Former Black Panther Leader Elaine Brown Receives $4,000,000 From Oakland, Calif., Jury for Elder Abuse

Eric Risberg/File/AP Images
Eric Risberg/File/AP Images

Elaine Brown, former leader of the Black Panther Party, was recently awarded more than $4 million by a Northern California jury, stemming from what was determined to be an assault by an Oakland, Calif., councilwoman in 2015.


Last week, a jury found that Councilwoman Desley Brooks should pay $550,000 to Brown, who was injured after Brooks pushed her during an argument. Brown was also awarded $3.8 million in damages from the city by the same jury in December 2016.

The Associated Press reports that jurors found that Brooks pushed Brown over stacked chairs, and Brown—then 72 years old—had to have surgery for a torn rotator cuff.

The jury also determined that Brown was the victim of elder abuse.

The altercation apparently stemmed from Brown’s venture to build affordable housing for formerly incarcerated people in West Oakland.

Brown testified that during a confrontation at Everett & Jones Barbeque restaurant in October 2015, the councilwoman told her the project was “of no benefit to black people” and physically attacked her after they had a verbal altercation.

Brown was the first and only woman to lead the Black Panther Party, after founder Huey P. Newton fled to Cuba because of murder charges. She held the post for three years but left in 1977, tiring of the virulent sexism within the movement and the organization specifically.


In her years since being one of the most prominent faces of the Black Panther Party, Brown went on to write several books and in 2003 co-founded the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform, which assists prisoners with housing after they are released—the root of Brown’s argument with Brooks.

“I feel grateful to the jury for understanding that this wasn’t an issue of two black women fighting in a bar,” Brown said Monday. “This was someone who was an elected official who abused her power.”


Brooks, in response, said that the judgment was “disappointing but not unexpected.”

Read more at WRAL.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.


A word to the wise I grew up in the Black Panther party in Detroit, if there is one thing the Panther alumni know well it is the legal system and how to pick a good lawyer with fight and bite in him or her. In Michigan we only lost one court case with house counsel the late Kenneth Cockrel Sr and Gerald Kaufman.

The grown ups always said these two attorneys were the best money the party ever spent. These people today must know about the Panthers, better go ask somebody.