Before You Forget, The FBI Killed Fred Hampton

Black Panther Mural/Archie/Flickr/CC-ND-NC-2.0


At 4:45am, Dec. 4, 1969, Chicago police officers connected to Illinois State Attorney Edward Hanrahan’s office raided 2337 W. Monroe St. They broke in and shot nearly 100 rounds of ammunition into the apartment of sleeping people.

They killed Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.

At the time, Hampton led the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and played an active role in his local branch of the NAACP. Clark, known for founding the Black Panther’s free breakfast program for Black residents, also dedicated his life to revolutionary change and reform for our people.

The next day, Illinois BPP Chapter Minister of Defense Booby Rush stood on Hampton’s steps and said J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were responsible for the raid.

He didn’t have concrete evidence to prove it, but he was on to something.

A massive cover up ensued. The police lied about what happened that night, saying there was a shootout. The FBI and COINTELPRO hid their involvement in the raid.

But an activist group raided the FBI offices in Pennsylvania and obtained documents that outlined COINTELPRO’s intent to take out Black liberation movements.

In 1973, a breakthrough came. It came out that William O’Neal, the Chief of Security for the Chicago BPP, was a FBI informant. The FBI had Hampton’s apartment floor plan and other information that connected them to the raid.

Lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of Hampton and Clark’s families and the survivors.

In 1976, during the trial, 200 volumes of previously unreleased information surfaced. It showed COINTELPRO targeted Hampton and wanted to destroy BPP programs. There was also a memo that credited O’Neal’s help as a reason for the successful raid.

April of that year, a judged charged the FBI, Hanrahan, and the Chicago police department with “conspiracy designed to subvert and eliminate the BPP and its members.”

The families won $1.85 million in the lawsuit.

Noam Chomsky called the assassination “the greatest domestic crime of the Nixon administration.”

There was so much done to take down a man who just wanted to see his people live free.

To learn more about Fred Hampton’s assassination, read The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther.

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