When All Else Fails, Turn To Violence: The Black Panther Party and Conflict Theory

by Joshua Noble
Criminology / Criminal Justice
Faculty advisor: Dr. Neal McNabb

The Black Panther party was started in Oakland in 1966. Race was not an issue for the Black Panther Party; they worked for equality of all minorities. The goal of the Black Panthers was to lead the charge for economic, social and political equality across gender and color lines. They committed acts of violence against police and other groups of authority in order to protect minorities. The party saw that the nonviolent attempts of Martin Luther King ended in his death and little progress for the rights of minorities. This presentation ties the Black Panther Party to the Conflict theory of crime through Austin Turk’s theory of Norm resistance. Turk states that we live by cultural norms, which represent what behavior is expected, and social norms, which represent what actually happens. The enforcement of laws in society determines the social norms and therefore affects the beliefs and actions of the people. Conflict emerges when people do not support the cultural norms and certain laws and agencies of authority attempt their harsh enforcement. This theory relates to the Black Panthers because their main goals were equality in education, housing, employment, and civil rights. The laws of our country stated that all men are created equal, but the actions of people in our society showed different. The result was conflict between the Black Panther Party and the government.