Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.:
Ronald Reagan was inaugurated Governor of California in January 1967, and in May of that same year as armed delegation of Black Panthers entered the state capitol in Sacramento. They were there to protest the Mulford Act, which restricted the carrying of loaded firearms in public spaces. The legislation had been drafted in response to the Panthers’ armed community patrols of police in Oakland.
In black and brown communities, the Oakland Police Department had earned the reputation for “head-knocking brutality.” Many people feared hem. The police weren’t in black communities to protect the people, Huey P. Newton suggested in his memoir, Revolutionary Suicide: “Instead they act as the military arm of our oppressors and continually brutalize us.” Newton and Bobby Seale founded he Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in October 1966, in part as a response to that brutal repression. Listed among the party’s demands was “an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people.” The Panthers’ community patrols were aimed at inspiring black and brown communities to fight back and served as a warning to law enforcement of the party’s willingness to defend its communities with violence, if necessary. The theater of armed black men monitoring police captured the imagination of Oakland and of the country. It certainly caught the attention of legislators in Sacramento. The Mulford Act was an attempt to shut it down.