On Sept. 15, 1970, a day after two police informants were ousted by the Black Panthers, New Orleans police attempted to evict the group from its Piety Street base near the Desire public housing development. After a 20-minute gunfight, the Panthers surrendered. One person was killed: a man unaffiliated with the Panthers who was shot by police in front of a store nearby.
In October, the Panthers had moved into an apartment in Desire. Tensions came to a head in November, when about 250 heavily armed police officers set out to evict the Panthers. New Orleans police, backed by a tanklike “war wagon,” confronted the group at its their Desire headquarters on Nov. 19, 1970.
Residents of the public housing development, where the Panthers had established tutoring and food programs for children, stood between police and members of the militant group. A standoff ensued before police finally withdrew.
Six days later, several Black Panthers trying to leave town in cars rented by actress Jane Fonda were arrested. The following day, police, disguised as priests and postal workers, burst into the group’s headquarters and apprehended several more members.
On Aug. 6, 1971, a New Orleans jury cleared 12 Black Panthers of charges of attempted murder. Several members of the group later pleaded guilty to criminal trespassing.