Jonathan P. Jackson
Jackson during a protest in support of the Soledad Brothers
Jonathan Peter Jackson

(1953-06-23)June 23, 1953
DiedAugust 7, 1970(1970-08-07) (aged 17)
Cause of deathShooting
Known forMarin County courthouse incident

Jonathan Peter Jackson (June 23, 1953 – August 7, 1970)[1] was an American youth, who died of gunshot wounds suffered during his armed invasion of a California courthouse. At age 17, Jackson stormed the Marin County Courthouse with automatic weapons, kidnapping Superior Court Judge Harold Haley, prosecutor Gary W. Thomas, and three jurors.

In an ensuing shootout, Jackson and Judge Haley were killed, along with two inmates already in the courtroom, who had readily joined the attack; prosecutor Thomas was paralyzed and one juror was seriously injured.[2] The guns that Jackson used were registered to political activist Angela Davis, who previously formed a committee supporting the Soledad Brothers. Davis stood trial for alleged involvement in the kidnapping and was acquitted of all charges in June 1972.

Personal life

Jackson was the youngest of five children born to Lester Jackson and Georgia Bee Jackson. Raised in Pasadena, California, he attended St. Andrew's School from 1965 to 1967 for grades seven and eight, La Salle High School for ninth grade (1967–68), and then Blair High School for his junior school level study . [3]

Political activism

Black Panthers

George Jackson includes passages in his 1971 book, Blood in My Eye, which he attributes to his brother Jonathan. These passages figure prominently in the development of the elder Jackson's theory of revolutionary praxis.[4]

Marin County incident

Main article: Marin County courthouse incident

On August 7, 1970, Jackson brought a satchel containing three automatic firearms, registered to Davis,[5] into the Marin County Hall of Justice, where Judge Haley was presiding over the trial of San Quentin inmate James McClain.[6]

Once inside Judge Haley's courtroom, Jackson drew an automatic gun, and, aided by McClain and Black Panther inmates Ruchell Cinque Magee and William Arthur Christmas, took Judge Haley as well as Deputy District Attorney Gary Thomas and three female jurors hostage.[7]

They proudly encouraged responding journalists to document their actions as they loaded the hostages into a rented van. Responding San Quentin prison guards fired on the van that Jackson was driving in an attempt to end the attack.[8][6] During the shootout, Jonathan Jackson, Christmas, McClain, and Judge Haley were killed, while Magee and Deputy District Attorney Thomas were seriously injured.[citation needed]

Jackson's son, Jonathan Jackson Jr., was born eight and a half months after his father's death.[9] A monument on the premises to Judge Haley was the target of a follow-up attack perpetrated by the Weather Underground terrorist network in October of the same year.[10]

In popular culture


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  1. ^ California Deaths, 1940-1997
  2. ^ Aptheker, Bettina (1969). The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8597-5.
  3. ^ Timothy, Mary (1974). Jury Woman. Palo Alto, California: Emty Press. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  4. ^ Blood in My Eye (1971), pp. 11-12, 20, 23-24, 46, et al.
  5. ^ Millies, Stephen (August 3, 2009). "Long live the spirit of Jonathan Jackson". Workers World Newspaper.
  6. ^ a b "Justice: A Bad Week for the Good Guys". Time. August 17, 1970.
  7. ^ Associated Press (August 8, 1970). "Courtroom Escape Attempt/Convicts, Trial Judge Slain". Sarasota Herald.
  8. ^ Major, Reginald (January 1, 1973). Justice in the Round: The Trial of Angela Davis. ISBN 9780893880521.
  9. ^ "San Francisco Bay View » Jonathan Jackson Jr.'s foreword to his Uncle George Jackson's 'Soledad Brother' (1994)". February 18, 2018. Archived from the original on February 18, 2018. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  10. ^ Graaf, Beatrice de (March 15, 2011). Evaluating Counterterrorism Performance: A Comparative Study. Routledge. ISBN 9781136806551. Retrieved October 14, 2018 – via Google Books.