Fred Hampton

Fred HamptonBlack activist ‘assassinated’ by the state in raid

from various sources – October 2017
submitted by – Kelly Averill

Updates on this case listed at the foot of this item

On 4 December 1969 Fred Hampton, aged 21, and who was a leading, charismatic and powerful member of the Chicago chapter for The Black Panther Party; was shot dead during a police raid at his home. The Black Panther Party was created by people of colour who had witnessed unacceptable police behaviour to their communities.

It is widely believed that Fred was drugged and assassinated by the Chicago Police Department (with the assistance of the FBI).

Whilst laying on his bed Fred was oblivious to the events that were about to unfold. Several Chicago police and FBI officers closed in on the two-bedroom apartment. The raid was conducted by.

The officers who conducted the raid came fully prepared for a shootout with a wide array of weaponry including pistols. They were guided by a floor plan of the apartment provided by an informant. Using the floor plan as an aid, the officers knew where each individual of the Illinois Black Panther Party would be located. That evening, some of the members who were at Fred’s apartment inevitably got caught up in the events.

The officers proceeded to go from room to room, spraying bullets into the air, individuals and furniture. Other members of the Black Panthers were left injured, either by bullets or a physical beating given by the officers. The officers then proceeded to move into Fred’s bedroom whilst he was laying asleep next to his partner, Deborah.

Deborah was eight and a half months pregnant with Fred’s child. Awoken by the disruption she jumped on top of Fred in an effort to protect him before being dragged out by an officer. She was taken into a separate room with another individual and made to wait there whilst the officers carried out the raid. Throughout the raid the individuals who had been harmed were shouting for them to stop. The officers returned to Fred’s bedroom and continued shooting.

Police officers claimed that it was a bullet through the wall ended Fred’s life. This was proven not to be the case; he had been shot at close range and died from these injuries.

Deborah had recalled hearing the ‘pigs’ laughing whilst going from room to room shooting. The police claimed that they had only opened fire after one of the Black Panther Members shot at them first.

In the days after the killing of Fred, the media went into a frenzy. Hanrahan, a police state attorney took to the news channels to pledge the officer’s innocence in regard to the shooting. But the evidence found at the apartment proved otherwise. It was alleged that the FBI, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Chicago Police conspired to assassinate Fred Hampton. In September 1968 FBI Director J Hoover described the Panthers as; “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”

The collateral consequences of this mass criminalization include the destruction of families, disenfranchisement rates that mirror those of the Jim Crow era, school-to-prison pipelines, the creation and perpetuation of an economic and social caste system, and modern-day slavery. Targeted traffic stops, violent SWAT raids and incessant racialized searches, known as stop-and-frisk, in search of drugs are daily reminders that the drug war is the justification to create a police state of black and Latinx communities in order to maintain and control these populations.

Furthermore, the mass policing and criminalization does not stop at local law enforcement.  Just as the FBI labelled the Black Panther Party and other civil rights organizations and leaders “black extremist groups” and surveilled and infiltrated their ranks, the FBI’s creation of the category ‘black identity extremist’ (following the emergence of groups like Black Lives Matter and celebrities like Colin Kaepernick who speak out and protest against police brutality and mass criminalization), is just history repeating itself.

Fred had formed the first “rainbow coalition” with poor white and Latin groups. He had also roundly criticised the Weather Underground for their street rampage (“Days of Rage”) in Chicago.

He was later described as one of the most talented and promising leaders of the Panthers and proved to be an effective leader, particularly worrisome to the political police because of his express distaste for violence and inflammatory rhetoric and his emphasis on constructive political action. It is said that in Chicago, in just one year, Fred had successfully organised a free breakfast for children programme and a free Panther health clinic. He had brokered peace between the largest gangs in the city and moved some way towards converting them from criminality to radical community-oriented politics.

Attempts to indict the officers involved in Fred’s killing was blocked at every turn. The obstruction of justice case went to trial on July 10, 1972, with Cook County Criminal Court Judge Philip Romiti presiding without a jury. At the close of the prosecution’s case, defence attorneys for the police moved for an acquittal on the ground that not enough evidence had been presented to convict. The judge granted the motion.

Read more about the legal case here >


Follow-up News:

Long live the revolutionary spirit of Fred Hampton 50 years after his death
3 December 2019

The Assassination of Fred Hampton, Surveillance of Civil Rights Leaders, and Harassment of Black Lives Matter Just Business as Usual for Law Enforcement
4 December 2017

WATCH: “The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther”
4 December 2014

Jeffrey Haas, ‘The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther’
February 2010

December 1969: The FBI Assassination of Fred Hampton
29 November 2009

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