This Day in Black History: June 4, 1972

Activist Angela Davis was acquitted on charges of conspiracy, murder and kidnapping.

Posted: 06/04/2014 12:00 AM EDT

On June 4, 1972, Black Power Movement icon, American activist and scholar Angela Davis was acquitted by an all-white jury in San Jose, California. 

She had been indicted in aiding a deadly courtroom shootout on August 7 in San Raphael, California, that left four dead, including Superior Court Judge Haley. Davis’s known support for Black prisoners and her friendship with the then-imprisoned Black radical George Jackson — the brother of Jonathan Jackson, the courtroom shooter — led to her being accused of supplying weapons to execute the crime.

In October 1970, two months after being placed on the FBI’s most wanted criminals list and an aggressive, national search attempt, Davis was arrested in New York City and ultimately charged with conspiracy, murder and kidnapping. President Nixon reportedly congratulated the FBI on having captured a “dangerous terrorist."

The trial, which started in March 1972, attracted a large amount of international attention because of “the weakness of the prosecution’s case and obvious political nature of the proceedings,” according to History.com. Thousands of people and groups nationwide from various racial and socioeconomic backgrounds organized liberation movements to free Davis from prison and cover her bail and legal defense expenses.

Ultimately, the fact that the guns used in the crime belonged to Davis was deemed insufficient evidence of her alleged responsibility in plotting the crime and she was released.

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(Photo: UPI Photo /Landov)

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