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Elbert “Big Man” Howard joined the ancestors today - July 23, 2018

At 6:13 AM, Big Man joined the ancestors. Above all else, Elbert "Big Man" Howard loved his comrades and all oppressed people, who he never stopped fighting for. There will be a celebration of life for Big Man in a few weeks and information about this will be shared as soon as details are available. Big Man would say,

There will be a Celebration of Life Event to honor Elbert "Big Man" Howard on Saturday, August 25th

at Bobby Hutton Grove inside of DeFremery Park, at 18th and Adeline in Oakland starting at 1pm.

Speakers include Emory Douglas & Kathleen Cleaver. 1651 Adeline Street, Oakland, California 94607 For info call 916-455-0908 On FB: It's About Time/BPP

Biography — Elbert “Big Man” Howard

Elbert “Big Man” Howard is a community and human rights activist, lecturer, political educator, author and disc jockey. Born in Tennessee 77 years ago, he experienced southern segregation firsthand, witnessing struggles for basic human rights which laid the framework for his social consciousness and political activism.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he attended Oakland City College, where he met Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, whom he joined in 1966 as one of the six founding members of the Black Panther Party. He was the first editor of the BPP’s newspaper and traveled the world as a BPP spokesperson.

He moved to Sonoma County in 2005. After the fatal shootings of Jeremiah Chass and Richard DeSantis by law enforcement officers in 2007, Big Man helped found PACH, the Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline of Sonoma County, which records and catalogs complaints of law enforcement misconduct. Big Man is a host on several community radio stations in Sonoma County.

BELOW - Articles written by Elbert “Big Man” Howard for the Gazette

A Child is Dead - Oct 23, 2013

My name is Elbert “Big Man” Howard, and I am a founding member of The Black Panther Party and also of PACH, the Police Accountability Clinic & Helpline of Sonoma County. PACH, an all-volunteer organization, was formed to take reports of police misconduct after community meetings which occurred because of a series of killings which took place in 2007. I am making this statement on behalf of myself and PACH and in response and protest to the killing of Andy Lopez, 13 years of age, by law enforcement.

One of the reasons that the Black Panther Party was formed in 1966, and why they fought so hard many years ago, was to have community control of the police – to make the police accountable to the community. In the present atmosphere that still exists of racial profiling and police abuse, the politicians and law enforcement agencies are accountable to no one.

Now, 47 years later, here I am, waking up to the news that yesterday, Oct 22nd, on the very day we recognize as the National day of protest against police brutality, this 13 year-old child has been shot down and killed by Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies.

Clearly, police misconduct remains an on-going issue in our community as the civil and human rights of people in our communities are ignored and violated. We allneed to protest the police abuse, racial profiling, and the killings by law enforcement that continue to occur in our community.

Law enforcement, in this county, is a system against the people. The treatment of people at the hands of law enforcement remains an ongoing issue, and instead of improving, has clearly worsened. The fact that this child has been gunned down is just one example of an entire unjust system.

Details of these deaths in the past and present are always "not for public record". The so-called details take weeks to be obtained. We, as community members, demand an accounting of this shooting. We want to know why this child is dead.

In order to protest the police abuse and racial profiling that continues to thrive in our community, we need to take action in various ways.

One of these ways is that we need to cease supporting, as taxpayers, the funding of laws, law enforcement agencies, and criminal penalties that do not work and violate our civil, constitutional, and human rights.

Some of you may remember, back in May of 2000, the US Commission on Civil Rights, after investigating charges of police misconduct in Sonoma County, recommended that there should be an office formed, independent of the District Attorney’s, to both investigate and prosecute cases of police abuse. It never happened. Why? Was it due to a lack of community political will?

Are we to continue to ignore the injustices in our community? Are we to continue to support laws that erode our basic human and civil rights? We must form alliances within our community in order to deal with this issue of misconduct by law enforcement. We must do it now before someone else's child lies dead at the age of 13.


By Elbert "Big Man" Howard - July 17, 2014

Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez was an aspiring musician when he was shot and killed on October 22, 2013 by Sheriff's deputy Erick Gelhaus. Andy played the trumpet. Unfortunately, the world will never have the opportunity to see what he could have become or how far his talent might have taken him. However, rather than just bury his memory, those of the living, including those responsible for his loss of life because they work in some capacity in this injustice system, can make his memory mean something, especially to young people as they struggle towards adulthood.

I am proposing that a fund or funds be set up in his name to help students, especially Latino students and other disenfranchised students of color, who are in need of financial support and are struggling to achieve the goal of higher education. I strongly urge that the District Attorney, the Sheriff, the City Council and the Board of Supervisors, as well as all Law Enforcement agencies contribute to these efforts. At this point, none of them have publicly expressed any meaningful regret that Andy was shot and killed under their watch, nor have they accepted any responsibility for his senseless killing. The public has a right and also a responsibility to be outraged by all of this.

However, over time, even the deepest outrage tends to subside and many tire of going to rallies and taking part in protest marches. No one wishes for this, but human nature and time being what they are, this just happens. I say that before this occurs, before coalitions and committees start to disband, I am hoping that they evolve into constructive organizing. People would have to be willing to do the consistent hard work involved in order to organize events, such as concerts, scholarships and other events which would create lasting monuments and programs in the memory of Andy Lopez. How about focusing on getting serious about the Memorial Park and playground? These efforts could achieve a lasting legacy and some kind of Justice for Andy.

I also propose arranging a Jazz Festival which would consist of local high school and college jazz bands, and include student musicians such as those from Healdsburg High, El Molino High, Santa Rosa JC and others. Ask venues to donate their facilities; ask local businesses to donate goods and money. Ask local media to donate ads in papers; ask DJs to make announcements on local radio and television programs. Ask local printers to donate posters and flyers. Promote these events locally and throughout the Bay area heavily so that this event will be successful and so that no one will ever forget Andy Lopez.

Funds which are raised can then be utilized to help young people in need of help - with educational assistance, legal defense needs, and with basic needs for shelter, clothing, food and medical and dental care. They need help - we could make a difference in their lives. What has happened to young Andy Lopez has created a tragedy, not only for his family and friends, not only for the community in which he lived, but for so many of us in so many communities. It is time to focus on taking actions which will allow us to start the healing process. I feel there are many ways to start this process, including the ones I have suggested here. In order to achieve our goals and create positive and lasting change in our struggle for freedom and justice, it would require each of us to take an evolutionary leap into consciousness and recognize the need to commit to each other as human beings. We must set the example - our children and grandchildren are depending on us.

Elbert "Big Man" Howard

Elbert "Big Man" Howard is a founding member of the Black Panther Party and is an author, lecturer and community activist in Sonoma County.

The Real Criminals in Sonoma County: A Statement from the Police Accountability Clinic & Helpline

By Elbert "Big Man" Howard

October 14th, 2015

It is Autumn of 2015 in Sonoma County. Amidst the vibrant colors of grape leaves and pumpkins is the reality of glaring news headlines. These greet us daily with tragic stories of the latest mass school (and other) shootings and the most recent killings and abuses of innocent people committed by law enforcement.

The public media has a field day analyzing, posturing and interviewing countless professors, medical and legal professionals, politicians and self-styled "experts" who present all their theories and solutions for the tragic blood-letting.

The political leaders and powerbrokers proclaim that they have answers for the American people as they actually bury their heads deeper in the sand and increase their double-talk of what can be done to end the violence. They do nothing to change the laws to stop the gun violence and murders in this so-called land of laws and nothing to stop rampant abuse and murders on the part of law enforcement.

In this system, those who have been elevated and handed the power to create solutions are instead spending their time and the public's money on plotting their elections or re-elections. They raise a ton of money for their personal priorities and the public and justice be damned.

It has now been 2 years since 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot down while walking to his friend's house with a toy gun, killed by Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus. Gelhaus still patrols the streets of Santa Rosa, free and unprosecuted, as Andy's family, friends, and supporters continue to seek and demand justice. Now, on the eve of the anniversary of Andy's death, comes this most recent local news: a lawsuit, filed October 5th by Attorney Izaak Schwaiger and the Scott Law Firm in San Francisco, now exposes Sonoma County as the Jail from Hell.

The Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility in Santa Rosa has become a center for torture and brutality for the inmates, whose care and well-being have been entrusted to the jail employees - these being the Sheriff's deputies. Not only are they not being cared for, but to the extreme contrary, the suit claims that the inmates there have been beaten and subjected to the most inhuman treatment the Sheriff and his deputies can inflict.

Much like the tactics supposedly used in just "Third World Countries", the suit contains statements describing how deputies from the Special Emergency Response team, dressed in all- black uniforms and ski masks, entered inmates' cells, handcuffed them and then savagely kicked and beat them for up to 5 and 1/2 hours. Reports from inmates document being stripped naked, punched, body-slammed to the ground and receiving blows to their heads, as well as other atrocities. The fear described by the inmates, as they lay waiting for their turns to come, listening to other prisoners scream and beg these "officers of the law" to stop hurting them, is unimaginable.

These reprehensible, lawless acts are human rights violations, as well as violations of the US Constitution. The County Sheriff is in charge of and is responsible for what happens in the county jail facilities, as well as for the actions of the deputies working there. In Sonoma County, Sheriff Steve Freitas is responsible, period! He and his deputies must be charged, prosecuted and put in prison for torture, human rights violations, and any other proven crimes. This will never occur as long as the investigators of the charges mentioned in the suit are the Sheriff and the Sheriff's Department itself! Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch has refused to investigate the charges herself and instead, has directed witnesses to the Sheriff's Department! We demand that DA Ravitch bring in an outside investigating body as we believe it is ludicrous to even think that any investigation run by Sheriff Freitas, involving himself and his deputies, will ever be fair or done in the name of justice.

To the residents of Sonoma County in particular, and to people who believe in our Constitution and human rights, in general, we say this: It is way past time to rid the community of this law enforcement cancer. Freitas always gets re-elected because he runs unopposed and because he is supported with money coming from the huge wine industry and other big business interests, as well as law enforcement agencies. This has to change and change now! Change now in the name of Andy Lopez and in the names of the countless other victims of law enforcement! Sonoma County must have a new Sheriff, new District Attorney, new assistant DA and in general, a change in leadership.

We support and recognize the courage of the two plaintiffs in this suit, Marqus Martinez and Daniel Banks, as well as that of their families. We also acknowledge the extreme courage of the approximately twenty other still-incarcerated inmates, who wrote letters describing in detail much of the same abuse.

We support defense and civil rights attorney, Izaak Schwaiger and the co-counsel from the Scott Law Firm in their quest for justice for the two defendants named in the suit. We support asking the court to appoint an independent monitor of Sonoma County's Main Adult Detention Facility jail - this is the third suit now before the U.S. District Court against the facility, all involving unconstitutional violations on the parts of corrections staff.

We remind the public that October 22nd is the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality. In Sonoma County, there will be an event on that day celebrating the life of Andy Lopez. For further details, please go to the

This statement is made on behalf of PACH, the Police Accountability Clinic & Helpline (of Sonoma County).

Elbert "Big Man" Howard, Santa Rosa

Elbert “Big Man” Howard is a founding member of the Black Panther Party and a founding member of PACH. He is an author, lecturer and community activist in Sonoma County.

PACH - Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline 719 Orchard St., Santa Rosa, CA 95404 Telephone 707-542-7224 (542-PACH) On the Web at


by Elbert "Big Man" Howard

Once again, the public (and tax-payers) have to suffer because of the will of the Sonoma County money barons. I am specifically, in this instance, speaking of the struggle of the tiny public radio station, KOWS, whose volunteer staff and supporters have been struggling to get approval and a location for an antenna site.

KOWS, which streams live on the internet, recently re-located their station from Occidental to Sebastopol. An antenna would bring a stronger radio signal for free public broadcasting to the Sebastopol community area. Not only would this bring news, local information and entertainment to the community, but this would also provide an important service in terms of potentially life-saving Emergency Alert Warnings. There is no one living in Sonoma County who is unaware of the dangers of flooding during the rainy seasons and fires during the dry seasons.

Yet the big money interests and some of the privileged wine country barons are against KOWS Community Radio having an antenna installed which would bring improved radio service to the public in this county. Instead of supporting this, the money barons send their lackeys to the public meetings to fill the rooms to oppose something people would really benefit from.

Two of the main reasons given by the opposition are:

1) the antenna would be located too close to a water tower

and 2) looking out a window from their mansion on the hill, they would have to see the antenna, which would be too "unsightly".

Could this be part of the reactionary right-wing Republican plan - "No profit, no support?"

Elbert "Big Man" Howard is a public radio station volunteer DJ. One of the 6 original founding members of the Black Panther Party, he is an author, lecturer and community activist in Sonoma County and can be reached at:

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