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George W. Sams, Jr. (born c.1946) was a Black Panther who implicated Bobby Seale in the 1969 murder of New York Panther (and suspected FBI informant) Alex Rackley. This resulted in the New Haven Black Panther trials of 1970. At the time, suspicion that the FBI had agents infiltrating the Panthers was widespread and well-founded. In September 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover described the Black Panthers as "The greatest threat to the internal security of the country." By 1969, the Black Panthers were the primary target of the FBI's COINTELPRO, and the target of 233 out of a total of 295 authorized "Black Nationalist" COINTELPRO actions. Sams turned state's evidence in return for a reduced charge of second-degree murder. He testified that, acting under direct orders from Seale, he arranged for the kidnapping of Rackley to Panther headquarters in New Haven, where Rackley was tortured for two days then transported to the marshlands of Middlefield, Connecticut, where he was shot by Warren Kimbro and Lonnie McLucas on Sams' orders. According to author Hugh Pearson, who wrote the book The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America: The Rackley case became one of the most controversial Panther cases of all, a prime example of the question of which illegal activities could be blamed on genuine party leaders, and which on agents-provocateurs or just plain deviants in the party. Seale was accused of ordering Rackley’s murder for being an alleged government agent, with the words, ‘Do away with him.’ Williams and others were accused of being present when Seale gave the command, George Sams accepting it, then he, Lonnie McLucas, and Warren Kimbro, the alleged triggermen, driving Rackley to a swamp to kill him. The case hinged largely on the questions of whether Seale actually did appear to give the command, and if so, how Seale’s command could be interpreted. The Panthers would insist that party member George Sams ordered the murder of Rackley on his own. Neither Kimbro nor McLucas corroborated Sam's testimony regarding Seale's involvement. Many commentators believe that Sams himself was the informant and an agent provocateur. Kimbro and McLucas are described as earnest and eager to please, while Sams was a "frightening character". According to Frances Carter, one of the "New Haven Nine", residents of the New Haven Panther headquarters who were charged with the killing, Sams was "the ugliest bastard I’d ever seen. Talking crazy, his eyes deep, beet red . . . Just stunk like ten dogs. Foamy when he talked. Almost like a Halloween character. Scary! . .. . He was sick, sexually perverted, always trying to work his will and wanting to forcibly have sex . . . He stayed a week, but it seemed like a lifetime. He was the kiss of death. I can recall him wielding this big old billy club-type thing. The whole family cohesiveness-camaraderie we were experiencing stopped." He arrived in New Haven a week prior to the murder without giving any reason; according to Michael Koskoff, one of the lawyers for McLucas, Many of the people in the New Haven chapter of the Panthers were middle class. They were defined more by their propaganda than by their own personalities. And they were young and impressionable. Lonnie, for example, was so eager to please and so easy to manipulate. If you told him to jump off a bridge, he’d do it. Bring into this group a psychopath like George Sams and it’s easy to see how they were intimidated. Sams was a big, barrel-chested guy who was manipulative and violent. He was basically apolitical and had this Panther connection as a way to vent his violence. On top of that, Sams was really stupid. He was clearly coached through his testimony by the prosecution, but his stories always broke down under cross-examination. I remember my father asking him, the prosecution’s star witness, why he was known as 'Crazy George,' and he said there was no reason, 'It's like if I called you Roskoff or Foskoff,' he said. Everyone just stared at him, aghast. Sams, who had just previously spent time in a mental institution, was kept on "tranquilizers, pain killers, skin medication, Darvon, Phenobarbital and central nervous system depressant" for the duration of the trial. Along with Kimbro, who also turned state's evidence, he received the mandatory life sentence for second degree murder, and was released after four years. McLucas was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and received a sentence of twelve to fifteen years. References Bobby Seale's Shadow Gadfly Online v · d · eBlack Panther Party Founding members Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale Influences Black Power, Malcolm X, Robert F. Williams, Frantz Fanon, Karl Marx, Communism, Mao Zedong Programs Free Breakfast for Children Panthers convicted of murder Angola 3, Mumia Abu-Jamal, H. Rap Brown, Warren Kimbro, Lonnie McLucas, Geronimo Pratt, George W. Sams, Jr., Assata Shakur Panthers killed by police Mark Clark, Fred Hampton, Bobby Hutton, Carl Hampton Other notable members Ashanti Alston, Richard Aoki, Charles Barron, William Lee Brent, Elaine Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Bunchy Carter, Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Donald Cox, Angela Davis, Aaron Dixon, Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin, Mark Essex, Billy Garland, David Hilliard, George Jackson, Jamal Joseph, Chaka Khan, Robert Hillary King, Pete O'Neal, Larry Pinkney, Malik Rahim, Nile Rodgers, Bobby Rush, Afeni Shakur, Robert Trivers Other New Black Panther Party Persondata Name Sams, George W., Jr. Alternative names Short description Date of birth Place of birth Date of death Place of death