[News] On December 4th, Remember The Life Of Fred Hampton

Anti-Imperialist News 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 
the street.

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 
school policy 
<http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1096&context=history_theses> that 
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 
was ongoing.

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 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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