S. Deacon Alexander, Ex-Black Panther, Still Fighting for What’s RightBy Ari L. Noonan @ 4:00 PM August 22, 2012
Fourth of four parts
Re “When a Longshot Claims Equality with the Prominent”
The putative Los Angeles mayoralty candidate-to-be with the most elegant moniker, S. Deacon Alexander, likely will end up a footnote by the election next March, the filing fee being an impediment.
Meantime, between now and the November filing deadline, he threatens to be as interesting as the glamourous contenders to succeed term-limited, job-hunting Antonio Villaraigosa.
As a 66-year-old evidently accomplished resident of Skid Row, Mr. Alexander, a onetime Black Panther, was talking about how comfortable he was in Boyle Heights, site of last Thursday’s mayoralty forum.
“This is where my friends are, activist Brown Berets. And you know I am an original member of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s.”
Question: What brought you to the Panthers?
“I was part of the sentiment of the Black Power movement. That was why the Black Panther Party attracted me. I liked their defiance and their general attitude. I liked their style. I even liked the way they dress.
“When I was a young man, 21 years old, those people were my type of guys.”
What happened later? They broke up?
“To say the Panthers ‘broke up’ puts it nicely. They were a victim of the (FBI’s) COin-tel probe, revenge by (the controversially all-powerful director) J. Edgar Hoover.
“The Black Panther Party was set up for assassinations, placing us against the other black organizations, namely the Us organization and the Black Students Union.”
How long have you been on Skid Row?
Fighting to get out?
“Well, that’s an interesting thing because one would have to admit this is not a place one would choose to live voluntarily. And certainly in my case, as a place to live, it is a last resort.
“By that, I mean I have been living on retirement income, $930 a month. As a steady income, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Simply put, I cannot afford to live anywhere else.
“If I choose not, in fact, to live in a room with some old Christian lady, abiding by her rules, and sharing...”
Do you have family?
“I do. I have a brother who is almost 80, and he lives in Seattle. And I have nieces and nephews. So I don’t have the type of family who one thinks a younger person might have. All of my (immediate family except for my brother) have passed away.”
If you have an opportunity to speak at the forum, what will your message be?
“Only one thing, that (Los Angeles City Councilperson and fellow mayoralty candidate) Jan Perry is the quintessential enemy of poor people. She has demonstrated this from the very day she decided to run for the City Council.”
Once inside, S. Deacon Alexander indeed was allowed a seat at the table with other contenders. When he made his opening speech, he spoke in stentorian tones, eschewing a microphone that everyone else used. He ripped into Ms. Perry as if she were not arm’s length away. Organizers from the sponsoring Ya Basta (Enough) and the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce quickly, and successfully, convinced Mr. Alexander to cool it with harsh language for a fellow candidate.
His feistiness in the embryonic race, just as it sparks him in his personal life, will not be quenched.