Established on January 23, 1967, the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) describes its founders as “people who wanted to vote for something they could support.” According to PFP, this ruled out candidates of both major parties and required the organization to support a party that was more radical. With the stated goal of “build[ing] a mass based socialist party throughout the country,” PFP nominated Black Panther and convicted rapist Eldridge Cleaver as its candidate for U.S. President in 1968. In his role as the Panthers’ “Minister of Information,” Cleaver called on black men to “pick up the gun.” After his involvement in a shootout with Oakland police officers following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 1968, the PFP presidential candidate was charged with assault and attempted murder. His parole was revoked, and he fled the country in November of that year.
Professing its commitment “to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism and racial equality,” PFP seeks to “organize toward a world where cooperation replaces competition.” To achieve these utopian goals, PFP calls for the creation of a massive centralized government to oversee and regulate every aspect of people’s lives. “We want a socialist economy,” says PFP. “… Under capitalism, millions of people are jobless, homeless, often hungry, and without proper medical care. Even those with decent jobs live with the fear of war, nuclear destruction, and environmental pollution of our food, air and water.”
Defining itself as a “feminist and socialist” entity, PFP has run hundreds of candidates for public office since 1968. Very few have won, though some have been elected to city councils, school boards, and special district boards in California. PFP’s demands of the U.S. government include the following:
Double the minimum wage, and index it to the cost of living.
The Peace and Freedom Party states that it “opposes the restrictions on our civil liberties caused by the unconstitutional Patriot Act, the actions of the Homeland Security Department and by the ‘Justice’ Department.” PFP laments that “immigrant workers are hounded by government authorities, worked and housed in substandard conditions by unscrupulous bosses, and blamed by Republican and Democratic demagogues for society’s problems.” As a remedy, the Party states: “We call for open borders. We demand an end to deportations of [illegal] immigrants. We demand full political, social and economic rights for resident non-citizens.”
PFP also calls for an “end [to] discrimination based on race, sex, age, sexual orientation, or disability.” It follows up this demand by imploring the government to “restore affirmative action” (i.e., racial, ethnic, and gender preferences) as a means of “enforc[ing] non-discrimination in hiring and promotion.”
The San Diego Chapter of PFP was a signatory to a February 20, 2002 document condemning military tribunals and the detention of immigrants apprehended in connection with post-9/11 terrorism investigations. Titled “National Day of Solidarity with Muslim, Arab and South Asian Immigrants,” the document lamented America’s “chilling similarities to a police state” that views all immigrants as “terrorists.”
In the summer of 2004, PFP nominated convicted murderer Leonard Peltier as its candidate for President of the United States. At the time of his nomination, Peltier had been in prison for nearly three decades; in 1975 he was convicted of shooting two FBI agents, execution style, at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Peltier’s opponent in the PFP presidential primary that year was convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal.