Elbert "Big Man" Howard at the State Capitol March
It began shortly after the shooting of Denzil Dowell. Easy Bay legislator Don Mulford introduced a bill to repeal the law that permitted citizens to carry loaded weapons in public places so long as the weapons were openly displayed [see link to California Penal Code, Sections 12031 and 171.c]. What the Mulford law sought to achieve was the elimination of the Black Panther Police Patrols, and it had been tagged "the Panther Bill" by the media.
The Police Patrols had become an integral part of BPP community policy. Members of the BPP would listen to police calls on a short wave radio, rush to the scene of the arrest with law books in hand and inform the person being arrested of their constitutional rights. BPP members also happened to carry loaded weapons, which were publicly displayed, but were careful to stand no closer than ten feet from the arrest so as not to interfere with the arrest.

Passage of the Mulford Bill would essentially end the Panther Police Patrols, so the BPP sent a group to Sacramento, California on May 2nd, 1967 to protest. The group carried loaded rifles and shotguns, publicly displayed and entered the State Capitol building to read aloud Executive Mandate Number 1, which was in opposition to the Mulford Bill. They tried to enter the Assembly Chamber but were forced out of this public place where they then read Executive Mandate Number 1 out on the lawn.

The legislature responded by passing the bill, thus creating the Mulford Act, which was signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan. This step by the Black Panther Party was enough to put them into national prominence and was a stimulus for growth of the party within the young Black population.
Sacramento Bee - Black Panther State Capitol March

The State Capitol, Sacramento California


Panthers inside the State Building, Bobby Seale delivering Executive Mandate No.1 outside on the lawn.

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