Fred Hampton Was Murdered on This Day in 1969. Here’s How His Life (And Death) Affects Us Today

On this day in 1969, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark and other members of the Black Panther Party were murdered during a raid of the Chicago Police Department and the FBI. This raid was organized by the Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan. The Black Panther Party (BPP) had been under heavy surveillance by these departments as an attempt to neutralize the party, and they had faced multiple harassment campaigns. At this point, many members of the BPP were injured or killed in shootouts, and over one hundred members of the Chicago chapter of the BPP were arrested.

On the night of December 3, Hampton came home to his apartment with several members of the BPP and his nine-months pregnant fianceé. William O’Neal, an FBI informant, was waiting at the apartment. He slipped a barbiturate sleep agent into Hampton’s drink so that he would be unconscious – and remain unconscious- during the raid. O’Neal left the apartment, and Mark Clark was on security duty, left with a shotgun to defend himself. Upon the entry of the FBI and Chicago Police Department, Mark Clark was shot in the chest and killed instantly by gunfire, and his shotgun fired as a reflexive convulsion. Fred Hampton was shot in the shoulder and his head twice, and he died in his bed. He was only twenty-one years old.

The FBI and Chicago PD claimed that the Panthers fired on them first, but the crime scene proved that the Panthers only shot once (Mark Clark’s reflexive shot). The FBI and the Chicago PD fired between at least eighty-three shots.

Fred Hampton’s death proved just how far people will go to protect their power. Fred Hampton was killed because he threatened the government’s power and allied with other groups. The Trump Administration constantly attacks those that criticize Donald Trump’s power. We have to recognize the steps leading up to Hampton’s death to stop it before our government resorts to violence. We have to keep fighting. As long as we keep fighting and endure through the hardships, we will win. As Fred Hampton said, “you can kill a revolutionary, but you can never kill a revolution.”

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