On this episode, we feature excerpts of a 2-hour interview we did with Rita “Bo” Brown.
Bo Brown is most well known to us as a member of The George Jackson Brigade, a Seattle based revolutionary group. To learn more about the George Jackson Brigade in general, we recommend the recently published books by Daniel Burton-rose, Guerilla USA, and Creating a Movement with Teeth.
Rita "Bo" Brown, was originally from Klamath, Oregon, and moved to Seattle in the 60’s to find community she’d lacked in Klamath. She soon found lesbian bars, and political activists. She became radicalized while in prison for a “social crime”, and was reading the George Jackson book “Soledad Brother” when he was murdered in California, in 1971.
She was part of the George Jackson Brigade that robbed banks to help fund their work, and the work of anti-war and civil rights action groups, like the Black Panthers. Their activities placed them almost immediately on the FBI's Most Wanted list. Brown was dubbed "The Gentleman Bank Robber" for creatively blending her butch cross-dressing style with polite gun-pointing prattle, and was praised by bank tellers for her congeniality while committing her outlaw activities. Brown successfully eluded capture for some time because authorities were searching for a well-dressed man, but was eventually caught and convicted of robbing a Portland bank. She served 8 years in federal prison.
After her release in 1987, Brown formed Out of Control: Lesbian Committee to Support Women Political Prisoners, which remains active today. Bo Brown also remains active, doing prison support work, and more. We did this interview when she was in Portland for the Raze the Walls mini conference sponsored by The Ad Hoc Committee to Connect the Dots. The goal of the conference was to nurture a greater understanding of the connections between policing, prisons and political prisoners.