Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush & Obama's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

History lesson: Who was Fred Hampton?



Fred Hampton was a leader in the Black Panther Party who was harassed and targeted by local law enforcement and the FBI, resulting in his murder during a police raid on his apartment on December 4, 1969.

Fred Hampton joined the Black Panther Party in 1968. He quickly rose in its ranks, both in Chicago and on a national level. However, the Black Panther became a law enforcement target. In the early hours of December 4, 1969, police raided Hampton's apartment and shot the 21-year-old to death. A later investigation revealed that police had fired nearly 100 times, while only one bullet came from inside the apartment, and that prior to his death Hampton had been surveilled and tracked by the FBI.

Frederick Allen Hampton was born on August 30, 1948, to Francis and Iberia Hampton. His birthplace varies between sources. It has been listed as Chicago, as well as the Chicago suburbs of Summit, Maywood, or Blue Island, Illinois.

Hampton led the Youth Council of the NAACP's West Suburban chapter, growing membership to more than 500. He advocated for a community pool in his hometown of Maywood, which led to an arrest for "mob action" following a demonstration in 1967. 

Involvement in Black Panther Party

In November 1968, Hampton helped found the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. From his base in Chicago, he served as chairman of this local chapter. Though Hampton was just 20, he became a respected leader in the Party, aided by his talent for public speaking and experience in community organizing that included work with the NAACP.

As a Black Panther, Hampton arranged for community services such as free breakfasts and health clinics. He also oversaw the formation of a "Rainbow Coalition" between the Panthers and local gangs like the Puerto Rican Young Lords and the white Young Patriots, whose families had migrated from Appalachia. Unfortunately, Hampton's successes and rising profile resulted in negative attention from law enforcement.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover once declared that the Black Panther Party was "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country"; he also feared the "rise of a messiah that would unify and electrify the militant nationalist movement." To counter these perceived threats, the Bureau's Counter Intelligence Program, known as COINTELPRO, sought to discredit and undermine Black groups and leaders. Two weeks before his death, Hampton was added to the FBI's Agitator Index, a list of people Hoover considered potential threats to national security.

Death and Aftermath

On December 4, 1969, Hampton was at his apartment on Chicago's West Side. Other Panthers, including Hampton's pregnant fiancée, were also in the residence. At approximately 4:45 a.m., a dozen police officers executed a search warrant for illegal weapons and raided the apartment. Almost immediately after they kicked open the door, Hampton's fellow Black Panther Mark Clark was killed by a bullet that struck his heart.

A layout of Hampton's apartment, provided by William O'Neal, an FBI informant who'd joined the Panthers, had been given to police prior to the raid. The night of the raid O'Neal had also allegedly dosed Hampton with a sleep-inducing barbiturate. Police officers headed to Hampton's bedroom and fired at the bed, striking Hampton but missing his fiancée, Akua Njeri (then known as Debra Johnson). Njeri later stated that after police removed her from the room they said Hampton was "barely alive." She then heard two shots, followed by the words, "He's good and dead now."

No illegal weapons were found during the raid, but the seven Panthers who survived, four of whom were injured, were arrested for aggravated assault and attempted murder. As the apartment was not sealed off, the Black Panther Party subsequently offered tours of the scene. Though the police account was that they had been responding to gunfire, this story was debunked when what had been described by law enforcement as holes created by Panther bullets were shown to actually be nail heads.

Death and Aftermath


On December 4, 1969, Hampton was at his apartment on Chicago's West Side. Other Panthers, including Hampton's pregnant fiancée, were also in the residence. At approximately 4:45 a.m., a dozen police officers executed a search warrant for illegal weapons and raided the apartment. Almost immediately after they kicked open the door, Hampton's fellow Black Panther Mark Clark was killed by a bullet that struck his heart.

A layout of Hampton's apartment, provided by William O'Neal, an FBI informant who'd joined the Panthers, had been given to police prior to the raid. The night of the raid O'Neal had also allegedly dosed Hampton with a sleep-inducing barbiturate. Police officers headed to Hampton's bedroom and fired at the bed, striking Hampton but missing his fiancée, Akua Njeri (then known as Debra Johnson). Njeri later stated that after police removed her from the room they said Hampton was "barely alive." She then heard two shots, followed by the words, "He's good and dead now."

No illegal weapons were found during the raid, but the seven Panthers who survived, four of whom were injured, were arrested for aggravated assault and attempted murder. As the apartment was not sealed off, the Black Panther Party subsequently offered tours of the scene. Though the police account was that they had been responding to gunfire, this story was debunked when what had been described by law enforcement as holes created by Panther bullets were shown to actually be nail heads.

Charges against the Panthers who'd survived the raid were dismissed in 1970. That same year a federal grand jury investigation also found that police had fired 82 to 99 times, with only one shot coming from those in the apartment. Cook County state's attorney Edward Hanrahan, who had directed the raid, was indicted for obstruction of justice in 1971, along with an assistant and 12 officers from the raid. However, no convictions resulted from these charges.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home