Fred Hampton Senior was born August 30, 1948. He came to prominence as the head of Chicago's branch of the Black Panther Party, focusing on not just political education and armed militance, but also on every day issues of nutrition and employment. He was the only one considered so dangerous as to be — essentially — targeted for death by the federal government.
Why was one man, not even in his mid-twenties, considered a threat to national security, leading FBI head honcho J. Edgar Hoover to order his agents o "destroy what the [BPP] stands for" and "eradicate its 'serve the people' programs?" Well, "in 1968 he was on the verge of creating a merger between the BPP and a southside street gang with thousands of members, which would have doubled the size of the national BPP." After traveling to California to meet with Party leadership, he so impressed the people in charge that they named him to their Central Committee as Chief of Staff. He emphasized personal wellness (such as a daily exercise program formatted for people of all ages), personally manned lines to feed the hungry and was as well known for his efforts to make peace amongst the warring gangs in the streets as he was for his fiery rhetoric against the power structure.
What went wrong? As with many chapters of the Panthers, the Chicago branch had been infiltrated by law enforcement in the person of William O'Neal, who'd been assigned as personal security for Hampton. O'Neal gave the police detailed information on Hampton's home, prepared a meal which reportedly was laced with "a powerful barbiturate" and led a separate group of Hampton's membership on a wild goose chase to Joliet, IL. A late night raid was organized by the office of Cook County State's Attorney Edward Hanrahan using officers attached to his office.
At 4:00 a.m., the heavily armed police team arrived at the site, (2337 W. Monroe, Chicago, IL) dividing into two teams, eight for the front of the building and six for the rear. At 4:45, they stormed in the apartment.
Mark Clark, sitting in the front room of the apartment with a shotgun in his lap, was on security duty. He was killed instantly after firing off a single round, which was later determined to be a reflexive reaction in his death convulsions after being shot by the raiding team; this was the only shot the Panthers fired.
Automatic gunfire then converged at the head of the bedroom where Hampton slept, unable to wake up as a result of the barbiturates that the FBI infiltrator had slipped into his drink. He was lying on a mattress in the bedroom with his pregnant girlfriend. Two officers found him wounded in the shoulder, and fellow Black Panther Harold Bell reported that he heard the following exchange:
"That's Fred Hampton."
"Is he dead?… Bring him out."
"He's barely alive.
"He'll make it."
Two shots were heard, which it was later discovered were fired point blank in Hampton's head. According to Deborah Johnson, one officer then said:
"He's good and dead now."
Hampton's body was dragged into the doorway of the bedroom and left in a pool of blood. The officers then directed their gunfire towards the remaining Panthers, who were hiding in another bedroom. They were wounded, then beaten and dragged into the street, where they were arrested on charges of aggravated assault and the attempted murder of the officers. They were each held on US$100,000 bail.
That report was backed up by Hampton's ten-pregnant girlfriend Akua Njeri (then known as Deborah Johnson), who was lying in the bed with him as this happened. He was lying face down and reportedly never woke up during the whole thing.
The following video runs about a half hour, but it's worth it.
We at Komplicated respect and appreciate the valor of Fred Hampton, and say anedge hirak in the traditions of our people, hoping that he found peace denied to him in this world.