August 7: Anniversary of the Marin County courthouse rebellion
Kiilu Nyasha: August 7, 1970, the spectacular courthouse slave rebellion hit the front pages of newspapers around the world. Pictures of four, young Black freedom fighters emerging from Marin County court with guns and hostages, provoked panic among white supremacists. But most Black folks took great pride and inspiration from the sight of such courageous resistance to the ongoing brutality and murder of Blacks inside and outside of prison.
“Freeze!” shouted 17-year-old Jonathan Jackson, “We’re taking over” — as he tossed guns to McClain, Christmas, and Magee. With courage and calm they ushered their hostages to a waiting van, planning to go to a radio station to broadcast the atrocities being committed behind the walls against Blacks, and demand the immediate release of the Soledad Brothers – George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo and John Clutchette.
What Jonathan failed to anticipate was the State’s willingness to sacrifice one of its judges and the lives of everyone else to stop that escape. As Jonathan tried to leave the parking lot, the San Quentin guards arrived and opened fire, leaving Jackson, Christmas, McClain, and Judge Harold Haley dead, State prosecutor Gary Thomas and Ruchell Magee seriously wounded and one juror with a minor injury.
One year later, on August 21, 1971, in what has been well established as a setup, George Jackson was murdered on the yard of San Quentin by prison guards.