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Black Panther Leader Cleaver Dies

May 1, 1998

POMONA, Calif. (AP) _ Eldridge Cleaver, the fiery Black Panther leader whose prison-written book ``Soul On Ice″ became one of the seminal works of the Black Power movement, died at a hospital here today at age 62.

Cleaver died at 6:20 a.m. PDT at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, spokeswoman Leslie Porras said. She declined to provide any cause of death or any details about his hospitalization.

``Per the family’s request, that information is not being released,″ she said.

Family members who had been with him ``are no longer all here at the hospital,″ she said.

At times a convict, political candidate and author, Cleaver was one of the original Black Panthers, formed in 1966 in Oakland by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale.

The Black Panthers, often dressed in black berets and black leather jackets, also espoused militant revolutionary and survivalist tactics. As it matured, the party became a national organization that ran food programs and schools for underprivileged youth.

Cleaver, the fledgling party’s information minister, was involved in a violent April 6, 1968, shootout with police in Oakland. Panther treasurer Bobby Hutton, 17, was killed in the gun battle, and Cleaver and two police officers were wounded.

Cleaver was arrested after the shootout, but jumped $50,000 bail and fled the United States.

Prior to his return to the United States in 1975, he told reporters he believed he would be treated fairly in court.

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