[Pnews] Fred Hampton remembered as ‘focused, caring’ visionary

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 4 14:30:33 EST 2019


https://chicago.suntimes.com/2019/12/4/20994612/fred-hampton-mark-clark-black-panther-party-billy-che-brooks-edward-hanrahan-monroe-bobby-rush 



  Fred Hampton remembered as ‘focused, caring’ visionary

By Kathy Chaney <https://chicago.suntimes.com/authors/kathy-chaney> Dec 
4, 2019
------------------------------------------------------------------------

An early morning raid on an apartment on the West Side a half-century 
ago left the Black community in an uproar over the deaths of Black 
Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, and a fellow Panther with 
one question that’s plucked at his nerves for 50 years.

Billy “Che” Brooks, who remembers Hampton as a “focused, caring, full of 
love and funny visionary,” wants to know, “Who the hell drugged Chairman 
Fred?”

Hampton, 21, and Clark, 22, were ambushed in the Dec. 4, 1969 raid 
conducted jointly by the Chicago police and officers assigned to the 
office of then-State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan.

Brooks, the deputy minister of education for the Black Panther Party of 
Illinois, said the police raided their offices several times that year, 
and constantly harassed them.

In November 1969, fellow Panther Spurgeon “Jake” Winters, 19, for whom 
the party named their medical center in Lawndale, died in a shootout 
with police. Two officers died too.

After Winters’ death, the Panthers could sense “something was imminent,” 
Brooks said.

Police entered Hampton’s apartment in the 2300 block of West Monroe 
Street and unleashed 99 bullets, versus one shot fired by the opposing 
side. The apparent ambush cost Hampton and Clark their lives.

The Chicago Sun-Times wrote a story that challenged the narrative 
provided by police and official photos after a Sun-Times reporter took a 
Panther-led tour of the bullet-riddled apartment. The story detailed 
what was depicted in official photos, such as nail heads circled as 
being bullet holes.

  * <https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19428696/HAMPTON__FRED_BLACK_PANTHERS____IMG00476339A.4861.jpg>
    Bobby Rush (left) and Fred Hampton, pose at Illinois Black Panther
    Party headquarters at 2350 W. Madison. Rush is the party’s deputy
    minister of defense and Hampton is deputy chairman. Sun-Times Library
  * <https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19428697/HAMPTON__FRED_BLACK_PANTHERS____IMG00476338A.4859.jpg>
    Fred Hampton Jr., son of slain chairman, Fred Hampton and Deborah
    Johnson. Sun-Times Library
  * <https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19428698/Fred_Hampton.jpg>
    Fred Hampton and R. Chaka Walls, deputy minister of information for
    the Black Panther Party, Ill, discuss the fate of Bobby Seale in
    November 1969. Sun-Times Library
  * <https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19428700/HAMPTON__FRED_BLACK_PANTHERS____IMG00476341A.4865.jpg>
    FBI model of the Monroe St. apartment in which the December raid by
    state’s attorney’s police took the lives of two black Panther
    leaders. Federal grand jury condemned the raiders, who entered
    through both front door and rear door, firing a total of 82 to 99
    shots. Sun-Times Library
  * <https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19428701/HAMPTON__FRED_BLACK_PANTHERS____IMG00476343A.4869.jpg>
    Black Panther attoneys Francis Andrew Right and Dennis Cunningham
    with controversial panel of front door of Black Panther apartment.
    Sun-Times Library
  * <https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19428702/HAMPTON__FRED_BLACK_PANTHERS____IMG00476327A.4837.jpg>
    Police carry the body of slain black Panther leader Fred Hampton
    from at 2337 W. Monroe. Sun-Times Library
  * <https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19428703/OBIT_SPOCK.A0926.jpg>
    At a rally outside the U.S. Courthouse Oct. 29, 1969, Dr. Benjamin
    Spock, background, listens to Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois
    Black Panther party at a protest against the trial of eight persons
    accused of conspiracy to cause a riot during the Democratic National
    Convention in 1968. AP file photo
  * <https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19428705/HAMPTON__FRED_BLACK_PANTHERS____IMG00476340A.4863.jpg>
    A technician from the crime laboratory searches for clues during a
    revisit by state’s attorney’s police to the apartment at 2337 W.
    Monroe where Fred Hampton and Mark Clark where slain Dec. 4, 1969.
    The picture was taken through a window from outside the building.
    Sun-Times Library
  * <https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19428707/HAMPTON__FRED_BLACK_PANTHERS____IMG00476345A.4873.jpg>
    Mourners pass the body of slain Black Panther leader Fred Hampton at
    Rayner & Sons Funeral Home, 3654 W. Roosevelt. Sun-Times Library
  * <https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19428708/img0010A.4152.jpg>
    Criminal Court Judge Philip Romiti looks back before entering
    apartment at 2337 W. Monroe where Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were
    shot to death in Dec. 4, 1969. Sun-Times Library

The home was dubbed “Ground Zero” by Hampton’s son, Fred Hampton Jr.

Brooks was jailed from November 1969 to January 1970 for a case he 
caught in 1968.

When he heard the news, he was devastated and couldn’t fathom how it 
could happen.

Reports said fellow member William O’Neal was an FBI informant and 
provided the floor plan of the apartment. It was also speculated that he 
put “Seconal in Fred’s Kool-aid,” making it easier for police to kill 
Hampton.

While Brooks didn’t comment on whether O’Neal provided the floor plan, 
he said O’Neal did not drug Hampton.

“O’Neal did not come into that house. I know that for a fact. So, who 
did it? Nobody wants to talk about it. That’s the real question. Who put 
the Seconal in Chairman Fred’s Kool-aid? Who drugged Chairman Fred?” 
Brooks asked.

That question has dogged him most of his life.

While he knows he’ll never get the answer, he thinks things would’ve 
gone differently if he’d been there.

“I hate the fact I was in jail when that s--- happened,” he angrily said.

Brooks said he would’ve been another man in the apartment able to keep a 
closer eye on things and maybe Hampton would still be alive.

He said not only was Hampton a friend, he was like a brother to him. And 
while they were the same age, he learned a ton from the “charismatic, 
full of empathy” leader who was “beyond the times.”

“Fred was considered a threat in the eyes of law enforcement because he 
could galvanize all types of people. We wanted to end police brutality. 
We created programs to point out the contradictions that existed in 
society. Children were going to school hungry and we started a free 
breakfast program. Shortly thereafter, the government started breakfast 
programs, and lunch programs in schools,” he said.

Brooks continued, “The government wasn’t thinking about sickle cell 
anemia so we opened up our medical centers and started testing Black 
people for sickle cell. Shortly thereafter, it became an issue and the 
government took it over. We had a way of creating consciousness amongst 
the people, forcing the government to do what it was supposed to do.”

Comparing that decade to now, Brooks said it’s gotten worse, and it 
brings him to tears.

“The fascist tactics that police use now are tantamount to murder. They 
don’t think twice about killing a person of color. A lot of it has to do 
with the political climate in this country. There’s an analogous 
situation with 1969 and what’s going on now. Then we had [President 
Richard] Nixon. Now we have [Donald] Trump as president. Their whole 
objective was oppression, and it’s the same flavor now,” he stressed.

Hampton, who grew up in Maywood, was honored in September 2007 in the 
west suburb with an honorary street name and statue in his honor. The 
former Oak Street is now known as Fred Hampton Way and his statue sits 
in front of the Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center.

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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