No pardon for former KC Black Panthers leader

Pete O'Neal is living in exile in Africa
Posted at 5:28 PM, Jan 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-20 23:48:13-05

Former Kansas City Black Panther leader Pete O'Neal apparently has not received a last minute pardon from former President Obama.

O'Neal has been living in exile in Tanzania for over 40 years after fleeing the U.S. while facing a federal weapons charge.

The 41 Action News Investigators first reported about the renewed push for an O'Neal pardon in April.

In November, the son of a murdered Kansas City police officer said he was against the pardon due to a 1969 Black Panther newspaper article on that murder.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver had been pushing for a pardon for O'Neal.

He recently released this statement:

"My request and that of my colleague, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), who worked with my cousin Felix “Pete” O’Neal when they were both affiliated with the Panthers, is that Pete be granted humanitarian travel to the United States to have badly needed orthopedic surgery and to be able to visit his 96-year-old mother.

In 2010, I sent a letter to then Attorney General Eric Holder asking his office to advise the State Department to issue Mr. O’Neal a validity passport. That passport was never granted.

Mr. O’Neal fled the United States after he was indicted for transporting a firearm from Kansas City, Kansas to Kansas City, Missouri.  As records will also indicate, while the car used in the transport of the gun was registered to Mr. O’Neal, he was not in the car when it was stopped. However, once a Black Panther, like other black militants of that time, he was targeted by local police and FBI agents.

Mr. O’Neal  was wrong to flee the country but he felt that he would be railroaded to federal prison or even killed while in police custody. This is a non-violent 75-year-old man who has done remarkable things in Africa, such as creating a center for children and families. He is now living in exile in Tanzania where he is highly regarded as an elder in the community.

Pete’s grandfather and my great-grandmother are siblings. I had been trying to obtain a pardon for Mr. O’Neal for 25 years, dating back to my time as mayor of Kansas City. I had hoped for a pardon during President Obama’s administration but that seems unlikely to happen with less than a week until the president leaves office. At this point we have not heard any news of President Obama granting a pardon."

A spokeswoman for Congressman Cleaver, speaking to the 41 Action News Investigators less than two hours before the end of the Obama presidency, said there was no word about a presidential pardon for O'Neal.



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