Bill Epton

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William Leo "Bill" Epton Jr. (January 17, 1932 – February 3, 2002) was a Maoist African-American communist activist. He was Vice Chairman of the Progressive Labor Party until about 1970.


Trial Speech (1966)[edit]

  • We ask you, who are the real criminals? Who completely, through planned acts of genocide, destroyed the great Indian nation that once inhabited this continent? Who are the criminals? The criminal is the U.S. capitalist system.
  • If ideas are "dangerous" then I am "dangerous" because I have ideas. I have ideas for a new system of government and society. Those ideas I have are called socialism. Socialism – a system where there will no longer exist a basis for the exploitation of man by man; a system of government where people – all people, without reservation – will be able to grow and develop into full human beings, where love will replace hate, where men, all men, can develop to their fullest potential.
  • We have also been accused of being anarchists. Yes, we communists have been accused of being anarchists, because what else does the charge mean? It says that we were conspiring to commit "criminal anarchy" and the "jury," by its finding, in essence, did say we attempted to do this and, in fact, "we did it." Of course, anyone who has one ounce of political sophistication knows that a communist, who believes in the highest form of organized government – after the revolution – is not an anarchist and has been an opponent of this doctrine since its inception. But, as we have so graphically seen it demonstrated in this court, the truth was not allowed to be presented.
  • Why are you weak? First of all, you spend billions of dollars on propaganda telling your people and the world what a great "democracy" you have. You tell them you have no political prisoners. You say that all political ideas have freedom of expression and on and on. If your form of democracy is so great, why are you afraid of political ideas that are so different? Why do you attempt to suppress them? If you are so sure of your form of democracy, why don't you open the flood gates and allow all ideas and ideologies to contend? That's a sign of strength. But you are afraid – therefore you are strategically weak!
  • Would a weak government, as a strong government, admit that it created the conditions for that type of outbreak to occur? A strong government would, but a government like this one, which, on the surface, appears to be strong, would do exactly what you are doing – ignore the conditions, buy off some of the "respectable" leaders, find a likely scapegoat and put the blame on him. I knew and everyone else in Harlem knew, that I was going to be the scapegoat so that the government could wipe its hands clean and duck all responsibility. Why was I the likely candidate? It's very simple. While the other so-called leaders were hiding and meeting and telling the people "things were fine," we were organizing the people to present their grievances to the city. We exposed the Police Department to be the terroristic organization that it is in Harlem. We were in the streets giving the leadership and we would not be bought off. And, of course, I am a communist!
  • This system cannot solve the problems that confront the Black people in this country nor can it solve the problems of the workers in general. You may have been successful so far in buying off some of the so-called leaders, but can you buy off the 16 million near-starving people that live in the mountains of Appalachia? No, you can't unless this system is changed!

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