On December 4, 1969, Fred Hampton—21-year-old chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP)—and Mark Clark—22-year-old Peoria Panther leader—were murdered by Chicago police officers working with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. At the time of the attack, Hampton and Clark were not inciting violence, nor were they standing off with police. Conversely, they were both asleep inside their Chicago home.
Driven by Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, the deadly raid of the local BPP chapter—which left four other BPP members severely injured—was one of multiple attempts to attack the Black Panther Party amid Cointelpro’s mission to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist hate type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership and supporters,” as written in a FBI document.
Though the FBI is said to not have been responsible, a federal grand jury did indicate the bureau played a notable role in events leading up to it. Specifically, FBI informant William O’Neal—third in command of the Chicago Panthers—supplied Hanrahan with information to aid in planning his attack. The families of Hampton and Clark, along with the seven survivors, have since filed a $47.7 million damage suit.
Along with being chairman of the BPP’s Illinois chapter, Hampton was known as a charismatic leader. Some of his other accomplishments include organizing a student chapter of the NAACP in Maywood, Ill. Hampton also brought together poor Black, white and Puerto Rican people as part of the “Rainbow Coalition” and inspired peace among several gangs in rivalry with one another.
On the anniversary of Hamption’s death, we remember the life of an inspiring revolutionary, as well as the other lives lost on this date 48 years ago.
Join us by watching the Fred Hampton documentary below.