[News] On December 4th, Remember The Life Of Fred Hampton
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 4 17:16:48 EST 2015
On December 4th, Remember The Life Of Fred Hampton
Educate! Race, United States By Bill Simpich,
December 4th, 2015
Above Photo: Fred Hampton, left, the head of the Illinois Black Panthers
rallies with others against the trial of eight people accused of
conspiracy to start a riot at the Democratic National Convention. The
rally was held outside the Federal Building on Oct. 29, 1969. Editors
note: There is damage to this historic print. (photo: Don Casper/Chicago
here is one thing that’s even worse than being attacked by the police on
That’s being attacked by the police – and the FBI – and the local
prosecutor – in your bedroom while you’re asleep.
There is one thing that’s even more inspiring than Martin Luther King
breaking down segregation.
That’s people – where they live – in motion – for liberation.
That’s the story of Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers in Chicago.
Panthers like Fred set up school breakfasts
<http://sfbayview.com/2009/12/%E2%80%98i-am-a-revolutionary%E2%80%99/> so poor
kids wouldn’t suffer all morning because they were hungry.
People like Fred worked for peace treaties with gangs like the
Blackstone Rangers to worry less about turf and more about power to the
Fred worked with lefty rednecks like the Young Patriots
<http://www.youngpatriots-rainbowcoalition.org/ypo-introduction/> – he
could see past their Confederate flag emblem and knew they wanted to
unite the disparate Scots-Irish with inner city youth.
Fred served as the chair of the Inter-Racial Council at his high school,
which met whenever there was friction. He led a walkout against the
only white girls could be nominated as homecoming queen. The school had
its first black homecoming queen that year.
Fred wanted to be a lawyer but knew he didn’t have “enough time.”
Fred and the Panthers taught the children in Chicago to stand against
war. To stand with the people. To look each other in the eye and say, “I
am a revolutionary.”
In November 1969 there was a shoot-out between an ex-Panther and the
police. The police wanted revenge.
On December 4th, 1969, the police, the FBI, and prosecutor Edward
Hanrahan joined forces. At night, under the guise of an arms raid, they
entered the home of Fred Hampton under the leadership of the prosecutor.
No one was given an opportunity to surrender before the police shooting
began. Law enforcement fired about a hundred shots, hitting almost
everyone in the dwelling.
Fred Hampton and fellow Panther Mark Clark were dead, killed in their
sleep. Fred had been dosed with barbiturates by his bodyguard, who
turned out to be an FBI informant.
Fred had just turned 21-years-old. He would be 66 today.
The raiders made one mistake. They left without securing the crime scene.
The Panthers led people on tours of the crime scene. The bullet holes
went into Fred’s bedroom door. Many people couldn’t believe that the
police could do such a thing. Others knew all too well.
At a mass, a local priest burst into tears as he tried to explain the
meaning of Fred’s life to the African American schoolchildren.
“… the next thing I knew here was one of our eighth grade boys – he
jumped up and said, ‘I am Fred Hampton
And then a girl in the sixth grade, she jumps up. ‘I am Fred Hampton.’
Another kid in first grade, ‘I am Fred Hampton.’ And before you knew it
the whole church, kids were all shouting, ‘I am Fred Hampton.’”
The LAPD tried a similar raid on the LA Panthers five days later.
Geronimo Pratt was in charge of the chapter’s defense. Pratt, a Vietnam
veteran, made sure the entire headquarters was lined with sandbags
LA Panthers held off the LAPD in a four hour gun battle
No one died.
This humiliation of the LAPD led to the birth of the SWAT team
which quickly spread to every corner of the land.
Predictably, there was a grand jury in the wake of Fred’s death. The
grand jury refused to indict Fred’s attackers.
Because of the outrage in the African-American community, a special
prosecutor was appointed. A second grand jury was empaneled. They
indicted Fred’s attackers on the minor charge of “obstruction of
justice.” Everyone was acquitted.
Fred’s friends then filed a lawsuit. The suit was dismissed.
Fred’s friends filed an appeal. The suit was restored.
An agonizing 18-month trial then began. In the midst of the trial, the
FBI was forced to reveal thousands and thousands of documents. These
documents said “COINTELPRO.” Fred was the target of a federal government
counterintelligence program designed to neutralize its opponents.
The family and the lawyers had to read these documents while the trial
At the end of the trial, the judge dismissed the case rather than let
the jury decide.
Another appeal was filed. Because the community was unified in its
outrage, a precedent-setting decision resulted. The police and the FBI
could not claim immunity for planning to kill its dissidents.
Another trial beckoned. Fred’s opponents were cornered. They offered his
family money and bought peace.
After all this, Fred’s mother was asked what was proved from this
twelve-year legal battle.
“They got away with murder.”
Bobby Rush, a prominent Chicago Black Panther, has been a Congressman
for more than twenty years.
Bobby Rush is the only person to defeat Barack Obama in an election for
public office. He beat him by thirty points.
I was going to call for a campaign for the day of Fred’s assassination –
Friday, December 4th – to be a national holiday.
But that would be a mistake.
Gil Scott-Heron wrote a book about his campaign and concert tour with
Stevie Wonder to declare Martin Luther King’s birthday a national
holiday. Gil’s book is called The Last Holiday
There won’t be any more national holidays for national heroes. Not until
we can push back hate.
Fred is a national hero, and his supporters can’t even name Fred’s
street after him. Too much hate.
There won’t be any more national holidays until America fundamentally
changes as a nation. We can’t even make Election Day a national holiday.
Too much hate.
Veterans who died in war abroad are given memorials. It’s called
Memorial Day in the spring. Veterans Day in the fall.
Fred and the others who died – those who died at the hands of the police
– those who died for liberation – are entitled to a memorial.
They died in the war at home.
They died holding this country to its promises.
They died so we can be free.
Hold them in the place of the highest honor.
On Friday, December 4th, hold them in your heart.
Bill Simpich is a civil rights attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Many of us who live here agree on a few basic things. One is that it’s
always a good time for people to rise up. For more on Fred Hampton, read
/The Assassination of Fred Hampton/
by Jeffrey Haas (also see this Democracy Now! interview with the author
Stanley Nelson’s documentary /The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the
Revolution/ <http://theblackpanthers.com/home/> can be seen at many
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work.
Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to
Reader Supported News.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Size: 512 bytes
Desc: not available
More information about the News