The New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter Rules of Conduct Explained

Due to recent events in our local party group in which some of our comrades misunderstood and called into question the relevancy of some of our party’s rules, and to assist these and other comrades who may not fully grasp the reasoning behind them, I have undertaken to compose something of an exposition to clarify and explain the importance of our rules, why they are necessary and to provide a clearer theoretical basis for them which I hope will aid us as we apply them in practice.

1. This is a party of struggle and you must strive to develop your knowledge and leadership abilities and your integrity and commitment to serve the people and conduct yourself so as to win the trust, respect and confidence of the people. The NABPP-PC does not seek to recruit members merely for the sake of numbers; on the contrary, our party desires to be composed of the most advanced elements of the people, those who are dedicated to serving them and developing all of their faculties to this end. We must be active in developing “new leaders” as well as our own leadership capabilities so that if ever one of our leaders becomes unable to perform his/her functions – for whatever reason – we will have new ones willing and able to step up and propel the party and its programs forward.

We must also make sure that we practice strict discipline and persynifiy to the highest degree the example we hope for the people to follow. Only in this way will the people trust and accept our leadership and relate and be receptive to our message.

2. Know and Understand the party’s “10-Point Program,” its history and significance at this point in history and be able to explain and defend it to others.

Our 10-Point Program comprises our party’s demands in relation to the concrete conditions which exist in and directly affect our oppressed communities. It is therefore imperative for comrades to know its importance and history, as well as its current relevance, because it is out party’s foundation and the basis from which hour many programs are subsequently derived. Being that under present conditions we won’t always have access to party literature and material, we must have this vital information on-hand within our memory so that it can be taught, explained and defended at any time, in any situation.

3. Read at least two hours a day to develop your knowledge and keep abreast of what is going on in the world. This rule has been a point of contention among some comrades who are generally disinclined to reading and fail to grasp its significance. Not only is the NABPP-PC focused on organizing and improving the conditions of our communities here in Amerika in preparation for a socialist revolution, but we are also revolutionary internationalists concerned with forging links with and representing the interests of the oppressed people of the world. This can only be realized by staying informed and up-to-date with current world events, understanding the diverse histories of different oppressed peoples and studying concrete conditions – both domestic and foreign – so that we can arrive at correct analysis. One f the advantages we are afforded in our current situation is a wealth of free time we can utilize to read, study, and discuss issues and concepts without the many demands which accompany being on the outside. This knowledge isn’t gathered for its own sake, but to help us form correct theories, avoid previous mistakes and better serve the people, which means you will have to subordinate your subjective wants and dislikes to the objective needs and interests of the people and the party. The two hours of reading can be broken up throughout your 24 hour day and can include a miscellany of different reading material (and speaking honestly, two hours is a very modest amount of time, compared with the amount sometimes expended on non-productive activities, such as TV/movies, games, music, etc.).

4. Develop your understanding of Historical Dialectical Materialism, which is the philosophical basis of our party’s ideological and political line and apply it to your political work and analysis.

Historical Dialectical Materialism is a tool that allows us to approach situations and phenomena with a coherent philosophical framework with which we can properly investigate, analyze and deal with concrete conditions and then formulate and apply concrete solutions. Anybody who adheres to our ideology and philosophy must be willing to actively learn more about and understand it so that they will be rooted in a solid foundation and be capable of teaching and breaking it down to others. HDM is made up of many parts, so comrades must be dedicated and determined in studying all the related parts and applying them through practice in your day to day work.

5. Show “Panther Love” to your comrades and strive to encourage and uplift them. Recognize and praise their contributions, be open and above board, practice criticism and self-criticism and do not be liberal.

Our party is made up of politically conscious and advanced comrades untied by a shared love for the people, abhorrence and hatred of oppression and exploitation and a commitment and dedication to serving people and leading a socialist revolution, we are more than mere friends –   we are comrades, and the bonds which bind us together must be so strong that no mutual disagreement or tactic used by the reactionaries can disrupt our unity and solitary. We must endeavor to bring out the best qualitied in our comrades and commend their positive contributions, while pointing out and criticizing mistakes and incorrect ideas, not out of any spite, revenge or ill-will, but out of a genuine desire to function collectively at a higher level of efficiency and with a strengthened unity, because in the end, we are all pursuing the same goals and assuming the same risks.

But we must also make sure that our mutual love and concern doesn’t move us to let even the slightest deviation or mistake slip by and hence be guilty of liberalism, as that becomes a corrosive to party unity, and every comrade must always be responsible and accountable for and to his/herself and ones comrades.

6. Maintain a regimen of healthy physical exercise and diet and keep yourself fit for duty as best as you can. Don’t abuse your health with excessive drinking or drugs.

As Panthers, we are constantly involved in the process of bettering ourselves so that we can carry out our duties and responsibilities and preform at the highest level. Not only must we develop and improve our mental capacity, but we must also place focus on our physical capacity so that we remain at all times fit for duty and in tip-top shape. Drugs and alcohol serve only to erode our mental and physical faculties and place us in a lowered state of awareness, which can become an impediment to properly carrying out party work. So heavy emphasis should be placed on taking care of your body through regular healthy exercise and a good diet so that not only are you able to serve the people in whatever capacity you may be needed, but you will also be setting an example of healthy living for the people to follow.

7. Be reliable, punctual and good to your word. Carry out your assigned tasks responsibly, effectively and to the best of your ability and with a good attitude.

Comrades must be known for their precision, efficiency and enthusiasm in carrying out their duties and conduct themselves with the utmost discipline, sincerity and willingness to serve the people at all times. Good character and habits should be formed all-around so that you can be counted on and trusts, thus helping the party to function properly.

8. Practice collective leadership and not commandism.

Our party abides by the principle of “Democratic Centralism” and shuns the idea of one persyn rule from above. Every Comrade’s opinions and views are worthy of being heard, and input and participation from the masses is encouraged and welcomed. We are not about ordering people around, but instead we’re about including comrades with many unique opinions and abilities and a willingness to use their abilities in the best ways possible to serve the people and build the party. Each comrade is a leader in their own right and way, and the masses are led by an amalgamation of these various leaders and their abilities, and not by the will of any single individual.

9. Hold and attend regular meetings, at least weekly or bi-weekly, discuss things thoroughly and practice mutual criticism in a comradely way. Strive to reach consensus. Uphold decisions by the majority. 

This is closely related to the last rule. We must make concerted efforts to meet regularly to discuss plans and programs, clear-up issues and make important decisions collectively. Meetings must be an important feature of party functioning because this where every comrade’s opinion can be heard and considered, problems can be exposed and resolved, and unity can be reinforced through collective participation and interaction. Complete agreement on issues should be sought after, but when this cannot be reached, majority decision should be respected and followed.

10. If arrested or interrogated by the authorities, give your name and ID only. Make no statements without an attorney being present.

We are a disciplined party which strives to serve and defend the people and promote unity. We will not aid the authorities in carrying out any designs to oppress or incriminate ourselves, our comrades, or the people, nor will we obstruct them from following their own stated policies and procedures. When apprehended or interviewed, comrades should provide the minimum required information – name and ID – and postpone any further discussion until you are afforded legal counsel.

11. Do not discuss party business or comrades with any law enforcement officer, agent or informer.

This rule builds on the last one. Being a party of and for the people, we refuse to sell ourselves out to reactionary forces who seek to oppress, exploit and degrade us. We will not expose our comrades to any undue risk or danger and will remain vigilant so as to prevent agents from gathering any information in an attempt to harm the party or its members.

12. Know your legal first aid.

Since we are an above-ground political organization, it becomes necessary to know our individual rights and legal limitations. We are not out to violate any rules or laws, so we must be aware of our legal bounds so that we may function inside of them as best we can. It is also important to become acquainted with the policies and procedures within the prisons comrades are in so that you can have a better understanding of the code of conduct and limitations of both yourself and the officers.

13. Attend and conduct political education classes, forums and study circles.

Open PE classes and study circles are a main part of our organizing and education. It is a valuable opportunity to both teach and be taught, and a way to garner interest and participation from the masses. Comrades must be encouraged to become actively involved so to ensure that everybody develops a clear understanding of the concepts and ideas being presented, and so that they can be seen from different points of view. Each comrade has a unique teaching style and different people respond and are receptive to various teaching methods, so all comrades should participate so that these sessions can be used to reach and educate as many people as possible.

14. Familiarize yourself with martial arts and techniques of self-defense. Do no use violence except in the extremity of self-defense.

In pursuit of our duty to serve the people, we must also be ready and willing to defend them and ourselves from any form of violence. Every persyn has the inherent right to defend his/herself from injury or harm, and we must be prepared and capable to do so in the event we are forced to exercise this right. A Panther is not an aggressor, but when it is actually threatened with injury or harm, it will defend itself and wipe out its aggressor until there remains no further threat. We are not a party of violence, but we will not submissively endure any attack on our persyn. Learning the art and different techniques of self-defense will help ensure that we’re able to adequately defend ourselves if the situation arises.

15. Know your medical first aid.

It is common knowledge that the medical attention and care afforded to black and poor oppressed people in this country is inadequate and hard to obtain, especially under our current conditions. Therefore, it is incumbent upon party cadre to learn and know the basic fundamentals of first aid so that we can provide this crucial service to the people if ever the situation presents itself. Being that our survival is such as low priority to those “elected” and charged with provided for our survival needs, these functions should be learned and provided by our party as much as possible so that we can – to the best of our ability – guarantee our survival and well-being.

16. Do not allow anyone to put a “gang” or “terrorist” label on the party or the United Panther Movement (UPM), or by word or action give support to such slanders.

We are a revolutionary political party, not a collection of gangsters and thugs. We exist to organize, politicize and serve the people and lead the way to socialist revolution. Historically, any time Black and oppressed people have organized to challenge the conditions which have kept them oppressed and exploited, those who wish to maintain the “status quo” have employed various tactics to discredit and disrupt these movements, most often by painting them as violent gangsters, racists, thugs or terrorists. This can most easily be combatted by maintaining a high level of discipline, abiding faithfully by our party’s rules and principles, and setting an impeccable example that is irreproachable. Experience is the best teacher, so when the people see our party’s sincerity and commitment to serving  the people, and the manner in which we conduct ourselves with dignity and righteousness, it will act as an effective counterbalance to any negative labels or slanders unjustly leveled against us.

17. Support the party with regular donations.

In order for our party to initiate and maintain its many programs, to print and distribute our various newsletters and literature, and generally function effectively; it must do so in large part utilizing donations from party members and supporters. As a primarily prison-based organization, resources are limited and every small contribution made makes and substantial difference. We understand that obtaining individual funds under our conditions is difficult, but any money that can be collected and donated to the party will go a long way towards enabling the party to meet the demands of the many comrades across the country and to continue functioning efficiently.

18. Do not take or borrow anything from the people without permission or misuse of funds entrusted to you.

Panthers are expected to conduct themselves as upright and honest, reliable and trustworthy, and as true servants of the people. We do not resort to bullying or gangster tactics, nor do we condone or support such tendencies. Being a member of the party automatically carries with it the responsibility of maintaining the righteous image of the party, and an understanding that each comrade’s individual actions reflect the party as a whole. We are out to create new bonds amongst each other along socialist lines, in which we relate to comrades and the people with a mutual trust and respect, and where the best can naturally be expected from every comrade.

Above all, we are a party of discipline. Every action we make, program we initiate, and how we function generally – both collectively and individually – will be closely observed and scrutinized by the people – as well as the opposition – to ascertain our authenticity and sincerity to our political line and program. Adherence to some of our rules, such as reading and exercise, can’t always readily be seen by everyone; which can, consequently, lead comrades to become lax in their observance, which is a form of liberalism. This is why Panther cadre must exhibit a supreme will and determination to follow strictly and wholeheartedly the party’s rules, principles and directives at all times, under all circumstances.

Most of these rules might seem self-explanatory, but sometimes seemingly simple concepts merit further explanation so that people are able to grasp the essence behind them and fully understand and appreciate their significance and importance. I’m hoping this has contributed to that deeper understanding, so that it is clearly apparent to all that our rules aren’t arbitrary or unnecessary, but have a strong relevance and purpose, which is maintaining an effective, properly functioning unified party, motivated by a love for and responsibility to serve the people.

All Power to the People!
Comrade Shahid, Minister of Human Rights, NABPP-PC

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