The fight and agitation for equal rights for Black people in America have been a long one. It has claimed the lives of many Black people activists, and still continue to claim lives. One such person who lost his life at a young age, for black, liberty and equality is Fred Hampton. In the early hours of December 4th, 1969, the Chicago police, under the directives of the FBI and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, killed Fred Hampton. They invaded the Chicago headquarters of the Black Panther Party and gleefully opened a rain of bullets on the building. After their shooting, Fred Hampton, who was the chapter’s founder and chairman lay dead. Another member of the party, Mark Clark was also shot dead, with other four members laying seriously injured from gunshot wounds.
This attack on the Black Panther was well orchestrated by the law enforcement agencies of America. They wanted to get rid of the spreading consciousness and protection the Black Panther provided for the African American community. In their report, the police lied, claiming that the Black Panthers were the ones to first open fire when the police knocked on their door. This was proven to be a lie by a jury and other witnesses.
The federal jury discovered that the Chicago police fired about 90 shots into the building before Mark Clark returned a shot when a bullet hit his heart. The attack of the party house and the killing of Fred and Mark were part of a huge coverup by the federal government to disintegrate the Black Panther Party. To do this, they instituted a program called COINTELPRO.
The Counterintelligence Program COINTELPRO was a federal government initiative that began in 1956 by the FBI. Their job was to infiltrate and stop the activities of groups that they saw as a threat to the government and white supremacist agenda. They were experts in using illegal methods in infiltrating and disrupting the activities of groups such as the Communist Party, Socialist Worker Party and then the Black Panther Party, in the 1960s.
To destabilize and destroy the good works of the Black Panther Party, COINTELPRO, planted undercover agents (snitches) in their midst, using misinformation tactics to cause mistrust in their ranks. The same misinformation tactics were used by the media and law enforcement to portray the Black Panther in a bad light to the public. The goal of the Black Panther was to teach Black people self-determination and self-protection, but COINTELPRO made it a point of duty to assassinate their character and tag them “violent and aggressive.”
Fred Hampton and his party members were heroes to the black community. They cared for the people and did their best to give the people a semblance of hope. The Black Panther was raising a new breed of conscious Black people and that was a threat to white supremacy. They organized and ran a community school in Oakland, created free medical clinics for black people, gave free breakfasts to Black children and had a food Co-Op for the people. Among the amenities provided the Black Panther was free clothing, ambulance for health issues and accidents, legal aid, plumbing, maintenance, and pest control.
The federal government through COINTELPRO did all the could to liking the Black Panthers Party to the Ku Klux Klan, even though they were not. Fred Hampton assassination was precise and well planned. If he was allowed to continue in his fight for Black consciousness, he would later be a great force to reckon with. Those who knew him respected him and referred to him as a uniter and true leader. He was able to broker peace among the gangs of Chicago who were always fighting themselves. He also united the poor people of the Black, white and Puerto Rican communities.
He was a beacon of hope. Just before joining the Panthers, he was the youth director of the Maywood I11., NAACP. He was able to build a strong and united youth group of 500 from a community of 27,000 people. He was a good orator and leader. His assassination was the federal government’s way of removing a strong element of Black freedom and equality. It was reported that he was drugged on the night of his death. He was incapacitated and could not run for his life or defend himself.
His death was significant in the federal government’s fight against the rising influence of the Black Panthers Party. Although that was not the first time members of the party were killed, injured, imprisoned in their fight for justice. It is reported that 20 Panthers were jailed and over 1,000 were jailed between 1968 and 1971.