Top

news

Stories

 

FADE TO BLACK

"A lot of us felt that we'd lost contact with the world that we all envisioned would happen," says Hilliard. "Here we were, lost, nothing solid to connect with. It was just a general mood of depression. It's like coming home from a war."

By 1980 the stress became too much, and Mary Lou and Lauren decided to divorce. "He became very distant, very difficult to reach, very noncommunicative," she says. "Over time, that took its toll."

Watson's anger began surfacing. In 1981 he was convicted of shooting an off-duty fireman at Skyland Recreation Center. He doesn't deny doing it. "I went out to my car and got my pistol," he recalls matter-of-factly, "and I walked back in and popped him. I was going to do away with him. But I thought some kids were watching. I really wanted to kill him, but I decided not to."

He had been threatened, Watson explains, and he fought back in the same spirit of self-defense that guided the Panthers. "In the Panthers," he says, "we were about respect--but also don't let anybody put their hands on you. If they do, send them to the promised land."

After losing an appeal--despite his numerous arrests, the assault was Watson's only conviction--he was sentenced to two years in prison. But he spent only three months there. Watson was released after then-state senator Regis Groff and city councilman Hiawatha Davis intervened on his behalf. (In a testimonal, Davis, who did not return numerous phone calls, characterized Watson as "an uncertified social worker.")

Even the public defender who'd represented Watson was taken aback. "It's not often with our clients that we would get a city councilman or a state senator to speak on his behalf," he told a reporter then.

Although Watson had returned to Metro in 1978 and received a degree in public management, his later jobs never quite worked out. He quit after a few years with the state labor department. He worked for the Urban League's weatherization program. He tried running a record store on Colfax. He drifted into bouncing at a bar owned by former Denver Nugget Fatty Taylor. Eventually, he quit working altogether. He receives medical disability because he suffers from narcolepsy.

In a recent interview, he talked about maintaining his lawn, guest-teaching some college history courses, helping out friends and community members in unspecified ways. He has vague plans to write a book. He is tight-lipped about his private life and declined to let a visitor meet him at home.

"His jobs after the Panthers, I think they were just something to hold body and mind together," says Mary Lou. "I don't think they were happy years for him. I don't think Lauren has really ever found the niche he had found during those years, the feeling that he was making a difference."

"There just wasn't any future," says Watson. "There was a past. But the future had no shape."

Watson was arrested on December 6, 1994.
"He was a pretty good crack dealer," says Carl Hinds, an officer for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. "He delivered on time and on schedule at least five different times."

Hinds says the DEA began tracking Watson at the beginning of last year. On January 2, agents observed him delivering 16.32 grams of crack to a DEA plant on the corner of 30th and Downing streets, for which he received $1,200. Two weeks later, at the same location, he was observed delivering 5.29 grams of crack and 1 ounce of powdered cocaine, for $1,400; on August 26, 5.77 grams of crack for $300; on August 31, 12.78 grams of crack for $600; on October 16, 12.73 grams of crack for $600.

On December 6, Hinds says, narcotics agents arranged for their informant to purchase three ounces of cocaine for $3,000. When Watson was pulled over on his way to 30th and Downing, police found nothing in his van. But a search executed with a warrant on his Vine Street home turned up $4,300 in a suitcase, 100 grams of cocaine (about three ounces), a small bag of marijuana and a .38 semiautomatic handgun.

After spending three weeks in a holding cell and a community halfway house, Watson was released and the drug charges were dismissed. Watson says it's because the police planted the evidence.

"They set me up because of who I am," he says. "They set up Rap [ex-Panther leader H. Rap Brown]. They set up guys in leadership positions across the country, just like they did with Huey. They're still pissed off at me."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Al LaCabe says his office declined to prosecute the case for more mundane "procedural reasons." He adds that federal prosecutors also had difficulty with the informant, who feared retaliation.

Still, LaCabe says he will turn the Watson case over to the Denver District Attorney's office within the next two months. "We will rearrest him soon," LaCabe says. (The Denver DA's office says it has yet to receive the case.)

Hinds says he was aware of Watson's previous affiliation with the Panthers. But, he adds, he didn't care. "I think his arrest record indicated he had some scrapes with the law," the agent says. "But to us he was just another crack dealer."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
2 comments
DayDreamer1
DayDreamer1

I failed to point out that a man does not forfeit the right to live...if it is taken where NO EVIDENCE has been discovered for a 53 gun solute to take place...to this day evidence remains inconclusive where our State of the Art crime Lab should have pulled this case as it was one of the first bizarre, African American deaths to be tried where it did "change crime lab procedures," for the historical value of how we are to conduct work today.


With Gods Will 

DayDreamer1
DayDreamer1

As I research, I wish to congratulate Mr. Watson on his sustaining his physical abuses of what inhumane life brought for that time period. However, there is a man, who sustained the same appalling ordeals in our far State. He was a man who dates back to the same conflicts of simple traffic nonobservances that resulted in many harassments' documented in the 1950s. Mr. Watson and this man, my father, once stood for the same goals: the freedom to help elderly stay in their home, to not shave his beard, to have fair education, many uncalled for battles with law enforcement.. i.e. all are in articles. Their were men, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Emmitt Till, Medger Evers, Fred Hampton, and many others, who knew they were going to die for what we have in our present time and do not appreciate. It is sad, I cannot find any information on my father; when goggled.  However, to have many articles says a lot about a man who no one wants to do a follow up on.


Articles as this one was true for the Civil rights Era. I wish to "Lay" my father "Down In Peace" with the truth told. A true story untold.


My father's death was a horrific "53 gun" solute where there was no proof of wrong doing." No True Bill" did read" No True Will".


As God Continues to give His Grace and Mercy

 
Loading...