Warren Kimbro, a community activist and former Black Panther whose arrest on murder charges led to the headline-grabbing New Haven Black Panther trials, died Tuesday at Yale-New Haven Hospital. He was 74.
In May 1969, Kimbro shot and killed Alex Rackley, a fellow Black Panther who was suspected of being a police informant. The ensuing trial of Black Panther national leader Bobby Seale — whom prosecutors said had ordered the slaying — created a national sensation, drawing protesters from around the world to New Haven.
Kimbro himself pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and served more than four years in prison until receiving a state pardon. He would then turn his life around and became among the most prominent community activists in the Elm City.
After leaving prison, Kimbro earned a graduate degree from Harvard and upon his return to New Haven founded Project MORE, an organization aiming to help ex-offenders like him. Up until his death, he continued to work on initiatives in New Haven, including a “ban the box” movement to remove any questions from city job applications that ask whether a person has been convicted of a felony.