Smash the Richmond CowboysPrimary Artist: Terry Forman

Created: San Francisco Collective, 1983

Medium: Offset printed

Dimensions: 11″ x 17″

One chant used by the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee in demonstrations against the Klan during this period was “The cops and the Klan work hand in hand,” and it is still true today. White supremacist and fascist organizations like the Three Percenters and the Proud Boys have prioritized recruiting from, and working within, local and state police. In the 1980s in Richmond CA, just north of Oakland CA, the Cowboys were an overtly white supremacist group within the police, vigorously supported by the chief of police and elected officials. In 1983, after more than 40 brutality cases and five killings the year before, the NAACP and the families of two men who had been killed sued the city of Richmond for brutality.  This poster was part of a campaign to publicize this corrupt police force and organize to end all police brutality and killings. Groups like the Cowboys continue to exist in US police forces.

Learn More
Anti-Fascism Versus the Police, 1980s-Style

A Personal Story of Police Misconduct in Richmond, California, May 2002, by Andres Soto

Interview with Mickey Ellinger about the Richmond campaign.

New York Times article from February 13, 1983

Image: Graphic of policeman with a white shadow in the form of a robed Klansman wielding a club. Courtroom drawings labeled “murderers” who were members of the “Richmond Cowboys” who had killed and beaten black residents. Drawings by Terry Forman.

Words: At top: “SMASH THE RICHMOND COWBOYS! STOP KILLER COPS! Text on “pinned” sketches: “MURDERER CLINTON MITCHELL In the Cowboys, killed Johnny Roman. Accused of brutality in 17 incidents.” “MURDERER SAMUEL DUDKIEWICZ. In the Cowboys. Killed both Michael Guillory and Johnny Roman within 15 months. Still on active duty as a Richmond cop.” “POLICE CHIEF LEO GARFIELD. Defends the murder of Black people by Richmond cops. Protects and promotes racist cops known to be in the Cowboys.” Underneath the three sketches are the words “The Cowboys are a KKK-type gang inside the Richmond police. They carry out racist terror against the Black community with the full support of the Police Chief and city government. Over the past year Richmond cops have killed five Black people. … Also in the Cowboys’ five other names… “DEATH TO THE KLAN AND ALL WHITE SUPREMACY! SUPPORT BLACK PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE! LAND AND INDEPENDENCE FOR THE BLACK NATION—NEW AFRIKA!”

Color: black ink on white paper

Sponsors: John Brown Anti-Klan Committee


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