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Remembering Fred Hampton
Our radio adaptation of the film, The Murder of Fred Hampton, produced by filmmakers Mike Gray and Howard Alk, provides a glimpse into the life of Hampton and the Illinois Black Panther Party. On December 4th, 1969, exactly 50 years ago, Black Panthers Fred Hampton, age 21, and Mark Clark, age 22, were shot to death by Chicago police.
In an infamous moment in Chicago’s history and politics, over a dozen policemen burst into Hampton’s apartment while its occupants were sleeping, killing Hampton and fellow Panther Mark Clark, and brutalizing the other occupants.
As Deputy Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, Hampton built a solid reputation as a community organizer and brilliant speaker. The FBI, threatened by the activities of the BPP and its dynamic youth leaders, set on a course to neutralize the organization and anyone they deemed a threat to the agenda of white supremacy.
Now in 2019, with United States lawmakers seeking to criminalize political dissent, it is important to reflect on the murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, and the states response to protest.
“You can jail the revolutionary, but you cant jail the revolution You might murder a freedom fighter like Bobby Hutton, but you cant murder freedom fighting.” – Fred Hampton.
Photo from the Chicago Film Archives.
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ANITA: On this edition of Making Contact, youll hear excerpts from the documentary, The Murder of Fred Hampton, produced by filmmakers Mike Gray and Howard Alk. We present this for historical context amidst current media dis-information and government surveillance of groups organizing for Black lives and liberation. The film explores how the FBI conspired with Chicago police to murder Fred Hampton, a dynamic community leader whose rhetoric of militant black resistance and socialist ideology made him a target of the U.S. Government.
FRED HAMPTON: We say it, even before this happened, and we going to say it after this. I’m locked up, and after everybody’s locked up, that you can jail the revolutionaries, but you can’t jail the revolution. Right. You might run a liberator like Eldridge Cleaver out the country, but you can’t run liberation out the country. You might murder a freedom fighter like Bobby Hutton, but you can’t murder freedom fightin’, and if you do, you’ll come up with answers that don’t answer, information that don’t explain, you come up with conclusions that don’t conclude.
ANITA: Forty-six years ago, Fred Hampton, the Deputy Chairman of the State of Illinois Black Panther Party was assassinated. On December 4th, 1969, Chicago Police Department raided Fred Hamptons apartment, shot and killed him in his bed. He was 21 years old. This is Fred Hampton in his own words.
(Hampton) : So we say, as we always say at the Black Panther Party, that they can do what they want to, to us, we might not be back, I might be in jail, I might be anywhere, but when I leave, you can remember I said, with the last words out of my lips, that I am, a revolutionary. And you’re going to have to keep on saying that. You are going to have to say that I am a proletariat. I am the people. I’m not the pig. You got to make a distinction. And the people are going to have to attack the pigs. The people are going to have to stand up against the pigs. That’s what the Panthers are doing, and that’s what the Panthers are doing all over the world.
(Plaintiff) We have brought to trial here, Fred Hampton. You are here to judge between two conflicting testimonies. Somebody is lying. Now reason stands, the reason is very clear here, that Private Jones, who had come from Sanford, North Carolina, would have no great desire to see Fred Hampton up in this trial. But, Fred Hampton, a key figure in this community, has great reason for not wanting to be put, uh, in jail.
(Hampton) But, the state’s attorney, and the state’s attorney office, has reason to see Fred Hampton in jail. We’ve got a new state’s attorney. And he said already what he’s all about. People that had different, uh, political beliefs than he had… his speeches sound somewhat like those of Hitler. And we know why he wants to see Fred Hampton put in jail. Why do I have a lot of arrests? Because of harassment. Why is there harassment? Because the people that harass me has set up a problem that made me. Disagree with them violently, and they, they set up this problem in order to exploit me and other people like me. And why do they want to get rid of me? Because I’m saying something that might wake up other exploited people, and some other oppressed people. And if all these people ever get together, then these pigs that are exploiting us, we’ll be able to run into the lake. That’s why they want to get rid of us. And, it’s just, uh, it’s sorta like a primary thing with me. I’m the, the first move that they’ll make. I’m a part of the organization that will be the first organization they’ll move on because I happen to be a part of an organization in the Black Panther Party, that is the only organization, in fact, that has came out and stood up, loud and clear, and said that we don’t care what anybody says, whether they have guns or not, and badges, or eighteen uniforms, if whenever they step outside the bounds of legality, into the bounds of illegality, we will blow they brains out. If they bother the people. And what makes them mad about that? They constantly bothering the people. Anybody that’s out there for the protection of the people happens to be in direct conflict with them. What makes them mad about it? What makes them mad about it is, that they had Black people, and white poor people, and red poor people, and Puerto Rican poor people, and Latin American poor people, of, uh, poor people of all descent. They had them caught up in their movements based on racism when the Black Panther Party stood up and said, “We don’t care what anybody says. We don’t think to fight fire with fire. We think to fight fire with water.” We ain’t going to fight the racist not with racism, but we going to fight with solidarity. We say we not going to fight capitalism with Black capitalism, but we going to fight it with socialism. We stood up and said, “We not going to fight reactionary pigs, and reactionary state’s attorneys like this, and reactionary state’s attorneys like Hanrahan, with any other reactions on our part.” We’re going to fight their reactions with all of us people getting together, and having an international, proletariat revolution. (crowd) Right on. (Hampton) And that’s saying all power to the people. (crowd) Right on
ANITA: Almost five decades later, Hampton’s message of resisting police aggression and state repression remains relevant. And as a man of the people he refused to let the intimdation tactics by the state deter him from organizing, and working in the interest of the people. Here is Fred Hampton, in conversation about the importance of deep political education.
(Hampton) Basically, me knowing yours, you can, um, support some of our programs, that what you’re saying?
(Diaga) Why not?
(Hampton) And you believe in the program Breakfast for Children program, free health clinics? Brown brothers?
(Diaga) We believe they are good things
(Diaga) As the focal point to organize their mothers and fathers.
(Hampton) M-hm. There’s no educational program in here?
(Diaga) Uh, that’s a social license thing, you know, you set that up, brother, you can’t put everything on one piece of paper.
(Hampton) What about this bank?
(non-Panther) Credit union?
(non-Panther) Credit union. Credit union, my brother, is a bank. Are you hip to credit unions? It is a bank.
(Hampton) Yeah, you go and buy money…?
(Diaga) Yeah, that’s a bank. It’s a bank. Owned by the people. Run for the people. And by the people.
(Hampton) What would money be given out to people for?
(Diaga) Well, the people would decide that…you want money for whatever, you know the people in the community decide.
(non-Panther) You need some living room furniture maybe? You need a car, maybe?
(Hampton) See, the thing is with me, Diaga, I need to know some more about…I wish you had some more literature about the educational thing here. Because, you dig, as far as we concerned y’know, you struggling, the way you look at struggling is that, uh, this depends on the educational thing, you dig.
(Diaga) This depends on the education. But the whole thing… (Hampton) No, but ain’t any of this does. You, you could form this without education.
(Hampton) You could form this here.
(Diaga) Uh, no, not the way we talk about forming it. Y’know, right, we talking about forming it right. Y’know, it’s not on paper. We didn’t write it on paper.
(Hampton) You know, form it right. You dig? Let me give you an example: Uh, Jomo, Jomo Kenyatta formed an excellent revolution with no education, and all it did in the end thing, Jomo told them motherf***ers, he said…well, uh, you know, you can educate, uh, hate in every blood. I mean, the brother, after he beat the revolution, now I’m going to oppress you. Another example: Papa Doc in Haiti. Papa Doc in Haiti hated everything white. Man, you couldn’t put this white paper in front of Papa Doc’s face, but he moved all the white people out and he took over to be oppressor, he did, because of no education. And if the people had been educated they’d have said, that “We don’t hate the motherf***er white people, we hate the oppressor, whether he be white, Black, brown, or yellow.” So we got to know the educational program to find out what is going to be in the finale.
(Hampton)Lot of people would, Jomo Kenyatta’s called not a ‘never-revolutionary’ but an ‘ex-revolutionary.’ So is Papa Doc. They brought on successful revolution. That thing in the Mau-Maus was a b**ch. Bantu, freedom fighters, all that kind of action. What we saying is, is that the end. But you don’t judge Castro now. You can’t do it. Nobody in this room can judge whether Castro’s going to be a revolutionary now. Uh, (unclear). We talking ’bout things, y’know, meet with, uh, China, the People’s Republic, and even at the state they in now, talking about even going on further into a Communistic state. That’s what we talkin’ about. Those are revolutionary. So we got to understand here, the educational program you have, to be able to figure out whether we’re going the right lines, where the people will end up in a situation, where they can be able to really control themselves. You understand what I’m saying? Uh, with no education, the people that take the local foundations start stealing money, because they won’t be really educated to why it’s the people’s thing anyway. You understand what I’m saying?
(Hampton) With no education you have neocolonialism instead of colonialism. Like you got in in Africa now, like you got in, uh, in uh Haiti. So, what we talking about is, it has to be uh, educational program, that’s very important. As a matter of fact, this is so important to us We, it’s so important to us, that a person has to go through a six-week of our political education, before they can consider themself a member of the Party, able to even run out ideology for the Party. Why? Because if they don’t have any education, then, they’re nowhere. You dig what I’m saying? You nowhere. Because you don’t even know why they doing what they doing. You be, you might get caught up in the emotionalist, uh, you understand me? You might, you know, you done caught up, and caught being poor, and they want something. And then, if they’re not educated, they’ll want more, and before you know it, they’ll be capitalist, and before you know it we’d have Negro imperialists.
(Diaga) Yeah, but see brother, the reason we don’t do a lot of talking, is because you see it’s a foregone conclusion with us.
(Hampton) Yeah, well see, brother, the reason I do do a lot of talking is because I don’t, there’s no foregone conclusions with me.
ANITA : Fred Hamptons Talking and thinking was connected to the requirement that individuals interested in becoming members of the party discuss and subscribe to the ideology of the Party. Every member of the Black Panther Party was expected to attend political education classes that taught the fundamentals of the Party’s 10-Point Platform and Program, a layout out of rules of engagment, conduct and the socio-political objectives of the organization.
As a leader in the Black Panther Party, Hampton also talked about the need for working class and oppressed people to unite. He explored the intersectionality of identity politics and class based struggles. In 1969, Hampton helped to form the “Rainbow Coalition,”a multi-ethnic union of young leaders who challenged Chicago’s power elite to effect change for the city’s most disenfranchised communities. Hampton was also able to broker a gang truce between some of Chicago’s most active street gangs. This type political organizing was directly seen as a threat to internal security of the country. J. Edgar Hoover, as director of the FBI, led a secret Counterintelligence Program now known as CoIntelPro, aimed at surveilling, discrediting and disrupting domestic organizations. In the words of the FBIs own directives, agents were told to, quote, dismantle; destabilize; and neutralize or otherwise eliminate these movements.
The murders, on December 4, 1969, of twenty-one-year-old Fred Hampton and twenty-two-year-old Black Panther Mark Clark, were a direct example of the state suppression of Black militancy and the emergence of todays U.S. police state. After Hampton’s murder, Black Panther leader Bobby Rush asked the world to critically examine, the brutality and unjust events of that day.
(Hampton) (Rush) You are ones, who are gonna, decide for yourselves what happened in that apartment, on the morning of December 4th, you are going to decide whether or not Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were the victims of premeditated murder.
(Sergeant Groth) At this time, no response from within. I take my revolver, in my right hand, and I pound possibly four or five, or six times. A voice from within, a male voice from within, replies, “Who’s there?” I reply, “Police officers, I have a search warrant, open the door.”
(Hanrahan) As soon as Sergeant Daniel Groth and Officer James Davis, who were leading our men, announced their office, occupants of the apartment attacked them with shotgun fire.
(Groth) I wait several seconds, with no replies from within, the door’s not open, I again take my revolver with my right hand. (pounds door) I wait a second or so, a male voice from within the apartment says, “Just a minute.” (Reporter) There was no response from the group?
(Hanrahan) The response from the group was the firing of a shotgun blast at our police officers. (Reporter) There was no verbal response?
(Hanrahan) The response to our police officers was the firing at them by a person in the apartment.
(Reporter) Didn’t they ask who was it?
(Hanrahan) When the police officers, uh, announced their office, they were fired upon. (Reporter) Didn’t they ask who is it?
(Groth) I looked at Duke, I said okay Duke,
(Officer Davis) Going in, going over to about here, And I hit the door, I go to the back.
(Groth) Duke forces this door open, simultaneously w enter, a shot rings out, Duke falls in this direction. I enter, in a semi-erect position, there’s a woman, lying on the bed with a shotgun, calmly pumping it, right in my direction, and fires. The, uh, fire illuminates her face, I get a good look at her. I feel something go over my left shoulder. I then step back here, I look in, get up on my toes, point my revolver, look in again, cover my face, and fire several shots at the girl.
(Harris) I heard a knock on the door, they said, policemen told us to open up. And Mark Clark said, “Just a minute.” He got up, and next thing I knew, they had busted into the door, and came in shooting. They shot my leg, they shot Mark Clark.
(Davis) This woman fired a shot, and she, the illumination apparently, illuminates the fella sitting behind the door in a chair, he’s pumping his shotgun. I turn in his direction, and fired two shots at him, as he shot the ground. He stands up, I stand up with him, we struggle, he falls down over the chair in the floor, with his head facing the corner of the door, here, in the wall, I fall across his body.
(Panther) This here is the room where first brother Mark Clark was murdered at.
(Panther) Don’t touch nothin’, don’t move nothin’, ’cause we want to keep everything just the way it is. Don’t touch no walls. Okay, this here is the door, they said sister Fahd went through with the shotgun. If the sister had fired through this door with a shotgun, can look at the wall there and see some, uh, holes that the bullets that left out there, you see no signs of a shotgun blast being fired through this door here.
(Reporter) Sir, you say your men were fired upon? Witnesses who have seen the apartment say there is no evidence of bullets from the direction where the, uh, Panthers were supposedly to be.
(Hanrahan) I said that, uh, after our officers announced their, uh, purpose and their station several times, uh, they were fired upon from within the room. (Panther) We say this is nothing more than a fascist lie, justifies the murder that took place in this crib here. The doorway here, is absent of a door, the door’s been removed. And now is in possession of our defense attorney, and is going to be used in our case to prove what happened here, was nothing more than murder.
(Reporter) After days of maneuvering, Black Panther attorney Francis Andrew finally brought a bullet-punctured door panel to the inquest. However, a controversy immediately arose to whether Andrew’s panel was the same one that was removed from the Black Panther apartment. This is Andrew’s version. (Reporter) Which side is the outside, sir?
(Andrew) The outside, uh, you’re looking from the inside now.
(Reporter) Looking from the inside now?
(Andrew) Yes. (turns panel) This is the outside.
(Reporter) It looks like the door is splintered on both sides.
(Andrew) There’s a hole up here, which none of the police in their testimony have mentioned, as a matter of fact, they have denied. This hole up here, shows a bullet coming from the outside to the inside.
(Reporter) The hole at the bottom there?
(Andrew) The hole at the bottom was made while the door was standing wide-open.
(Reporter) Assistant State’s Attorney Nicholas Motherway says Andrew could’ve gotten the panel at any lumberyard. Motherway’s point was backed-up at least in part by a police crime lab technician, who examined the door in the Panther apartment the same day as the raid. The technician said that, first of all, there was only one hole in the panel the day he examined it. And second of all, he couldn’t be sure the panels were one and the same.
(Andrew) December 4th, 1969, at 10:54am. My name is Skip Andrew, and I am at 2337 West Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois. This door, was the door entering into the living room, has two holes in it. This one I’m pointing to right here, 10 inches from the edge, and this one, uh, down here, 12 inches. Uh, the first one I referred to is 25 from the top, and the second one 36 from the top. Now, as you open this, there’s also of course a knob door in this one, as you open the door, there’s, uh, blood behind the door. The, uh, top hole shows that the bullet was incoming.
(Panther) They flied through the door, and hit the brother through the door. The brother fell here, and most of the blood is dried up but you can see a little bit of it there, and a little bit of it on the floor. The brother was shot four or five times throughout, they came through the door, they shot him again, to make sure he was dead.
(Reporter) Mr. Montgomery, Dr. Constantino testified today that Mark Clark could not have struggled after receiving that shot through the heart. Now in your mind does this contradict the testimony of Officer Davis, who described a struggle?
(Montgomery) Uh, yes, it seems to me that was a very startling thing. We also learned that, uh, the bullet which was in fact recovered from Mr. Hampton’s body was a bullet fired out of a carbine by Officer Davis. So that indicates also that Officer Davis, uh, may well have walked into that back bedrooom, contrary to his testimony. And fired a shot into the body of Fred Hampton at one point in time or other.
(Officer Carmody) There were six others assigned to the back porch. I came up on the back porch, I placed myself to the right of the door. I put my head down enough so I could hear if there was any conversation in the building. I heard people talking in the front, and then I heard a loud, uh, shot, sounded like a shotgun. I backed up, and kicked the door open. I started in, and before I could get past the threshold, there were three shots fired from the rear bedroom. They were directed directly at the back door, uh, as I was coming in. I backed out again.
(Hanrahan) Only by the grace of God, uh, were one of our, or two of our police officers prevented from being killed, uh, when they were fired upon as soon as they announced their office and knocking on the door. (Andrew) On December 11th, 1969, the Chicago Tribune carried a story that had characterized as an exclusive version from the State’s Attorney’s office.
(Reporter) Why was the exclusion made in the Chicago Tribune? (Hanrahan) Because that that newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, in my opinion, gave a very balanced, fair report of the events that occurred. (Reporter) It has nothing to do with the fact that the class of people, or the type of people that buy the Tribune as opposed to other papers in the city?
(Hanrahan) Does anybody have a sensible question? (Andrew) Included in the exclusive was a photo, carefully circled to show bullet holes supposed to be in the back door.
(Hanrahan) The account that we made public yesterday, gave a detailed explanation of what happened in that apartment, I stand whole-heartedly behind it as absolutely accurate.
(Reporter) There is one inconsistency, well, for example – (Hanrahan) I do not intend to quibble about that account. (Reporter) Do you intend to get the truth? (Hanrahan) The account that we gave of the events, is the truth.
(Reporter) One of the four pictures you gave the Tribune had two bullet holes in the right side of what was supposed to be the rear door.
(Rush) Hanrahan has lied before, he’s going to lie again. That, that hole he’s blown up in the paper is, uh, the whole of a nail. (Reporter) Tight close-up of the nail head. Plus the door hasp. I…here you see the large nail heads being pointed out.
(Hanrahan) I have said that, uh, we released the pictures we have not characterized, or described, uh, the, uh, conditions that they portray, other than to say, that that is a accurate portrayal of that, uh, particular object. (Reporter) Do you know if any of the four pictures they received had portrayed bullet holes in any of the walls?
(Andrew) Another photo claimed to show the bullet-riddled door across from the bedroom. The officers testified that the Panthers fired into that door from inside their bedroom. In fact, the door in the photo was the bedroom door, and the holes in the door were made by police gunfire at the Panthers. (Panther) As you can see, the bathroom door is intact. Not only does the bathroom door, but the entire wall area is intact.
(Hanrahan) There was a, there was a picture of the, uh, the inside of the door to the bathroom, yes. (Reporter) That door, our reporters discovered, corresponded to one on the front living room adjoining the bedroom. There were holes in the door, when the door was opened, they, those holes corresponded to holes that were in the wall adjoining between the bedroom and the living room. When they stuck a stick through the holes, they all matched up. I have, I make, I say, I make no evaluation of the pictures, other than to say they portray conditions as they existed in that apartment at the time those pictures were taken. (Panther) This is the door that is supposed to contain numerous marks, from, uh, stray shotgun blasts, small arms fire, which again was fired by members of the “vicious” Black Panther Party, who was standing in this bedroom here, shooting out into the hallway here. I urge, I urge your inventory of each of these vicious weapons. This attack, this attack by the Black Panthers on the police, plus the weapons that were recovered, uh, at the, uh, depot where they were storing them, clearly demonstrates the true character of the Black Panther Party.
(Rush) Nobody…I have never denied that there was no weapons there. As a matter of fact, you’d be a fool if you didn’t have a weapon there. Knowing, uh, the ferociousness of the pigs, how they just jumped out of the cars and shoot you down. How they knock on your door and blow, uh, 19-year old sister’s head off with shotguns, how they kill two brothers in one week. Yeah, he’s…and as a matter of fact, everybody that’s concerned should have a, or something in their homes to protect themselves, because Hanrahan is a madman.
(Reporter) Mr. Hanrahan, can you tell me why your officers did not try to use tear gas? Isn’t this the usual procedure to flush someone out of a building? (Hanrahan) Our officers, uh, used the means necessary to effect the search. And to present, prevent themselves from being killed upon after they were, killed after they were fired upon.
(Reporter) Isn’t it the truth, that you would usually use, your men usually use, uh, tear gas, in situations such as this? And why didn’t they use it this time?
(Hanrahan) No, that is not true.
(Reporter) It is not true?
(Panther) They came, uh, with murder on they mind. Even if they wanted to take someone to jail, it would have been just a simple matter of just shooting some tear gas, and it’d brought everybody out.
(2nd Panther) Right on.
(Panther) This is where our Chairman had his brains blown out, and he, uh, laying in bed, sleeping at 4:30 in the morning.
(Johnson) Someone came into the room, started shaking the Chairman. Said, “Chairman, Chairman, wake up. The pigs was mapping.” Still half asleep, I looked up,and I saw bullets coming from it looked like the front of the apartment. From the kitchen area. They were, pigs just shooting. And, uh, about this time, I jumped on top of the Chairman, he looked up, looked like all the pigs just, merged into the entrance-way to the bedroom-area,back bedroom-area. Mattress is just, going, you could feel the bullets going into it. I just remember thinking they dead, everybody in there. Um, when he looked up, he just looked up, he didn’t say a word, didn’t move, except for moving his head up. He lays his head back down, to the side like that. He never said a word, never got up off the bed. Um, the person who was in the room, he kept hollering out, “Stop shooting, stop shooting! We have a pregnant woman,” or “a pregnant sister in here!” At that time, I was 8 1/2, 9 months pregnant. My baby was to be delivered in two weeks. Pigs kept on shooting. So I kept on hollering out, and finally they stopped. They pushed, um, me and another brother by the, uh, kitchen door, he told us to face the wall. Heard a pig say, “He’s barely alive, he’ll barely make it.” I assumed they were talking about Chairman Fred. So then, they started shooting, the pigs they started shooting again. I heard a sister scream. They stopped shooting. A pig said, “He’s good and dead now.” Pigs running around laughing, they were really happy, you know, talking about Chairman Fred is dead. I never saw Chairman Fred again.
(crowd chanting) Power to the People! Power to the People! Power to the People!
ANITA: Youve been listening to excerpts from the documentary film, The Murder of Fred Hampton. The excerpts were courtesy of Facets DVD. And thats it for this edition of Making Contact:
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Im Anita Johnson. Thanks for listening to Making Contact!
Youre listening to Making Contact. . Im Anita Johnson. Well hear more from the 1969, documentary film, the Murder of Fred Hampton in just a moment.
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