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Chicago Commemorates the 40th Anniversary of the Assassination of Fred Hampton

Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the livingFred Hampton, a former high-school leader and NAACP activist from the Chicago suburb of Maywood, became the Illinois chair of the Black Panther Party in 1967 at age 19. Hampton was noted for his effectiveness as a diplomat and organizer, channeling south side Chicago gangs into political activist cadres, and working with the Panthers' efforts in community development, job training and placement, breakfast-for-children programs, and opposition against police brutality.

Hampton and the Panthers fell smack into the FBI's Counter Intellgence Programs ("COINTELPRO") which sought to destroy the U.S. radical left in the 1960s and 1970s. The Panthers were decimated by COINTELPRO, and Hampton, in the pre-dawn hours of December 4, 1969, was gunned down in his bed at 2337 West Monroe Street in Chicago by FBI and Chicago police. Hampton's own bodyguard, William O'Neal, was an FBI infiltrator who mapped out floor plans and routes of attack with Chicago police in a downtown restaurant prior to the attack; O'Neal also drugged Hampton with a tainted glass of Kool-Aid. Police stitched a line of bullets through the wall of the room where Hampton slept which injured Hampton, and then fired two bullets at his head at point-blank range.

Forty years later, Hampton's assassination remains a chilling example of the lengths that officialdom will go to destroy effective political activism. COINTELPRO was ostensibly dissolved by the FBI in 1971 when the term itself became public, and the Black Panther Party effectively dissolved as an organization shortly thereafter, but official harassment against those carrying on the Panthers' legacy continues, including attempts to rename the portion of West Monroe Street which was the locale of Hampton's assassination after Fred Hampton. But resistance on behalf of Chicago's African-American community continues, and on the week of the 40th anniversary, Chicagoans are holding a panoply of events, memorials, rallies, vigils, and commemorations.

Additional Video: Fred Hampton: Death of a Revolutionary | Death of a Black Panther: The Fred Hampton Story | The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther - Democracy Now! | Remembering Fred Hampton, 40 Years Later - Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report | Chicago Indymedia Video from the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark

Related Links: It's About Time - Black Panther Party Legacy and Alumni


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