and on reforming the exist-
ing political economy, the BPP was also largely concerned with the poor,
the lumpen-proletariat (Booker 1998),5 and with inuencing those parts
of the political economy directly relevant to these African Americans.
By most accounts, the problems that the BPP focused upon were not
new. As Crowe (2000: 228) states quite clearly: The racial unrest of the
late 1960s (in the Bay Area and throughout California) was produced by
the decades-old conicts over fair employment, decent housing, segregated
schools, and police brutality.6
Here, everything began plainly enough. In an effort to escape the hor-
ric political and economic situation in the South, as well as to address
the immense labor shortage in the industrial sector during World War II,
African Americans moved to the Bay Area in particular and California in
general at historically unprecedented levels.7 This activity was facilitated
through Executive Order 8802 (on June 25 1941), which outlawed racial

4 This was something deemed particularly important for blacks in general and the BPP in
particular (e.g., Seale [1968] 1991: Chapter 3).
5 Many argue that the BPP was primarily composed of this group, but as Jones and Jeffries
(1998: 445) state, this was not the case.
6 Of course, African Americans were not uniformly excluded from the good life in the Bay
Area nor consistently treated in a hostile manner; there was some variation in engagement
and success albeit ending in a generally negative fashion by the 1960s and 1970s.
7 This was attributed to Executive Order 8802 because [f ]or the rst time since Reconstruc-
tion the federal government promised fair and nondiscriminatory treatment of minorities
in federal employment and housing (McBroome 1993: 108).


discrimination, by any wartime industry receiving federal contracts; this

order was issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The impact on demo-
graphic patterns was signicant as well as immediate. For example, between
1940 and 1945, the black population of San Francisco, Oakland, and Rich-
mond three of the most populous locales in the Bay Area increased by
665.8, 341.1, and 5,003 percent, respectively (Broussard 1993: 134).8 Fol-
lowing the war, migration continued at a reduced pace (McBroome 1993:
In many respects, the end of World War II (in conjunction with the
political and economic changes that were occurring during the Cold War)
dramatically altered the gains that African Americans had made earlier.
Whereas World War II gave blacks an opening for employment, a means
to travel to California in general and the Bay Area in particular as well
as a socioeconomic support system once they arrived, victory, peace, and
the Cold War took away from blacks what had been extended eliminating
the wartime industries, the extension of various social services, and the
desire to accommodate the outsiders. Now, to be accurate, it was less
that the economy was taken away than that it was transformed in a manner
minimally hospitable to the burgeoning African American community. The
outcome, however, was still the same.
Between 1948 and 1960, there was a shift in the Bay Area away from
manufacturing and wholesale toward retail, nance, insurance, real estate,
transportation, utilities, tourism, and high-tech industries areas in which
the African American presence was limited because of historical restric-
tions in unions, education, and training.9 The physical isolation of these
industries (outside of the area where blacks resided) was another prob-
lem barring African American entry (e.g., Farley et al. 2000). This change

8 Conducting an analysis of census tracts, Tauber and Tauber (1966: 67) nd that:
San Francisco has had a stable system of census tracts for several decades. . . . In 1940, San
Franciscos population included 603,000 whites, 5,000 Negroes, and 27,000 persons of
other races (18,000 Chinese, 5,000 Japanese, 3,000 Filipinos). By 1960, the distribution
had changed: 604,000 whites, 74,000 Negroes, and 62,000 persons of other races (36,000
Chinese, 9,000 Japanese, 12,000 Filipinos). . . . During this period, the other races were
dispersing residentially, becoming less segregated from whites (something that they were
not doing earlier), and, in the process, more segregated from Negroes. Negroes remained
at about the same level of segregation from whites in all years.
9 While labor increased 250 percent between 1950 and 1980, 20 percent was found within
the high-tech industry (Hossfeld 1995: 405) a dramatic change from the manufacturing
orientation of the wartime economy and the period immediately afterward.

BPP vs. U.S. Government, 19671973: Background

occurred slowly because defense allocations from the government were still
being pumped into the Bay Area, but it was immediately apparent that the
postwar environment outlays were different. For instance, there was less
interest in ships (an industry in which the African American presence was
signicant) than in planes and missiles (which traditionally employed fewer
blacks) (Cornford 1995: 19).10
The implications of this shift were important. As African Americans were
concentrated in the most undervalued industries within the new economy
and as they lacked seniority unions (because of their late and restricted
entry), they quickly found themselves being laid off in large numbers in the
1950s and 1960s (e.g., Broussard 1993, 210) while at the same time being
blocked by numerous discriminatory practices from moving into other areas
(McBroome 1993: Chapter 5). Additionally, as blacks were concentrated in
the most undervalued and underdeveloped real estate (lacking investment,
services, and adequate space), they found themselves in a deplorable hous-
ing situation and with few options again, in large part due to the wide
assortment of discriminatory practices found throughout the Bay Area (e.g.,
Rorabaugh 1989: 545; McBroome 1993: 1445). The Panthers focus on
poverty, poor services, and police brutality (discussed later) thus made the
organization directly relevant to the most important issues confronting the
majority of the African American population in the Bay Area. This focus
also places the Panthers broadly within the Black Nationalist camp.
Although tting with the traditional nationalist program in certain ways,
however, the BPP simultaneously represented a major divergence. For
example, the Panthers were hesitant about calling for a black nation
a major point adopted by several Black Nationalists. Indeed, Newton, the
main BPP theoretician, suggested that until the oppressive state of America
was wiped out, there would be no freedom for those with or without states
(Newton 1972: 98). The BPP thus did not completely disagree with the
nationalist objective but rather questioned the timing of when the action
relevant for achieving it should be implemented. The Panthers also dis-
dained those who believed that African American salvation lay in adopt-
ing African culture and/or moving back to the continent another point
advocated by several black nationalists. Indeed, the Panthers were quite
American and Western in their objectives, as well as in many of the means
used to achieve them.

10 In the minds of decision makers, the Cold War was not going to be fought at sea but rather
in the sky.


These were not the only differences. Further distancing themselves from
other black nationalists, the BPP decided relatively early on that coali-
tions would be formed with white liberals, radicals, and any other groups
that sought to bring about political-economic change. This approach made
sense for several reasons: (1) it drew upon a long tradition of black political
thought/activism, and (2) most of the existing African American organi-
zations adopted similar strategies (e.g., McAdam 1982; McBroome 1993:
1534; Marable 1991: 11923; Jones 1998).
Equally important, this approach drew upon a long history of black
white coalitions in the Bay Area. In fact, the relationship with whites is an
important but neglected aspect of Panther history. For example, Rorabaugh
(1989: 76), argued that the more traditional black nationalist position, advo-
cated elsewhere in the United States during the 1960s, would never have
had a chance in the Bay Area because of the peculiar relationship that had
existed there between blacks, on the one hand, and white liberals as well as
radicals on the other. As he states:

The strength of the liberal coalition and of biracial community ventures in [the Bay]
made it difcult for Blacks to articulate a position of Black Power. Power in [the
Bay] was destined to be shared through a coalition rather than through any claim
to exclusive use of power. Yet the Black need to escape the suffocation of white
benevolence was just as great in [the Bay] as in the rest of Black America. . . . The
result was that Black extremism in [the Bay] took a peculiar form. At one and the
same time, Black militants had to articulate a sense of Black autonomy that resonated
with the Black Power rhetoric of Stokely Carmichael while acceding to the pattern
of biracial cooperation that had become a hallmark of [the Bay] politics since 1961.
The movement would have to be both autonomous and nonracist.11

11 The existence of relatively active liberal as well as radical whites was also something distinct
in the Bay Area. For example, despite the political climate present at the time,
[t]he Left . . . continued to occupy a curious and unique place in the Bay Area. During the
1950s, when the national communist party decided to go underground, party leaders in
California remained visible. While national membership dropped by two-thirds, California
membership fell only one-third. During the 1960s the national party became stodgy, but
California communists . . . showed an increasing willingness to make alliances. In most of
the country the communist-backed W. E. B. Dubois clubs competed with Students for a
Democratic Society, the major national organization for noncommunist liberal or leftist
college students. But in the Bay Area, where SDS was weak, the Dubois clubs cooperated
with SDS as well as other leftist groups. (Rorabaugh 1989: 88)
Whites were also quite active during the relevant period. College students in the Free
Speech Movement challenged the Regents and the universities, members of the New Left
challenged universities but also various other political and economic organizations, hippies
challenged seemingly everyone in the Hippie/Countercultural Movement and all began to

BPP vs. U.S. Government, 19671973: Background

The Panthers represented an attempt to balance these diverse posi-

Although forcefully articulated, the Panthers political orientation was
far from xed (e.g., Seale [1968] 1991; Edwards 1974; Hayes and Kiene
1998). Many aspects of the BPP ideological framework remained stable
over time; however, several of them changed and did so dramatically.
Early on, during the Panthers revolutionary nationalist period,12 the
BPP accepted that blacks were too few in number to take over and transform
the existing political economy by themselves and that they therefore had
to adopt a more class-oriented strategy advocating a peoples revolution
with the end goal being the people in power (Hayes and Kiene 1998: 164).
Here socialistic transformation of the existing state was sought with the
assistance of all who wished to engage in the effort a position consistent
with an understanding of Bay Area coalition building and efforts at social
change across diverse communities throughout California.
Around 1970 (during the revolutionary internationalist period), the
BPP came to accept that the United States was not simply a nation-state
but a global empire and that all efforts directed against this empire would
need to be widely supported: not only among poor and radicalized people
within the United States but also among others abroad. This awareness led
to relations with the South Vietnamese Peoples Liberation forces as well as
with organizations in China and North Korea (Hayes and Kiene 1998: 170).
Later in 1970, during a third phase, the BPP entered a period of revo-
lutionary intercommunalism. Here, the organization further emphasized
international connections between oppressed people and the establishment
of global socialism.
After 1971 (until 1973, when my investigation ends), the Panthers under-
went yet another shift in ideology and strategy, focusing on survival pro-
grams (such as health clinics) and domestic politics (such as housing dis-
crimination and health care). During this period, there was less discussion
about global revolution and challenging authority, and there was a greater
effort made to survive as an organization and as a community. By this time,
the BPP had accepted the rules of the game and they attempted to work
without confrontation within the connes of the existing political economy.

join to protest Vietnam. Indeed, in many ways, the white Bay Area community was at war
with itself.
12 Identifying the timing of the different periods is difcult to achieve. My discussion rep-
resents merely an effort to discuss them briey so that one can understand the evolu-
tion/changes that took place.


The Authoritys Response

In contrast to the varied as well as changing behavior and rhetoric of the
BPP, the authoritys response to the Panthers was relatively stable over time.
In defense of existing organizational structures, priorities, and practices,
ofcials throughout the Bay Area and California sought to counter and/or
eliminate the BPP. The reasons for this were straightforward:

[t]he Panthers represented everything that conservative, white American elites

feared the most. Not only were they Black, but they espoused the need for a Marxist
revolution, frequently brandished guns, and loudly proclaimed the right to use vio-
lence to defend themselves against attack in language that, to most Americans, was
frightening and violated all the rules of polite middle class behavior. (Goldstein
1978: 523)

Accordingly, the tactics applied against the Panthers were clear as well.
Reecting an approach that was adopted throughout the United States at
the time, the escalated force style of protest policing employed by the
government revolved around ve standard practices:
r First Amendment rights were either ignored or disregarded as mere
cover for demonstrators (McPhail, Schweingruber, and McCarthy
1998: 51);
r . . . only familiar and comfortable forms of political protest were tol-
erated, those police described as peaceful rallies and polite picket-
ing(McPhail, Schweingruber, and McCarthy 1998: 52);
r Communication between police and demonstrators was minimal
(McPhail, Schweingruber, and McCarthy 1998: 52);
r . . . arrests quickly followed any violation of the law and sometimes
occurred where no law had been broken. Arrests were forceful and were
used strategically by police to target and remove agitators (McPhail,
Schweingruber, and McCarthy 1998: 53); and
r The approach was characterized by the use of force as a standard way of
dealing with demonstrators (McPhail, Schweingruber, and McCarthy
1998: 53).

In the case of the BPP, these activities generally involved two types of
government agents: the police and the courts. Complexity arises as to pre-
cisely how these agents were used against the Panthers. Although a few
aspects of the authoritys response are well known (popularized in newspa-
pers, magazines, feature lms, documentaries, autobiographies, academic
books, and journal articles), what is not commonly acknowledged is that

BPP vs. U.S. Government, 19671973: Background

the approach to confronting the Black Panthers did not arise in the 1960s
and 1970s. Similar to the factors accounting for the emergence of the BPP,
the origin of the repressive strategy also dated back to the early 1940s,
when blacks migrated to the Bay Area and California seeking employment
as well as a better life, while whites attempted to protect themselves and
their interests.
Confronted with the huge inux of African Americans, by most accounts,
Bay Area whites responded with a certain degree of animosity and
employed diverse sociopolitical sanctions against them. From the begin-
ning of the in-migration, blacks brought to the fore an important distinction
between natives (whites), who had roots and rights within the Bay Area,
and outsiders (blacks and other nonwhites [e.g., Asians and Latinos]), who
were considered to be guests in the area and who were expected to leave
after they had completed their work. Similar to the case of the Turkish
guest workers in Germany following World War II, when the migrants
did not leave (and, in fact, continued to come), the attitude and behavior
of the white majority changed. For the conservatives and those wishing to
protect the Anglo American way of life, the situation provided justication
for treating African Americans in a hostile manner. In this context, even
many liberals found it hard to work and achieve anything for (and with)
African Americans. Thus in the area of housing segregation, McBroome
(1993: 91) notes that, during this time,
San Francisco and the East Bay . . . experienced [what is commonly referred to as] the
Chicago effect which Allan Spear noted in his urban study of Black Chicago . . . when
the Black population is small, the white population does not fear it; but, when num-
bers increased, conict occurs. . . . As more African-Americans came to the Bay Area
after 1941 patterns of residential segregation increased with the use of occupancy
clauses in deeds and leases that restricted residential minorities to certain areas of
Oakland and the East Bay. This Chicago effect continued to deny equal oppor-
tunity in housing to African-Americans long after the war had ended.

Of course, the restrictions were not limited to housing and extended into
other areas. Indeed, the nativeoutsider distinction is particularly notewor-
thy in the realm of blackauthority relations.
Similar to the housing situation, when the African American population
was small, there were few interactions between the police, the courts, and
the black population. As Asians were generally believed to be more threat-
ening at the time (given their sheer numbers), the supervision and control
of this community was deemed far more important. Even the attempts
at advocacy undertaken by African Americans were largely tolerated by

political authorities and the larger white citizenry. Small in size and fol-
lowing a nonconfrontational and legal strategy in line with what would be
popularized by the civil rights movements, these efforts were actually quite
successful in many ways.
When the black population increased, however, so did white efforts to
supervise and control this community through restrictions and force. As
stated by Crowe (2000: 86):
[b]y the early 1960s, the battle lines between Black residents and white policemen
had been drawn throughout the Bay Area. The bonds of trust that had linked, how-
ever weakly, private citizens and law enforcement ofcials in the prewar era were
stretched taut. Resentment grew on both sides as African Americans demanded
more accountability from police departments and ofcers resisted any constraints
on their authority. The situation deteriorated throughout the decade as the cam-
paign of ofcial violence waged against African Americans from police headquarters
continued unabated.

Indeed, according to the available evidence, it seems reasonable to say that

in the 1960s the white police force was engaged in a low-level terroristic
campaign against the politically, economically, physically, and culturally
isolated black community (e.g., Johnson 1995: 360). This coercion was
directed against not just activists who aggressively sought social change but
also against ordinary black citizens.
One explanation for the escalation in police violence directed against
African Americans advanced by whites at the time was that the police were
simply responding to increased levels of crime and violence existing within
the black community. It is frequently noted that in the 1940s there was a
growth in petty crime and that beginning in the mid-1950s and continuing
up until the early 1960s, there was a growth in the number of young, black
street gangs within the Bay Area (Crowe 2000: 802). This having been
said, there does not appear to be any support for the argument that the
police were merely countering the widespread violence of black gangs, for
the distribution of state-sanctioned violent activity was not limited to the
youthful subset of the African American community. Indeed, violent and
aggressive behavior was used routinely against seemingly everyone in black
neighborhoods from kids in the street to the elderly in their own front
yards, from the poor to the wealthy, during criminal arrests but also during
routine interactions with African Americans. This suggests that something
else was going on.
Alternatively, one could focus on the composition of the police force in
an attempt to provide an explanation for government violence. For example,
BPP vs. U.S. Government, 19671973: Background

it has frequently been observed that as blacks were making their way from
the South, whites were doing the same and in large numbers (dramatically
transforming the culture that had existed beforehand). The locales from
which these individuals came included some of the worst in terms of racial
violence (e.g., Tolnay and Beck 1995), and there is no reason to believe
that these individuals, cloistered within the Bay Area and essentially isolated
from one another, would not continue to maintain hostile beliefs and/or
interactions. As whites from these locales found their way into law enforce-
ment (an option for Southern whites during and after World War II), the
increase in violent police activity makes sense.
Of course, dynamics within the police force only provide part of the
explanation for state behavior. The support for and willingness to tolerate
repressive action by the larger white population was also relevant. Consid-
ering this factor also explains violent police action. For example, given the
context of the Cold War and the mood in the aftermath of the riots that
took place in the mid-to-late 1960s (Feagin and Hahn 1973: 236), it would
not be expected that whites would tolerate African American radicalism or
militancy. By this time, much of the anti-Red hysteria had calmed but in
many respects it had simply become institutionalized as well as integrated
into the culture, to be utilized whenever it was deemed necessary. Addition-
ally, it is clear from existing literature that there was a strong business elite
that dominated most aspects of political, economic, and cultural life in the
Bay. During the Cold War these individuals were particularly attuned to
the rhetoric of communism/socialism. The reasons were twofold: (1) such
an orientation explicitly challenged their way of doing business, and (2) such
an orientation was directly in line with the desires of the U.S. government
with whom they had closely collaborated during the war. Any organization
that was associated with the challengers belief system was therefore one
that local elites would wish to eliminate or at least contain. Indeed, such a
dark shadow was cast over anything afliated with radical activity that any
organization identied in this realm would be unacceptable to white elites
and the mass white public. In this context, repressive agents would feel that
they could act without fear of reprisal.
I, of course, do not wish to suggest that opinion on these matters was
uniform. Clearly, there were dueling opinions among whites within the
Bay Area and California. This is something generally missed within con-
ventional discussions of the Panthers. For example, on the one hand, there
were whites who generally supported the politics of the left (especially in the
Bay Area) who had engaged in efforts to improve the conditions of labor

and who had joined with blacks earlier in their struggles to improve their
lives. For this group, radical African Americans would generally be sup-
ported (especially nonviolent actors), and repression of their efforts would
be unacceptable. On the other hand, the majority of white citizens (elites
and others) did not appear to hold beliefs that were sympathetic to African
Americans, and thus they were less inclined to support black dissidents or to
take a negative view of political repression directed against them (especially
when they engaged in violent behavior).

Within this chapter, I have discussed the origin of the Black Panther Party
based in Oakland, as well as the general approach undertaken by U.S.
authorities against the group. While trying to establish the general context
within which both emerged, I also attempted to address important differ-
ences that existed. It was consistently identied that neither the objectives
nor behavior of the Panthers or the police were especially unique. Rather, I
argued that they generally represent specic responses to broader historical
patterns. Such contextualization is largely missed when the Black Panthers
and their repression are discussed.


An Event Catalog of Dissent and Repression


Event catalogs have long gured centrally in empirical studies of politi-

cal struggle. European and American governments began collecting ofcial
reports on work stoppages during the later nineteenth century. From that
point on, statistically minded analysts began conducting quantitative analyses
of industrial conict based on government data. Not until after World War II,
however, did analysts dealing with other forms of struggle start constructing
parallel data sets for revolutions, coups detat, international wars, civil wars,
and domestic collective violence.
Charles Tilly Event Catalogs as Theories, Sociological Theory (2008)

Adopting the Rashomon approach, identifying combatants, their strate-

gies, as well as the historical context, provides only part of the story. The
other part concerns the observers who recorded and distributed informa-
tion about the conict itself in this case, newspapers. Several of the sources
examined in my study are familiar to those in the event catalog tradition (in
particular, The New York Times the benchmark by which most catalogs
are assessed). Most presses employed within the current research, however,
have never been used in the relevant literature (e.g., local, ethnic, alter-
native, and radical presses).1 The diversity of the newspapers used here is
signicant for it provides us with a wide variety of perspectives regarding
the interaction between the BPP and the authorities. After rst providing
an overview of all newspapers available in the Bay Area during the 1960s

1 Although the former has a long history especially in the United States, it has (with most
newspapers in the United States) diminished signicantly over time. Compared to ethnic
presses and more mainstream commercial presses, the latters history is somewhat less stable
over time. In fact, many would argue that they existed for only brief periods of time and had
their heyday during the 1960s and 1970s.


and the1970s and specically those employed within the current research,
I discuss the event catalogs generated from this material.

Newspapers in the Bay Area

What was the Bay Area print media like between 1967 and 1973 (the period
of interest to the current study)? According to a comprehensive survey of
newspapers conducted by Rivers and Rubin (1971) in 1968 and 1969,2 it
was concluded: the
Bay area [was] awash in newspapers. It [was] served by 28 dailies [10 morning, 18
evening a total daily circulation of 1.6 million], plus 96 weeklies and over a dozen
papers that [were] published monthly or two or three times a week, a few of them
in exotic languages: Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish and Radical. Since many of these
papers appear[ed] [to be quite protable], one could easily assume that the nearly
5 million Bay Area residents were being informed up to their eyeballs. (Rivers and
Rubin 1971: 910)

Similar to the pattern found throughout the United States at the time,
different newspapers held distinct monopolies over specic geographic
areas (i.e., their sales were quite signicant within particular communi-
ties/markets). As stated in the Rivers and Rubin study:
[t]he big ve papers . . . set the pattern for a combination that [was] proving popular
for owners of newspapers at all circulation levels. The Chronicle and Examiner [had]
carved up the San Francisco market. . . . The San Jose Mercury and News [were] both
owned by the Ridder family (and were therefore part of a communications empire
stretching from St. Paul to Southern California). The Tribune [was] alone in Oakland
and the dominant force in most of the East Bay. (Rivers and Rubin 1971: 22)

Of course, as Rivers and Rubin (1971: 910) also indicate:

news coverage [was] not neatly geographic, with each paper covering its own ground.
Nearly every newspaper pushe[d] its circulation range as far as it consider[ed] it
nancially feasible and then attempt[ed] to cover the news in the circulation area.
In many cases, the result [was] thin coverage nearly everywhere.

2 This study collected tremendous amounts of data about the press. Specically, information
was gathered in three ways:
First, [Rivers and Rubin] read as many editions of the papers under study as possible, plus
many of the weeklies and underground papers as [they] could track down [Emphasis being
given to San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose]. Second, [Rivers and Rubin] interviewed
executives and reporters of many papers, recognizing that the choice of interviewees greatly
shaped [their] perception of the internal workings of each paper. Third, [they used] some
quantitative measures such as column inches and story placement to give [their] admittedly
subjective judgments a more solid foundation. (Rivers and Rubin 1971: 37)

Event Catalog of Dissent and Repression

In other respects, the Bay Area print media was quite different from
what was generally found in the United States. For example, the size of
the political left in this locale was quite signicant during the period of
interest, and this meant that there was a particularly large number of alter-
native and radical newspapers in the area. These papers, along with a thriv-
ing series of ethnic presses, provided one of the most diverse media envi-
ronments in the country.
Although all newspapers sought to distribute stories to as many peo-
ple as possible, there seemed to be a clearly dened division of labor with
regard to the type of stories reported. For example, larger, daily, metropoli-
tan newspapers, which attempted to appeal to an extremely large audience,
covered at some length and in some depth not only local, regional and
state news, but also news of the world (Rivers and Rubin 1971: 11). By
contrast, weeklies, which were afliated with a variety of categories (e.g.,
student, grassroots, and ethnic), tended to concentrate on a smaller audi-
ence and focused more exclusively on local events. Some newspapers were
not identied by the focus of their news stories, the size of the desired
audience, or their frequency of circulation but by the type of informa-
tion they distributed. For instance, community-oriented papers focused
on information that was relevant to a particular subset of a population and
presented this information in a matter-of-fact, nonconfrontational manner.
By contrast, radical, underground, and dissident presses maintained
a somewhat broader view of their relevant geographic domain (encompass-
ing local, national, and international political events ignored by other news
organizations) while highlighting actors/activities that directly challenged
existing authorities and frequently doing so in a highly aggressive manner.

Developing the BPPAuthority Event Catalogs

The data-collection effort used to investigate Panther-related repres-
sion undertaken here was drawn from a larger research effort conducted
by a team of research assistants and myself between 1997 and 2000
(Davenport 1997).3 Specically, the research proceeded as follows. To
begin, relevant sections of different newspapers from 1967 (starting on
January 1) through 1973 (ending on December 31) were read.4 For this

3 The difculties encountered while conducting this research have been discussed in Dahlerus
and Davenport (1999).
4 Editorials were not coded, nor sports pages, personal ads, or advertisements.


exercise, coders identied all events5 that involved the Bay Area BPP and
Bay Area afliatedBPP throughout California6 as well as all events involv-
ing police agencies and courts at the local, state, and federal levels that were
directed against the relevant Panther organization. In addition to identify-
ing the type of event that took place, coders also noted the date, time, and
place (street address and/or county) of the relevant activities, the name(s)
and estimated number of the actors involved, and the objectives of the action
undertaken and the outcome of relevant behavior (if available).7
Expanding upon existing literature, BPP behavior was classied into
eight categories: (1) dissent, (2) statements, (3) criminal activity, (4) legal
behavior, (5) electoral behavior, (6) organizational cohesion, (7) organi-
zational change, and (8) miscellaneous collective action. In line with pre-
vious research, the variable Dissent the traditional measure for behav-
ioral challenge identied BPP demonstrations, rallies, boycotts, and other
forms of collective action undertaken by the Black Panther Party directed
against political authorities and/or economic elites in the United States.8 In
addition to this variable, I compiled information that had not previously

5 As dened commonly in the literature, events are dened by three criteria: location,
participation, and temporality. Events take place in particular places (i.e., some dened
spatial locale), involve particular individuals (i.e., members of a dened community such as
common citizens, challengers, and authorities), and last for particular amounts of time (e.g.,
an hour, a day, or a week; most adopt the convention that where singular events normally
take place over the course of a day and when they exceed these parameters additional events
are indicated).
6 Given the interconnections between many of the chapters in California, I also paid attention
to events in other parts of the state where members who were mentioned in the Bay Area
were identied as being involved. This involves explicit recruitment from Bay Area Panthers,
extensive contact/interaction through visits, phone, or mail as well as extensive training.
7 Acknowledging the limitation with human coding, I essentially relied upon one well-trained
individual to code the various newspapers. While much slower than employing multiple
coders and likely subject to some error, the errors would at least be consistent throughout
the effort. As a way to gauge the effectiveness of this coding effort, other individuals were
hired, trained, and assigned to various randomly selected time periods to code (three months
of a newspaper). Correlations ranged between 68 and 87 percent with the normal coder
always identifying more events as well as providing greater detail. After retaining a few of
these individuals over a longer period of time (allowing them to become more familiar with
the coding procedure), correlations increased to between 85 and 91 percent.
8 For activity to be classied here, the BPP had to have an active role in the actual execution
of the activity itself. If a few members of the Black Panthers were simply present at a rally
for example, then this did not count (they had to explicitly and directly participate in the
collective action in some manner). While it might seem important to differentiate between
political authorities and economic elites, this distinction is not easily made within the Black
Panther case. Frequently, the Panthers directed their actions against Fascist pigs and
avaricious businessmen without distinguishing between them. Even when boycotting an

Event Catalog of Dissent and Repression

been examined within the event catalog literature. 9 For example, I iden-
tied Statements made by the Panthers about different issues at press con-
ferences and in press releases (e.g., see Davenport and Eads [2001b] for an
early use of these data). Additionally, I considered Criminal Activity under-
taken by Panther members (e.g., robberies and hijacking), Legal Behav-
ior (e.g., Panther use of the court system such as ling motions and law-
suits), Electoral Behavior (e.g., activities related to campaigning for elected
ofce like giving speeches, debating other candidates, or holding rallies for
electoral objectives), instances of Organizational Cohesion (e.g., meetings,
parties, and other events at which members gathered), instances of Orga-
nizational Change (e.g., activities such as expulsions and appointments to
positions), and Miscellaneous Collective Action (e.g., events such as funerals,
conferences and the diverse social programs that the Panthers organized,
such as the free breakfast program for children, sickle cell anemia tests, and
educational instruction).10
Similar to existing conceptions of state repression, my research effort
identied a wide range of activities undertaken by authorities to con-
trol and/or eliminate the BPP. These were grouped into two distinct
categories.11 Following conventional research,12 I considered Police Behav-
ior such as physical searches, questioning (e.g., asking a Panther member

economic establishment, the specic target would not be clear at least not within the
trace evidence revealed in this study.
9 I was guided to this more encompassing measurement scheme from reading the different
newspapers and extensive literature on the BPP.
10 Data are currently being collected regarding internal characteristics of the BPP as well
as various characteristics about the Bay. Despite neglecting these variables, the analysis
is perceived as valid for lagged repression and dissent are two of the most strongly and
consistently supported causal determinants within existing research (e.g., Poe and Tate
1994; Davenport 1995a; 1999a; 2007a,b; Moore 1998; 2000. Additionally, many of the
variables normally considered within this work are likely invariant over the time period
(e.g., economic development, polity characteristics of the Bay Area governing bodies), and,
consequently, they are generally ignored within analyses that move below the nation-year
as a unit of observation (e.g., Francisco 1996a).
11 Reading the literature on the BPPauthority interaction, I immediately noticed that there
was a lot of discussion about covert repressive behavior. Unfortunately, however, these
activities were not covered in the Bay Area newspapers at least not in any consistent
manner. The only newspaper that discussed covert activity more than a few times was
the Black Panther paper. The division highlighted here is not typically made within the
literature. Attention to such issues is rare (Davenport 1999b; 2005). It is worthwhile to
make this division, especially in the context of the Rashomon Effect because it is likely that
certain actors are more diligently observed than others.
12 For example, McAdam (1982); Taylor and Jodice (1983); Tilly (1986); Francisco (1996a;
2000); McCarthy (1996a); Earl and Soule (2006); Soule and Davenport (2009).


about his/her activities and whereabouts), harassment (e.g., chastizing a

particular individual on a street corner for some activity), detentions (e.g.,
holding a BPP member in a police car and/or in jail without charge
before releasing him/her), arrests, and raids. Following somewhat less tradi-
tional research (e.g., Rude 1964; Thompson 1966), I also considered Court
Behavior.13 This includes activity such as trial appearances, court rulings
regarding the BPP, and the sentencing of Panthers after adjudication had
been completed.
In addition to these events, I collected information on behavior that
involved both the BPP and the authorities shootings. Generally believed
to be one of the most frequent forms of contention in the Panther case and
clearly the most controversial, these activities were identied when one or
both of these actors used rearms against the other. Why were these activ-
ities attributed to both actors? As stated by Goldstein (1978: 527), [m]any
of the . . . of local policePanther gunghts which occurred . . . are awash in
contradictory claims, with the Panthers and the police each charging the
other opened re rst or was in some way responsible for initiating vio-
lence. This contradictory claim issue was so problematic for research on
the BPP (including the Goldstein study) that in many cases there was no
attempt to discern exactly who began the conagration only that it took
place. For the purposes of my research, this convention is followed.
As designed, the catalogs I created clearly improve upon traditional
efforts for they offer insight into a wide variety of dissident and government
actions at a much lower level aggregation than is typically considered. This
design also improves upon many historical analyses of the Panthers and
repression directed against them because it examines statedissident inter-
actions over a relatively long and historically important period of time.
In contrast, most researchers tend to focus only on high-prole activities.
Consequently, they lack the precision of a day-to-day investigation ( Jones
1998: 1011).

Sources and Orientation

Directly relevant to Rashomon, the most important aspect of this research
concerns the variety of newspapers examined for the event catalogs. As

13 Some may believe that during one incident all aspects of police and court activity are
reported. This disregards the fact that often a BPP member would be arrested and then
released at the station or that a newspaper article may pay attention to the court activity
and ignore how the BPP arrived there.

Event Catalog of Dissent and Repression

discussed earlier, although two dimensions are believed to exert an inu-

ence on coverage, since most newspapers found ways around the spatial
problem by employing stringers and wire services,14 I am particularly
interested in political orientation the afnity for or association with a
particular source either the authorities or the dissidents. To ascertain this
characteristic, I relied primarily upon the newspapers themselves to self-
identify. In addition to this, I relied on historical information about the
relevant news organization.15 Each paper is discussed below.

West Coast Conflict for an East Coast

Paper The New York Times
The rst newspaper considered by this research is the premier source for
event catalogs of contentious politics the New York Times (the NYT ). The
extensive literature relevant to this source has consistently identied it as a
daily, white,16 mainstream paper with an international circulation. During
the period of interest to this study, the NYT was characterized by three
First, the Times solicited that patronage of intelligent Americans, who
desire[d] information rather than entertainment, who want[ed] the facts
unadorned and who placed rst their country and the freedoms which it
guarantees (Shepard 1996: 75). As Halberstam (1979: 296) noted, [The
NYT ] was not by any stretch of the imagination a popular paper. Rather, it
sought to speak to and be useful for people who have inuence the leaders
of government and diplomacy, business tycoons, and other deep thinkers
in the universities (Reston 1991: 209). This approach frequently led to

14 Within this study, the locale of the newspaper is easy to identify and four out of ve were
located in the Bay Area. As a result, I do not consider this aspect of Rashomon to be
addressed particularly well. Most sources covered contentious behavior in their immediate
environment, and as identied earlier, although one would expect a Berkeley newspaper
to cover things slightly differently than one in Oakland or San Francisco, the differences
should be minimal compared to more distant sources. Relevant to this point, the New York
Times was (obviously) not in the Bay Area and this does give us some distance.
15 I did not code what were the largest newspapers in the area: the San Francisco Examiner and
San Francisco Chronicle for, within the initial research effort, I attempted to get as proximate
to the Panthers as possible. These papers also underwent a strike during the relevant time
period. Within the subsequent coding efforts, I did begin to collect this information but
the sheer paucity of information did not justify the expense. This was also the case for an
alternative newspaper the Bay Guardian.
16 Longstanding owners of the newspaper were actually of Jewish descent, but they have
overtly attempted to downplay this fact within the paper.


the neglect of more marginalized populations within American society.

As a result, there was a certain type of ethnic reporting in the New York
press [which] affected the Irish, the Italians, the blacks, and others con-
sidered too status-poor to warrant dignied notice except as individuals
who had risen above their own people (Shepard 1996: 300). Although
this changes somewhat over time as Irish, Italians, and even some blacks
engage in activities that were deemed Times-worthy, it is nevertheless clear
that the elite (Anglo)-oriented emphasis of the newspaper continued and
that the organization generally recognized socialites and high politics
(i.e., those activities associated with government and elites) as their pri-
mary focus.
This pattern of coverage was reinforced by the geographic focus of the
NYT. While largely highlighting New York, Washington, D.C., and the
major cities of the world (e.g., London, Paris, and Berlin), the Times was
frequently drawn to other parts of the United States when something of
signicance occurred such as an especially noteworthy election, scandal,
or instance of conict. The Bay Area Pantherauthority interaction clearly
fell within these parameters, especially in 1968 after FBI Director Hoover
identied the BPP as the most dangerous group in the United States. To
the Times (and others during the period), the Panthers were seen as being
at the forefront of the black power movement, it engaged in highly visible
activity and its national headquarters (that for the West Coast faction) was
located in the Bay Area.17
Second, the Times was run by a family, the Ochs and Sulzbergers, that
espoused a belief in political moderation (Tifft and Jones 1999). The family
was also generally zealous about maintaining a patriotic posture (Shepard
1996: 209) and frequently supported the U.S. government18 in any way

17 As identied earlier, the West Coast chapter eclipsed the East Coast BPP in many ways,
commanding the attention of the government as well as most citizens.
18 For example, the editor during the time, Arthur H. Sulzberger (AHS), in the tradition
of the founder (Adolph Ochs), was generally identied as being pro-government, espe-
cially when the government under discussion was that of the United States. During World
War II, he declared that his job as publisher was to ght to keep democracy alive in the
country (Tifft and Jones 1999: 212). The beliefs of AHS and the practice put in motion by
his administration is important for our discussion because (in conjunction with the struc-
tures of news collection) it led to signicant amounts of attention being given to the U.S.
government as well as those governments similar to it (i.e., liberal-democratic polities)
and those allied with it. Although AHS was especially enamored with particular types of
political systems, he was not in favor of all aspects of these governments, only so-called
legitimate ones. Specically, the paper under his administration covered and challenged

Event Catalog of Dissent and Repression

possible, and sought not to embarrass it.19 In keeping with these traits,
the newspaper generally covered authorities over other societal actors in
terms of frequency and favorability. During the period of interest to this
chapter, however, this general practice was modied somewhat because of
the interest of the new Times editor.
Comparable to most of the family, Arthur (Punch) Ochs Sulzberger
(who was publisher from 1963 through 1982) was favorably disposed to
support the government, but in the mid-to-late 1960s, such a position was
not easy to maintain and this publisher less imbued with a sense of patri-
otism than his predecessor (Arthur Hays Sulzberger) was perhaps more
receptive to the pervasive countercultural mood of the time. During his
tenure, the U.S. government was exposed as a spy in the capture of a U-2
plane in 1962, it was revealed to be engaged in the bombing of civilians
in Vietnam in 1966, the American peace movement became more critical
of the government (gathering increased support throughout the country as
well as from global community), and the activities of the Nixon adminis-
tration turned a great number of Americans against authority in general.
In many respects, the 1960s inaugurated open season on the U.S. govern-
ment, and, as much of the world was becoming engaged in some form of
civil unrest (by students, workers, women, ethnic groups, anticolonialists,
and revolutionaries), it appeared that this willingness to challenge author-
ity existed everywhere. Lacking the stronger convictions of an Arthur Hays
Sulzberger, the younger, less familiar, less indoctrinated Punch was thus
perhaps the perfect individual to usher in a different orientation to the Times,
reecting a new sentiment, one less favorably disposed toward authorities.

ofcially sanctioned segregation in the American South (which were largely ignored by
U.S. federal authorities for quite some time), it covered and
challenged the abusive methods employed by various Congressional committees,
it . . . denounced McCarthyism, it . . . attacked the restrictions of the McCarran Immigra-
tion Act; . . . it . . . criticized a security system which concealed the accuser from his victim,
and . . . it . . . insisted that the true spirit of American democracy demanded a scrupulous
respect for the rights of even the lowliest individual. (Talese 1981: 290)
Simultaneously AHS attacked other practices within political systems elsewhere. This leads
me to believe that his administration would be essentially interested in the actions of
government East and West.
19 On the bias issue, Max Frankel (one of the top editors during the 1960s and 1970s), admitted
on an internal memo to the publisher (Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Punch) that if anything,
as our vigorous critics on the left have contended, we have been more naturally and too
easily pro business and pro government in our many routine and unquestioning reports
on how politicians and corporate leaders dene themselves and their works (Diamond
1994: 123).


Even with the somewhat more open approach, however, it was still likely
that the newspaper would be more interested in government. Old habits of
news collection die hard.
Third, and relevant to the last point, during the 196773 period, the
Times was engaged in a reconceptualization of what was newsworthy.
Facing increasing production costs and a new competitor (television), the
NYT realized that it had to capitalize on the great strength of the print
media in-depth coverage of events. As a result, the Times reduced the
sheer number of activities that it covered and in turn devoted more time,
money, and space to the ones it selected (Barnhurst and Mutz 1997). This
is relevant to the BPPauthority interaction. I expect that coverage of all
activity would be limited, but such activity as was identied would generally
emphasize the authorities with some attention being given to the Panthers.
There was simply little time and space for anything else.

Everything Is under Control The Oakland Tribune

The second newspaper used in this research is the Oakland Tribune. Pub-
lished and distributed in Oakland, California, this source was a daily, white,
mainstream press run by one of the Bay Areas wealthiest families, the
Knowlands (Rivers and Rubin 1971).20 During the 196773 period of inter-
est to this study, former Senator William F. Knowland was in charge of the
newspaper, assuming the position of owner, editor, and publisher after his
failed 1958 bid for governor on an antiunion, right-to-work platform (e.g.,
Montgomery and Johnson 1998; Schuparra 1998: xvi).
As for the political orientation of the newspaper, it consistently espoused
a conservative position, speaking out against fair housing laws, free speech
activism, and, essentially, all dissident activities, while consistently speaking
in support of economic growth, civic responsibility, and existing political
institutions as well as leaders. This orientation generally followed the prin-
ciples established by the Tribunes guiding force Joseph R. Knowland, the
owner, publisher, and editor from 1915 to 1966, as well as the father of Sen-
ator Knowland. By all accounts, the elder Knowland was a steadfast political
conservative and a major player in the development of the Bay Area (assist-
ing with the creation of the Bay Bridge as well as the Oakland port). On
more than one occasion, he is quoted as saying that the Tribune would sup-
port the Republican Party all the way (Gothberg 1968: 495). As the author

20 Interestingly, in 1983 (following a purchase and sale by Gannet Corporation), this paper be-
came the only black-owned metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, lasting until 1992.

Event Catalog of Dissent and Repression

of this piece continued, [t]here was no equivocation about these matters.

These were specic and clear-cut objectives (Gothberg 1968: 495).
In many respects, Senator Knowland, the man and the editor, closely
followed in his fathers footsteps (or at least tried to).21 During his life, he
was afliated with and assumed leadership positions within, the California
Republican Party; he was elected to the state assembly as well as to the state
senate. He also held the distinction of being one of the twenty-two senators
who voted against censuring Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s (Montgomery
and Johnson 1998). As with his father, his politics appeared to inuence
his role in publishing. In addition to the prostatus quo orientation of the
paper, under his watch it covered a wide variety of government behavior
(e.g., legislation, speeches from diverse ofcials, and so forth were all cov-
ered in great detail). To facilitate this, largely consistent with the discussions
about mainstream local media (e.g., Kaniss 1991), many of the Tribunes staff
were assigned to report on activities undertaken by the courts and other
government agencies throughout the area.22 Such a practice would signi-
cantly increase the opportunities to generate news about authority-related
behavior, but movement activity would be discussed as well, especially when
it threatened existing political-economic (i.e., family) interests.
Because of its approach to news coverage, the Tribune became known
as a mouthpiece of the status quo. Quite unexpectedly, given the coun-
tercultural reputation of the Bay Area, such a position was quite lucrative;
going by sales and circulation gures, it is clear that a great many valued
the information provided in the paper and shared its attitudes (Rivers and
Rubin 1971).23 Despite its predominant status among Bay Area papers, the

21 His son Joseph W. Knowland would do the same being named Assistant Publisher under
his father.
22 It should be clearly understood that this does not mean that coverage of these institutions
was particularly good. As one study reports regarding the Bay Area press at the time:
[i]n one bay area community that seemed typical, less than 50 percent of the public meetings
of government bodies and civic organizations were attended by a reporter from the only
daily in town. Some of the others were covered by making phone calls to ofcials and
ofcers after the meetings, or by asking someone who planned to attend to call the paper
if anything newsworthy occurred. (Rivers and Rubin 1971: 10)
23 Not all looked upon this ideological orientation favorably. Indeed, the level of hostility
shown by the paper to participants in transgressive political behavior was well under-
stood by movement participants across the political spectrum as well as by most Bay Area
residents. While assisting in marketing and selling the newspaper to the targeted audience,
the clarity of this identication also had some drawbacks. The Tribune was frequently tar-
geted for protest activities because of the various positions that were taken by the paper


perceived nancial solvency of the organization, and its monopolization of

the Oakland market, however, things were not as stable at the Tribune as
one might have thought. Indeed, they were quite rocky.
After closing Southern Alameda County and Contra Costa County edi-
tions in an effort to cut costs, in 1968 (with San Francisco newspapers on
strike), the Tribune was able to increase its circulation. When the newspaper
came off the strike, this decreased circulation, which continued to slip over
time as the traditional subscription base (white conservatives) moved to the
suburbs and the demographic makeup shifted to blacks and latinos. By 1973,
Senator Knowland developed a serious gambling problem, fell into debt,
divorced his wife, remarried, became an alcoholic, and generally ran the
Tribune into bankruptcy (he committed suicide in 1974 and the family was
forced to sell the newspaper in 1977). This personal history is important
because, given the position of the younger Knowland within the organiza-
tion, it is possible that these developments might have directly inuenced
the coverage provided by the Tribune and led to strife within the organi-
zation. Alternatively, an apparently more reasonable assumption, may be
that since the procedures of news collection and the message of the paper
were so clearly established by the elder Knowland, nothing changed at all
during the relevant period. Coverage is likely all authority, all the time.

We Shall Overcome . . . Really The Sun Reporter

The third newspaper used in this research is the Sun Reporter. From avail-
able information, this paper was a weekly, politically moderate,24 African

(Pearson 1994: 701) in a sense, becoming the news that it covered. The newspaper had
a particularly poor relationship with the black community. As stated by Rivers and Rubin
(1971: 467):
[a] major reason for the distrust many Oakland Blacks [felt] for the Tribune was the papers
handling of a Black boycott of white merchants in the ghetto in 1968. Black citizens,
disturbed at what they felt was police harassment of Black youth, complained at an open
city council meeting, but did not receive what they considered a just hearing. The boycott
was designed as an attempt to force the white merchants to pressure city hall over the police
harassment issue. The Tribune responded to the boycott with a front-page editorial from
the publisher, William F. Knowland, urging white Oakland residents and homeowners in
surrounding areas to help break the boycott by shopping in the ghetto stores.
Needless to say, this did not help diffuse the situation or ingratiate the Tribune with the
African American community.
24 In line with Wolfsfeld (1997: 524), moderate refers to the perceived reasonableness of
the claims made by African Americans in this case and to the mechanisms used to achieve
these objectives.

Event Catalog of Dissent and Repression

American newspaper that had served the greater OaklandSan Francisco

black population since its founding in 1944.25 Discussing different topics
generally consistent with the black press (e.g., Wolesley 1972; Simmons
1998),26 this source addressed numerous subjects relevant to daily African
American life (e.g., announcements of community activities and statistics
related to their condition), it provided information about social struggles
and legal efforts related to improving the situation for blacks (e.g., afr-
mative action), and it discussed various sociopolitical events within other
communities that appeared relevant (e.g., conicts between other ethnic
groups and the orientation of rival civil society organizations).
Differing from the other newspapers discussed earlier, the content of
the Sun Reporter was much easier to assess than identifying its general ori-
entation toward authorities, African American challengers in general, and
the Panthers in particular. Although the paper was interested in reporting
information concerning black life, it was less concerned with issues of radi-
cal politics or with directly challenging/transforming political institutions.
Whether or not the Sun Reporter would cover BPP activity and pay atten-
tion to the actions of authorities directed against them or whether it would
merely focus on the Panthers and ignore the authorities is thus unclear.
In large part, this lack of clarity revealed a certain degree of complexity
within the Bay Area African American community. For example, Carlton
Goodlett and Thomas Fleming (the two most important inuences on the
paper), although migrating to the Bay Area before the World War II inux,
were still very much caught by the migratory ethos that brought many
blacks to California (Broussard 1993: Chapter 10).27 As such, Goodlett
and Fleming maintained a strong sense that individual effort could over-
come political, economic, and cultural difculties and that people should
play by the rules of the game. This opinion was tempered with a strong
awareness that numerous restrictions needed to be challenged in an overt
but nonaggressive manner. In support of this, it was widely acknowledged
that Goodlett engaged in efforts to overcome racial restrictions (e.g., on

25 This was founded after the Sun, which was published by two African Americans (Dr. Carlton
Goodlett and Daniel Collins), merged with the Reporter, a paper owned by a white San
26 Several have argued that the black press was created, in part, to capture this subaltern
reality of an African American minority and pass this reality along to their constituency
(Wolseley 1972; Johnson and Johnson 1979; Suggs 1983). The Sun Reporter would clearly
follow in this tradition.
27 Goodlett came to the Bay in the 1930s but left and returned in 1945.


integration) and other societal difculties (e.g., vice and crime), but it was
also noted that these always took place within the strictures of the exist-
ing legal and political system (e.g., Broussard 1993: 213; Crowe 2000: 68,
126). These complexities were an issue within the Bay Area, but they also
reected a larger dilemma for black newspapers and communities.
As a result, while focusing on educating children and curbing police bru-
tality would be welcome (Goodlett himself was twice a victim of police bru-
tality), other aspects of the Panthers message/activity would not likely be
well received (e.g., discussion of revolution or communist/socialist rhetoric
and the use of weapons). Although the expected coverage of BPP and
authority activity in the Sun Reporter is unclear at least compared with
the other newspapers discussed I anticipate that it will tend toward more
equitable coverage of both authorities and Panthers: invariably this was the
position that was safest. The reason for this is clear.
Seeger (1983: 65) notes that most neighborhood publishers were pri-
marily local businessmen, not reformers, and they tended to avoid contro-
versy issues wherever possible. Being a black newspaper in the Bay Area
during the 1960s signicantly alters the conception of what controversial
means, but the point is still well taken. As he continues:

[t]he publisher [in the community newspaper context] must worry about major
local controversies which might divide [the] audience, or, more importantly, [the]
most signicant others, the local notables, primarily business[es] but also politicians.
Reader boycotts are much rarer and less devastating than advertising boycotts, so
that there is a much greater felt need to avoid giving offense to the small group of
advertisers who support each local paper. (Seeger 1983: 66)

Coverage of the Panthers and the repressive action taken against them was
clearly controversial by any standard. At the same time, however, given
the importance of the BPP to the Bay Area in general and to the African
American community in particular, it would have been hard to stay away
from them entirely.

The Revolution Will Be Mimeographed The Berkeley Barb

From existing literature and reading the newspaper itself, one readily deter-
mines that the Berkeley Barb was a white, alternative press published in
Berkeley, California. This newspaper was founded in 1965 and gener-
ally controlled by Max Scherr, a long-term Bay Area radical, commonly
referred to as the Hugh Hefner or Father of the underground press.
Event Catalog of Dissent and Repression

Clearly identifying its preferred topic and favored sociopolitical actor, the
Barb espoused an interest in the little movements that (diverged) from the
mainstream of society (Peck 1985: 30) especially those engaged in coun-
tercultural attacks on the political, economic, and cultural system. This
orientation was reected in the individuals who worked for the paper, prin-
cipally hippies, yippies, and those involved in radical politics. Because of
the dedication with which staff members performed their duties and the
fact that the Barb was one of the rst underground presses in the Bay Area
(at the heart of labor activity, communism/socialism, student activism, the
hippie movement, and black nationalism), the paper quickly became known
as one of the premier alternative newspapers in the United States (boasting
a readership of ninety thousand in 19689).
Regarding content, the Barb covered seemingly everything from draft
card burning to boycotts to rallies to demonstrations that involved a wide
variety of organizations from civil rights to antiwar to the new left to black
power to anyone taking any position against the status quo. The Panthers
and their activities t particularly well within the range of topics/actors cov-
ered by the paper. Indeed, the BPP was frequently viewed as the vanguard
party of the time (especially in the Bay Area) that is, as the radical orga-
nization that set the standard for all others. This led to extensive popular
interest and media coverage.
Now, this is not to suggest that the Barb did not cover activities under-
taken by U.S. authorities, especially repressive behavior directed against
social movements and protest. That was an important element of its anti-
establishment image and message. Rather, this is to suggest that the orga-
nization and those interested in it did not generally discuss this aspect of
their coverage relative to the information that they provided on antistate
The process of news collection at the Barb is noteworthy because the
staff did not investigate and create all of the stories published in the paper.
As with the mainstream press (i.e., the New York Times and the Oakland Tri-
bune), the Barb relied upon wire services for many of its stories. This said, the
wires utilized by this paper were quite different from those employed by the
mainstream. Specically, two were used: the Liberation News Service, which
was frequently employed by the left-wing media, and the Underground Press
Syndicate, a large, loose grouping of alternative periodicals which by agree-
ment had free reprint rights to each others published material (Seeger
1983: 23). Again similar to the mainstream reliance for information upon
ofcial sources, the Barb relied on a group of Bay Area social change

organizations (radical stringers if you will). This included a very inter-

esting group not typically thought of as connected to the news industry.
For example, as one author writes [m]ost, although not all, of these orga-
nizations were political, a few were hippie, and others were in the process of
being redened from the latter category to the former (Seeger 1983: 44).
These were very different from the sources employed by more mainstream
news organizations because while these regular sources of news may often
have had names, addresses, and even telephone numbers, they were not by
any means an underground counterpart of the solid bureaucracies on which
the above-ground reporter calls for news day after day (Seeger 1983: 45).
Given this situation, there was much more instability and uncertainty with
news generation at the Barb, a problem when attempting to put out a weekly
Despite the interests of the paper and the sources relied upon for infor-
mation, however, the Barbs access to dissidents like the Black Panthers was
uneven. In May 1969, the newspaper tried to bring together hippies and
militants in a joint venture to create a Peoples Park in a vacant lot near
the University of California, Berkeley (e.g., Wolin and Schaar 1970). The
particulars of the case are less important than the aftermath. In light of the
Barbs central involvement in the planning as well as execution of the Park
and the general success of the event, the paper came under a scrutiny from
both the mainstream and the alternative presses, in a sense, becoming the
During this time, all aspects of the Barb were probed, including its
sources of income. This became especially problematic when information
about the magnitude of the Barbs revenue came to light as well as the
source advertisers. The coverage had two aftereffects. First, many in the
community and at the newspaper itself began to question the role of adver-
tisers in the creation of the alternative/radical press. For many, the two had
distinct interests and the association tainted the newspaper, prompting the
latter to sell out. Second, when the revenue gures were made public,
many of the staffers at the Barb pushed for higher wages and then went on
strike. Unable to settle, this group eventually attempted to purchase the
paper, and, after this effort failed, many staffers simply left.
Although the Barb continued to publish after these events, the internal
strife created lingering troubles, which damaged its image as one of the pre-
mier alternative newspapers in the Bay Area and in the United States more
widely. Indeed, as reported by Seeger (1983), this event so inuenced the

Event Catalog of Dissent and Repression

popular perception of the paper that individuals engaged in social change

were reluctant to interact with the Barbs staff, with the result that the paper
further increased its reliance upon news wires and other alternative news-
papers for stories.
The Peoples Park incident had one additional inuence on the Barb.
Those who had left the paper created their own newspaper, the Berkeley
Tribe. This led to signicant problems for Scherr in particular and for the
Barb in general because at every turn the Tribe accused the Barb of selling
out the revolution and going soft. This prompted the Barb to out-
radicalize the Tribe by covering even more militant/violent activities and
organizations. Such a pattern is important because as Seeger (1983: 434)
makes clear, it was not that there were more militant activities in the Bay
Area during this time. Rather, it was that these types of activities would be
more likely covered. The implications here were numerous.
First, less militant activities were no longer deemed newsworthy for
alternative and radical presses, especially toward the late 1960s and early
1970s. Although there was a large number of countercultural activities (co-
ops, seminars, free-love experiments, sit-outs, and so on), these were no
longer viewed as challenges and thus were ignored. Again, Scherr, as the
Barbs guiding force, was critical. Convinced that there was a shift in the
movement toward a more aggressive political engagement, where author-
ities were directly being challenged and violence was frequently involved,
Scherr pursued and published these events consistently. In a sense, to be at
the forefront of the movement he concluded that the paper had to cover
the most militant organization and activities. Second, lesser militant groups
like the hippies were less well organized than the militants and thus they
were less able to provide information about themselves to reporters and
less effective at lobbying for coverage. Consequently, as Seeger (1983: 56)
noted, [t]he Barb and its competition reected only part of the counter-
cultural community and the values of that section, systematically tending to
overcommunicate the organized militant elements and under-communicate
the unorganized hippies. Directly related to this issue, the Panthers were
clearly deemed worthy of attention but only the most contentious parts
of the BPP and the authoritys violent response to the organization would
likely be of interest. In short, the more contentious the interactions, the
better. Interestingly, at the same time, access to the Panthers and their sto-
ries was limited because of the Barbs lost credibility; impressions or visions
of the vanguard trumping actual exposure to them.


Live from the Struggle The Black Panther Paper

The nal newspaper considered by this study, the Black Panther Intercom-
munal News Service, was published and distributed by the Panthers them-
selves on a weekly basis in Oakland, California. Beginning systematically
in 1967,28 the paper was sent to members as well as nonmembers through-
out the United States and abroad. Known for its amboyant language and
confrontational imagery, this source is in many respects less complex than
the Berkeley Barb. For example, the BPINS clearly ts within what is gen-
erally categorized as the dissident press for the primary objectives of the
paper were to establish and maintain Panther identity, recruit new mem-
bers, deliver information about relevant political events, generate revenue,
and convey the organizations worldview to the wider society. (For more
detailed discussion, see Seale [1968] 1991; Abron 1993; Davenport 1998b:
These objectives were far from random. As the BPP explicitly stated:
[the BPINS] was created to present factual, reliable information to the Peo-
ple. . . . The News Service is the alternative to the government approved [news]
presented in the mass media and the product of an effort to present the facts not the
stories dictated by the oppressor, but as seen from the other end of a gun. (Black
Panther 1970: 17)

They continue elsewhere:

[the BPINS] tells the story of our peoples struggle in the streets. . . . It tells the true
story of what happens in the concrete inner-city jungles of Babylon when brothers
and sisters off the block, workers, and members of the petty bourgeoisie decide to
cast aside their petty personal goals and aspirations, and begin to work unselshly
together with a common goal in mind: to serve the people and liberate the colony,
by the only means necessary the GUN. . . . The Black Panther documents step by
step the actions taken by, and programs instituted by the Black Panther Party in its
unstoppable drive to serve the people; and documents before the whole world the
repression and murders committed by Amerikkkas corrupt monopoly capital in its
dastardly attempts to stop this move to institute peoples power. (Foner 1995: 8)

The paper was thus established to simultaneously promote the BPP cause
and counter existing authorities.
Such an emphasis would be expected to favor coverage of the BPP rela-
tive to activity taken by the authorities against them. Indeed, in many ways,
the Panthers were the news, and they had privileged access to the individuals

28 The paper ceased publication in 1980.

Event Catalog of Dissent and Repression

directly involved in dissident behavior.29 If source access is one of the main

inuences on news coverage, then narcissism is surely one of the greatest
temptations for a dissident press. At the same time, it is expected that there
would be some attention given to the government and its effort to deal
with the black power organization, as they provided much of the motiva-
tion for the group in the rst place (Seale [1968] 1991; Newton 1996). For
example, the very rst BPINS was produced in order to distribute infor-
mation about an instance of police brutality against a young black man
(Denzil Dowell) and the BPPs investigation of the case. This situation
only expanded after the brunt of government coercive power was turned
directly against the BPP.30 Indeed, this becomes one of the main topics
discussed in the paper (e.g., Davenport and Eads 2001; Hilliard 2007).

Within this chapter, I discussed the ve newspapers from which I develop
my event catalogs. As one can readily observe, these represent very dis-
tinct approaches to collecting news, distributing it, and serving commu-
nities. Specically, there are news organizations representing the white

29 Unlike the case of the Berkeley Barb, which has not been frequently consulted by those
interested in understanding Bay Area contentious activity, several individuals and organi-
zations have utilized the BPINS to understand what was going on within the BPP. For
Jo Nina Abron . . . [uses the paper to provide] a general historical overview of the inner
workings of the production of the paper. Jim Mori utilizes multiple issues of the [BPINS]
to trace the Partys ideological development and uctuation, and Charles Hopkins analyzes
selected issues of the paper to conrm the deradicalization of the organization. Carolyn
Calloway focused on group cohesion, and John Courtright used the paper as a tool for inves-
tigating the political rhetoric of the BPP. [Finally, the BPINS] was the subject of [numerous]
investigations by the . . . House of Representatives Committee on Internal Security in 1970
and 1971. (Davenport 1998b: 1934)
30 Similar to the Barb, but much more severe in frequency and intensity, the BPINS was also
caught within larger dynamics that inuenced their coverage of events. Individuals afliated
with the paper (editors, distributors, and suppliers) were continually subject to investigation
and arrest, which inuenced if and how well they pursued stories, wrote them, and got them
out to the public. This was particularly noticeable at the highest levels of the paper when
the BPINS went through four editors in the span of one year (1969). Even though the
context did not facilitate a reasonable environment for news collection, production, and
distribution, amazingly the newspaper did come out at regular intervals between 1968 and
1978. Indeed, from consulting existing literature, it is consistently observed that great efforts
were made to ensure that the paper was delivered; before and after this time publication
was infrequent.


mainstream in the Bay (the Oakland Tribune) and New York (the New York
Times), white radicals (the Berkeley Barb), black moderates (the Sun Reporter),
and the dissident press (the BPINS). These newspapers are expected to cover
BPPauthority conict in very different ways.
In the next chapter, I explore the theoretical arguments presented earlier
in the context of these ve characterizations (cases) of what the authorities
did to the BPP and the activities that the Panthers engaged in.


A Mosaic of Coercion

[T]he basic issues of public policy presented by the militancy of groups like the
Panthers and by the sometimes brutal police treatment of angry and deant
Black people in general can be neither understood nor resolved in an atmo-
sphere of exaggerated charges whether of genocide against the Panthers or
of guerrilla warfare against the police that are repeated, unveried, in the
press and in consequence widely believed by the public.
Edward Jay Epstein The Black Panthers and the Police: A Pattern of
Genocide? (1971)

As discussed earlier, there are different ways that event coverage inuences
our understanding of state repression: (1) it affects the basic information
about the political contest in question (i.e., the relative amount of activity
undertaken by different actors, the origin and termination dates of con-
ict, as well as the consistency of event coverage), and (2) it affects the
specic understanding one takes away from this information about who did
what to whom (in the case of this study, whether repression was more the
result of dynamic interactions between dissidents and authorities or dynam-
ics within government institutions themselves). The analysis of ve event
catalogs regarding state repression of the Black Panther Party provides
strong support for my Rashomon argument. As found, the orientation of
the source and, to a lesser extent, spatial distance directly inuences what is
reported within each catalog. This, in turn, inuences how we comprehend
and explain state repression because the relative importance of authorities
and dissidents varies with the different accounts. In short, what one sees and
concludes is very much a function of whom one consults. This said, per-
spective does not account for everything; there are some interesting results
that are robust across all sources.

15 47 9 6

60 33


127 39

Court in Tribune Police in Tribune Court in Times Police in Times Court in Reporter Police in Reporter
Shootings in Tribune Dissent in Tribune Shootings in Times Dissent in Times Shootings in Reporter Dissent in Reporter

58 54

72 71

38 142

Court in Barb Police in Barb Court in BPP Police Action in BPP

Shootings in Barb Dissent in Barb Shootings in BPP Dissent in BPP

Figure 8. Covering Conict between the Black Panthers and the U.S. Govern-

In this chapter, I examine the events identied in each of the newspa-

pers, discussing what is covered in the different sources. In an effort to
better understand how newspapers characterize the relationship between
repression and dissent, I then provide more detailed investigations of each
event sequence.

Identifying the Dimensions of Rashomon

To begin, I take an aggregate view of what is covered.

Using the catalogs discussed in the last chapter, I identify the type of activ-
ities reported in each source and nd some important differences between
accounts several that were anticipated but several that were unexpected
(Figure 8).
For example, the physically distant, authority-oriented New York Times
and the physically proximate, authority-oriented Oakland Tribune are some-
what distinct in their coverage of relevant events, but they are much closer
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

to one another in their coverage than to any of the other newspapers consid-
ered in the study. As found, both mainstream sources focused on the courts
at comparable rates (i.e., as a percentage of all events identied), which was
anticipated. This supports Hypothesis 4 about the importance of political
orientation for event coverage. The Tribune, however, covered a greater
number of these government activities, totaling 406 out of 528 (76% of all
events covered), while the Times paid less attention to this political behavior
in absolute numbers with 127 out of 175 (72%). This supports Hypothesis
1 about the importance of physical presence and Hypothesis 2 about the
importance of political orientation in increasing event coverage. Interest-
ingly, although the Tribune covers a larger number of total events, the Times
devoted more attention to police activity and shootings as a percentage of
all activities covered. With regard to police activity, there were thirty-three
events in the NYT (20%) compared to sixty in the Tribune (11%). With
regard to shootings, there were nine events in the NYT (5%) compared
to fteen events in the Tribune (2%). Providing a different conception of
importance, this pattern of coverage makes sense given the salience of such
activities to those outside of the Bay Area and California who were both
shocked and intrigued by such activities.
The only exception to this pattern concerns dissent. With regard to this
variable, there were six events identied in the NYT (3%) compared to
forty-seven covered in the Tribune (8%). One can attribute the difference
between the two mainstream papers to the varying levels of attentiveness
and information held by more proximate sources. Accordingly, we would
expect that the Tribune would be more attentive to dissident activity, as it
is local political leaders and economic elites that would be threatened.
Differing from the two mainstream papers, the Sun Reporter the prox-
imate, moderate, black newspaper was expected to be more equitable in
its coverage of BPPauthority behavior but not as attentive. This argu-
ment turns out to be partially supported, as the coverage of police and
dissident behavior was relatively comparable at thirty-nine events (22%)
and thirty-two events (18%), respectively; these are amounts between the
two mainstream sources, but the ratios are more equitable than either, sup-
porting Hypothesis 3. Although the number of shootings identied in this
paper is fewer than the others (10%), as a percentage of all events it is far
lower than that identied in the more mainstream presses (5%), further
revealing a difference between newspapers. This also supports Hypothesis
3. Finally, the sheer amount of attention given to the court (ninety-two
events, approximately 53% of reported activity), reveals that this source

offers a largely mainstream and institutional characterization of the state

dissident interaction. Although similar in character, compared to the more
mainstream, larger and better-resourced newspapers just identied, how-
ever, the absolute number of events was relatively low.
In considering the Berkeley Barb the white, radical press I found almost
exactly what I had expected. In this source, court-related repressive activity
and dissent were about equal in the amount of coverage they received (sup-
porting Hypothesis 5b); there are seventy-one court events and seventy-two
dissident acts approximately 37 percent of total events apiece. Interest-
ingly, this source covered the largest amount of dissent within any source.
Comparatively less attention was devoted to police activity, with thirty-
eight events approximately 20 percent of all reported behavior. Similar to
the Sun Reporter, the Barb identied few shootings between the police and
the Panthers (noting only ten approximately 5%).
Deviating from my expectations, the Black Panther Intercommunal News
Service was generally concerned with police repression with 142 events out
of 258 (at approximately 55% of all reported behavior). This is the largest
of any source. Relatively little attention was given to policeBPP shootings
(three events or 1%) and comparable amounts of coverage were allocated
to court-related sanctions and dissident behavior undertaken by the Pan-
thers (each at approximately 20% of covered material respectively, fty-
four and fty-eight events). This supports Hypothesis 1 about proximity
increasing coverage as well as Hypothesis 2 concerning the importance of
orientation for increasing attentiveness. Again, coverage is somewhat less
skewed (supporting Hypothesis 5b), but this only applies to specic forms
of state activity court repression.
There are two points regarding this coverage that are worthy of atten-
tion. First, the small number of shootings in the BPINS is largely reec-
tive of the fact that the BPP newspaper focused on a few early violent
encounters and discussed them repeatedly after that point. My research
did not consider events where the action, actors, place, and time were
not identiable. This procedure reduced the total number of events found
in the catalog relative to all events identied in the newspaper.1 Second,
while the police were a constant point of contention for the black radical

1 This nding is actually consistent with some prior work. Despite conventional wisdom
that there was a large number of shootings between the BPP and the police, the rela-
tively small amount is comparable to the work of Edward Jay Epstein (1971) who has
conducted one of the more thorough accounts of the matter. For an interesting discussion,
see http://www.edwardjayepstein.com/archived/panthers.htm.

Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

2/22/1967 Black Panther

Berkeley Barb
Diverse Event Catalogs


Oakland Tribune

New York Times

Sun Reporter

Figure 9. Onset and Termination of Conict, across Newspapers

organization, it makes sense that the Panthers would not give too much
attention to shootings because, given the very nature of the activities, they
could be potentially implicated in starting many of them. This could reduce
the amount of support that the organization received, as individuals were
scared off. As a result, they would tend to stay away from such activities.

Onset and Termination

I had suggested earlier that coverage of conict would be inuenced by
the political orientation and proximity of the sources consulted. Although
diverse characteristics were specied, here I consider the beginning and
end of the conict between the Black Panthers and the diverse agents of
the U.S. government that confronted them (Figure 9).
Considering the event catalogs, my expectations were generally met.
Out of the ve sources, the BPINS and the Barb (the two sources closest to
the BPP) identied the earliest events2 a rally held by the BPP in Berke-
ley on February 22, 1967, marking the second anniversary of Malcolm Xs
assassination. For these sources, the story of the Panthers and their conict

2 Interestingly, the Barb identies the earliest event (a release of a statement by the BPP
regarding what they wanted). As this research does not consider statements by the Panthers
as an event, I do not begin the catalog at this point. The reason for the earlier event in the
Barb is clear. At this point (early 1967), they had a more stable production schedule, and the
BPP had not yet consistently produced its own newspaper. This is not achieved until 1968.


with authorities began with efforts of the African American social move-
ment to celebrate one of their inspirations. These results support Hypoth-
esis 2 about proximity, Hypothesis 5a about dissident sources identifying
dissident events rst, and Hypothesis 6 about authority-oriented sources
highlighting dissident behavior rst. Similarly highlighting the BPP as the
initiator of the conict but focusing on a different type of event on April 24,
1967, the Oakland Tribune began its coverage of the conict by highlighting
a protest of the Martinez sheriffs department. This agent of the state was
targeted because the Panthers (along with many others in the African Amer-
ican community) believed that they had not properly investigated the death
of a young black male, Denzil Dowell. The story of the BPPs activities
here is most commonly cited as the beginning of the organization.
The New York Times and Sun Reporter (the most physically distant and
politically neutral newspapers, respectively) identied the same event as the
beginning of the political confrontation between the Panthers and the U.S.
government. The event itself was clearly one of the most famous and one
of the highest prole events of any covered during the period. On May 2,
1967, a group of armed Panthers, in full regalia, entered the California state
assembly in Sacramento to voice their opinion about changing a state law
regarding the right to bear and carry rearms. As it happened, the BPP
wandered onto the assembly oor by mistake, inadvertently confronting
the assembly directly.3
These results make sense within my Rashomon framework. It was
expected that the more distant source would highlight one of the most
notable events as the beginning of the conict. It also makes sense that the
more moderate/neutral source would also be drawn to such an event.
The beginning of the BPPauthority interaction is largely grounded
in Panther activity; however, the sources told very different stories about
the end of the conict. Again, these results were largely in line with my
expectations but with a few exceptions.
For example, the most distant state-oriented source (The New York Times)
was the rst to complete its coverage of the contentious statedissident
conict. The Times ended its reporting of relevant behavior after Bobby
Seale (the BPP cofounder) gave a speech to volunteers at a postelection
rally on May 17, 1973. This was done after Seales loss to Oakland may-
oral incumbent John Reading, who had won in a runoff. Although this is

3 Within both sources, the BPP was intercepted a few blocks from the capitol by city and/or
state police, thus beginning the conictual interaction.

Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

not your typical form of protest, it does represent a form of legally sanc-
tioned dissident behavior that one would expect a mainstream source to
highlight. The report of the event focused on the Panthers, which was
not anticipated, and on an activity that largely demonstrated within-system
behavior and essentially signaled the end of the BPP behavioral challenge,
which was anticipated. For the local mainstream newspaper, the Oakland
Tribune coverage ended in similar fashion but approximately six months
later (on November 12, 1973). During this event, Huey Newton (the other
cofounder of the organization) was on trial in a municipal court in Oakland.
The coverage of this event identied a more explicit state sanction being
directed against the Panthers and it ts directly with my argument about
what mainstream sources highlight.
In contrast, Sun Reporter coverage did not end as late as I had anticipated;
the last event that could be coded in this source was on September 1, 1973.
In many respects, the statedissident interaction ended very much the way
one would expect within a politically moderate source looking to reach a
black audience but trying not to offend white authorities. Specically, they
covered the Oakland municipal courts (specically, the jurys) failure to
reach a decision in a Newton trial. This highlighted the Panthers but did so
in a way that focused on political authority and the apparent illegitimate
persecution of the exonerated social movement leader.
Directly in line with expectations, the Berkeley Barb ended coverage very
much as it began, focused on dissidents and dissent. On November 30, 1973,
this paper identied a picket of Mayfair market on 59th and Telegraph in
Oakland because of the perceived racism as well as the brutality of the insti-
tution. This suggests that even at the end of the catalog, Panther militancy
was very much alive and, equally as important, out on the street/block and
in the community. It also identies that although the black power organiza-
tion was still engaged with challenging the status quo, it had selected a target
less connected with political authorities. This will be discussed more later.
Also in line with my expectations, the BPINS covered events until the
very end of the catalog December 29, 1973. Even though repression was
the subject of this last story, which is somewhat at odds with my argument,
the BPINS clearly maintained its focus on the movement as it high-
lighted the inadequacy and bias of the criminal justice system. In particu-
lar, it focused on BPP member Charles Bursey being denied parole by the
California Adult Authority in Vacaville, San Francisco. This story simulta-
neously communicated information about the fate of a Black Panther mem-
ber in the U.S. system of justice, and it revealed the inherent unfairness

Table 1. Court Activity in Five Newspapers

a. Number of Times That Papers Overlap in Coverage of Same Type of Event

4 = 10
3 = 29
2 = 51

b. Specic Overlaps between Different Newspapers

New York Oakland Sun Berkeley Black
Times Tribune Reporter Barb Panther
New York Times 46 22 17 13
Oakland Tribune 42 32 22
Sun Reporter 9 4
Berkeley Barb 11
Black Panther

of the system in failing to release someone who had served a signicant

amount of his term.

Events Across Sources

Having now discussed some of the basic information about what is con-
tained in each source, I will now discuss some of the basic information about
what is contained across them. For this, I identify the general amount of
overlap between newspapers by the week.
From this exercise, I nd that there is signicant variation across sources
with regard to how well they mirror other newspapers. Across sources, the
earlier time period generally displays higher likelihoods of overlap (i.e.,
there is a higher likelihood that more sources cover similar types of events).
Over time, however, the number of distinct newspapers covering similar
events decreases. The pairings across time generally reect well upon the
Rashomon argument (Table 1).
For example, I nd that court events are the most consistently identied
across all sources. As found, ninety-two weeks of court activity out of 181
total court actions (50%) are captured by at least two newspapers.4 Among

4 Note that I am not suggesting that the exact same event was identied, just the same type
of event.

Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

these situations, there are few weeks where all ve sources identify
something as happening in court. Indeed, there are only two weeks when
this happens (October 29 to November 4, 1971; and, December 10 to
December 16, 1971). Both involved periods during which the Black Pan-
ther leader (Huey Newton) was on trial and had convictions dismissed for
murder. The number of discrete occurrences increases when four news-
papers cover court events during the same week (ten). Interestingly, I nd
that as the number of sources diminishes, there is a higher likelihood of
coverage overlapping. For instance, when we consider three newspapers
covering activity involving the court, this happens twenty-nine times in
total. Following from this, by far the most common occurrence is when
two newspapers cover court events during the same week, this happens
fty-one times in total.
Of course, the likelihood of specic newspapers covering court events
at the same time is not equal (i.e., certain overlaps in coverage between
newspapers are more likely than others). By far the most likely overlap is
between The New York Times and Oakland Tribune, which covered relevant
events during the same week forty-six times (supporting Hypothesis 4). This
similarity makes sense given that these newspapers shared an interest with
government institutions. In line with the earlier discussion, the second most
likely overlap is coverage between the Tribune and the Sun Reporter (which
occurred in 42 repression-weeks). These two sources, while different in
racial orientation, share an interest in conventional political behavior. Less
likely and in line with my earlier argument are overlaps between the Oakland
Tribune and Berkeley Barb, which occurred on thirty-two different weeks.
Coverage between the NYT and Sun Reporter as well as between the Tribune
and BPINS are somewhat lower in frequency than those combinations just
discussed (taking place on twenty-two weeks). Even less frequent are those
situations where The New York Times overlaps with the Berkeley Barb and
BPINS respectively, occurring at seventeen and thirteen weeks. This is
generally consistent with the argument laid out earlier because these news-
papers are relatively far from one another on spatial as well as political
Interestingly, the least likely overlap for court-related behavior involves
the Berkeley Barb and Black Panther with eleven weeks of similar coverage,
the Sun Reporter and Berkeley Barb with nine weeks, and the Sun Reporter
and Black Panther with four weeks. The BARBBPINS overlap is somewhat
puzzling in that we would anticipate greater similarities between the two


Table 2. Police Activity in Five Newspapers

a. Number of Times That Papers Overlap in Coverage of Same Type of Event

3 = 12
2 = 19

b. Specic Overlaps between Different Newspapers

New York Oakland Sun Berkeley Black
Times Tribune Reporter Barb Panther
New York Times 13 8 9 13
Oakland Tribune 14 13 18
Sun Reporter 12 16
Berkeley Barb 13
Black Panther

most radical newspapers. This said, the type of event under discussion (court
behavior) is not something that these newspapers would be inclined to
cover. The Reporter-Barb overlap makes sense because there would be little
that these sources would have in common relevant to the court the former
would likely nd some legitimacy in the institution and thus deem it worthy
of coverage but not the latter. Similarly, the third and the least likely overlap
involves sources that, despite similar racial orientations, emerge from very
distinct political orientations within the black community the Sun Reporter
and Black Panther.
In contrast to the relatively well-covered events within the court (with
around half appearing in more than one source), police activity (in Table 2)
is much less covered across sources with 40 weeks out of 134 being iden-
tied (approximately 30%). Among this coverage, there are some weeks
where all ve sources identify police action: (1) October 23 to October 28,
1967, (2) April 1 to 7, 1968, (3) September 915, 1968, (4) April 23 to 29,
1968, and (5) August 1219, 1969. These similarities make sense. The rst
three involved shootings (the October 2328, 1967, event involving the
NewtonFrey incident). The fourth involved the raid and arrest of diverse
Panthers. The fth involves the arrest of two prominent BPP leaders
Seale and Hilliard. Continuing the inverse relationship between the num-
ber of sources covering events and the number of events identied, there are
four weeks where four sources identify police events: April 30May 6 1967;

Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

February 1925, 1968; September 915, 1968; and December 39, 1969.
These are some of the more well-known activities of the period: the arrest
of Panthers associated with the California state assembly protest (early
May 1967), as well as some lesser known events such as the series of
arrests directed against BPP members for trafc violations and conspir-
acy to commit murder (February 24 and 25, 1968). More police-related
events are identied when three sources are considered (here there are
twelve weeks in total). Again, by far the largest amount of coverage is found
with two newspapers identifying relevant events during the same week (with
Following the preceding results, the likelihood of different sources cov-
ering the same type of event is again not identical across pairings at
the same time, the distribution is less varied than that identied when
court activity was considered. For example, the most frequent overlap
concerns those events identied in the Oakland Tribune and Black Pan-
ther. These two newspapers (respectively, the most conservative and most
radical) cover similar types of police actions on eighteen separate weeks,
supporting Hypothesis 2. Here, politicization of the source fuels compa-
rable attentiveness. The second most frequent overlap concerns the Sun
Reporter and the Black Panther. In this case, we nd that African American
sources are attuned to police persecution of black radicals on sixteen dif-
ferent weeks. The other combinations generally cohere around the same
number of weeks: TribuneSun Reporter (fourteen), BarbBlack Panther (thir-
teen), TribuneBarb (thirteen), NYTBlack Panther (thirteen), NYTTribune
(thirteen), and Sun ReporterBarb (twelve). This suggests that there are gen-
erally no unique combinations all newspapers are likely to cover events
with at least one other paper at some point in time. That said, two pairings
seem somewhat less likely than others: the NYTSun Reporter (with eight
weeks) and the NYTBerkeley Barb (with nine weeks).
Coverage of dissident behavior is generally quite different from that con-
cerning repressive activity (Table 3). In this case, there are fewer instances
of overlap with only 38 weeks out of 114 where more than two sources cover
the same type of event. Again, the larger the number of sources, the lower
the number of weeks where overlap occurs. Thus there are only two weeks
when all ve sources identify dissident activity: July 1521, 1968, and April
30May 6, 1969. The rst week involved one of the largest Free Huey
rallies outside the Alameda Country courthouse with approximately ve
thousand attendees. The second week also involved a Free Huey rally of


Table 3. Dissident Activity in Five Newspapers

a. Number of Times That Papers Overlap in Coverage of Same Type of Event

2 = 27

b. Specic Overlaps between Different Newspapers

New York Oakland Sun Berkeley Black
Times Tribune Reporter Barb Panther
New York Times 5 4 6 2
Oakland Tribune 9 15 7
Sun Reporter 9 5
Berkeley Barb 17
Black Panther

similar size. There are two weeks when four sources identify dissident activ-
ity: April 30May 6, 1967, and November 1218, 1969. When the number
of overlapping newspapers decreases to three, there are seven weeks when
similar events are identied, and when the number of overlapping sources
is decreased to two, there are twenty-seven weeks.
The coverage across the different combinations is again somewhat dif-
ferent. For example, the two newspapers with the greatest frequency in
overlapping coverage are the Berkeley Barb and Black Panther (seventeen
weeks). As these are the two most radical newspapers this makes sense.
In contrast, and again in line with expectations, the least frequent over-
lap is that between the mainstream New York Times and the Black Panther
newspaper (with two weeks). The values between these two extremes are
generally consistent with my argument. For example, the second most fre-
quent overlap is the Oakland Tribune and the Berkeley Barb with fteen weeks
of overlapping coverage of dissident events. As these two newspapers are
high in their degree of politicization, the similar attentiveness makes sense.
The Oakland Tribune and Sun Reporter as well as the Sun Reporter and Barb
have nine weeks of overlap. This is the third most frequent overlap but at
approximately one-half the value of the next highest. The remaining com-
binations are generally clustered around six weeks: the Tribune-Black Pan-
ther (seven weeks), the NYTBarb (six weeks), the Sun ReporterBlack Pan-
ther (ve weeks), the NYTTribune (ve weeks), and the NYTSun Reporter
(four weeks).
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

Table 4. Shootings in Five Newspapers

a. Number of Times That Papers Overlap in Coverage of Same Type of Event


b. Specic Overlaps between Different Newspapers

New York Oakland Sun Berkeley Black
Times Tribune Reporter Barb Panther
New York Times 7 4 6 2
Oakland Tribune 4 7 2
Sun Reporter 3 2
Berkeley Barb 2
Black Panther

Finally, we have shootings (Table 4). Coverage of these events displays

interesting patterns. For example, only nine weeks out of twenty-six exist
where similar types of events were found within more than two sources.
Out of this total number, two weeks involve ve sources, one week involves
four, three weeks involve three, and three weeks involve two. The trend
whereby a fewer number of sources yields increased frequency of overlap
is again sustained, but barely.
As far as the distinct combinations between newspapers that cover shoot-
ings during a particular week, there are some ndings that are consistent
with my expectations. For example, the most frequently covered overlap
concerns the New York Times and Oakland Tribune with seven weeks. Main-
stream sources were thus drawn to cover the same type of events most
frequently of all combinations. In contrast, the least likely overlap concerns
the Times and the Black Panther, the Tribune and the Black Panther, and
the Sun Reporter and the Black Panther with two weeks apiece. The rst
two make sense given the perceived differences between them. But, the
third is surprising given the belief that ethnic groups would cover similar
events. It turns out that political orientation is far more important. Also
somewhat against my expectations is the overlap between the Tribune and
Berkeley Barb (with seven weeks) and the Barb and Black Panther (with three
weeks). The rst is likely explained by the desire, for different reasons,
of both papers to highlight contention. The second captures the different
interests of the Panther organization and an alternative press in stoking the

res of rebelliousness: those directly in the struggle attempt to downplay

such activity; those who are on the periphery of the struggle but who have
a vested interest in such activity being more apt to throw caution to the
Again, the overlaps between political extremes are revealing. At the sec-
ond highest value, the NYT and Barb cover shootings at the same time
during six weeks. This reveals that newspapers with different orientations
could cover similar events albeit infrequently. The next highest value (four
weeks) involves two overlaps: (1) the Sun Reporter and Times and (2) the Sun
Reporter and Tribune. The next combination concerns the Sun Reporter and
Barb with three weeks. Here, we nd that different newspapers with differ-
ent orientations are generally less inclined to cover the same type of event.
This largely follows the argument discussed earlier.
From my discussion in Chapter 2, I anticipated that the overall coverage
and timing of events (i.e., onset and termination) would be inuenced by
source selection. In addition to this, I also expected that there would be
differences as well as similarities in how diverse sources would cover the
same type of events. While these address what one nds within an event
catalog, it does not address the implications of such ndings for those who
wish to use them to comprehend what happened to the Panthers. I turn to
this in the next section.

Identifying the Relevance of Rashomon

From the preceding discussion, one is able to discern that similar political
orientations clustered in a manner consistent with my earlier discussion. For
example, in those sources closely afliated with authorities even though
the BPP engaged in some activity that threatened political-economic elites
most of the events identied within these sources were attributed to gov-
ernment actors. By contrast, and again in line with my expectations, sources
closer to the Panthers revealed a very different type of conict. These
sources depicted the battle between the authorities and the dissidents more
equitably, with each side seen to be engaging in contentious behavior at
relatively comparable levels.
While useful for developing an overview of how the different Bay Area
news sources covered the BPPauthority interaction, the preceding dis-
cussion does not allow us to explore the explanations commonly used to
account for repressive activity because a detailed assessment of the causal
sequence was not conducted. To this point, we have just been viewing the
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

data in an aggregate form with essentially no attention given to temporal

patterns. To understand why repression was applied and the role played by
dissent as well as prior state coercive behavior, however, we need to alter
how we utilize the event catalogs.
How should this be done? For approximately forty years, researchers
have been investigating the relationship between dissent and repression; I
have been engaged in this type of work for about fteen years. During this
time, I (and others) have explored a wide variety of models. In my opinion, all
involve some form of sacrice, and thus, by denition, this research suffers
from certain limitations. For example, any attempt to address temporal lags,
simultaneity, phase-shifts, nonlinearity, and diverse operationalizations at
the same time tends to hinder our ability to address any one of them. This is
particularly problematic when examining relationships between repression
and dissent because all of these dynamics are potentially relevant. Addi-
tionally, most of the literature on the conictrepression nexus obscures
any understanding of the relationship because of the high level of aggre-
gation that is used (the nation-year), as well as the general concern in the
literature for the inuence of large-scale, political-economic characteris-
tics (e.g., political democracy and economic development or inequality).
As a result, the methods selected within this work compel us to miss more
dynamic relationships between authorities and dissidents. This problem is
compounded because in attempting to understand why and how specic
authorities employed repression against specic dissidents, the task is made
difcult when the number of distinct authorities and dissidents considered
across time and space are lumped together. It is not appropriate to consider
the repressive efforts of the U.S. government against the KKK in Missis-
sippi alongside state behavior directed against the civil rights movement in
New Jersey or against anti-communist associates in California. At present,
however, this is precisely how researchers investigate statedissident inter-
In an effort to examine the relationship between repression and dissent
in a less methodologically straightjacketed manner, I adopt an approach
that is at once more capable of dealing with the various issues identied
earlier as well as those that are more exploratory in nature. Drawing on the
work of others (e.g., Tilly, Tilly, and Tilly 1975; Tilly 1986),5 I describe the

5 This follows from a suggestion by Tilly (2008), who notes that catalogs should fre-
quently be examined in diverse and exible ways in order to use them in the best possible


sequence of reported events across the different sources regarding police

behavior directed against the BPP and Panther activity against govern-
ment authority and economic elites to illustrate how dissent, shootings,
and lagged repression inuence contemporaneous values of police coercive
action. Given that the data were collected by the event, I collapse informa-
tion to the day and consider two weeks before the coercive event in question
through the two weeks after the coercive event; this gives me a rolling win-
dow of a month. Collecting information by the event is important because
many repressive and dissident activities take place on the same day but at
different times and places on the day in question. Viewed in a highly disag-
gregated manner, one is better able to determine what took place and what
different actors were responding to. Related to this, I assume, as does all
literature on the conictrepression nexus, that events prior to other events
are inevitably a factor in prompting later activity by ones opponent. For
example, a protest in one time and place that precedes an arrest in the same
place is believed to inuence/impact the states behavior, presumably aimed
at controlling the subsequent occurrence of dissident action. Similarly, an
arrest in one time and place that precedes another arrest (or trial) at the
same place is believed to inuence state behavior presumably in an attempt
to continue the effort at behavioral control and/or sustain morale within
the repressive agents.6
This more qualitative reading of the data is useful for understanding
catalogs because it moves us away from simply evaluating when a particular
event is covered across sources, and it compels us to investigate the sequence
in which events occurred. There are of course some limitations to such an
approach. Moving away from point estimation, we are hindered in our
ability to specify causal inuences in a precise manner. At the same time,
attempting to gain a better grasp of the way that variables are inuenced by
others, there is perhaps no better approach than imposing as few restrictions
as possible.
The catalogs are provided in the Appendix. Each case (each source) is
discussed next.

6 This assumption (standard in the repression literature) becomes crucial because the objec-
tives of certain forms of political repression are not made explicit. For example while arrests
of BPP members and court appearances are generally made explicitly, the explanation for
harassment and raids are not. Clearly all techniques are part of the states campaign to
control and/or eliminate the Panther organization.

Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

The New York Times

As expected, coverage of police repression in the Times is relatively straight-
forward. This is due, in part, to the small number of days with repressive
events that were identied in the catalog (twenty-eight).
When these data are observed, I nd that there are essentially two phases
of the BPPauthority conict that are covered. Interestingly, these two
phases are found in most of the newspapers, but they differ in impor-
tant ways. Within the rst phase in the NYT (between May 2, 1967, and
January 21, 1969), initially the Panthers engage in a variety of behavioral
challenges. In the Times case, this occurs without provocation (support-
ing Hypothesis 6 that an authority-oriented source would identify dissi-
dents as the initiator of conict). Repression is then applied in response
(supporting Hypotheses 10 and 11 where violent and nonviolent dissent,
respectively, leads to subsequent repressive activity). After this initial chal-
lenge and response, police repression is largely attributed to two factors:
(1) subsequent behavioral challenges and (2) bureaucratic inertia with rel-
evant police action either following other repressive behavior or leading
to further government action. The latter nding supports Hypotheses 14
and 18 that previous police repression leads to subsequent action and that
prior court repression leads to later police activity. Within the second phase
of conict coverage (in the Times between April 28, 1967, and September
11, 1971), the importance of the BPP behavioral challenge decreases and
the importance of bureaucratic inertia increases. Here, political authorities
largely hold the explanation for repression. The particularities of the case
are signicant, for they reveal insight into how exactly the Times covered
Panther-related contentious politics.
Considering what takes place in the two-week period before repres-
sive behavior manifests itself, the data appear straightforward. Out of the
twenty-eight days on which police repression takes place, approximately
half involve shootings (four occur before repressive action and eight occur
on the same exact day but before relevant government behavior). Revealing
a certain degree of temporally concentrated threats, ten of these event-days
occur prior to April 28, 1969 (i.e., during phase one). Indeed, the bulk of
all coverage in the NYT appears before this date; that is, the majority of
events in the catalog are found within this period.
Identifying an important difference about what constitutes a threat, out
of the twenty-eight days of reported police repression, only four involve


dissent (two before police action and two on the day of but preceding rel-
evant repressive action). Again, temporal differences are identied: three
of the four are found in the rst phase of the conict. Contentious behav-
ior involving the BPP and the police thus prompted a coercive response
from authorities (Hypotheses 10 [concerning violence] and 11 [concerning
nonviolence]) but rarely was this activity responsive to dissident behavior
undertaken by the black nationalist organization.
By contrast, in eleven out of the twenty-eight repression-days, police
activity was identied before the police took action. Again, these events
are highly clustered in the rst phase of coverage (between November 13,
1968, and January 21, 1969). This suggests that though many police actions
followed prior behavior, most police repressive acts occurred as relatively
isolated events unrelated to other police action. Comparatively, the court
appears to be slightly more important as it establishes the context within
which subsequent police behavior occurs. For instance, in thirteen out of the
twenty-eight repression-days, court behavior was identied before police
behavior thus partially supporting the cue hypothesis that court action
prompts police activity (Hypothesis 17).7 Interestingly, this appears toward
both the beginning (between September 30, 1968, and January 2, 1969) and
end (between January 13, 1970, and September 11, 1971) of the catalog.
In line with the limited coverage of the BPP in the New York Times,
Panther responsiveness to repression was also limited. For example, only
three days of protest followed police action against the Panthers in the two-
week period following government behavior; two of the three took place
within the rst phase of coverage. As reported in the NYT, therefore, police
repression did not generally prompt a reaction from the BPP. There is a
very different story with regard to subsequent repressive action. With ref-
erence to this behavior, on ten repression-days, police activity was reported
immediately afterward, and on twelve repression-days, court activity was
After January 21, 1969 (the second phase of conict coverage), the
reported Pantherauthority interaction is altered: as a result, how we under-
stand repressive activity of the Panthers is changed in many ways. For exam-
ple, during this time, there are essentially no BPP events and when police
repression occurs there are either: (1) no previous events, (2) no prior events
but events on the same day (prompting action), (3) prior police actions, or

7 Revealing the concentrated efforts of this state institution, six take place before January 17,
1969, and four occur between March 13, 1970, and September 11, 1971.

Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

(4) prior activity undertaken by the court. These diverse possibilities

are provided largely in chronological order. Thus, out of the thirteen
repression-days of this phase, one involves a shooting prior to police action
(September 11, 1971), and three involve shootings on the same day but prior
to police activity (June 16, 1969; December 8, 1969; and September 10,
1971). In contrast, nine out of the thirteen days of repression follow either
the police (between August 19, 1969, and December 8, 1969), the court
(between January 13, 1970, and September 10, 1971), or both (September
11, 1971). This represents a change from the earlier period because within
the earlier time most of these activities were taking place at the same time
(e.g., there would be court activity as well as dissent like that on November
13, 21, 28, and 30, 1968).
What is interesting about this second phase is the signicant amount
of government follow-up to police activity that takes place especially
between April 28 and December 8, 1969. During the seven repression-days
of interest here, all but one involves some form of repressive activity in
the following two weeks: three involve police action (August 17 and 19,
1969, and December 3, 1969); ve involve court action (April 28 1969;
August 17, 19, and 20, 1969; and, December 8, 1969). Comparatively, little
Panther activity occurs at this point, again conveying that the BPP was
largely nonresponsive. Indeed, there is only one dissident action following
repression during this time on April 28, 1969. There is also only one
shooting (on December 3, 1969).
This pattern of coverage is important because it reveals a change in the
way that police repression is understood. At the beginning of the cata-
log, the police responded to threatening behavior (protests and shootings
involving the Panthers and police) and prior repressive action (the previous
behavior of the police and the court). There was also extensive follow-up
by the government subsequent police and court action to continue/nish
what had taken place earlier (e.g., serving warrants, harassing Panthers,
arresting those suspected/guilty of criminal activity, and holding hearings).
By the middle of the catalog (in the second phase), however, NYT cov-
erage references earlier behavioral threats, but they do not identify any
contemporaneous activity. Even later in the catalog, no Panther behavior
was referenced at all, and what one is left with is a very simple explanation
for continued repressive action: bureaucratic inertia (i.e., prior repression).
Thus far, this discussion has ignored the importance of specic sequences
across the event catalog (i.e., the order with which different events were
identied and what that tells us about a conict). Rather, I have highlighted

general patterns in the catalog over relatively long periods of time. I turn
to a sequential analysis next.
Observing the data, we see that Times coverage of the BPPU.S. govern-
ment interaction began on May 2, 1967, with the state assembly protest and
the subsequent arrest8 of twenty-six Panthers four blocks from the capitol.
It was reported that a hearing to evaluate the accused quickly followed the
arrests. Following this, there was a delay of several months before anything
happened but what follows were among the most well-known events of the
For example, the next police action taken against the Panthers reported in
the NYT concerned the October 28, 1967, shooting involving Newton and
Frey, which was discussed earlier. What followed this event in the Times
account, however, is quite telling about the paper as well as its coverage
of repression and dissent. In the aftermath of the shooting, Newton was
immediately arrested for the murder of Ofcer Frey (on the same day) and
was, weeks later, put on trial for his part in what took place. In a sense, this
becomes a basic storyline of the Panthers in the Times especially in the
beginning of the period under investigation: the BPP do something with or
without the police being present, and they end up getting arrested and/or
going to court for it. In turn, these initial responses lead to additional court
and police behavior as the earlier activities are followed up; respectively,
six out of six event-days (September 10, November 8, 13, 21, 28, and 30 of
1968) and four out of six event-days (November 8, 13, 21 and 28 of 1968).
A separate and eventually more important storyline also emerges, shortly
after the rst. Here, authorities (i.e., the police and court) are engaged in
something against the Panthers and this prompts subsequent police activ-
ity. Indeed, between September 10, 1968, and January 2, 1969, all police
repression was preceded by prior court action and the majority (four out of
the seven event-days) involved prior police activity. By comparison, during
this period, only two event-days involved previous shootings (November 11
and 28, 1968) and two involved prior dissident behavior (November 28 and
30, 1968).
Similar to the start of the NewtonFrey incident, the shooting on April 7,
1968, began when the Oakland police stopped their cars to approach three
parked automobiles on 28th Street in West Oakland. After the initial
exchange of gunre, several BPP members (Lil Bobby Hutton,9 Eldridge

8 This is denoted by the row itself in the table.

9 He was one of the youngest and earliest members of the organization.

Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

Cleaver, Warren Wells, and others) ran to a nearby house that was later
surrounded by the police. During the subsequent standoff, the Panthers
were asked to surrender, tear gas was used, three BPP members emerged,
and all were shot with one dying at the scene (Lil Bobby Hutton).
Following this event, six blacks were arrested two Panthers and four oth-
ers. Not all however were taken to jail. As Cleaver was on parole, after
receiving treatment in Vacaville medical facility (sixty miles away so as to
avoid repercussions in the Negro district), he was immediately sent to
San Quentin.10
Coverage of the trials during this period was particularly noteworthy for
these were some of the most contentious in Californian and perhaps U.S.
history. For example, during one of Newtons many trials, which started
on July 7, 1968, Judge Monroe Friedman attempted to referee the bat-
tle between Newton, his lawyer (Charles Garry), and the state, as well as
cope with the activities of different individuals in the courtroom. Outside
of the legal proceedings (on the steps of the court), in what would come to
be known as the Free Huey campaign, ever-larger crowds showed up to
protest the treatment of the dissident leader and the perceived illegitimacy
of the criminal justice system. Indeed, the demonstrations accompanying
the trial were likely the most well-known protest activities associated with
the BPP (outside of the Sacramento event). Additionally, they were proba-
bly the largest as well as most visible throughout the United States and the
world.11 It thus makes sense that the Times covered them.
Directly in line with Rashomon, the importance of understanding event
coverage becomes relevant because it was during this sustained coverage
of the court that the NYT gave a byline to an individual reporter (Wallace

10 Cleaver was released on June 12, 1968, when Solano County Superior Court Judge Ray-
mond Sherwin stated that the government had produced not enough evidence for an indict-
11 At the end of the trial (on September 8, 1968), Newton was convicted of voluntary
manslaughter. Neither the Panthers nor the police were pleased with the outcome and
the Times picked up on this immediately. The BPP quickly moved to start a petition drive
in Oakland to allow Newton to post bail (NYT, September 9, 1968), and on Fillmore Street
in San Francisco the Panthers gathered en masse to discuss the potential war that would
be waged if justice were not served, that is, if Newton were not set free (NYT, September 9,
1968). The police at least some of them also moved quickly. Upon hearing that Newton
was not convicted of murder, the Times identies that two on-duty policemen, dissatised
with the outcome, drove by the 4221 Grove Street BPP ofce in Oakland and opened re.
No one was injured, and the two were promptly arrested, imprisoned, and removed from
the force. Regardless of the outcome, the message from the story was clear: the use of state
power against the Panthers was acceptable but only within specic boundaries.


Turner), rather than rely on the wire services (UPI and AP), a clear indica-
tion of a newspapers commitment to a story. Only after the BPPauthority
interaction moved into the stable environment of the courtroom, did the
New York Times send its own observer/reporter, who could then provide
detailed coverage of the conict and the participants. The density of prior as
well as subsequent court behavior identied during this period is especially
Although limited in number, the type of Panther activity of the time is
also important. Indeed, what is particularly interesting about the coverage
of BPP behavior is that all dissident action identied in the catalog involved
Panther responses to prior repressive behavior directed against them (e.g.,
the harassment of a BPP member, an arrest, or some trial).
The implications of this practice are far-reaching. Although Panther dis-
sent was covered in the New York Times albeit in a limited fashion the
focus was still invariably on authorities. As such, any state coercion that
responded to dissent was presented as being against those efforts that had
explicitly threatened the government in general and the repressive appara-
tus in particular (i.e., police and courts). Interestingly, this coverage of the
conict leads to an interesting interpretation. For example, Times coverage
of Panther-related conict actually implicates the U.S. government twice
in the repression of the BPP: rst, by covering state coercion against the
dissident organization and, second, by covering the repression of protest
that was a response to the initial application of repressive behavior. Both
the dissent directed against existing political institutions and the efforts to
defend them highlight a very specic aspect of the BPPauthority interac-
The general discussion in this section so far reveals some important
insights into media coverage of contentious politics and the importance of
perspective. While there are elements of behavioral challenge worthy of
discussion, the Times coverage of and hence explanation for police repres-
sion was largely based on bureaucratic inertia (i.e., prior government activ-
ity). Police repressive agents may have initiated their repressive behavior
because of Panther behavior, but it was authorities following the behavioral
challenge that sustained the use of relevant activity. We can make sense of
this quite easily. Challengers are pursued and put into and processed in the
criminal justice system; this sends a signal to ofcers on the street to closely
monitor and sanction Panthers, which results in even greater numbers of
raids, arrests, and subsequent legal proceedings. Repression simply begets
more repression.
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

Such coverage is clearly consistent with Rashomon as it communicates

to readers of the Times that this authority-oriented source portrayed the
conict as something that government agents were very much on top of.
This account is most favorable to the position of the authorities and sup-
portive of the image that they likely wished to convey to others. Indeed,
when reading the paper, there is very little about the Panthers in the NYT
coverage of the BPPauthority struggle. After their earlier challenges to
the status quo, the Panthers largely are reduced to a bit player in the con-
frontation. All that is left are the police and the court, nishing what was
started earlier.

Oakland Tribune
In many respects, the coverage of police repression directed against the
Black Panthers in the Tribune was similar to that provided by the Times.
Again, we see an early period of behavioral threat and repressive activity
(between October 28, 1967, and January 24, 1969). Later (after January 24,
1969), repressive behavior was covered more or less exclusively. At this
point, little reference is made to anything done by the Panthers, and almost
all coverage is given to authorities.
Despite the similarities across the two newspapers, however, coverage
was not identical. With fty-nine events of police repression identied
across forty-four days, there were clearly more events reported in the
Tribune than in The New York Times. This supports Hypothesis 1 about
the importance of proximity for event coverage.
The content of the two phases is somewhat altered. For example, during
the rst phase (between May 2, 1967, and January 24, 1968), after early dissi-
dent behavior prompted police repression, subsequent repressive responses
were largely focused on violent exchanges between authorities and dissi-
dents (supporting Hypothesis 10). In sixteen out of the rst twenty-four
repression-days (i.e., the number of days within this period of coverage),
shootings were identied either right before (eight) or on the same day
but preceding police action (eight). On one repression-day (November 19,
1968), there was both a shooting before as well as on the same day.
Dissent is similarly concentrated temporally. Out of the rst twenty-four
repression-days, sixteen involved dissent: nine immediately precede police
action, four occur on the same day, and two take place both before as well
as on the same day. Signicantly different from the Times is the type of
BPP dissident activity that is covered. Recall that in the NYT all dissident

behavior concerned the government (i.e., it was directed against and/or

responding to political authorities). In contrast, the Oakland Tribune iden-
tied this type of behavior but also nonstate behavior (i.e., those activities
that did not focus exclusively on government targets such as supermarkets
and local businessmen). Indeed, out of the rst twenty-four repression-
days, there are ve days of government-oriented dissident action preceding
police behavior and ve days of non-government-oriented events.
Revealing the importance of bureaucratic inertia, attention given to the
authorities is directly comparable to that identied with the Times. For
example, out of the rst twenty-four days of reported police coercive behav-
ior, fteen followed prior police activity. Equally as important are the events
involving the court. Out of the rst twenty-four days of police repression,
fourteen followed actions undertaken by this government actor. Interest-
ingly, these events are not concentrated temporally but are distributed
throughout the earlier period. In addition, four days of court repression
took place on the same day as police action (April 12, 1968; August 21,
1968; December 1, 1968; and January 17, 1969). Cues from the court to
the police were thus signicant in the Tribune (supporting Hypothesis 17).
Different from the Times, the Panthers are slightly more responsive to
police repression within this source. Following police action, there are nine
days of subsequent BPP dissident action. Again, differentiating the Tribune
from the Times is the fact that there is also greater variety in the type
of Panther activity that is covered. Here, we nd that out of the twenty-
four repression days, two involve government-oriented behavior, whereas
seven involve non-government-oriented activity. While responsive, there-
fore, the Panthers engaged in behavior not directly linked to their interest
with persecution by the government.
Albeit important, the BPP backlash after police repression pales in com-
parison to the activities of the authorities. For example, out of the twenty-
four repression-days of the rst phase, fteen led to additional police behav-
ior. Even more important is the court. Here, we nd that out of twenty-four
repression days, subsequent court action is reported in twenty (this supports
Hypothesis 16).
The second phase of coverage (after January 24, 1969, to the end of
the catalog) partially mirrors that of the Times. Here, police repression is
largely responsive to cues from the court. During this period, thirteen out
of twenty repression-days (the number of days with reported events in this
phase) were preceded by court activity. Over the same time period, seven
out of eighteen repression-days were preceded by prior police activity (i.e.,
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

August 19 and 20, 1969; December 1, 3, 8, and 19, 1969; and April 21, 1970),
three preceded by prior Panther activity (i.e., July 25, 1969, November 27,
1969, and August 11, 1971) and two with dissent taking place on the same
day (August 20, 1969, and July 14, 1971).
These are not the only differences. Again, mirroring the Times, BPP
rebelliousness is largely absent as seven repression-days were followed by
dissident activity: April 28, 1969; August 18, 19, and 20, 1969; April 17
and 21, 1970; and, May 26, 1971. Additionally, there are reported shoot-
ings following police action on November 27, 1969, as well as December 1
and 3, 1969. This is important. For all intents and purposes, the Panthers
are engaged in little activity, and they are able to mount some response to
the coercive behavior of the state but nothing proportional to the num-
ber of activities being directed against them. This supports Hypothesis 4
regarding the imbalance expected within an authority-oriented source to
repressive action over dissent as well as Hypothesis 23 that an authority-
oriented source would diminish coverage of behavioral challenges.
As both the Times and the Tribune were state-oriented newspapers, the
similarities in coverage identied here are not surprising. The differences
between these two sources are therefore important for they tell us a great
deal about how newspapers with similar orientation but different physical
proximities differ in coverage. To understand this even better, I take an
even closer look at Tribune coverage.
Similar to NYT reporting, the activities identied in the Tribune reveal
a progression from street to court battles but in much greater detail. In
the more mainstream newspaper, the rst repressive action undertaken by
the police was reported on May 2, 1967, in direct response to the assembly
incident (discussed earlier). Interestingly and differently from the Times,
however, the Tribune identies that the Panthers had engaged in dissident
behavior before that time. This further details the context within which
repression takes place and identies that the authorities were responding to
an already established threat to public order. Specically, between April 24
and 28, it is reported that the BPP and members of the black commu-
nity protested outside the Martinez courtroom. This event concerned the
investigation into a North Richmond police shooting of a young black
male, Denzil Dowell. During this activity, the BPP raised many questions
about the behavior of the police in particular and policeAfrican Ameri-
can interactions in general. On April 29, the Panthers and diverse mem-
bers of the black community held a meeting in Northern Richmond, again
discussing/criticizing police brutality.

By the time of the Sacramento incident, therefore, the more proximate

authority-oriented source had already identied a behavioral threat of some
note (supporting Hypothesis 2 about increased attentiveness determined by
political orientation as well as Hypothesis 6 that authority-oriented sources
attribute the beginning of conict to challengers). In this newspaper, the
Panthers were more signicant than had been conveyed by the single event
at the capitol discussed in the Times, and the reporters revealed that the
BPP had not come out of nowhere. The Tribune newspaper also identied a
longer period of state response to the state assembly action, as it identied
an arrest related to this case that occurred several weeks later (on May 22
at 881 47th Avenue, Panther Headquarters).
The postcapitol repressive response was not isolated. Consistently, I nd
that there were not only more statedissident confrontations in the Tribune
than the Times but also more extensive state responses as well (supporting
Hypothesis 20 regarding the magnitude of the authoritys response to dis-
sent found within an authority-oriented newspaper). For example, after the
NewtonFrey shooting on October 28, 1967, the police searched through-
out the city for the next few days trying locate Newtons then unidentied
passenger and to collect any information on Newton that might be of some
use in prosecuting the case. During this period, police even arrested two
Panthers visiting Newton on October 28 at 11 P.M. in Highland Hospital:
one for being drunk and another for resisting arrest. While important in
itself, the coverage of this event is particularly signicant because it revealed
that the Tribune journalists were already attentive to and, in this case, sta-
tioned at the hospital covering the Newton arrest, ignoring other activities
taking place elsewhere.
Further different from The New York Times account of the conict, but
largely reective of the authority-oriented nature of the newspaper and
the proximity to relevant events, was the Tribunes extensive coverage of
details regarding the court proceedings. For example, during a Newton
arraignment on November 27, 1967, sixty members of the BPP stood in
court and raised their sts when the Panther leader entered the room.
In response, the presiding judge (Redmond Staats) cleared the courtroom
and sent Newton back to his cell st raised deantly on his departure.
Something like this also happened on November 16. The brief example
reveals part of the process that was involved, the great ritual in which power
was eclipsed and then restored as Foucault would argue. As a way to further
develop this narrative, extensive coverage was given to rulings made on
behalf of the court (e.g., the granting of a continuance on January 10, 1968,
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

and the denial of dismissal on January 26, 1968). Additionally, coverage

was also given to motions led in Newtons trial on behalf of the Panthers
(e.g., for postponement on January 10,1968; for discussing indictments on
January 26, 1968; and, for questioning jury selection on February 6, 1968).
For another example, consider the two weeks leading up to the arrests
of Panthers on November 19, 1968. On the eighth of November, there
was a court case involving some unnamed Panthers in Alameda Superior
Court. The same day, Charles Garry (the BPP attorney) attempted to le a
motion to get indictments thrown out of court, which was quickly denied.12
On the thirteenth of November (ve days before the arrest of interest),
there was a trafc stop on Parker Street in Berkeley of numerous Panthers
including Reginald Forte. This interaction led to a shootout, which in turn
led to these same BPP members being arrested for attempted murder. On
the fourteenth, another Panther trial was underway (again of an unnamed
member) this time at the Alameda County Court. On the nineteenth,
there was another shooting in San Francisco between Panthers and the
police on Seventh Street, once more, involving a trafc stop that became
violent. The event results in the arrest of numerous Panthers.
This is not where conict ends. During the two-week period after this
event, several others were reported in the Tribune: an arraignment of several
Panthers from a March assault charge incurred on the twentieth of Novem-
ber, a trial for some unnamed BPP member on the twenty-fth (the offense
is also not reported), the denial of another Garry motion on the same day
(this one involving Newton at the State Court in San Francisco), and a pre-
liminary hearing for Forte and the others regarding their attempted murder
change (reported previously). On November 27 (eight days after the arrest
of interest), a search was undertaken of numerous Panther homes in the Bay
Area as police tried to locate Eldridge Cleaver and on December 1, 1968,
BPP member George Murray was arrested in San Francisco for disturbing
the peace. The rst of December also involved two more events: a trial
at the Alameda Superior Court and the denial of yet another motion from
Garry by Judge Staats.
While the intricacies of the court proceedings lled the pages of the
Tribune with little attention to actions undertaken by the police, coverage
was also given to the Black Panthers Free Huey protest campaign that
took place outside the court (e.g., on January 10, 1968 [with four hundred
people], February 2, 1968 outside the Alameda County Court [with one

12 The trial and the ruling count as two distinct court-related repressive events.


hundred people], January 10, 1968, at Washington School in Berkeley [with

three hundred], January 26, 1968 at Sproul Hall at UC Berkeley [with one
hundred] and on February 17, 1968 at the Oakland auditorium [with ve
thousand]). Coverage was again similar to that of the Times; most dissident
activity covered by the newspaper was given to Panther behavior that dealt
with state repression taking place earlier or at the same time. Because of this
focus, however, one comes away from reading the Tribune with a somewhat
narrow understanding of BPP dissent because the coverage suggested that
most of the activities concerned repressive action.
Of course, to some extent this is in line with what the Panthers said
themselves. As discussed earlier (Newton 1996; Singh 1998), a major part
of the BPP agenda was concerned with state coercive power and how it was
employed against blacks in general as well as the Panthers in particular.
This is one of the reasons why they were so threatening to the government:
they questioned the states monopoly of repression and its freedom to use
such behavior as they wished.
Now, differing from the Times, non-government-oriented dissident
activity was not completely absent from the Tribune. For example, on July 6,
1967, there was coverage of a rally to change the curriculum at Merritt Col-
lege and on December 1, 1968, there was a rally for BPP Charles Murray
to support his employment at San Francisco State College. Such instances,
albeit rare, reveal that the Panthers were not exclusively concerned with
countering government repression and that they had a wide variety of tar-
gets for their political challenge.
Following January 1969, there is a rather large shift in coverage. After
this time, there is very little that is done by the Panthers, except as a response
to what is done to them. Additionally, most of the events covered take place
in court.
For example, focusing on the two-week period leading to an arrest on
June 24, 1969, the dynamics of this period are relatively straightforward.
Beginning on the twelfth of June, the Tribune reported that the BPP was in
the Alameda Superior Court. The case concerned Forte and the others and
continued on the seventeenth. On the same day, the BPP members were
found guilty. On the nineteenth, a different trial with Bobby Seale was
underway at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. During this time,
Judge Agee denied a motion proposed by the Panthers. Yet another trial
was covered on the twenty-third of June at the Alameda Superior Court.
This time BPP member Wells and several others were involved. Here, after
a motion from the BPP, Judge Cook immediately proceeded to deny it.
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

In this context, it makes sense that the arrest noted on June 24 was for
contempt of court within the U.S. District Court of San Francisco. It also
makes sense that on the same day, there were several other court-related
activities. For example, in San Francisco there was coverage of a grand jury
asking questions of different Panthers. There was coverage of a trial in the
U.S. District Court as well as a ruling and denial of motion that prompted
the disruption, which led to the arrest noted previously. As if that was not
enough, there was also coverage of a trial at the California Superior Court
where a BPP writ was denied by the court. Thus not only had the Panther
authority conict become one largely found in the courts, but it was also
one that they were losing rather resoundingly.
The preceding example very well captures the dynamics of the post-1969
phase of Tribune coverage. Indeed, the only difference from the events
just discussed would be the occasional involvement of the police or the
For example, on November 27, 1969, there was an arrest of David
Hilliard on the 5200 block of Shattuck in Oakland. In the two-week period
prior to this event, there was a BPP rally at Defremery Park in West Oakland
on November 12 to generally voice grievances about the state of America in
general as well as the treatment of the Panthers in particular. On November
15, there was a demonstration led by Hilliard at Golden Gate Park in San
Francisco. Here, the Vietnam War was denounced and President Nixons
life was threatened. Mayor Joseph Alioto as well as Governor Ronald Rea-
gan subsequently attacked these comments. The comments also resulted in
Hilliards arrest several weeks later, which was the event discussed earlier.13
Addressing an earlier offense (June 27), on November 19 Bobby Seale was
also in Oakland municipal court.
In the two-week period following the Hilliard arrest, there were (again) a
large number of events. For example, on December 1, the Tribune reported
that there was an investigation into loud radio playing, resulting in three
arrests and two raids. On December 3, Hilliard was quite busy. On this
day, he was indicted in a federal grand jury as well as denied a motion while
being arraigned in U.S. District Court. Seemingly once a BPP leader was
in the criminal justice system, the Tribune followed them every step of the
way. Of course, Hilliard was not alone. On December 5, two other trials

13 In the current context of the war against terror and signicant restrictions on American
civil liberties, it is intriguing that it takes this long for someone who threatens the life of
the United States President to be arrested.


were taking place at the Alameda Superior Court with unnamed Panther
From the examination of this catalog, it is clear that the coverage of
conict in the Tribune is generally in line with my Rashomon argument.
The authorities generally appear to vanquish the Panthers after a battle of
declining frequency and severity. Rather than the complete disappearance
of the BPP, however (in the pages of the Times), in this case the Panthers
largely become enveloped within the jaws of the U.S. criminal justice sys-
tem. Once more, the account is favorable to the position of authorities
albeit a somewhat more complex story than within the more distant source.
Once again, state power is eclipsed but returns triumphant.

Sun Reporter
When we move to contentious BPPauthority interactions in the more
proximate, moderate, black newspaper, certain elements of the white, main-
stream story identied earlier are shared. This said, there are also some
important differences that reect well on the Rashomon argument. For
example, similar to the Times, few days with police repression were identi-
ed (thirty-ve in total); this is consistent with the mainstream. At the same
time, the reported events extend for a longer period of time. Additionally,
again in line with the mainstream, there are two phases to conict cover-
age. Within the rst phase (between May 2, 1967, and January 31, 1969),
the conict is quite heated with both political dissent and prior repression
playing a role. Within the second phase (from February 25, 1969, to the
end of the catalog in April 16, 1973), the level of conict (i.e., the number
of reported contentious events) diminishes. What is different here from the
white mainstream is that there is still support for the distinct theoretical
explanations. Indeed, for most of the catalog, there is still something of a
two-sided battle underway. This supports Hypothesis 3 regarding the less
skewed reporting of moderate newspapers and signicantly deviating from
the route covered in the sources discussed earlier.
Similar to both mainstream presses, shootings and dissent were deemed
important. Of the rst eighteen days of reported police repression (phase
one), seven involved shootings (three immediately before coercive action,
three on the same day, and one before as well as on the same day). In the
rst phase, eight involved dissent (ve occur immediately before, two on
the same day, and one where there was an event both before as well as on
the same day). Regarding the type of activity covered, almost all dissident
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

behavior was government-oriented. Of the two exceptions, one concerned

a rally for the slain BPP member Bobby Hutton on March 30, 1968, at Lake
Merritt in Oakland.14 The other concerned a strike at San Francisco State in
which the Panthers participated because of BPP member George Murrays
suspension from the institution on November 23, 1968. In contrast, out
of the rst eighteen days of police repression, six involved prior police
action and six involved prior court behavior. At least during the rst phase
of coverage, therefore, the relative balance of importance was comparable
across explanations.
Slightly different from the Times but similar to the Tribune is the degree
of resistance shown by the Panthers. In four out of the rst eighteen
repression-days identied, the BPP engaged in dissident activity follow-
ing repressive behavior. Shootings after arrests occurred on two occasions.
Again, far more frequent were the actions of political authorities. For exam-
ple, out of the rst eighteen repression-days, seven involved subsequent
police activity and ten involved later actions by the court.
The numbers here are signicant in that approximately two-thirds of
the police repression days had no precipitating events. Essentially, in this
case it is not clear why repressive events took place.
In the second phase of coverage, the basic story changes in important
ways to a position less in line with the more conventional newspapers dis-
cussed earlier. As in the other sources, the sheer number of events is sig-
nicantly reduced, especially those that took place prior to arrests. Of the
next eighteen repression days (all events in phase two), eight have only one
event that is reported prior to the police action in question. No events
were reported on the same day as police repression. In the Sun Reporter,
there was a relatively equal balance of precipitating factors. For instance,
four involved dissident behavior, two involved shooting, and ve involved
police action. This is dramatically different from what was reported in the
more mainstream presses. At the same time, we must acknowledge that the
number is relatively small and that police repression in this source is not
particularly well accounted for.
The period after police repression looks different from the rst phase
yet another difference from the white mainstream. In the rst phase,
although there were dissident events (four) and shootings (two) reported
on days with repression, the bulk of events after political repression were

14 This obviously involved the police for they are the ones that shot Hutton, but it was more
a time for the community to grieve, get information, and share.


other repressive events. For example, there were seven repression-days with
subsequent police action and eight repression-days with actions undertaken
by the court. Within the second phase, however, this changes. During the
relevant period, there were three repression-days with subsequent police
repression and six with court action. More importantly, there were seven
repression-days with subsequent dissident behavior and, again, two shoot-
ings. In brief, the Sun coverage suggests that police repression prompted
Panther militancy albeit a relatively small amount. Equally as interesting
was the fact that there is greater variation in the type of events covered.
As reported, three of the repression-days involved dissident acts that were
non-government-related, whereas four were government-related.
Moving from the summary investigation offered earlier to a more
detailed analysis of the event catalog, one can further understand how the
black moderate paper both followed and deviated from the white main-
Viewing the catalog, again, the conict begins with the Sacramento state
assembly protest, the arrest of the participants a few blocks from the event,
and the subsequent arrests of Newton, James Tucker, and Truman Harris
on May 22 at BPP headquarters in Oakland. In this respect, the cover-
age is similar to the white mainstream although an important difference
concerns the identication of non-BPP leadership caught in the dragnet.
Following the police action, revealing a degree of militancy that is not found
in the other newspapers, the Sun Reporter also reports that the BPP did not
take this repression without resistance. For example, immediately after the
May 22 arrest, several Panthers went to the Oakland Hall of Justice to
protest the activity taken against their comrades. Clearly, this did not work
out as expected. Unlike their colleagues at the state assembly, the police
were not caught off guard and the BPP members were arrested on the spot
for entering the building with shotguns. Equally as important, the next day
this arrest was responded to with a protest as well.
These are not isolated instances. In the second week of February 1968,
Judge Staats in the Alameda County Court had convened a meeting to
set a date for Newtons upcoming murder trial. Several days later (Febru-
ary 16), there was a rally to raise money for Newtons defense fund and
to elucidate the cause of black militancy. Approximately six thousand
individuals attended this event: including Bobby Seale, Stokely Carmichael
(honorary prime minister of the BPP), H. Rap Brown (honorary ofcer of
the BPP), and James Forman (leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordi-
nating Committee). On February 24 and 25, about ten to twenty Panthers
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

were arrested on various charges in a predawn raid. The events in both cases
involved some of the most high-prole individuals in the Panther organi-
zation: Bobby and Artie Seale (Bobbys wife), Arthur Coltrale, Alprentice
Bunchy Carter, David Hilliard, and Audrey Hudson. Accordingly, this
signaled a major effort to cripple the BPP leadership. On the heels of these
activities, the Panthers held a rally outside Berkeley municipal court to
address the blatant harassment of BPP members and the attempt to drain
the funds from Newtons defense. This event was attended by about 150
Similar to the more mainstream sources, the Sun Reporter covered the
NewtonFrey indictment of October 28, 1967, quite thoroughly: the trafc
stop, the shootout, the arrests, and the arraignment of Newton by Judge
Stafford Buckley are all there. Differing from the other sources, however,
coverage continued to be expanded in the Sun Reporter because, in addition
to these activities, attention was also given to the harassment of Newton
by police ofcers while in custody at the hospital on October 29 (e.g., his
beating while handcuffed and being subject to racist name-calling). On
November 13, coverage of these activities continued with the denial of
the pretrial motion for postponing the plea so that the other members of
Newtons legal defense team could be present (this is associated with the
post-event activity of October 30).
Again, coverage reveals that Newtons arrest and the subsequent legal
battle initiated the Free Huey campaign with diverse fundraising efforts
(January 6, 1968) and protests accompanying the court proceedings (e.g.,
later the same week that the fundraising effort took place, February 3, 1968
[which was attended by more than two hundred people] and February 16,
1968, at Oakland auditorium [with six thousand attendees]).
Different from the other sources, however, was the coverage of police
efforts to thwart these and other BPP efforts undertaken by diverse mem-
bers of the organization. For example, on January 16, 1968, there was a
predawn raid of Eldridge and Kathleen Cleavers home (respectively, the
Panthers minister of information and the rst female member of the cen-
tral governing committee), and on February 24, 1968, eight Panthers at
BPP headquarters in Oakland were arrested on various charges. Further
differing from the Tribunes account, there was also a report of an arrest
on the morning of February 24 of an unidentied BPP member who was
charged with resisting arrest. This type of coverage was common in the Sun;
at almost every turn, repressive behavior was portrayed as being diffusely
targeted against the Panthers at all levels of the organization.

What is particularly noteworthy about the events of February 24 is that

this was the rst time we see a Panther member with a byline in a news source
(in this case Kathleen Cleaver). In neither of the mainstream sources does
one ever see an article written by a BPP member, and rarely were members
interviewed or even quoted. This identies a high degree of interest in the
events in question, as well as access and deference to the BPP exactly what
I expected from a black newspaper (even one only moderately interested in
radical politics and activism).
On November 19, 1968, after eight BPP members were arrested for
suspected robbery as well as three counts of assault with intent to com-
mit murder, San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto demanded that a grand
jury investigate the Black Panthers, and trustees at San Francisco State sus-
pended BPP member George Murray. The BPP quickly called for a strike
of the college. This was a signicant move because it allowed the Pan-
thers to engage in some form of contentious behavior, but one that did not
carry the stigma or provocation associated with behavior that more directly
targeted state repressive organizations.
Following the shift in coverage after January 1969, there were many
aspects of conict coverage that changed. For example, police repression
was generally preceded by a single event instead of a series. On February 28,
1969, George Murray was arrested for violating probation. This event was
right after Bobby Seales home had been raided, and he had been arrested,
suspected in some plot against the government. Although prior police action
was the precipitating event reported most frequently in the Sun at the time,
there was also some attention given to shootings and dissent as an aftereffect
of repressive behavior. For example, after the arrest of Bobby Seale, his
wife, and the others on February 25, 1969, and the incarceration of George
Murray after violating probation on February 29, 1969, the Panthers once
again stepped into action, immediately holding a rally to discuss the diverse
problems confronting the BPP in general and the difculties confronted by
the organization with regard to the criminal justice system in particular.
Close examination of the Sun is quite important. Indeed, this source
more than any other thus far shows the difculty of simply looking at a
dissident event following a repressive event (as currently practiced in the
literature) without carefully noting what the challenging event is about and
what the repressive event targeted. For example, on April 28, 1969, police
shot two gas canisters into BPP headquarters in San Francisco in an effort
to locate and arrest Panther member Cleveland Brooks (on some unspec-
ied charge). Although the police did not nd Brooks, they took several
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

members for questioning and then released them, standard practice as

reported within the Sun. This event was quickly followed by a demon-
stration (which eight thousand attended) in support of Newton outside
the Federal building at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco. What
is important about this sequence of events is that the Newton event had
been planned well in advance of the search and harassment. It did not
respond to what the police had done against the BPP on April 28. A sim-
ilar arrest of Mrs. Charles Bursey for refusing to answer questions in front
of a grand jury on September 17, 1970, preceded another prearranged rally
on behalf of the Soledad Brothers (George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo, and
John Clutchette accused of killing a prison guard) held at Bobby Hutton
Memorial Park at 18th and Adeline in Oakland. Again, if one simply noted
the sequence of events, it would appear that the Panthers were responding
to police activity indeed, this is how scholars of the Conict-Repression
Nexus have been investigating the topic for the last forty years. Clearly the
organization was not responding, however.
Why do I only note this issue here? The detection of this disjuncture
is almost impossible to identify within more mainstream sources because
the connection between subsequent BPP activity and earlier repression was
less clear due to a lack of detail provided within these newspapers.
These ndings are very telling about what the Sun Reporter focused on
and how it viewed conict between the Panthers and the authorities. The
disconnect between police and dissident behavior reveals that over time
the Panthers had become less responsive to one form of repression (police
action, which was far more volatile) but more responsive to another (court
action, which was more stable and institutionalized at specic times and
places). While conventional in its earlier coverage of the BPPauthority
interaction by the end of the period under examination, the black mod-
erate newspaper provided a very distinctive take on what took place. This
difference is magnied further in the remaining sources.

Berkeley Barb
When we turn to the white, radical press, in some ways coverage of police
repression mirrors those patterns found in the other newspapers. This said,
in most ways conict coverage was very different. For example, within this
source, there is no precipitating decrease in the number of events over time
as in the Times, Tribune, and Sun. Rather, there is a certain degree of stability
in coverage. Additionally, there is no dramatic shift in the type of events

that are reported as observed in the white mainstream. Here, again, one
sees greater stability.
Across the conventional break in time (after January 1969), one can see
that there is essentially no difference. For example, prior to 1969, there
are seventeen repression-days. Over this period, there are nine days with
dissent, prior to police repression. Consistent with earlier characteriza-
tions, which emphasized initial BPP behavioral challenges, this supports
Hypotheses 10 and 11 where violent as well as nonviolent threats prompt
repression but refutes Hypothesis 21 where it was expected that a dissident-
oriented source would attribute the beginning of the conict to authorities.
This type of activity differs from the mainstream because in this case four
days involve government-oriented activity, whereas ve days involve non-
government-oriented behavior. Further differing from these sources, the
Barb only identied one shooting taking place prior to police repression
(on October 31, 1967). More conventional was their characterization of
previous police and court activity, each of which was reported on six days
On the day of police repression, the message is consistent with all of the
sources thus far examined. During this period, the Barb reports that the
Panthers were engaged in some contention. Out of the rst seventeen
repression-days, there were two days with government-oriented dissident
activity and four shootings. Less important, there was only one day when
courts were active.
Also pretty standard in the rst phase is the period after police repres-
sion. Again, we see that repressive behavior occasionally begets later police
repression. Out of the seventeen repression-days, six involve subsequent
activity. Even more important, however, nine involve subsequent court
action. Signicantly differing from the mainstream sources, however, there
was a higher degree of BPP militancy identied in the Barb. Here, we nd
that eleven out of seventeen repression-days involved subsequent dissident
behavior. Of this number, eight involved government-oriented behavior
and three involved non-government-oriented activity. In this regard, the
coverage was quite conventional.
Within the second phase, the distribution of events seems more or less
comparable to the rst phase, which is different from the more main-
stream papers. For example, out of thirteen repression-days, seven involved
prior dissent: ve involved government-related behavior and four involved
non-government-related activity. What stands out from this coverage is
that even though the type of dissent identied is comparable to the more
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

mainstream sources, there were a larger number of dissident actions. Over

this period, there were also two repression-days with shootings that pre-
cede police action. As a consequence, the degree of Panther contentious
action seen during the second phase was quite signicant, and the BPP
did not substantively diminish their militancy. Interestingly, there was a
shift in reported government activity, again differing from the mainstream
newspapers. Although court activity was still somewhat commonly observed
(with ve days out of thirteen taking place before police repression), the
amount of prior police activity was signicantly diminished to two. Within
the Barb, we thus nd fewer instances where the previous actions of the
police prompted later activity.
Considering the day of police repression, the distribution of events gen-
erally looks like the mainstream and different from the Sun, which reported
no events. Specically, one nds three repression-days with dissent (both
government related) and two repression-days with shootings taking place
prior to but on the same day as police action. Of the different sources, this
was most comparable to the Times.
Following repressive behavior, there were also some important simi-
larities with the rst phase of coverage but some differences from the
other sources. First, Panther militancy was sustained. Out of the thir-
teen repression-days, seven involved subsequent dissident activity: four
government-related and four non-government-related (one day over-
lapped). Second, there were no shootings reported, differing from the Tri-
bune and the Sun. Third, regarding bureaucratic inertia, I nd somewhat
less government activity albeit varying across relevant government insti-
tutions. For example, out of the thirteen repression-days, two involved
subsequent police activity, but seven involved later court behavior.
Considering the catalog in detail, once again I nd that repressive cov-
erage began with the Sacramento protest and the state response to this
challenge. Similar to the Tribune, the Barb also mentioned dissident behav-
ior prior to the assembly incident: specically, a Berkeley rally seeking
support for the BPP and a call to end police violence against African Amer-
icans (May 2, 1967). Differing from the mainstream but similar to the Sun,
however, there was no mention of a legal follow-up to the arrest. Instead,
attention shifts to Panther activity. Specically, to another rally in Berkeley
addressing the recent arrests, the mistreatment of the BPP, and the need to
raise funds in order to support them (May 9, 1967). This very much sets the
tone of the Barb coverage: police repression and high degrees of Panther

There are two points worthy of note here.

First, within this source, police action was even more extensive in terms
of the diversity of Panthers that are targeted. For example, similar to the Sun
Reporter, on February 14, 1968, there was a Barb report of numerous BPP
members getting arrested in Oakland (Roland Reynolds, Charles Hearns,
Eddie Wright, and others). This comes on the heels of a rather large BPP
rally with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. A few days
after the arrest (on February 26), there were two other arrests in Oakland:
one of Seale for an unspecied charge and one of various Panthers for a
trafc violation. A week after this, there was yet another arrest of various
BPP members again, with an unspecied charge.15 Coverage of this same
period in the Tribune was similar, but the sheer amount of subsequent
repressive activity within both the court and police was lower.
Second, the relative degree of Panther militancy was greater than in any
source covered thus far. For example, in the two-week period after the event
identied previously, there were two different protests about what took
place: one in Berkeley (on February 26) and one outside of the municipal
court in Oakland (on March 4). This was consistent in the beginning of the
catalog. Thus, out of the rst seven repression-days, four involved dissent
before police action, two involved dissent on the same day, and ve involved
dissent after police repression. The government focus on much of this
dissent was also clear, especially in the beginning of the catalog. Of the rst
ve repression-days, most involved government.
What is perhaps most important about the Barbs coverage is the degree
to which the two previously identied storylines converge. For example, on
April 24, 1969, three thousand people participated in a Free Huey demon-
stration in front of the Federal building on Golden Gate Avenue. No one
was bothered by authorities at this event; however, four days later, on
April 28, in front of the BPP ofce in Fillmore, there was another rally
at which a truck broadcast information about an upcoming Newton bail
hearing where repression was identied. Initially the police were drawn to
the location because of the presence of the loudspeaker, which required a
permit. Once on sight, however, the police expanded their efforts to search
the local BPP ofce for an undisclosed purpose again, standard for the
time as reported in this source. After being told that they could not enter
without a warrant, a scufe broke out, and police entered, ring their guns as

15 Over the same two-week period following the arrest, there are six days when courts were
engaged in activity.

Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

well as tear gas. Several Panther members were arrested. Showing a degree
of contentiousness missing in the other sources, the Barb reported that in
direct response to this activity, BPP members and ordinary citizens from
the neighborhood lined the streets in front of the Panther ofce (in mili-
tary formation) to prevent additional repression. Although covering almost
every aspect of this sequence, the Tribune leaves out the last part of the
interaction, an omission that has a major impact on how one understands
the relationship between the dissidents and the authorities.
Clearly, not all BPPauthority standoffs ended as favorably for the Pan-
thers. For example, on June 15, 1969, the Barb identies that Panther mem-
bers and the black community in Sacramento came together at Brotherhood
Park (previously known as McClatchy Park) to have a little party. While
seemingly not challenging authorities in any direct manner, the event was
approached by the police, who moved toward the gathering (in military
formation). Individuals in the crowd immediately started throwing bottles
at the police who responded with verbal harassment, beatings, and numer-
ous arrests. This led several individuals to ee into the nearby BPP ofce.
Once this happened, the police opened re on the ofce and later raided
the facility. Although covered in the mainstream media, the illegal parking
of vehicles on the lawn noted in the white mainstream was not mentioned
here, again shifting albeit subtly the understanding of the interaction.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of conict coverage in the Berke-
ley Barb concerned non-government-oriented dissident activity. For exam-
ple, in an effort to assist the grape workers boycott of Safeway but also
to obtain support for their free breakfast program (continuing for several
weeks), it was reported by the Barb that the Panthers engaged in their own
boycott against the Safeway located at 27th and West Street in Oakland on
June 13, 1969. Conveniently, this was located across the street from the local
BPP ofce (likely facilitating coverage for the Barb reporters who may have
been positioned in or around the Panther chapter). The coverage of this
event was comparable to other actions. For example, Bill Boyettes liquor
store in Oakland was similarly targeted on July 10, 1971, for not supporting
the breakfast program and it was similar to a later picket of Cal-State Pack-
age Store and Tavern Owners Association, which was undertaken because
the association would not provide employment to the black community.
The coverage of conict events in the Barb was thus signicant not only
because it identied a high degree of state responsiveness to dissent but
also because it revealed a wider variety of dissident challenges presented by
the Panthers. The conventional threat-to-bureaucratic-inertia transition

identied in the other sources was therefore altered in the Barb, which
tended to highlight the continued importance of both factors. This is
directly in line with Rashomon argument outlined earlier.
The importance of my approach is also found within the politics of the
Barb itself. Recall that at some point in May 1969, the radical newspaper
underwent a major transformation. After extensive inghting following the
Peoples Park incident and reecting about the Barbs nancial dealings
with advertisers, much of the news staff left to start a rival newspaper,
the Berkeley Tribe. Immediately, the Tribe denounced the Barb for selling
out the revolution and catering to advertisers. In response, Max Scherr
(editor of the Barb) decided to out-radicalize the Tribe by covering the
most radical activities in the area. Did this inuence event coverage of the
BPPauthority confrontation?
Observing the catalog after May 1969, two things are immediately appar-
ent. First, the sheer number of events covered after the defection/argument
is signicantly lower than at any time before it. This makes sense because
it suggests that many individuals and organizations that would have ear-
lier provided information to the Barb, refrained from doing so after they
were denounced. There is thus less news coming in to the paper. Second,
of the events identied, most involved the behavior of the BPP. Indeed,
according to the Barb, this period is identied one of the largest spurts of
Panther activity (in relative terms). Understanding sources thus has impor-
tant implications for our understanding of events. This is even clearer in
the next source.

Black Panther Intercommunal News Service

To this point, we have seen that the coverage of the conict between the
BPP and diverse U.S. authorities as well as the general explanation about
why repression was used against the Black Panthers varied but in consis-
tent ways across event catalogs. These results reveal important differences
between distant as well as proximate authority-oriented sources, on the one
hand, and more proximate, black-moderate as well as white-radical news-
papers, on the other. Another major difference emerges, however, when we
consider the newspaper created by the BPP itself.
When considering the BPINS catalog, the most obvious difference
between this source and the Times, the Tribune, and to some extent the
Sun Reporter is that there is no abrupt phase-transition in coverage. Rather,
similar to what was revealed in the Barb, there is a sustained tit-for-tat battle
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

(a contentious back and forth) that is covered with either the authorities
or Panthers engaging in the most activity, both before and after police
repression. As a consequence, this source provides support for both the
bureaucratic inertia and the threat arguments.
Clearly, these are not supported at the same magnitude or at the same
time. For example, out of ninety-one repression-days, sixty-six involved
police events either before or after relevant events (roughly two-thirds)
and twenty-four involved activities taken by the court before, during, or
after relevant police action. There are seven days where shooting between
the Panthers and police is reported, again before, during, and after police
repression. Finally, out of the ninety-one repression-days, forty-eight
involved Panther activity in some capacity. Differing from the mainstream,
twenty-six involved government-related action and twenty-three involved
non-government-related activity.16
These represent cumulative totals, however, and thus they are difcult
to compare against the other sources where greater attention was given to
precisely when the activities took place. When this is done, however, the
basic point regarding the importance of police action and Panther militancy
is reemphasized.
For example, before the police engaged in activity, out of the ninety-one
repression-days, fty-ve involved prior police action. No other type of
behavior comes remotely close to this. Thus there are thirteen repression-
days on which some court behavior was covered. Out of the ninety-one days
of police repression, three involved shootings before relevant government
coercive action. Additionally, there are thirteen days with government-
related dissident behavior and fourteen with non-government-oriented
BPP activity. Coverage of dissent is good relative to the other sources, but
coverage of repression is still higher (this supports Hypothesis 5b regarding
the fact that dissident presses cover repression quite well).
During the days on which police action occurs, there are fewer events
(in total). This is something generally comparable across sources. Out of
ninety-one repression-days, three involved the court, two involved shoot-
ings, six involved government-oriented dissident action, and four involved
non-government-related Panther behavior. Police action largely appears to
be unrelated to events that take place on the same day.

16 Again, the number does not sum to forty-eight because there are a few days with both
government and nongovernment behavior: October 21, 1968; December 22, 1969; and,
August 7 and 20, 1970.


The period after police action reveals a highly volatile situation. For
example, as reported, out of ninety-one repression days forty-nine are fol-
lowed by subsequent police action in the two-week period after these events.
In contrast, eleven days involved subsequent court behavior. Regarding the
Panthers, there is only one shooting that followed police action. Compar-
atively, there are more dissident events reported with fteen government-
oriented and thirteen non-government-related events being identied.
Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of the BPINS coverage of the
conict is the fact that at different points in time, different actors predomi-
nate within the catalog. All told, I identify eight shifts in the relative balance
of contentious behavior. These are briey sketched next.
Initially, the distinct shifts are rather lengthy. For example, at the begin-
ning of the BPINS catalog (between May 2 and October 28, 1967), there is
no clear advantage for either the state or the BPP in the number of events
that they engaged in. Between January 15 and June 15, 1968, however, the
police dominate the catalog with the larger number of events shift #1.
Even though the number of repressive events is higher, at this point the
contest is far from a blowout. There are Panther dissident events before,
during, and after police repression. This said, the majority of repression-
days involved some follow-up from the police. Between July 15, 1968, and
June 21, 1969 shift #2 the balance shifted to the Panthers. During this
period, the activity undertaken by the BPP outnumbered the activities of the
police and the court, combined. Interestingly, these activities were found
before, during, and after police repression; this simultaneously reveals that,
according to BPINS, the Panthers largely instigated police repression but
also responded to the activities of the police. Between July 13 and November
12, 1969, the balance of reported events moves back in favor of the police
shift #3. Indeed, at this time, there were no Panther or court activities
reported. Rather, the BPP just appeared to be under assault, and the expla-
nation for repressive behavior seems to simply concern bureaucratic inertia.
The Black Panthers struck back between December 3, 1969, and March 8,
1970, when they again engaged in a large amount of dissent activity rela-
tive to police repression shift #4. Differing from the July 13November
12, 1969 period, however, this is not an exclusively BPP-dominated period
as the police actually engaged in slightly more activity. This renders the
period somewhat ambiguous as it represents a time of both state repression
and Panther dissent.
The next three shifts are much shorter in duration. The timing some-
what overlaps with the second phase of coverage, but the content differs
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

signicantly. For example, from March 31 to May 13, 1970, the police
once again engage in a larger number of events relative to the BPP, sup-
porting bureaucratic inertia shift #5. During this period, this state actor is
essentially uncontested and the Panthers reportedly did nothing. Between
May 31 and September 9, 1970 shift #6 the Panthers covered a greater
number of dissident events within their newspaper. These exist before, dur-
ing, and after repressive action suggesting that, once more, the BPP both
provoked, as well as responded to police activity. By September 23, 1970,
through February 13, 1971 shift #7 the police had once again reestab-
lished behavioral dominance in the pages of the BPINS. Again, there is
effectively no dissent. Differing from earlier period, however, there was a
greater number of court activities covered, especially after police repres-
sion. The catalog ends (between March 6, 1971, and February 24, 1973)
with the authorities still behaviorally advantaged in terms of the number
of activities reported shift #8. Interestingly, however, the actor with the
largest number of events covered is the court and not the police. Addition-
ally, also differing from the period before it, the Panthers are not completely
vanquished. The BPP still engaged in some dissident behavior: two on the
same day as police repression (in the middle of the shift) and two following
police action (at both the beginning and the end).
Viewing the BPINS catalog in a more detailed fashion, we again see that
police repression began with the arrests following the Sacramento assem-
bly incident. Similar to the Suns coverage, a large number of repressive
events are identied. Prior to January 1968 alone, there are ve repression-
days. The exact events are somewhat different from those discussed previ-
ously. Although the number of arrests associated with Sacramento and the
NewtonFrey shooting is the same, on June 2, 1967, it was reported that
BPP member Warren Tucker was arrested in Berkeley for ghting, and on
July 7, 1967, three BPP members in Los Angeles were arrested for illegal
possession of rearms.17 Again, similar to the Sun Reporter, by the time
of the NewtonFrey incident in October, it was identied in the Panther
paper that the police had already started to sanction the BPP, both at the
top and bottom of the organization.
What is especially distinct about the rst few incidents from the other
sources is that although there are many repressive events identied, there
are essentially no other activities associated with them; political repression
is largely not comprehended as it is not associated with any prior activity.

17 There is no legal or police follow-up reported for these events.


Distinct from the mainstream newspapers (especially the Tribune), we see

no dissident behavior before the relevant events only on the same day
and only once. Distinct from the nonmainstream sources, we also see no
dissident behavior after the event and no legal or police follow-up.
Part of the reason for this coverage is directly related to the Rashomon
argument. The BPINS was not consistently in production until 1968 (e.g.,
there would be long periods of time that would pass between newspapers).18
After 1969, however, all aspects of the paper were stabilized and coverage
became more consistent.
This situation of repressive events emerging with nothing preceding
them did not persist for long. Entering cycle #1, the institutional inuence
of repressive agents quickly emerged as a more important explanation for
police repression because although the behavioral threat began with two
dissident events, the resonance of these events became institutionalized
within the practices of the repressive agents. Indeed, of the next eleven
repression-days following the NewtonFrey shooting (between January 15
and June 15, 1968) seven involved prior police activity and had nothing to
do with the BPP.
For example, on February 5, 1968, there was a rally in Oakland, and
numerous Panthers were arrested for an undisclosed charge. On Febru-
ary 12, 1968 (seven days later), ten Panthers were arrested in Oakland for
surrounding police on one of their community watch patrols the only one
reported in any of the catalogs. Three days after this, BPP Minister of Jus-
tice H. Rap Brown was arrested in Richmond for violation of a federal travel
ban. On February 24 (a week later), BPP member J. Charley was arrested for
resisting arrest and the next day two other arrests were reported: (1) Bobby
Seale and others for conspiracy to commit murder and (2) BPP members
Hilliard, Hudson, and Coltrale for an undisclosed charge. This sequence
reveals that there was a concentrated and consistent police effort put for-
ward to sanction the Panthers, largely outnumbering the BPPs efforts to
engage in any dissident behavior. By the time of the well-known shootout
on April 6, 1968, therefore, there was already signicant repressive behavior
levied against the Panthers.
This pattern was very different from the period after it (between July 13,
1968, and June 21. 1969 shift #2). Similar to the Barb, at this time one sees
in the BPINS a tremendous police response to BPP dissent and a heightened

18 For example, there are only four newspapers for all of 1967. During 1968, there were
thirteen. This is hardly comparable to the weekly publication that emerged in 1969.

Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

response of the Panthers to the activity of the police.19 For example, of the
twenty-three days of police repression noted during this period, thirteen
identify BPP activity prior to state action. During the period, threats were
clearly apparent, but interestingly the majority was not directed against
political authorities. Specically, seven identied dissident events taking
place before state coercion had nothing to do with repression and repres-
sive agents (November 6 and 15; 1968; December 3 and 17, 1968; March 31,
1969; June 15, 17, and 21 1969). This prompts one to wonder about the
logic and legitimacy of the governments behavior. Drawing upon existing
social science literature and mainstream sources, it seems like one thing to
sanction a social movement organization that is directly challenging polit-
ical authorities. It seems like another matter, however, when government
sanctions social movement organizations that are not directly attacking
them or indirectly targeting others in an effort to attack them as with the
case of terrorism, which goes after innocents in a way to provoke/punish
some other actor.
During this period, we also see a high degree of Panther activism fol-
lowing directly on the heels of police repression. Again, the target of BPP
behavior raises some interesting questions. For example, the catalog sug-
gests that a higher degree of Panther activity was not responsiveness to
authorities as the correlation would suggest, as the mainstream sources
revealed, and as standard statistical research maintains. Indeed, on July 15,
following a Free Huey rally at Oakland auditorium (attended by approxi-
mately six thousand people), Panther member Dexter Woods was arrested
in San Francisco for interfering with the police. The next day, another
Free Huey rally was held again at Oakland auditorium. Following another
pro-Newton rally in Oakland on September 14, 1968, Eldridge Cleaver was
arrested on the Bay Bridge regarding an inquiry into weapons possession
and a possible parole violation.
Back and forth, the Panthers and authorities appeared to go at one
another, and in existing research, this would appear to suggest that either
repressive behavior prompted dissent or dissent prompted repression.

19 This makes sense given the fact that at the time the authorities were confronted with
statements like the following by Eldridge Cleaver (1968):
To all the pigs of the power structure, I say Fuck you! . . . To the pig power structure of
Babylon: if you brutalize the people, if you murder the people, then the people have the
right to kill you. We want to erase your way of life from the planet Earth and create a world
in which people can live in peace


Looking at the catalog closely, however, one nds no response in a direct

sense. As found, the Newton rally was planned well in advance of repres-
sive behavior, and these events were held not to protest the arrest of BPP
member Woods but to free the already imprisoned Black Panther leader
(Newton). What we see therefore is not so much rebelliousness as it is a lim-
ited capacity of repression to deter/hinder particular forms of BPP activity
from taking place.20
While the back and forth between the Panthers and the police continued
in the BPINS, even this pattern was subject to some variation. As mentioned
earlier, prior to mid-July 1970, there are more contentious events reported
and more distinctive periods of coverage with the police predominating.
Out of the ve shifts in coverage during the time, three involved the police
having more events covered. After July 1970, when Elaine Brown took
over editorship of the BPINS, this changed. During the latter period, there
were fewer events and greater ambiguity as to who was actually dominating
whom in terms of the amount of effort that different actors put forward. Out
of the three changes of this period, one involved the police predominating,
one involved the BPP, and one is unclear.
Rashomon is clearly important for understanding this pattern of cover-
age as Brown and the Panther leadership was less interested in highlighting
the violent aspects of the BPP in the BPINS and more interested in high-
lighting the efforts of the Panthers to free their imprisoned comrades. This
includes events like the July 25 and August 19, 1970, rallies to raise aware-
ness and release the Soledad Brothers (George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo,
and John Clutchette) and other political prisoners. There was a similar
protest to support Angela Davis and BPP member Ruchell on March 13,
1971, and a general rally on behalf of all political prisoners was held on
April 10, 1971.
This coverage further alters our conception of statedissident conict for
it would appear from the catalog that the relationship between dissent and
repression strengthens as a result of the increased BPP activity, following
as well as preceding police action. It is actually the opposite case however:
BPP government-oriented action is an attempt to stop the collapse of the
Panther organization, devastated by the repressive activity directed against

20 Interestingly, this logic does not work the other way. I believe it is reasonable to say
that Cleaver was arrested because of the rally. Removing one of the Panther leaders was
deemed crucial for crippling the Black Panthers especially as it would impede one of the
organizations more effective mobilizing strategies. Thus any movement in that direction
would further the states objectives.

Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

it. Source variation thus proves to be crucial for understanding what takes
place as distinct sources highlight distinct aspects of statedissident inter-
action. It is necessary to get further into and not away from events in order
to better understand the relationship between governments and dissident

In this chapter, I have explored how coverage of BPPauthority interactions
within diverse newspapers inuenced our comprehension of anti-Black
Panther state repression. In keeping with Rashomon, it was found that
media attention to coercive behavior and dissent was signicantly inu-
enced by the political orientation of the source and to some extent by
the physical distance of the source from the events in question. As found,
all newspapers covered the behavior of government agents, albeit at vary-
ing degrees. In contrast, only those closest to dissidents paid attention to
diverse forms of BPP activity (e.g., those directed against government as
well as those directed against nongovernment targets). Additionally, the
mainstream sources identied a similar temporal sequence where dissi-
dent activity by the Panthers began the conict, followed by a period in
which police repression predominated. There was slight variation here.
In authority-oriented sources, BPP behavior was limited, and authorities
quickly overwhelmed it. In more neutral sources, the Panthers engaged
in more activity over a longer period of time and authorities never fully
vanquished them. In dissident-oriented newspapers, the two-phase char-
acterization broke down or was severely weakened. Within these event
catalogs, the conict between the BPP and authorities was much more
volatile with different actors predominating at different times. Addition-
ally, it lasted much longer with different actors engaging in activity to the
end of the 1973, when the examination ends.
These differences in reporting directly inuence the inferences that one
draws from the sources as to why repression was applied. For instance,
those sources closest to authorities suggest that BPPstate interactions
were essentially one-sided. After small amounts of dissent (normally violent
activity, directed against repressive agents), the authorities applied signi-
cant amounts of repression, which in turn developed its own momentum
further increasing the amount of coercive behavior that was applied. This
activity diminished only after the Panthers were effectively crushed. In
this case, one accounts for police repression by paying little attention to

behavioral challenges and by focusing largely on the political authorities

themselves (e.g., their preferences, norms, and habits).
Those sources closest to dissidents revealed interactions that were much
more evenly balanced and contentious in nature. Here, members of the
BPP as well as state agents engaged in dissent and repression, respectively,
and generally at comparable levels with a slight advantage to authorities. In
these sources, the BPP engaged in a wider variety of activities: some were
violent, large scale, and directed against government institutions/repressive
agents, but some were nonviolent, small scale, and directed against non-
government institutions/repressive agents. Here, one observes contention
increasing and decreasing in cyclical fashion over time, leading one to
focus on both behavioral challenges and bureaucratic inertia to understand
What does this tell us about police repression of the BPP in particu-
lar and about repression in general? Across sources, the research tells us
that the BPP was initially sanctioned by authorities because the Panthers
challenged them behaviorally and later because of the dynamics present
within repressive government institutions. What varies across consulted
information providers is the concept of what was deemed threatening by
political authorities, the importance of different repressive institutions, and
the resilience of the Black Panthers in the face of state repression. For
example, within authority-oriented sources, higher-prole challenges were
deemed threatening (violent, large scale, and directed against government
agents), courts were extremely important, and the BPP caved quite early.
Within dissident-oriented sources, higher- as well as lower-prole chal-
lenges were deemed threatening (i.e., nonviolent, smaller, and directed
against nongovernment actors), the police were generally more impor-
tant, and the Panthers continued to struggle for quite some time (doing
so quite frequently in a less direct and aggressive manner). We thus nd a
robust explanation for repression where behavioral threats yield over time
to bureaucratic inertia, but distinct takes on the transition between the two
were largely reective of (1) where the source sits politically and physically
relative to the combatants, as well as (2) what the source looked for and
what it generally covered.
Which source was right? In line with Rashomon, I argue that none of
them were at least when viewed individually. Rather, it is only by triangu-
lating the different perspectives (piecing together the mosaic of coercion)
that one can comprehend what took place by identifying the range of pos-
sibilities, the variance. For example, no source identied that authorities
Five Cases of Anti-Panther Repressive Behavior

initiated the confrontation with the Panthers. This makes sense because
there would not be much sense in repressing an organization that did
not present a proven behavioral threat, especially in a democratic soci-
ety where authorities are largely accountable for such activities. Coercion
clearly played a role in that a large part of the justication for the Panthers
was prior coercive activity directed against African Americans; this is not,
however, what I mean by state repression, which is directed against political
organizations by those claiming control over a specic territorial unit.
Additionally, no source claimed that dissident behavior did not take place
at all. The contested nature of how wide a net the authorities cast as well as
how much resistance the Panthers put up after repression does vary across
sources, and these differences are important for this gets to the substance
of politics and struggle as well as to the business of covering contentious
politics. This makes sense because invariably the audience for the Oak-
land Tribune wanted to know what the authorities did when the Panthers
engaged in dissent and thus the Tribune set out to tell this story. Here,
small-scale, nonviolent, and nongovernment targets were ignored because
such activities were not essential to this sources narrative. Similarly, the
readers of the Black Panther Intercommunal News Service and the Berkeley
Barb wanted to know what the dissidents did as well as what happened to
those who challenged the state; consequently, this is the story that these
sources set out to tell. Here, more forms of action and street-level police
behavior were deemed important for what the BPINS and the Barb wished
to communicate.
What does all this mean for those of us who want to investigate conict
with event catalogs? In line with Rashomon, the various sources are tied
to the same raw information and draw from the stream of actual events
but beyond that the sources create information to highlight the particular
narrative of struggle and control that they were interested in. The key to
understanding contentious politics lies in understanding how well we have
captured distinct perspectives and have then explored how the variation
reects as well as inuences our understanding of what has taken place.
My study clearly suggests that understanding is very much held hostage
by the sources we select. Specic ndings will be robust across sources
but others will not. Moving across distinct sources is thus deemed crucial
for investigating and comprehending conict. Such an exercise not only
informs us about what is contained as well as missed within our data sources
but also tells us about what is contained as well as missed within our theories
about repression.

For example, government-oriented sources are found to be the least

tied to the behavioral threat hypothesis and the most tied to arguments of
bureaucratic inertia, revealing that repression largely follows from and leads
to other coercive activity. In contrast, dissident-oriented sources are the
most closely connected to the behavioral threat hypothesis, revealing that
state activity largely follows and leads to dissident behavior. Source selection
is thus at the heart of the endeavor to understand. Accordingly, one who
selected an authority-oriented source might not understand the importance
of state challengers or the variety of activities that these actors engage in,
and one who selected a dissident-oriented source might not understand the
importance of authorities for repression or the diversity of agents involved.
Our ability to understand conict is in important ways conditioned by our
capacity to incorporate the insights provided by Rashomon dealing with the
process of data generation. I discuss the process, implications, and problems
of such an enterprise in the next chapter.



Conflict, Events, and Catalogs

Once asked why he thought Rashomon had become so popular, both in Japan
and abroad, (Kurosowa) answered: Well, you see . . . its about this rape.
Everyone laughed but the answer is not, perhaps, so cynical as it sounds.
Rashomon is about an action as few pictures are about anything at all. We can
turn the object this way and that, look at it from different angles, and it
resembles a number of things but is only one thing the object that it is. The
lm is about a rape (and a murder) but, more than this, it is about the reality of
these events. Precisely, it is about what ve people think this reality consists
of. How an incident happens may reect nothing about the incident itself but
it must reect something about the person involved in the happening and
supplying the how.
Donald Richie Rashomon, Akira Kurosowa Director (1987)

What has surprised me about working on the Rashomon Effect and dis-
cussing the topic with different people around the world is how readily
everyone accepts the point that sources of information vary regarding their
coverage of conict. Most people believe that different sources cover events
in distinct ways and that this coverage is undertaken in a nonrandom man-
ner. Where I encounter the greatest resistance, however, concerns the idea
that the systematic investigation of source variation should be a topic of
interest and that such a consideration would assist interested parties in
better comprehending how observers cover/report events and with better
understanding why conict occurs. My research has been dedicated to shed-
ding some much-needed insight into both of these areas. In this chapter, I
briey review how far we have come in this book, outline how far we still
need to go, and discuss how we might get there.


A Review
I began the Rashomon Effect with three questions in mind: (1) why do
sources consulted for information about repression and dissent vary in their
account of what took place, (2) what sources should be used when one is
trying to understand relevant events, and (3) how drastically does account
variation inuence our comprehension of repressive behavior and in what
My ideas about how to answer these questions were straightforward.
Essentially, after reading a variety of different literature in communication,
history, political science and sociology, I argued that sources varied in their
coverage of repression and dissent because of two factors: (1) the political
orientation of the source (i.e., its sympathy/preference for either authorities
or dissidents), and (2) spatial distance between the source and the events
in question. Both factors inuence the type of actor and actions that are
focused on, whom the source consults for information about what took
place, and who the audience is for the stories written. For example, it was
assumed that political orientation and physical proximity mattered because
they inuenced the interest as well as ability of the source to identify and
cultivate quality informants. It was also assumed that political orientation
mattered because it directed the source to collect information in a way that
favored either authorities or challengers.
As for source selection, I have consistently maintained that researchers
should select as wide an assortment as possible in their efforts to collect and
analyze information about who did what to whom, so as to maximize the two
dimensions identied previously. As each account provides an equally plau-
sible version of what occurred, such a procedure allows researchers to ascer-
tain how different/similar accounts are and in what manner these accounts
diverge/converge. The key here is diversity in information providers not
just a larger number of them.
The consequences of source variation are, well, varied. In certain
respects, they are minimal, for example in the coverage of authorities and
high-prole contentious activity such as violence and large events, which
consistently receive attention. In other respects, the implications are crit-
ical, for example, in the coverage of dissidents and lower-prole activi-
ties, which receive comparatively less attention. The imbalanced coverage
becomes particularly important when we attempt to use information
extracted from the different sources to understand why repression is
applied a phenomenon whose explanation is inextricably bound to political

Conflict, Events, and Catalogs

dissent (the threat hypothesis) and previous repressive behavior (the bureau-
cratic inertia hypothesis). Indeed, if sources interested in government were
inclined to cover only high-prole dissident activities and the behavior of
authorities, then researchers would conclude that repression is the result
of specic behavioral threats from challenges and of previous state activity.
If sources interested in dissidents are inclined to cover high-prole as well
as low-prole dissident behavior and some state behavior, then researchers
would conclude that repression is the result of a wider variety of threats and
specic state actions.
Investigating ve newspaper accounts of police repression directed
against the Black Panther Party (based in the Bay Area and throughout
California) between 1967 and 1973, I nd support for the general argument
outlined earlier. Sources generally vary in their coverage of repression and
dissent in line with the two dimensions identied, especially political ori-
entation. For example, sources interested in authorities cover the actions of
this actor more frequently and in greater detail relative to dissident actors
(i.e., across a wider array of targets and at different levels of lethality).
Sources more interested in dissidents cover events in the opposite manner,
but the difference is less stark. Here, government actors are covered but
attention is largely given to the behavior of dissidents; these activities range
across a wider array of targets for challengers but across a somewhat smaller
array for authorities.
Interestingly, when one probes the event catalogs created from the
different sources in an effort to understand why repressive activity was
undertaken by the police against the BPP, all sources reveal a process
whereby repression initially responds to political challenges from the
Panthers. Later, coercive activity is more responsive to government behav-
ior undertaken in the past, with only faint reference to the behavioral
threat. What differs across consulted newspapers is the exact timing of
the transition as well as the totality of the shift. For example, authority-
oriented sources generally portray a quick transition, with threat giving
way to bureaucratic inertia. In contrast, dissident-oriented sources gen-
erally portray a slower, incomplete transition, with the explanation for
repression appearing to oscillate between the Panthers and the practices
of repressive organizations until the end of the period. When viewing dif-
ferent sources, therefore, one nds adherence to a common understanding
of what took place but with distinct variations on this theme that reveal
important differences about the events, the antagonists, and the observers/

The Way Forward

How does the Rashomon Effect inuence the investigation of sociopolit-
ical events, and how should conict researchers modify their practices to
accommodate this phenomenon? Accepting the basic argument and the
associated approach to research, future work should be altered in several
ways. Attempting to address two distinct audiences, I begin with some com-
ments for scholars generally interested in conict, the media, and event
catalogs. I then move to provide some specic comments for more quanti-
tative researchers who are interested in examining large numbers of state
dissident interactions at once.

General Comments
For those interested in exploring contentious interactions similar to the
research presented in this book (where one statedissident interaction is
considered across a range of sources or where a relatively small number of
statedissident interactions are considered), there are several insights that
I believe are useful for them to consider in their efforts, explicitly drawn
from the research conducted in this book.
First, it is clear that source variation and its exploration should become areas
of inquiry in their own right. Researchers need to be guided to identify and
account for the variation in source material: no longer should considera-
tion of the sources one consults for information be secondary to discussions
of the content of selected sources. As my work has revealed, one cannot
comprehend the latter without understanding the former. As Tilly (2001)
suggests, data and behavioral generation are inextricably connected to one
another. The frequency and type of events are bound up with the sources
one uses how they collect information, whom they consult, how fre-
quently they publish, and the audience to whom they attempt to distribute
Second, researchers should be guided to have greater sensitivity to the fact that
source selection can yield distinct causal accounts because information providers
are drawn to different aspects of the relevant story. For example, my analysis
of Black Panther repression reveals that one who relied exclusively upon
a government-oriented source (perhaps in an effort to explore what those
in government and their supporters were highlighting) would come away
with a distinct understanding of the repressive behavior directed against the

Conflict, Events, and Catalogs

BPP. Specically, one would conclude that authorities responded to violent

and large-scale behavioral threats directed against state organizations and
that, in their response, the Panthers were effectively overwhelmed (state
repression far outpaced the amount of dissent). By contrast, one who relied
upon a nonstate source (perhaps in an effort to explore what those in social
movements and their supporters were highlighting) would arrive at a differ-
ent characterization of the states behavior. Here, they would conclude that
government agents reacted to threats of varying lethality, size, and targets,
as well as to prior activity undertaken by the authorities themselves. Fur-
ther, not only was repression responsive to factors just identied, but the
Panthers more consistently struck back against both the U.S. government
and, increasingly, other targets to advance their cause (e.g., social, eco-
nomic, and political elites or economic establishments that were expected
to service the African American community).
The implications of these differences are not trivial. If, through a sys-
tematic evaluation of events, the number of reported threatening activities
from dissidents is quickly outnumbered by the number of reported repres-
sive events by government, then the willingness of the authorities and the
mass audience to generally accept coercion as a response to dissent might
be increased. With this causal account, dissident threat is converted to
state opportunity for the exercise of repressive power and the actions
taken on behalf of the status quo are legitimated. Here, the sociopolitical
order is threatened and state repression works eliminating the threat. If,
however, the number of reported threatening activities is less denitively
overwhelmed by reported state coercive action and repression is more or
less equal to dissent in frequency, then the willingness of the authorities and
mass audience to accept repressive behavior as a response to dissent might
be decreased. Here, state coercive response to behavioral challenges and
dissident claims/efforts become subject to more questions as well as inves-
tigation as individuals are prompted to reach for noncoercive alternatives
to resolving societal conict.
Not only does the consideration of multiple sources give insight into
why the U.S. government applied repression against the Black Panthers
and into how one views the efcacy of state coercive action, but it also
inuences how we understand why the relevant authorities withdraw their
activities, a subject about which we know very little. For example, drawing
out the implications of event catalog analyses, it is clear that one who con-
sulted state-oriented sources would conclude that repression ended because


the threat posed by the BPP (dissent directed against police and violent
statedissident interactions) was eliminated. By the end of the period under
investigation (1973), the Black Panthers were in and out of court as well
as prison, and they were no longer able to effectively challenge authorities.
One who consulted dissident-oriented sources, however, would conclude
otherwise, that repression ended for different reasons. In these sources,
after the initial coercive response to dissent and violent statedissident
interactions, the BPP and authorities went back and forth at each other.
The nature of this interaction differs from the earlier dynamic in two ways.
First, while much of the states activity involved the court, the behavior of
the police was still ongoing. Second, the Panthers continued to mount a
challenge but increasingly shifted the effort away from one focused exclu-
sively on authorities to one directed against nonstate institutions and actors
(e.g., supermarkets that did not support Panther programs). The imbalance
between the excessive and aggressive state approach to policing and the pre-
sentation of a less confrontational Panther organization may have resulted
in a fundamental shift in Bay Area and California public opinion against
BPP repression. In turn, this unleashed a fairly widespread campaign to end
government coercive action.
Even though this explanation extends beyond the information contained
in the event catalog that served as the focal point of the analysis presented
in the book, it is clear that the consideration of this additional information
provides a much more compelling explanation for the cessation of repressive
behavior in the Panther case. Confronted with a weakened BPP (i.e., with
numerous incarcerated members and those in court draining BPP resources
as well as time), a diminished threat to the political system because of the
new focus on nonstate targets, decreased support for repressive policies
among ordinary citizens, and the growth of overt resistance to coercive
state behavior, the authorities withdrew.
The identication of account variation is signicant because the
researchers selection of a source and the causal accounts associated with
them should be made with full knowledge of other sources and other
accounts that are available to researchers (Lustick 1996). This awareness
allows those of us interested in examining and understanding conict to
better comprehend the efforts made by researchers to investigate the sub-
ject. Additionally, being cognizant of issues like the Rashomon Effect,
researchers may be prompted to ask different questions than those nor-
mally addressed within the literature. For instance, seeing source variation,
one may be led to ask: what is the role that different accounts play in a conict?
Conflict, Events, and Catalogs

Clearly an account where authorities initially become aware of a behav-

ioral threat and then overwhelm the challengers with repression is useful
for authorities and those who support them as they attempt to maintain
control over their society. Here, we might expect public opinion in favor
of repressive action to increase when such material was read. Similarly, an
account where authorities initially become aware of a behavioral threat and
then engage in a heated tit-for-tat battle with challengers that persists over
time is useful for dissidents and those who support them as they attempt to
bring about sociopolitical change. Here, we might expect public opinion
of repressive action to be mixed to negative when such material was read.
Are actors aware of the dueling accounts as well as their inuence (if any) and,
if so, how do they try to limit or guide these processes and effects? These merit
serious consideration. Indeed, they represent very new domains of research
for scholars of conict and contentious politics (see Koopmans and Statham
(1999) for an important exception).

Specic Comments
I wish to provide some general suggestions for those interested in conict
regarding what they could and should try to consider in their analyses. I also
wish to provide some specic comments for event cataloguers who might
view my suggestions as too vague or far aeld from what they/we do.
First, I advocate triangulating sources so as to get multiple perspectives.
This was relatively straightforward in the BPPauthority case in which I
was interested, but it is somewhat less clear for analyses of protest and
repression in twenty-ve countries between 1980 and 2007 compiled from
Reuters or a global analysis of mass killing between 1976 and the present
from State Department country reports. What should these researchers do?
For those employing collections of diverse information providers, ignor-
ing their potentially unique narratives (as in the case of Reuters or Lexis-
Nexis event catalogs), they could disaggregate the compiled information
by source and conduct searches on the different information providers to
assess the inuence of physical proximity as well as political orientation.
With this done, the researcher could determine several things: (1) exactly
how diverse are the consulted sources across the two dimensions, (2) are
the accounts similar/different in line with expectations, and (3) what type or
aspects of events are likely over/underreported? This type of information
would be crucial for the scholar as well as those attempting to evaluate their

For those employing one source ignoring other narratives my sug-

gestions are somewhat different. After assessing the physical proximity and
political orientation of the selected source, some possibilities might include
randomly selecting a set of events that can be searched in other sources,
from other regions and other orientations, in an attempt to ascertain the
biases of the chief source. Or, one might use two different newspapers,
search them in the same ways, and then run the same set of quantitative
analyses on events in each newspaper and compare the results. For exam-
ple, is the pattern of ndings on the factors inuencing the various policing
strategies at protest events the same when we look at events covered in The
New York Times and the Atlanta Constitution or The New York Times and the
Al-Watan from Qatar? Researchers generally agree that local news yields
better (i.e., denser) coverage. They now need to consider the fact that not
all local news agencies are comparable.
Second, I believe that it is necessary to delve more deeply into the news
sources themselves and to incorporate this information directly into empir-
ical investigations. For example, one could enter control variables in a tra-
ditional regression model for the different editorships at a given paper, or
time-varying controls for different editorial regimes within the newspaper
in longitudinal analyses. Relevant to this point, it is commonly known that
the different editors of The New York Times (Adolph Ochs [18961935],
Arthur Hays Sulzberger [193561], Orvil Dryfoos [19613], Arthur Ochs
Punch Sulzberger [196392], and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. [1992
present]) ran the organization in very different ways and in diverse con-
texts, directly impacting how the newspaper reported events. For example,
Adolph Ochs and Arthur Hayes Sulzberger were quite deferent to political
authorities, whereas Punch Sulzberger was more willing to be critical. It
would be fairly easy to integrate such information into empirical examina-
tions of New York Times content. Researchers must consider the importance
of such factors for their catalogs.
Related to this point, researchers might pay attention to the ownership
of the media. One study by Djankov et al. (2002), notes that governments
and private families own the largest media rms. The implication of this
ownership could be crucial for those of us who employ such source material
to create catalogs of protest and repression. Measures of ownership type,
the political orientation of the owner, the location of the owner relative to
the events, and freedom of the media would directly inform our efforts to
understand conict/contentious politics.

Conflict, Events, and Catalogs

A Question of Generalizability
While useful for illustrating the importance of the Rashomon Effect for
conict as well as how one goes about studying the topic, it is also impor-
tant to be aware of and explicit about the generalizability of my ndings.
To understand this, it is crucial to address exactly what was involved. For
example, in order to examine my topic, I needed (1) a state actor (in my case
the police and the court) as well as a dissident organization (the Panthers),
and (2) a diverse media environment. Consideration of each component
provides an understanding of how one should treat my approach and the
conclusions I reach.
StateDissident Conflict. The rst element for the examination of
the Rashomon Effect was a contentious interaction between a government
actor and a dissident organization. In many respects, local, state, and fed-
eral police as well as court agents in the United States and their activities
against the Black Panthers were ideal. Both had clearly articulated objec-
tives. Both identied each other as their opponent and the tactics selected
were intended to directly hinder/harm/eliminate the other. At the same
time, however, I must acknowledge that it is not easy to generalize from
the BPPauthority case.
As discussed, both the Panthers and U.S. authorities represented distinct
organizations that coevolved over a relatively long period of time. The BPP
was a black nationalist organization, but it represented a specic form of
black nationalism and social movement organization. Its use of nationalistic,
socialistic, intercommunal, and pro-black rhetoric, its denouncement of
a separate state, and its self-defense clearly set the BPP within the core
of the black nationalist movement. At the same time, its willingness to
work with whites, consistent use of the U.S. constitution, and focus on the
black poor are some of the factors that set the BPP somewhat apart from
In addition to this, for the organization to have the full attention of the
FBI, state and local police, and almost every level of court in California rep-
resents a relatively unique situation. Indeed, this leads me to believe that
the type of analysis offered here is best directed against relatively stable
and high-prole dissident organizations that explicitly challenge political
authorities. For example, drawing upon the factors of concern to Gamson
(1975), this includes dissident organizations that employ violence and seek
to displace government ofcials. These organizations likely garner the


attention of political authorities and prompt it to care about how it and the
governments effort against it are portrayed. Equally as important, these
dissident organizations are most likely to garner the attention of the news
media who are the primary collectors and distributors of information about
relevant statedissident interactions.
By these criteria, it would be less feasible to explore interactions between
the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) another black nationalist
organization of the period, and the U.S. government because the former
was a clandestine organization that generally avoided direct confrontation
as well as media coverage. A similar argument could be made about other
clandestine organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, which also tended to avoid
direct confrontations with authorities as well as extensive coverage of mem-
bers and events. In part, this is because the membership of the KKK included
members of the police force and local elite, who wished to avoid detection.
In part, this is because the KKK wanted to inuence government activity
away from accommodating integration, but it was more interested in shift-
ing the African American demand for change than in explicitly going after
political authorities. In contrast, I believe that one could evaluate inter-
actions between government agents and terrorist organizations because
although clandestine, when the latter strike they tend to generate a tremen-
dous amount of attention and from a diverse array of observers. Some care
would need to be taken with regard to identifying other activities that these
organizations engaged in. This interest should prompt the use of sources
other than newspapers.
Diverse Source Material. The second element necessary for my exami-
nation concerns the existence of a varied media/source environment. Specif-
ically, Rashomon requires diverse observers/reporters who differ in polit-
ical orientation and physical proximity and who provide information to
an audience. In certain respects, this well describes characteristics found
within the United States and in other Western, democratic societies but
the type of sources that exist in these societies varies over time, and the
limitations with these sources are important for the arguments made in the
As discussed earlier, the period of the BPPU.S. authority interaction
during the 1960s and 1970s was ideal for the study of the Rashomon Effect
because at this time there was a wide variety of newspapers in the United
States covering a wide variety of geographic locales. Moving into the late
1970s and 1980s, however, dramatic changes took place in the American

Conflict, Events, and Catalogs

news media, as a series of mergers and acquisitions signicantly reduced the

number and type of presses and wire services.1 What was left was a media
marketplace that could best be described as small, mainstream, commercial,
and authority oriented. Of course, some other papers that did not t this
description were available at the time, but even they felt the impact of the
changes in terms of nances, organization, design, and content.
These were not the only transformations relevant to my investigation.
Seeking to address the competition of television and to enhance prof-
itability, presses uniformly cut foreign correspondents and news cover-
age, devoted greater attention to local news and signicantly reduced the
number of distinct events they covered. Additionally, there were major
changes to the rules and practices regarding access to government records
and access to different contentious situations involving political authorities
(e.g., the events at Waco regarding the Branch Davidians, Gulf Wars I
and II, the policing of the anti-WTO protest during the Battle of Seattle,
and the targets of the terrorist attacks on 9/11).
Consequently, by the 1980s, the news industry had experienced some
qualitative changes that militated against the exploration of event cover-
age in general and the Rashomon Effect in particular. Indeed, things have
changed so dramatically that, for individuals to examine source variation
in a manner similar to that employed in this book, serious reconsideration
needs to be given to how newspapers are used. In fact, it may be necessary
to think about the need to use completely different information providers
This conclusion about reevaluating sources is reinforced when one
attempts to think about studying the Rashomon Effect in other countries,
which I began after the Black Panther research. As briey mentioned earlier,
outside of the context of Western, democratic, and relatively economically
developed societies, most newspapers are owned by governments or private
families partially beholden to them (Djankov et al. 2002). In this situation,
there are only authority-oriented sources and thus only one type of per-
spective is likely to emerge when these information providers are consulted
directly or when local stringers attempt to use them for content. If the
dynamics identied in the Panther study are correct, such a situation would

1 Even during what I refer to as the ideal period, there were problems. Some dissident orga-
nizations might have created newspapers/newsletters, but they could not sustain them over


be extremely problematic for researchers relying upon them because we

would simultaneously underestimate the magnitude of the dissident chal-
lenge, overestimate state repression and the ability of the state to overwhelm
those threatening it with coercion. While consistent with what the political
leaders and their supporters would like to convey to those within as well as
outside of the relevant territorial domain, it would be useful to gauge the
robustness of these phenomena in sources with varied orientations. Indeed,
it is useful to alter this situation because protest will begin to look as if
it comes from nowhere or alternatively everywhere, which (of course) it
This is extremely difcult, however, because dissident organizations do
not frequently have the resources for or interest in creating, developing, and
sustaining their own media. Moreover, neutral sources, which draw upon
both dissident and state informants for information, are not believed to
exist. It is very difcult to cultivate relationships with organizations that are
deemed threatening to existing political institutions for they are outlawed
and stigmatized, and association with them might prevent an information
provider from developing a relationship with the state.
Understanding that the use of newspapers in event cataloging has be-
come increasingly problematic, there are nonetheless two options that can
facilitate the examination of the Rashomon Effect in other contexts.
On the one hand, researchers can explicitly incorporate into their work
discussions about the quality of the media/source environment within which
they are working (e.g., what orientations are present, how proximate the
sources are to the relevant events, how many stories are generally covered in
the source, and how this has changed over time, how much attention is given
to different locales from the relevant sources, whether any editorial changes
have occurred that inuence event coverage, how restricted freedom of the
press is, and how independent the media are from the government). This
information is extremely useful for those interested in understanding con-
tentious politics, as it can provide some context/controls for understanding
what was examined as well as what could be found within relevant source
material. For instance, if one controls for the degree of press freedom within
a cross-national study of repression (which would effectively allow us to
incorporate the likelihood that events would be covered), researchers and
readers can have greater condence in the reported results. Again, we can
also control for the overall media attention cycle. That is, we would expect
that media attention to BPP events would increase when the media x-
ate more broadly on the Panthers and related issues. Without considering
Conflict, Events, and Catalogs

these factors, however, it is possible that the derived causal inferences will
be misleading.
On the other hand, researchers can consider sources that are completely
different from those considered by traditional conict analyses (i.e., the
news media). NGO or government records, for example, have been rela-
tively neglected, but they are being increasingly used (e.g., Ron, Ramos,
and Rodgers 2005). Of course, in order to employ these sources effectively,
one needs to develop an understanding of how they collect and distribute
information as compared with how newspapers do it. For example, are these
sources subject to spatial limitations or pressures to suppress certain types
of content? Another question concerns the accessibility of these materials.
Newspapers are interested in expanding their readership as widely as pos-
sible and therefore put tremendous effort into marketing and distribution.
Are NGO and government actors as effective? Are their background notes
and methods for compilation and distribution available to those outside
of these organizations? Does it matter that newspapers generate and dis-
tribute events for prot whereas NGOs and government actors may be less
concerned with such motives?
These differences are important for several reasons. For one, the mate-
rials created by NGOs and governments are generally designed for a par-
ticular audience; these sources generally identify who they are interested
in reaching and that, in turn, allows us to more readily afx political orien-
tation. One must, however, be consistently attentive to the fact that chal-
lengers might not have access to these sources and that the sources may
not have interest in contacting these actors. Additionally, with the reduced
commercial interest, NGO and government sources and their content may
be less subject to the vagaries of market competition and therefore may per-
sist over time without substantive alteration. At the same time, given the
distinct motivations of these sources, researchers should identify exactly
why the sources do what they do before relying upon them. It would also
be useful to clarify exactly whom sources are writing for and why. Answer-
ing these questions might provide additional insights into conict and event
catalogs. Indeed, these might provide the most useful insights into the topic
thus far provided.
It is of course somewhat daunting to end a book with additional things for
scholars to do. My hope, however, is that through my investigation I have
shown that the Rashomon Effect is not something distinct from what we do
when we examine repression and dissent. Rather, it is my intention to show
that the Rashomon Effect is intricately connected with what we do when we

examine these topics. In certain respects, I think that scholars have avoided
source variation because it was believed that once we went in this direction
we would open Pandoras box, unleashing a million and one versions of
what had taken place with no ability to navigate around/through them. I
hope that I have shown that (1) there are not a million and one versions of
what occurs, (2) different sources simply have their own versions of what
took place, and (3) with some care, we can unify the seemingly endless sea
of perspectives to get at the essential core of that which has taken place as
well as the politics of that core as well as its periphery. Indeed, returning
to the Nietzsche quotation with which I opened the book, it may be the
case that after one brings together as many eyes (sources) as possible on
a thing (or event in this case), the act of seeing and recording, although
fragmentary and partial, brings all involved a little closer to the event in
question, the observers/reporters of these activities and to one another
as well. Importantly and somewhat paradoxically, Rashomon unies as it


In the following tables, I have employed a somewhat different approach

to presenting the data. In an effort to guide the discussion, I focus on
the reporting of individual police repressive events and then consider the
reporting of other activities two weeks before through two weeks after the
event. As a result, each row represents a sliding window of event coverage
twenty-nine days long. It is possible that if police repressive events occur
back to back, then some other activities are counted more than once. Since
this establishes the context within which activities are reported and I am not
interested in assessing the precise impact of individual explanatory variables,
however, I do not believe that this creates a problem.
The tables employ the following legend:

P = Police Activity
C = Court Activity
S = BPPAuthority Shooting
Dg = Dissident Activity Directed Against Government/Government Agents
Dg = Dissident Activity Not Directed Against Government/Government Agents
Note: There are as many entries as there were events on a particular day. For example, if
there were four activities undertaken in court on the relevant day, then there will be four
Cs (i.e., CCCC).


A. Contentious Behavior in The New York Times (by Police Repression Day)

Before Day of, but before,

Date Police Action Police Action After Police Action
1) May 2, 1967 Dg
2) October 28, 1967 S
3) February 1, 1968
4) April 7, 1968 S
5) September 10, 1968 CCCCC S C
6) November 8, 1968 CC CCC PPCCCCSS
7) November 13, 1968 PCCCCC S PCCCCC Dg
8) November 21, 1968 PPCCCCCCSS C PPCC Dg
9) November 28, 1968 PCCCCCS Dg PCC
10) November 30, 1968 PPCCCCC Dg CC
11) January 2, 1969 CC
12) January 17, 1969 S PPP
13) January 19, 1969 PS PP
14) January 20, 1969 PP P
15) January 21, 1969 PPP
16) April 28, 1969 Dg CCC Dg
17) June 16, 1969 S
18) August 17, 1969 PPCCC
19) August 19, 1969 P PCCC
20) August 20, 1969 PP CCC
21) December 3, 1969 PPPS
22) December 8, 1969 P S CC
23) January 13, 1970 C
24) March 13, 1970 CC
25) October 14, 1970 C
26) November 23, 1970 CC
27) September 10, 1971 CC S
28) September 11, 1971 PCCS

BPPU.S. Government Event Catalog

B. Contentious Behavior in the Oakland Tribune (by Police Repression Day)

Before Day of, but before,

Date Police Action Police Action After Police Action
1) May 2, 1967 Dg Dg Dg C
2) May 22, 1967
3) October 28, 1967 S PCC
4) October 29, 1967 PPS CC
5) February 24, 1968 Dg Dg PCCCC Dg
6) February 25, 1968 PP Dg Dg CCCC Dg
7) April 6, 1968 S PPCCCCCC
8) April 12, 1968 PPSCCCC CC CCC
9) June 27, 1968
10) August 21, 1968 CCCCCCC C PCS Dg Dg Dg
11) August 30, 1968 PCCC Dg Dg Dg S PCCCCS Dg
12) September 10, 1968 PCCC Dg S CCCCCC
13) October 30, 1968 PPCCCCS
14) November 13, 1968 PCCCC S PPPCCCCCS
15) November 19, 1968 PPCCCS S PPCCCCCC Dg
16) November 27, 1968 PPPPCCCCCSS PPPCCCCC Dg
17) December 1, 1968 PPPCCCCS CC Dg PPCCCC
18) December 6, 1968 PPCCCCCC Dg PCCCCCCCC
19) December 10, 1968 PPPCCCC Dg CCCCCCCCCC
20) December 26, 1968 CCCCCCCC S PPC Dg
21) January 2, 1969 PPPPCCCCCCS P Dg
22) January 6, 1969 PPPPPCCCS Dg PPCS Dg
23) January 17, 1969 P Dg S Dg PCC
24) January 24, 1969 PPCS Dg C
25) March 25, 1969 C
26) April 28, 1969 CCCC S CCCC Dg
27) June 24, 1969 CCCCCCC CCCCC CCCCC
28) July 25, 1969 CC Dg CCCC
32) November 27, 1969 C Dg Dg PPPPPPCCCCCCCCSS
33) December 1, 1969 PC S PPPCCCCCCCCCS
34) December 3, 1969 PPPPS CCC PPCCCCCCCCS
35) December 8, 1969 PPPPPCCCCCS CS PCCCCCC
36) December 19, 1969 PPCCCCCCS C CCCC
37) February 11, 1970 CCCCCC C
38) April 17, 1970 S PCC Dg
39) April 21, 1970 PS CC Dg
40) May 26, 1971 C CCCCCCCC Dg
42) August 11, 1971 CCCCCCCCCCCC Dg S CCCC
43) April 27, 1972
44) August 1, 1972


C. Contentious Behavior in the Sun Reporter (by Police Repression Day)

Before Day of, but before,

Date Police Action Police Action After Police Action
1) May 2, 1967
2) May 22, 1967 Dg P Dg Dg
3) May 23, 1967 PD Dg Dg
4) October 28, 1967 S
5) October 29, 1967 PS PPCC
6) October 30, 1967 CC
7) January 16, 1968 C Dg
8) February 24, 1968 CC Dg PC Dg
9) February 25, 1968 PP Dg C Dg
10) March 30, 1968 SDg PS
11) April 3, 1968 PS D S
12) May 11, 1968
13) September 10, 1968 CCC CC
14) November 7, 1968 S PCC
15) November 19, 1968 PPCCS S CCCCC Dg
16) December 10, 1968 CCCCC PPC
17) December 13, 1968 P C
18) January 31, 1969 C
19) February 25, 1969 PCC Dg
20) February 28, 1969 P CC Dg
21) March 25, 1969 Dg S
22) April 28, 1969 C Dg
23) May 17, 1969 P
24) May 24, 1969 P
25) June 4, 1969 P
26) August 19, 1969 S CCCC Dg
27) December 6, 1969 PDS Dg
28) February 11, 1970 Dg C
29) April 14, 1970 Dg CC
30) September 17, 1970 Dg
31) October 7, 1970
32) December 3, 1970
33) April 28, 1972
34) December 30, 1972
35) April 16, 1973

BPPU.S. Government Event Catalog

D. Contentious Behavior in the Berkeley Barb (by Police Repression-Day)

Before Day of, but before,

Date Police Action Police Action After Police Action
1) May 2, 1967 Dg Dg Dg Dg
2) October 28, 1967 S P
3) October 31, 1967 PPS
4) January 15, 1968 Dg
5) February 24, 1968 Dg PPPCCCCCC Dg Dg
6) February 26, 1968 P Dg CC Dg PCCCC Dg
7) March 4, 1968 PPPCCC Dg CCCC Dg
8) April 6, 1968 CCCC S CC Dg
9) July 8, 1968 Dg CCC Dg
10) September 4, 1968 D g Dg PCCCS
11) September 10, 1968 PCC S C
12) September 28, 1968 C
13) October 28, 1968 Dg PP Dg Dg Dg
14) November 1, 1968 P Dg Dg Dg Dg
15) November 19, 1968 Dg Dg S C Dg
16) December 21, 1968 CCC P
17) January 2, 1969 PC CCC SDg
18) February 14, 1969 Dg
19) April 1, 1969 Dg C Dg
20) April 28, 1969 Dg Dg S Dg
21) April 30, 1969 PPS Dg Dg Dg PCCCC Dg
22) May 5, 1969 PPPC Dg Dg Dg CCCCC
23) May 20, 1969 CCCCC C
24) June 15, 1969 Dg Dg S C Dg
25) August 19, 1969
26) December 1, 1969 Dg Dg
27) January 18, 1969 CC Dg
28) February 11, 1970 C Dg Dg
29) October 7, 1970 CC
30) March 5, 1970 Dg Dg


E. Contentious Behavior in the Black Panther Intercommunal News Service (by Police

Before Day of, but before,

Date Police Action Police Action After Police Action
1) May 2, 1967 D
2) May 22, 1967 P
3) June 2, 1967 P
4) July 7, 1967
5) October 28, 1967 S PPC
6) January 15, 1968
7) February 5, 1968 Dg
8) February 12, 1968 PP Dg PPPP Dg
9) February 15, 1968 PPP Dg PPP Dg
10) February 24, 1968 PP Dg PP
11) February 25, 1968 PPP Dg
12) April 3, 1968 PPPPS
13) April 6, 1968 P S PP
14) April 9, 1968 PPPS P
15) April 12, 1968 PPPPS
16) June 15, 1968
17) July 15, 1968 Dg Dg
18) September 14, 1968 Dg
19) October 9, 1968 CCS Dg PC
20) October 15, 1968 P Dg C
21) October 21, 1968 PPC Dg
22) November 4, 1968 P Dg PPPP Dg Dg
23) November 6, 1968 P Dg PPP Dg Dg
24) November 15, 1968 PP Dg Dg
25) December 3, 1968 Dg Dg Dg
26) December 5, 1968 P Dg Dg Dg
27) January 17, 1969 Dg
28) February 2, 1969 PPC Dg
29) February 6, 1969 P P Dg Dg
30) February 10, 1969 PP C Dg Dg Dg
31) March 31, 1969 C Dg
32) April 25, 1969 PPPPPP Dg Dg Dg
33) April 28, 1969 P PPP Dg Dg Dg
34) May 5, 1969 PPPPP Dg Dg Dg P
35) May 12, 1969 PP Dg Dg Dg
36) May 31, 1969 Dg Dg Dg
g g g
37) June 15, 1969 D D D PP
38) June 17, 1969 P Dg Dg Dg P
39) June 21, 1969 PP Dg Dg Dg
40) July 13, 1969 PPPPPPPP

BPPU.S. Government Event Catalog

E (continued)

Before Day of, but before,

Date Police Action Police Action After Police Action
41) July 14, 1969 P PPPPPPP
42) July 15, 1969 PP PPPPPP
43) July 16, 1969 PPP PPPP
44) July 17, 1969 PPPPPPP PPP
45) July 21, 1969 PPPPPPP PP
46) July 22, 1969 PPPPPPPPP P
47) July 30, 1969 PPPPPP PP
48) August 9, 1969 P P
49) August 19, 1969 PP P
50) August 26, 1969 P
51) September 8, 1969 P
52) November 12, 1969
53) December 3, 1969 Dg PPPPP Dg
54) December 6, 1969 P Dg PPPP Dg
55) December 8, 1969 PP Dg PP Dg
56) December 10, 1969 PPPP Dg P Dg
57) December 13, 1969 PPPPP Dg Dg P
58) December 22, 1969 PPPP Dg P Dg
59) December 30, 1969 P D g Dg
60) March 7, 1970 CCCC PP Dg
61) March 8, 1970 PCCCC Dg
62) March 21, 1970 PP Dg PPPC
63) March 31, 1970 P PPPC
64) April 2, 1970 PP PPC
65) April 4, 1970 PPPC P
66) April 9, 1970 PPPC
67) May 13, 1970
68) May 31, 1970 Dg
69) July 11, 1970 P Dg
70) July 25, 1970 P Dg PP Dg
71) August 7, 1970 PP Dg Dg Dg
72) August 20, 1970 PC Dg
73) September 9, 1970 Dg PC
74) September 23, 1970 PC PPPC
75) September 26, 1970 P C PP
76) October 1, 1970 PPC PP
77) October 6, 1970 PPPC PCCC
78) October 13, 1970 PP CCC
79) November 4, 1970 Dg
80) January 28, 1971 PPPP


E (continued)

Before Day of, but before,

Date Police Action Police Action After Police Action
81) February 6, 1971 P P
82) February 13, 1971 PPPP
83) March 6, 1971 Dg
84) April 3, 1971 C PP
85) April 10, 1971 P Dg
86) May 1, 1971 C
87) December 11, 1971 CC
88) April 1, 1972 C
89) May 6, 1972 C Dg
90) August 19, 1972
91) February 24, 1973 Dg Dg


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Adorno, Theodor, 39n27 black-white coalitions in, 100

Agenda database (event collection). See discrimination in, 99, 103
Event catalogs and cataloging employment and industry in, 989
Alioto, Joseph, 155, 160 gangs and crime in, 104
Asians, 103 newspapers in, 1089, 117n22, 120
Authorities. See also Governments; political issues in, 11617
Police and police activities; racial unrest in, 97
Repression repressive police strategies in, 1025,
efforts to maintain control, 67, 79 106
hypotheses concerning, 702 white population in, 100, 1036
interactions with the BPP and, 12 Becker, Carl, 28
observation by, 634 Behavioral movements, 6
political authorities, 69 Berkeley Barb. See also Newspapers;
protest movements and, 5, 57 Reporting and reporters; Sources
reporting and, 11, 58n11 and source materials
response to dissent of, 1011, 1718, coverage of BPP by, 16, 123, 12740,
143 1617, 1701, 175
social movements and, 81 coverage of contentious behavior
and police repression by, 197
Barb. See Berkeley Barb coverage of shooting and arrest of
Barkin, S.M., 58n11 Huey P. Newton, 2
Bay Area. See also Black Panther Party description and orientation of, 2, 16,
for Self-Defense; California; 1203, 130, 1356, 161, 163,
Oakland; San Francisco; 166
individual newspapers sources of, 1212
African American community in, theoretical slant of, 20
11920 Berkeley Tribe, 123, 166
African American population in, Bias. See Reporting and reporters;
978, 1036 Sources and source materials
black nationalism and extremism in, Bird, S. Elizabeth, 61
100 Black Chicago (Spear), 103


Black Panther. See Black Panther social activities of, 82, 93, 957, 101
Intercommunal News Service strategies of, 956, 101
Black Panther Intercommunal News Black Panther Party for Self-Defense
Service (BPINS ). See also members. See also Newton,
Newspapers; Reporting and Huey P.
reporters; Sources and source Brooks, Cleveland, 1601
materials Brown, Elaine (editor, BPINS ), 172
coverage of BPP by, 16, 1245, Brown, H. Rap, 158, 170
12740, 16673, 175 Carmichael, Stokely, 100, 158
coverage of contentious behavior Carter, Alprentice Bunchy, 159
and police repression by, 198200 Cleaver, Eldridge, 1467, 153, 159,
coverage of shooting of Huey P. 171
Newton by, 2 Cleaver, Kathleen, 15960
description and orientation of, 16, Coltrale, Arthur, 159, 170
20, 95, 1245, 137 Forte, Reginald, 1534
Black Panther Party for Self-Defense Harris, Truman, 158
(BPP). See also Bay Area; Courts; Hearns, Charles, 164
Dissidents and dissent; Police and Hilliard, David, 136, 155, 159, 170
police activities; Protests and Hudson, Audrey, 159, 170
rallies; Repression; Shootings; Hutton, Lil Bobby, 1467, 157
individual members; individual Murray, George, 153, 157, 160
newspapers Reynolds, Roland, 164
beginnings, chapters, and end of the Seale, Artie (Bobby Seales wife), 159
organization, 15, 945, 967,
1314 Seale, Bobby, 945, 1323, 154,
boycotts by, 165 15860, 164, 170
classication of behavior of, 11011 Tucker, James, 158
coverage of, 16, 19 Tucker, Warren, 169
event catalogs of, 10925, 1314, Wells, Warren, 1467, 154
14073, 193200 Woods, Dexter, 171
focus, goals, and agenda of, 1, 15, Wright, Eddie, 164
934, 967, 99101, 106, 154 Black Panther Party, The: Service to the
interactions with the authorities, People Programs (Dr. Huey P.
12, 13, 15n18, 1920, 82, 93, Newton Foundation), 93
1023, 14073, 184 Black Panthers and the Police, The: A
onset and termination of conict Pattern of Genocide? (Epstein),
events, 13134 127
phases/periods of, 101, 143, 14951, Black power movement, 1315, 100
1568 Bond, Doug, 78
political orientation of, 99101, Bond, Joe, 78
187 Boyette, Bill, 165
Rashomon Effect and, 1213 BPP. See Black Panther Party for
relationships with whites and, 100 Self-Defense
repression against, 82, 96, 181, Branch Davidians, 189
1824 Brass, Paul, 52, 63


Breslauer, George, 75 catalogs and cataloging;

Brooks, Cleveland (Black Panther), Repression citizen-initiated
1601 conict behavior, 1718, 48
Brown, Elaine (editor, BPINS ), 172 coverage and intensity of, 37, 556,
Brown, H. Rap (Black Panther), 158, 702, 1314, 140
170 effects of, 11
Bureaucratic inertia. See also Law of history and stories of, 5466
the Instrument hypotheses concerning, 702, 132
denition and concept of, 18 narrative structure of, 57f
importance of, 150 observation of, 635
newspapers and, 20, 148, 1657, onset and termination of BPP
1801 conict, 1314
police repression and, 143, 145, 148, political conict, 77
1678, 174 sanctions and, 56n6
Bursey, Charles, 1334 Scottsboro Boys and, 46
Bursey, Mrs. Charles, 161 stories of contention, 5566
stories of control and of struggle,
California, 978, 100n11. See also Bay 6671
Area; Oakland; San Francisco; Conict studies/contentious politics
individual newspapers coverage of, 23, 1011, 367,
Carmichael, Stokely (Black Panther), 5466, 148
100, 158 event cataloging and, 49, 289
Carter, Alprentice Bunchy (Black ownership of media rms and, 186
Panther), 159 understanding of, 1011, 367, 175
Cases and case studies, 12. See also Content or textual analysis, 5, 25,
individual newspapers 27
Cassidy, Tom (reporter), 46 Contentious politics. See Conict
Charley, J., 170 studies/contentious politics
Chronicle. See San Francisco Chronicle Control, 1011, 6671, 79, 142
Churchill, Ward, 64n25 Courts
Civil rights movement, 1314 BPP and, 86, 12930, 1345, 1445,
Cleaver, Eldridge (Black Panther), 1478, 1506, 1589, 162, 1678,
1467, 153, 159, 171 169
Cleaver, Kathleen (Black Panther), hypotheses concerning, 856, 129,
159, 160 130, 143
Clutchette, John (Soledad Brother), police activities and, 856, 1435,
161, 172 167
Coding rule, 56 Crowe, Daniel, 97, 104
Cold War, 98, 105 Cunningham, David, 83
Coltrale, Arthur (Black Panther), 159,
170 Dallin, Alexander, 75
Communist Party, 48, 50. See also Daniel, Raymond (reporter), 46
Newspapers Dardenne, Robert, 61
Conict and contention. See also Davis, Angela, 172
Dissidents and dissent; Event Democracy, 79


Deutsch, Karl, 4 studies/contentious politics;

Developed and developing nations, 45 Newspapers; Research and
Dissidents and dissent. See also Black research methods; Sources and
Panther Party for Self-Defense; source materials; individual
Conict studies/contentious newspapers
politics; Reporting and reporters; bias and, 318, 402
Repression; individual newspapers BPP-government/authority event
causal dynamics of, 19, 68 catalogs, 10925, 193200
contemporary state-dissident data collection, classication, and
interactions, 68 coding of, 10912
coverage of, 1012, 67, 12930, denition and concepts of, 5, 10,
1378, 1567 110n5
dissident organizations as dissent and repression in, 1920
informants, 69 early, conventional approach to,
focus of, 801 2738, 403, 47, 50
hypotheses concerning, 702, 801, editorial effects on, 186
856 event coverage, 30f, 312, 3940,
legitimate and illegitimate dissent, 8690
78nn89, 1323 later, contested approach to, 3950,
responses to, 1011, 17, 823 54
targets of, 823 methods and approaches of, 56,
violent and nonviolent challenges, 89, 257, 501, 10912
1718, 78n8, 79, 803, perspective and, 3940, 423, 45
8990 police records and, 37
Dixon, William, 40 problems in, 2930, 42
Djankov, Simeon, 186 Rashomon Effect and, 10, 54, 867
Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, 93 sequences in, 1458
Dowell, Denzil, 125, 132, 151 sources and, 79, 16, 20, 26, 38,
Drumgo, Fleeta (Soledad Brother), 404, 11225, 127, 181
161, 172 Stories of Scottsboro and, 4450
Dryfoos, Orvil, 186 Events. See also Conict and
Duffy, Gavan, 39n26 contention; Conict
studies/contentious politics;
Earl, Jennifer S., 75n2, 77n2, 834 Reporting and reporters
Eckstein, Harry coverage of events, 29, 312, 55,
Economic issues, 989, 191 58n10, 127
Editorial issues event sequences, 367
effects of different editorial regimes, factor analysis and patterns of, 345
186 reported event counts, 67
fatigue effects, 2930 Examiner. See San Francisco Examiner
newshole effects, 30 Executive Order 8802 (Roosevelt;
threshold effects, 29 1941), 978
Epstein, Edward Jay, 127, 130n1
Event catalogs and cataloging. See also Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),
Conict and contention; Conict 83


Ferree, Myra Marx, 74, 75n2 Hazelwood, Leo, 34n14

Fleming, Thomas, 119 Heanes, Herbert (Oakland police
Forman, James ( leader, SNCC), 158 ofcer), 1
Hearns, Charles (Black Panther), 164
Forte, Reginald (Black Panther), 153,
154 Hilliard, David (Black Panther), 136,
Foucault, Michel, 44n33, 678, 88, 155, 159, 170
152 Hoover, J. Edgar, 114
Francisco, Ron, 78 Horkheimer, Max, 39n27
Frankel, Max, 115n19 Hudson, Audrey (Black Panther), 159,
Franks, C.E.S., 78n8 170
Franzosi, Roberto, 25, 27 Huntington, Samuel, 4
Free Huey protests and rallies, 1378, Hutton, Lil Bobby (Black Panther),
147, 1534, 159, 164, 171 1467, 157
Frey, John (Oakland police ofcer), Hypotheses. See also Authorities;
12, 136, 146, 159, 16970 Conict and contention; Courts;
Friedman, Monroe ( judge), 147 Dissidents and dissent;
From Words to Numbers: Narrative, Data Governments; Police and police
and Social Science (Franzosi), 25 activities; Proximity; Repression;
Social movements; Sources and
Gamson, William, 82, 187 source materials
Garry, Charles (BPP attorney), 147, contention between dissidents and
153 authorities, 702, 79, 143
Gaunt, Philip, 32n11 perspective and orientation of
Genocide, 56n6 sources, 889, 130
Gerner, Deborah, 8 state-dissident interactions, 856,
Goldstein, Robert, 112 12930
Goodlett, Carlton, 11920 violent and nonviolent dissent and
Goodman, James, 4450 repression, 801
Governments. See also Authorities; Hypotheses specic, 19
Repression 1. proximity of sources and extent of
associations with news sources, 334 coverage, 71, 12930, 149
hypotheses concerning, 856 2. proximity of sources to
media views of, 58n11 governments or dissidents, 71,
provision of information by, 69 12930, 132, 137, 152
records of, 191 3. proximity of sources and equity of
repressive actions by, 4, 567, 75, coverage, 71, 129, 156
779, 812 4. authority-oriented sources and
sanctions of citizens by, 56n6 coverage of repression, 71, 129,
Gulf Wars I and II, 189 135, 151
Gurr, Ted, 4, 84 5a. dissident-oriented sources and
coverage of dissent, 71, 132
Halberstam, David, 113 5b. dissident-oriented sources and
Harris, Truman (Black Panther), 158 coverage of conict behavior, 72,
Hate organizations, 83 130, 167


Hypotheses specic (cont.) sources when repression is

6. source orientation and discussed, 88, 152
identication of action initiators, 21. highlighting of authorities and
72, 132, 143, 152 dissidents by dissident-oriented
7. dissident-oriented sources and sources, 88, 162
highlighting of dissent behavior, 22. focus of dissident-oriented
72 sources on dissident activities, 89
8. source orientation and range of 23. highlighting of smaller range of
coverage of repressive events, 72 dissident activities by
9. source orientation and range of authority-oriented sources, 89,
coverage of dissident events, 72 151
Hypotheses specic, 1013 24. highlighting of a larger range of
10a. effect of violent dissent on challenges by dissident-oriented
repression, 80, 1434, 149, 162 sources, 89
10b. effect of lagged violent dissent
on repression, 80, 1434, 149, 162 Ideology and ideological effects, 9n14
11a. effect of nonviolent dissent on Information and informants. See also
repression, 80, 1434, 162 Reporting and reporters; Sources
11b. effect of lagged nonviolent and source materials
dissent on repression, 80, 1434, contextualizing informants, 70f
162 observers, reporters, and informants,
12. response of authorities to 616, 69
behavioral challenges that target about the Scottsboro Boys, 479
agents of repression, 80 sources of, 58, 16, 41n28
13. response of authorities to I, Pierre Riviere, Having Slaughtered My
behavioral challenges that do not Mother, My Sister and My Brother
target agents of repression, 80 (Foucault), 44n33
Hypotheses specic, 1417
14. effect of previous police action on Jackson, George (Soledad Brother),
subsequent police action, 85, 143 161, 172
15. effect of previous court action on Jeffries, Judson, 97n5
subsequent court action, 85 Jones, Charles, 97n5
16. effect of previous police action on Journalists and journalism, 15. See also
subsequent court action, 85, 150 Newspapers
17. effect of previous court action on
subsequent police action, 85, 144, Keen, David, 55
150 Kelly, Robin, 37
Hypotheses specic, 1824 KKK. See Ku Klux Klan
18. support of authorities by distant Knowland, Joseph R., 11617
sources, 88, 143 Knowland, Joseph W., 117n21
19. support of authorities and Knowland, William F., 116, 118
dissidents by proximate sources, Koehler, John, 64n25
88 Kruger, Barbara, 39n27
20. highlighting of dissent and Ku Klux Klan (KKK), 83, 188
authorities by state-oriented Kurosowa, Akira, xiii, 3, 52, 179


Labor issues. See Unions narrative conventions of, 5561

Law of the Instrument, 18, 838. See ownership of, 186
also Bureaucratic inertia portrayal of governments
Liberation News Service, 121 perception of citizens, 56n5
presence at conict events, 65
Malcolm X, 95, 131 role in domestic conict of, 60n15
Maney, Gregory, 78 sources and subjects, 616
Marable, Manning, 96 spin in, 67n29
Mariani, Phil, 39n27 stories of control and of struggle,
Mass media, 68. See also News media 6671
Mayfair market (Oakland), 133 Newspapers. See also Event catalogs
McBroome, Delores, 103 and cataloging; Reporting and
McCarthy, John, 78, 378 reporters; Sources and source
McCarthy, Joseph, 117 materials; individual newspapers
McKinney, Gene, 12 alternative presses, 15, 1213
Mercury (San Jose newspaper), in the Bay Area, 1089
108 BPP bylines in, 160
Merritt College (Oakland, CA), 94 communist newspapers, 456,
Mulford Act (CA; 1967), 97 489
Mullenbach, Mark, 40 coverage of dissent and repression,
Murray, George (Black Panther), 153, 1920, 55, 1901
157, 160 coverage of protest behavior, 37, 46
Myers, Daniel, 78 coverage of the Scottsboro Boys and,
National Association for the distribution of, 191
Advancement of Colored People editorial issues, 2930
(NAACP), 14 event cataloging and, 190
Nationalism, 96, 99101, 187 event coverage in, 2931
News. See also Reporting and literary and narrative conventions of,
reporters; individual news outlets; 5561
individual newspapers local newspapers, 37, 189
characteristics of, 323, 186 mass production of, 6n9
generation of, 32n11 Northern newspapers, 4950
local news, 37, 189 orientation of, 11225
narrative conceptions and overlap between, 13440
conventions, 5561 ownership of, 189
sources and subjects, 616 practices of, 15, 109
News (San Jose newspaper), 108 as sources of information, 58, 16,
News media. See also Mass media; 107, 186
Reporting and reporters; Southern newspapers, 489
individual news outlets; individual spacial problems and, 113
newspapers stringers and, 113, 1212, 189
changes in, 1889 types of, 15, 109
dissident organizations and, 190 villains and heroes of, 58n11
objective reporting for, 42, 59 News wires, 78, 37, 113, 121, 1478


Newton, Huey P. Oakland Tribune. See also Newspapers;

beginning of the Black Panthers and, Reporting and reporters; Sources
945 and source materials
black nationalism and, 99 African American community and,
Free Huey protests and rallies, 117n23
1378, 147, 1534, 159, 164, coverage of the BPP by, 2, 16,
171 12740, 14957, 161, 1646, 170,
shooting by, arrest and charging of, 175
12, 136, 146, 152, 1589, 16970 coverage of contentious behavior and
trials and court appearances of, 133, police repression by, 14956, 195
135, 147, 1523 description and orientation of, 16,
New York Times, The (NYT ). See also 108, 11618, 1289, 137, 152
Newspapers; Reporting and theoretical slant of, 20
reporters; Sources and source Observation, 623, 68
materials Ochs, Adolph, 11415, 186
coverage of BPP by, 16, 114, 116, Oliver, Pamela, 78
12740, 14352, 154, 1567, 161, Ortiz, David, 69
163, 166
coverage of police repression, 1439, Panthers. See Black Panther Party for
194 Self-Defense
coverage of protest events by, 38 Peoples Park (Berkeley, CA), 1223
description and orientation of, 16, Police and police activities. See also
11316, 128, 132 Authorities; Bay Area;
as event catalog benchmark, 107 Repression; Shootings; individual
founders and editors of, 11415, 186 newspapers
geographic focus of, 114 BPP and, 15n18, 86, 94, 97, 99, 102,
reports about riots in, 37 1061301, 1367, 1434, 1501,
reputation of, 33, 11314 1558, 15965, 16771, 174, 181
theoretical slant of, 20 court activity and, 856, 143, 167
New York Times Index, The, 36n20 coverage of, 12930, 1367
NGOs. See Nongovernmental hypotheses concerning, 856, 129,
organizations 143
Nixon, Richard M., 155 Police records and reports, 79, 37
Nixon (Richard M.) administration, Policies and policymaking, 18
115 Political issues. See also Black Panther
Nobody-moves-nobody-gets-hurt Party for Self-Defense;
thesis, 17 Hypotheses
Nongovernmental organizations access to political authorities, 189
(NGOs), 191 in the Bay area, 99101, 109
Novick, Peter, 27 of the black power movement, 14
NYT. See New York Times, The event coverage, 1112, 73, 132, 140
onset of conict, 131
Oakland (CA), 98, 103. See also Bay political conict, 5, 77
Area; individual source political orientation, 689,
newspapers 191


Protests and rallies. See also Dissidents Effect; Sources and source
and dissent; Dowell, Denzil; Free materials; individual newspapers
Huey protests and rallies; bias in, 318, 42, 59n13
individual newspapers differing accounts in, 3, 1112, 312
BPP protests, 1323, 144, 1467, of dissent and repression, 1112, 17,
151, 155, 1578, 1601, 1634, 1819, 32n9
16970 event coverage and, 2931
efforts to disrupt order, 67 focus of, 57
observation by protesters, 645 frequency of event reporting, 128
Proximity 31
event coverage and, 1112, 323, narrative conceptions and
6970, 73, 878, 129, 1312, 151, conventions of, 5561
1734, 180 objectivity and objective reporting,
hypotheses concerning, 71, 129, 130, 42, 689
149 reporting bias, 2738
newspapers and, 16f, 4950 of the Scottsboro Boys, 456
Pye, Lucien, 789 source and subject in, 616
source orientation and, 1819
RAM. See Revolutionary Action Repression. See also Bay Area; Black
Movement Panther Party for Self-Defense;
Rashomon (lm; Kurosawa), xiii, 3, 38, Conict studies/contentious
524, 179 politics; Dissidents and dissent;
Rashomon Effect. See also Black Governments; Police and police
Panther Party for Self-Defense activities; individual newspapers
BPP-U.S. authority interaction and, authorities use of, 567, 767,
1745, 188 8990, 148
concepts of, 34, 18, 54, 175 causal dynamics of, 19, 823
dimensions of, 12834 coverage of, 12930
effects of, 1819, 867, 1912 denitions and concepts of, 21, 757
examples of, 149 domestic realist or threat model of,
explanation of, 917, 723 1718, 20, 77, 87
generalizability of, 174, 18792 examples of, 74
newspaper coverage and, 149, 156, hypotheses concerning, 702, 801,
173 856, 143
origins of, xiii juridicopolitical function of, 678
relevance of, 14073 operationalization of, 15
sources and, 43, 46, 173, 179, 188 opposition/reaction model of, 77
state authorities and, 90, 149, 156, repressive agents and organizations,
1878 835
study of, 38, 61n18, 18991 research on, 747, 1412
Reading, John, 132 source variation and, 1801
Reagan, Ronald, 155 state repression and the Rashomon
Realism, 11, 1718, 20, 77, 87 Effect, 90
Reporting and reporters. See also News stories about, 667
media; Newspapers; Rashomon Republic of New Africa, 14


Research and research methods. See San Francisco Examiner, 108, 113n15.
also Conict studies/contentious See also Newspapers; Reporting
politics; Event catalogs and and reporters; Sources and source
cataloging; Sources and source materials
materials San Francisco State University, 157,
case studies, 12 160
on conict/dissent and repression, San Jose Mercury and News, 108
1720, 1402, 18790 Scherr, Max, 120, 123, 166
examination of similarities and Schrodt, Phillip, 78
differences, 36n20 Schudson, Michael, 42, 55n4, 5960
event cataloging, xixiii, 49, 367 Scott, James, xiii
in the late 1960s and early 1970s, 13 Scottsboro Boys (AL). See Stories of
qualitative data reading, 1412 Scottsboro, The
source selection and, 78, 12, 1823, Seale, Artie (Bobby Seales wife), 159
source variation and, 182, 18892 Seale, Bobby (Black Panther), 94, 95,
study of Rashomon Effect, 18792 1323, 154, 158, 159, 160, 164,
Revolutionary Action Movement 170
(RAM), 1415, 945, 188 Seattle (WA), 189
Reynolds, Roland (Black Panther), 164 Seeger, Arthur, 120, 1223
Shapin, Steven, 41n28
Richie, Donald, 54 Sherwin, Raymond ( judge), 147n10
Richmond (CA), 98 Shootings. See also Police and police
Rivers, William, 1089 activities
Rorabaugh, W.J., 100 reported by the Berkeley Barb, 130,
Rosenau, Pauline, 39n27 136, 13940, 162, 163
Rubin, David, 1089 reported by the BPINS, 1301, 136,
Rude, George, 7 13940, 167, 170
Rummel, Rudolph, 4 reported by the New York Times, 129,
Russett, Bruce, 4 136, 13940, 143, 145, 1467, 163
Rwanda, 65 reported by the Oakland Tribune,
129, 136, 13940, 153, 163
Sacramento (CA), 97 reported by the Sun Reporter, 129,
Safeway, 165 136, 13940, 156, 157, 158, 160,
San Francisco (CA), 98, 103, 155. See 163
also Bay Area; individual Sigal, Leon, 62
newspapers SNCC. See Student Non-Violent
San Francisco Bay Guardian, 113n15. Coordinating Committee
See also Newspapers; Reporting Snyder, David, 37, 77n6
and reporters; Sources and source Social and Cultural Dynamics: Fluctuation
materials of Social Relationships, War and
San Francisco Chronicle, 108, 113n15. Revolution (Sorokin), 256
See also Newspapers; Reporting Social movements, 81, 856, 1312,
and reporters; Sources and source 172. See also Black power
materials movement; Civil rights movement


Sociological Theory (Tilly), 107 Stanford, Max, 95

Soledad Brothers, 161, 172 Stanley, William, 77
Sorokin, Pitirim, 4n5, 256 Stories of Scottsboro, The (Goodman),
Soule, Sarah, 834 449
Sources and source materials. See also Stringers. See Newspapers
Event catalogs and cataloging; Student Non-Violent Coordinating
Information and informants; Committee (SNCC), 158, 164
Newspapers; News wires; Police Sulzberger, Arthur Hays, 11415, 186
records; Proximity; Rashomon Sulzberger, Arthur Ochs, Jr., 186
Effect; individual newspapers Sulzberger, Arthur (Punch) Ochs,
accuracy and completeness of source 115, 186
materials, 28, 347, 1745, Sun Reporter. See also Newspapers;
18990 Reporting and reporters; Sources
bias and, 312, 356, 401 and source materials
capacity of, 3 coverage of BPP by, 2, 16, 119, 120,
challenges to objectivity and 12740, 15661, 163, 166, 169
perspectives of, 26 coverage of contentious behavior
competitive evaluation of, 345 and police repression by, 196
dissent and repression and, 19, description and orientation of, 2, 16,
6870, 1834, 18990 11820, 129, 132, 156, 158, 160
early, conventional views of, 2738
in event catalogs, 79, 16, 20, 26, 38, Tarrow, Sidney, 58n9
401, 42 Tauber, Alma, 98n8
hypotheses concerning, 889 Tauber, Karl, 98n8
identication of, 256 Television, 37
later, contested views of, 3950 Terrorism and terrorists, 1889
news characteristics and, 323, 37 Theft of an Idol: Text and Context in the
NGO and government records, 191 Representation of Collective Violence
overlap between newspapers, 13440 (Brass), 52
Third World, 4
perspective and orientation of, Threat model, 1718, 20, 1801
3940, 60, 67, 8790, 11225, Tilly, Charles
1745, 1801, 1834, 18990, 191 conict studies and, 4, 75
political factors of, 689, 1801 event cataloging and, xi, 5, 107,
reputations of, 334 141n5, 182
selection of, 79, 38, 180, 1826 source selection and, 78, 182
sources and subjects, 616 Tilly, Louise, 78
variation in issues of, 917, 1819, Tilly, Richard, 78
478, 8790, 1756, 179, 1801, Times. See New York Times, The
1845 Trials. See Courts; Newton, Huey P.
Southern Christian Leadership Tribune. See Oakland Tribune
Conference, 14 Trust, 41n28
Space. See Proximity Tuchman, Gaye, 58n10, 59n12
Spear, Allan, 103 Tucker, James (Black Panther), 158
Staats, Redmond ( judge), 1523, 158 Turner, Wallace (reporter), 1478


Tucker, Warren (Black Panther), 169 White, Robert, 36n20

WHPSI. See World Handbook of Political
and Social Indictors
Underground Press Syndicate, 121 Williams, Robert F., 95
Unions, 99 Wolfsfeld, Gadi, 60, 118n24
United States, 45, 13, 48, 115 Woods, Dexter (Black Panther), 171
World Handbook of Political and Social
Victims, 634 Indictors (WHPSI; Taylor and
Vietnam War, 155 Jodice), 59n13
World Trade Organization (WTO),
War on poverty, 13 189
Washington Post, 38 World War II, 979
Weapons of the Weak (Scott), xiii Wright, Eddie (Black Panther), 164
Wells, Warren (Black Panther), 1467, WTO. See World Trade Organization
West, Gerald, 34n14 Ziegenhagen, Eduard, 75