Gene McKinney, 58, a leading fund-raiser for the Black Panther Party. McKinney became a key figure in the murder trial of Panther co-founder Huey Newton when he refused to testify and served time in jail for contempt of court. Born in Texas and reared in Oakland, McKinney met Newton at a party held Oct. 28, 1967, to raise money for Panther co-founder Bobby Seale's legal defense. (Seale faced charges for his part in the Panthers' gun-wielding demonstration at the Capitol in Sacramento to protest legislation banning the public display of arms.) McKinney, the Panthers' first fund-raiser, drove with Newton at 3 a.m. to pick up takeout food. When Oakland police stopped the car, a shootout occurred that killed one officer, wounded another and wounded Newton. Panther leaders, according to former party chief of staff David Hilliard, considered McKinney a hero for flagging down a passing car and helping get Newton to a hospital. Fearing retaliation, McKinney spent the next six months in hiding in Philadelphia. He returned to Oakland at the outset of Newton's murder trial. Newton was cleared of all charges in the officer's death, partly because McKinney refused to answer questions about his own role in the night's events. Sentenced to six months in jail for contempt, McKinney served less than a month. At the time of his death, McKinney was sitting at his computer working on his memoirs. On Sept. 13 in Oakland of unknown causes after suffering diabetes and high blood pressure.
For the Record Los Angeles Times Wednesday September 27, 2000 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 7 Metro Desk 2 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction Huey Newton--In Tuesday's Times, the obituary of Gene McKinney incorrectly stated that Huey Newton was cleared of all charges in the 1967 fatal shooting of an Oakland police officer partly because of McKinney's refusal to testify about his own role in the incident. Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and served 3 1/2 years in prison for the officer's death.
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