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3 Black Panthers Arrested at Olympic Torch Relay

June 5, 1996

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Three Black Panthers were arrested when they set fire to an American flag as the Olympic torch relay wound through the city.

Former Black Panther Militia leader Mmoja Ajabu and two other militia members are charged with scuffling with police Tuesday while protesting the impending execution of a cop killer.

``They set the flag on fire, and fearing for the safety of the crowd, we moved in,″ police spokesman Lt. William Myers said.

Myers said the three Indianapolis men told police they were protesting the Indiana Parole Board’s vote earlier in the day recommending that Gov. Evan Bayh deny a reprieve to death row inmate Tommie Smith.

Smith, convicted in the 1980 shooting death of an Indianapolis police officer, is scheduled to die June 14 by lethal injection.

Ajabu and Roy Roberson were charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Donald Howell was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and a firearms violation.

Ajabu is appealing a conviction for threats he is accused of making when his son was charged in the murder of three people. The son, Kofi Ajabu, was sentenced to life in prison.

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