Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-1) released the following statement in the wake of the fracas that took place last Wednesday during a 9 a.m. City Hall press conference to help announce a petition drive to rename a portion of Monroe Street as “Chairman Fred Hampton Way.” The legislative leader, flanked by Bill Hampton, brother of the slain Black Panther; Patricia Hill, president of the Afro-American Patrolmen’s League; and others, were set to announce a petition drive when a group of outside agitators disrupted the press conference:

“Given the riotous and disruptive behavior of a suspicious group of cohorts who are apparently against making ‘Chairman Fred Hampton Way’ a reality for Chicago, I will not lend my name or be actively involved in any campaign that dishonors Fred Hampton Sr. It is unfortunate that a band of thugs, under the banner of Project V.O.T.E., has co-opted what was previously a broad-based issue that cut across race and class.

“Project V.O.T.E.’s mission appears to be to rob Chairman Fred Hampton Sr. of his rightful place in Chicago and American history. [Today] where there was order and a sense of purpose, these thugs brought chaos and confusion. These are the type of people Fred and I, and the many other dedicated members of the Black Panther Party, fought against in the 1960s as we worked to bring resources and justice to the African-American community. When we secured the support from everyday working men and women in the community, history shows that J. Edgar Hoover and the U.S. government created opposition to our efforts.”