Early in the morning fromDecember 4, 1969, a Peoples gas truck pulled up in front of an apartment building at 2337 W. Monroe St. on the west side of Chicago. Fourteen plainclothes Chicago police officers quietly exited the undercover truck, armed with pistols, a shotgun, a machine gun and a detailed map of their target, an apartment occupied by Chicago local leadersBlack-Panther-Party.
The card positively identified the bedroom of Fred Hampton, the 21-year-old "President" of the Chicago Black Panthers, who slept next to his fiancee, who was eight months pregnant. At 4:30 a.m., the police broke down the front door andstarted shooting. Ballistic reports later showed they fired more than 90 times, including machine gun rounds through exterior walls and windows.
When the hail of bullets finally stopped, four of the young Black Panthers in the apartment lay badly wounded and two were dead. The first was Mark Clark, who reached for his own shotgun before he took a bullet through the heart. The second was Fred Hampton, shot in his bed.
The police were acting on orders from Cook County Prosecutor Edward Hanrahan, who held a news conference in which he claimed his officers were caught by Black Panthers when police attempted to execute a search warrant for illegal weapons at an apartment.
"The criminal, violent and immediate response of the occupiers to the shooting of the announced police officers underscores the extreme cruelty of the Black Panther Party," Hanrahan said.
While it didn't take long for Hanrahan's account to be deciphered, it took more than a decade for the full, disturbing truth to emerge.
Not only was the murder of Hampton and Clark a cold-blooded murder of two militant black activists, but documents later revealed it was coordinated by the FBI as part of a secret program to neutralize and destroy the Black Panther Party, which the FBI director wasJ.Edgar Hooverprivately referred to as "the greatest threat to the country's internal security".
Hampton, a rising star in Chicago, became a target
ThatBlack-Panther-Partyfor Self-Defense was founded in 1966 by two black college students in Oakland, California. With their military-style berets and raised-fist salute, the Black Panthers preached black empowerment and armed resistance to racial violence, including at the hands of the police. The Black Panther Party also launched a number of social initiatives including afree breakfast programwho helped feed thousands of hungry children before school.
Hampton was a distinguished student from a suburb of Chicago who campaigned successfully as a youth leader for the NAACPnot separated poolbuilt in his hometown. Joining the Illinois Black Panther Party in 1968, he quickly earned a reputation as an influential speaker and coalition builder across racial lines to combat police brutality and alleviate poverty in Chicago's most neglected neighborhoods.
"Hampton was this incredibly charismatic, young, dynamic leader who built this 'rainbow coalition' with Puerto Ricans and poor Appalachian whites," said Jeffrey Haas, founder of the People's Law Office in Chicago and a member of the legal team. who sued the Chicago Police Department and the FBI for Hampton's murder. "He started a health clinic and a free breakfast program."
CONTINUE READING:How the Black Panther Breakfast Show inspired and threatened the government
This is not to say that the Black Panthers avoided confrontation and armed provocation in Chicago.
"They had a militant, anti-police position of community control of the police," says Haas, who is also an author ofThe Murder of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and Chicago Police Officers Murdered a Black Panther. "'Off the pig!' was one of his very provocative slogans, which for the Panthers meant removing abusive cops from the community, but I'm not sure the police necessarily saw it that way."
Chicago was then full of political protests and violent confrontations with the police. When, after 1968, the masses took to the streetsassassination of martin luther king, jr., the mayor of Chicago ordered policeshoot pyromaniac ham. Later that year, police and National Guard troops beat up anti-war protesters outside theDemocratic National ConventionIn Chicago.
If the FBI wanted to annihilate the Black Panther "extremists" operating in Chicago, they saw the meteoric rise of Fred Hampton as a clear threat.
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The covert COINTELPRO program behind the murders
When Haas and his attorney Flint Taylor of the People's Law Office first took up the Hampton and Clark case, it quickly became clear that the prosecutor's version of the story was bogus. Ballistics experts determined that all but one of the bullets fired in the apartment came from police weapons, contradicting a false report from the Chicago Police Department's own crime lab.
It was obvious that Hanrahan, the prosecutor, had covered up the real reason for the violent crackdown, but no one could have imagined at the time how far the conspiracy went to target Hampton and cover up his murder.
Then, in 1971, a group of anti-war activistsbroke into an FBI officein a Philadelphia suburb for evidence that the FBI was spying on leaders of the anti-war movement. What they happened to discover was documented evidence of the existence of a secret FBI program called COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) with orders to "disrupt, distract and neutralize" black movements.
Under the auspices of COINTELPRO, the FBI has spied on and harassed civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and othersMalcom X. It was all part of Hoover's effort to, in his words, "prevent the rise of a messiah who would unite and electrify the militant nationalist movement."
For the FBI, Hampton was another potential "messiah" who rose in the ranks of the Black Panther Party and was groomed for national leadership.
CONTINUE READING:How the Black Power Movement Influenced the Civil Rights Movement
A little justice for Fred Hampton
During years of legal battles on behalf of the Hampton and Clark families and raid survivors, Haas and Taylor obtained other incriminating FBI documents linking the Hampton murder to COINTELPRO. One of the most damning was an FBI memo authorizing the payment of a "bonus" to a whistleblower named William O'Neal, a Black Panther security guard who provided the FBI with the apartment's map.
By connecting the dots, Haas and his colleagues were able to prove that a Chicago FBI agent, Roy Martin Mitchell, was the one who provided Hanrahan with the map.
"Hanrahan was this very ambitious heir to [Chicago Mayor] Daley at the time," says Haas. "His people were more than willing to make this foray into the Panthers because they thought it would build their careers."
FBI-Agent M. Wesley Swearingen wurde 1977 Whistleblower in dem Fall.Tell the prosecutorsthat the FBI had organized Chicago police to kill the Panthers, warning them before the raid that they would encounter armed resistance. oath laterwrote a bookabout the shooting and other incidents.
The first judge to hear the case dismissed it after a grueling 18-month trial. But Haas and Taylor went ahead and wrote a 200-page brief for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit,tying the FBI to a conspiracy"Undermine, eliminate and suppress the Black Panther Party and its members...a vital and radical black political organization."
The government finally agreed to a settlement in 1982, paying $1.85 million to the families of Hampton and Clark and the other survivors of the 1969 raid, some of whom never fully recovered from their injuries. A Justice Department attorney said the deal didn't go wrong. However g. Flint Taylor, Plaintiffs' Counsel,told reporters"The agreement is an admission of the conspiracy that existed between the F.B.I. and Hanrahan's men to assassinate Fred Hampton."
More evidence emerges decades later
In January 2021, more than 50 years after the Hampton police killing, hundreds of reprisals were suppressedfbi-dokumenterelated to the COINTELPRO program was released at the request of the Freedom of Information Act.
Among those documents was another "bonus" letter, this one from Hoover's own desk. In the letter, dated six days after Hampton's assassination, FBI Director Roy Martin Mitchell thanked the Chicago FBI agent who orchestrated the raid for his "exemplary efforts."
"Indeed, I am pleased to congratulate you and to report that I have authorized a $200 bounty for your outstanding service on a matter of significant racial interest to the FBI. "wroteVacuum cleaner.
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On December 4, 1969, the Black Panther Party's Illinois chairman Fred Hampton was murdered by police. But his story is about much more than the raid that took his life. The movement Hampton helped create was unique and revolutionary.Was Fred Hampton shot in his sleep? ›
In December 1969, Hampton was drugged, shot and killed in his bed during a predawn raid at his Chicago apartment by a tactical unit of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, who received aid from the Chicago Police Department and the FBI leading up to the attack.Who killed the leader of the Black Panthers? ›
Not only was the killing of Hampton and Clark a cold-blooded assassination of two militant Black activists, but documents later revealed it was coordinated by the FBI as part of a secret program to neutralize and destroy the Black Panther Party, which FBI Director J.Where did Fred Hampton get shot? › Who was the head of the Black Panthers? ›
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) was founded in October 1966 in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, who met at Merritt College in Oakland.Who started the Black Panthers? ›
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Bobby Hutton's death at the hands of the Oakland police was seen by those sympathetic to the Black Panther Party as an example of police brutality against blacks. Hutton was the first Panther to die and "immediately became a martyr for the cause of black power."How many Black Panthers have been killed? ›
Over a six year period 24 Black Panthers had been killed in gun fights with the police. Another member, George Jackson, was assassinated while in San Quentin prison in August, 1971.What did Fred Hampton do that was important? ›
American civil rights leader Fred Hampton served as deputy chairman of the Black Panther Party's Illinois chapter. Hampton formed the city of Chicago's first "Rainbow Coalition," an alliance of the Panthers with other groups organized around racial, ethnic, or ideological affiliation.
Who betrayed the Black Panthers? ›
William O'Neal (April 9, 1949 – January 15, 1990) was an American FBI informant in Chicago, Illinois, where he infiltrated the local Black Panther Party (BPP). He is known for being the catalyst of the 1969 police/FBI assassination of Fred Hampton, head of the Illinois BPP.What were Black Panthers last words? ›
Instead of praying: "God heal him, God save him," he began saying, "God, let your will be done." Chadwick Boseman died the following day.Is Black Panther a villain or hero? ›
Who is Black Panther? Black Panther is a fictional comic strip superhero created for Marvel Comics. He is one of the first Black comic book superheroes in the United States.Do Black Panthers exist? ›
Just like the superhero, black panthers are essentially fictional. Rather than referring to a specific species of big cat, “black panther” is really a colloquial term used to refer to dark jaguars (Panthera onca) and leopards (Panthera pardus).How long did the Black Panthers last? ›
The party was active in the United States between 1966 and 1982, with chapters in many major American cities, including San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Philadelphia. They were also active in many prisons and had international chapters in the United Kingdom and Algeria.Who is Black Panther now? ›
Drumroll, please … the new Black Panther is Shuri, T'Challa's genius younger sister played by Letitia Wright. In fact, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is Shuri's movie through and through.How did Fred Hampton death? › Who was with Fred Hampton when he died? ›
Black Panthers Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22, are gunned down by 14 police officers as they lie sleeping in their Chicago, Illinois, apartment.Who died in Black Panther movie? ›
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is now available to stream on Disney+. Chadwick Boseman, who played the lead character, T'Challa, in the first film, died in 2020. The franchise addresses this by killing off T'Challa and showing Wakanda mourning his death.What happened in Chicago in 1969? ›
The Days of Rage were a series of protests during three days in October 1969 in Chicago, organized by the emerging Weatherman faction of Students for a Democratic Society.