Popular support for the Party declined further after reports appeared detailing the group's involvement in illegal activities such as drug dealing and extortion schemes directed against Oakland merchants.By 1972 most Panther activity centered on the national headquarters and a school in Oakland, where the party continued to influence local politics.Though under constant police surveillance, the Chicago chapter remained active and maintained their community programs until 1974.
Huey and Bobby raised enough money to buy two shotguns by buying bulk quantities of the recently publicized Little Red Book and reselling them to leftist radicals and liberal intellectuals on the Berkeley campus at three times the price.
According to Bobby Seale, they would "sell the books, make the money, buy the guns, and go on the streets with the guns.
Students at rally marched, sang, clapped hands, and carried protest signs. A new generation of young blacks growing up in these cities faced new conditions, new forms of poverty and racism unfamiliar to their parents, and they sought to develop new forms of politics to address them.
Black Panther Party membership "consisted of recent migrants whose families traveled north and west to escape the southern racial regime, only to be confronted with new forms of segregation and repression".
The party was also involved in many internal conflicts including the murders of Alex Rackley and Betty Van Patter.
Government oppression initially contributed to the party's growth, as killings and arrests of Panthers increased its support among African Americans and on the broad political left, both of whom valued the Panthers as a powerful force opposed to de facto segregation and the military draft.
Scholars have characterized the Black Panther Party as the most influential black movement organization of the late 1960s, and "the strongest link between the domestic Black Liberation Struggle and global opponents of American imperialism".
Original six members of the Black Panther Party (1966) Top left to right: Elbert "Big Man" Howard, Huey P.
1966, the Black Panther Party's core practice was its armed citizens' patrols to monitor the behavior of officers of the Oakland Police Department and challenge police brutality in Oakland, California.