Honoring Heroes

Fred Hampton was born in Chicago in 1948. While a law student Hampton became active in the civil rights movement. He joined the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and was appointed leader of the local Youth Council.

Hampton later founded the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party in November 1968, and established a community service program that included the provision of free breakfasts for schoolchildren and a medical clinic that did not charge patients for treatment.

Hampton also taught political education classes and instigated a community control of police project. One of Hampton’s greatest achievements was to persuade Chicago’s most powerful street gangs to stop fighting against each other.

FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, described the Panthers as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and urged the Chicago police to launch an all-out assault on the organization. In the early hours of the 4th December, 1969, the Panther headquarters was raided by the police who killed Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Witnesses claimed that Hampton was wounded in the shoulder and then executed by a shot to the head.

After the resignation of President Richard Nixon, the Senate Intelligence Committee conducted a wide-ranging investigation of America’s intelligence services. Frank Church of Idaho, the chairman of the committee, revealed in April, 1976 that William O’Neal, Hampton’s bodyguard, was an FBI agent-provocateur who, days before the raid, had delivered an apartment floorplan to the Bureau with an “X” marking Hampton’s bed. Ballistic evidence showed that most bullets during the raid were aimed at Hampton’s bedroom.

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~ by Jay Taber on February 10, 2007.

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