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Memorials of 1969 campus killings unveiled and debated at UCLA

May 25, 2010 |  3:23 pm

Lanow.ucla While studying 1960s U.S. history, a UCLA class was stunned to learn recently that a violent incident in the black power movement had occurred on the Westwood campus and that there was no physical reminder of it. So they and their teacher set about to memorialize two UCLA students, both Black Panthers, who were shot to death in Campbell Hall on Jan. 17,1969, in an alleged dispute over leadership in a fledgling black studies program.

Two plaques, each honoring Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter and John J. Huggins Jr., were unveiled Tuesday in a Campbell Hall ceremony attended by relatives of the slain men and former Black Panther activists, among others. The markers describe the men as killed "in the ongoing struggle for student empowerment and social justice."

The deaths have generated much debate about motives and Black Panther power struggles. The alleged gunman identified by witnesses, Claude “Chuchessa” Hubert, has never been apprehended. Two brothers, George and Larry Stiner, were convicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of second-degree murder for their involvement in the case and both received life sentences. They escaped from prison in 1974. Larry lived as a fugitive in Suriname for 20 years and then surrendered in 1994; his brother remains a fugitive.

One plaque will be placed in a glass display case inside the building; students want the other mounted on Campbell’s exterior. Devon McReynolds, a senior history major, said she and classmates felt it was important that the campus know what happened there 41 years ago and learn "of the struggles of people who came before us at the university."

Campus officials, however, say longstanding rules forbid exterior mounting except on buildings named after donors. Scott Waugh, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost, said the decision was not influenced by the Black Panthers’ controversial politics but by concerns over visual clutter and the difficulties in choosing among many people proposed for such honors.

History lecturer Mary Corey said she will appeal the decision about the exterior mounting on behalf of her students. She said she was proud of them for taking on the project and for pressing UCLA to acknowledge its own history.

-- Larry Gordon

Photo: Ericka Huggins holds a plaque dedicated to John J. Huggins Jr. that was unveiled in front of Campbell Hall on the UCLA campus Tuesday. A plaque was also unveiled for Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter.  Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times