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reed magazine logoWinter 2009
Moscow and Ford

Jon Moscow ’69 (left) and Kent Ford in 2008, on the street corner where the Fred Hampton Memorial People’s Clinic once stood.

He was still looking to make a contribution when he met Moscow. “I just regretted missing all the action in the States,” say Barton, whose brother, Lane, had gone to Selma. “But I wouldn’t have gone to the South on a bus. I was scared of those lynchings and those people with baseball bats.”

Moscow, Barton, and the Fords went to look at the space. “There was a bar on the right and a men’s store on the left,” Ford recalls. “It was a rowdy area. It would have been considered the ghetto, back then.”

“The four of us kept dither­ing around,” Sandra recalls, “thinking of reasons why we couldn’t start right away—all kinds of problems, all the stuff we’d need. But Dr. Barton said, ‘Oh hell, let’s just do it!’”

They rented the space and went to work: Panthers cleaned and painted the clinic, a friend of Moscow’s built shelves, and Moscow and Sandra made contacts in town, asking for money, equipment, and volunteers.

The Fords were in awe of what Moscow could accomplish.

Sandra was stunned that so many white people invited her and Moscow into their homes and wrote them checks. “We went up on Mt. Tabor, the West Hills, Council Crest, Marine Drive. It was a real eye opener to me, because I’d been brought up in the projects. I lived in Columbia Villa until I graduated from high school.”

Jon Moscow

Sandra Ford, 1970s

Kent had only read about organizers like Moscow. “Like the SNCC people and the CORE people and the Peace and Freedom Party people. I’d never met one. My only organizing experience personally was street corner organizing.”

They named the clinic after a 21-year-old Panther leader who had been murdered by Chicago police on December 4, 1969. “We had decided it was going to be the People’s Health Clinic,” Moscow says, “but then Fred Hampton was killed.” Though officials would claim the deaths of Hampton and colleague Mark Clark had occurred as a result of a gun battle, ballistic evidence showed that the bullets were all incoming—the people in the apartment where they were killed, including Hampton’s pregnant girlfriend, were asleep. The raid was one of several on Panther offices and homes; in September 1968, J. Edgar Hoover had declared open season on the Party, calling it the “greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”

In Portland, the Panther free clinic opened its doors as the Fred Hampton Memorial People’s Health Clinic. In the cover story for the Bridge, Moscow wrote:

“We now have 27 doctors, plus nurses and medical students. Our X-ray diagnosis is done free for us and the lab work that we can’t do in the clinic is sent out for free. We have specialty referrals to private offices on a free basis in surgery, internal medicine, dermatology, hematology, neurology, pediatrics and cancer therapy. We also have a small but growing lab of our own, and we have been offered a portable X-ray machine and its accessories.”

In the same article, Moscow made a call to readers. “If you happen to have an autoclave on hand,” he wrote, “we can use it.” He also invited them to support the clinic by sending a check, giving his home address, and ended the article with “All Power to the People!”

Shortly after the article appeared, the postman came to his door. “‘I just want to let you know that there’s a mail cover on all your mail.’ he told us. ‘I can’t do anything about it, but I just wanted you to know that they’re checking all your envelopes.’”

reed magazine logoWinter 2009