Chip was arrested in 1969 and charged with murdering a security guard and attempting to murder a highway patrolman who had stopped him and fellow Panthers for driving with a broken tail light. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1970, at the end of a four-day trial, but that sentence was commuted in 1972, when the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty as employed was racist and therefore unconstitutional.
Chip is now 67 years old and living with the consequences of a stroke; his friends and family fear he will die in prison. He has been moved from one state prison to another over the years and is currently in the California State Prison-Los Angeles. I spoke to his lawyer, Charles Carbone, whose office is in San Francisco.