Huey Percy Newton (February 17, 1942 – August 22, 1989) was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party. Congresswoman Barbara Lee was a confidential aide to Newton. Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple and Newton had the same lawyer, Charles Garry.
On October 28, 1967, Oakland police officer John Frey was shot to death in an altercation with Huey P. Newton during a traffic stop. In the stop, Newton and backup officer Herbert Heanes also suffered gunshot wounds. Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter at trial, but the conviction was later overturned. In his book Shadow of the Panther, writer Hugh Pearson alleges that Newton, while intoxicated in the hours before he was shot and killed, claimed to have willfully killed John Frey.In 1973 Huey Newton published a book called Revolutionary Suicide. It was a tome on the latest hip cultural Marxist thought.
“The concept of revolutionary suicide is not defeatist or fatalistic. On the contrary, it conveys an awareness of reality in combination with the possibility of hope—reality because the revolutionary must always be prepared to face death, and hope because it symbolizes a resolute determination to bring about change.”In Jones' reading, Jones failed to distinguish between “revolutionary suicide” and “reactionary suicide”—surrender in response to frustrating conditions—the concept appears so ill-thought through as to make misunderstandings probable.
In January 1977, Jones journeyed to Cuba following a letter of introduction from Willie Brown asking Fidel Castro to treat Jones' trip as a state visit. There, he held a summit with Huey Newton, who fled from charges in the United States involving the murder of a teenage girl and the pistol whipping of an older tailor. Both made the mistake of calling him "Baby." In Cuba, Jones and Newton discussed “revolutionary suicide” and much else. Jones made certain to publicize the trip to the congregation which included some of Newton's relatives. Jones boasted of healing Newton's parents of cancer.
In 1978 reporter Paul Avery depicted Huey Newton as addicted to drugs and rape and bullying and more. Jones attacked Avery in the Peoples Forum. “He’s sold his soul to the white company store,” Jones said of Avery, who years earlier told a Temple member of Jones: “I have yet to find one shred of evidence backing up anything bad that has been said against him. In fact, most everyone I’ve contacted has had nothing but good words about Jim Jones and his work.”Jones read the entire 15,000 word article to his captive audience in Jonestown. Every paragraph or so, Jones interspersed his own critical commentary on Avery and co-author Kate Coleman's words. At the conclusion of the article, the Avery and Coleman cite Newton's books, To Die for the People and Revolutionary Suicide, to buttress the idea that Newton, rather than face punishment for murder and beating his tailor, was likely scheming to partake in a self-destructive act granting him heroic socialist martyr status.
“And Paul Avery ought to be sick in his gut, because he knew what those historic words meant. To die for the people means to give up your life for the people you love. And revolutionary suicide is an act of giving yourself—if it even sacrifices yourself—to bring down the corrupt racist capitalist system.”
Newton spoke to Temple members via shortwave expressing support for Jones during one of the Temple's "White Nights".
Newton's cousin, Stanley Clayton, was one of the few residents of Jonestown to escape.
Newton was murdered on August 22, 1989 in the then-derelict neighborhood of Lower Bottoms in Oakland, California. Days after the murder, Tyrone Robinson, who was on parole at the time, was arrested as a suspect in Newton's death and admitted to the murder under a claim of self-defence. Robinson was convicted of first-degree murder in a 1991 trial and was sentenced to between 32 years to life in prison.