Forty-five years ago today, Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton, 21, was gunned down in an early morning raid in a West Side apartment led by federal and county law enforcement, including Chicago police.

Hampton was killed in his sleep while fellow Black Panther Party member Mark Clark, 22, was also shot in the apartment at 2337 W. Monroe. The 5 a.m. raid was led by the Cook County State’s Attorney office’s tactical team, but also included Chicago Police. The FBI was later found to be involved in the raid.

Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan gave the green light for the Dec. 4, 1969 raid. Hampton was shot in the shoulder and twice in the head. Hampton’s pregnant fiancée was with him that night but was not shot. His death was ruled a justifiable homicide.

On the anniversary of the shooting, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther, released a statement about Hampton and the recent grand jury decision in FergusonMissouri concerning the killing of a black man by police.

“The recent decision made by the grand jury in the case of Michael Brown underscores the unwritten rule that being black in America means that we have no value; that anyone can kill black men in this country without recourse,” Rush said. “This is the travesty that every black person must come to grips with, which provokes yet another setback for race relations in America.”

The anniversary of Hampton’s death comes as America is embroiled in the issue of police brutality stemming from the deaths of Brown and New York resident Eric Garner, who died after being chocked by police, this past summer. On Wednesday, a New York grand jury refused to indict the officer.  

In a speech Thursday at the College Opportunity Summit in WashingtonD.C., President Barack Obama addressed the New York grand jury announcement, which has sparked anger and outraged from many Americans across ethnic lines.

“I had a chance to speak with Mayor de Blasio in New York, and I commended him for his words yesterday and for the way New Yorkers have been engaging in peaceful protests and being constructive. He was just in the White House with us on Monday, as we started taking some concrete steps to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color, and I intend to take more steps with leaders like him in the months ahead,” Obama said. “But beyond the specific issue that has to be addressed —making sure that people have confidence that police and law enforcement and prosecutors are serving everybody equally — there’s a larger question of restoring a sense of common purpose.”

 

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  If you go: 

  • Town hall meeting in response to Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury non-indictments
  • 6 p.m. Thursday Dec. 4
  • Greater St. John Bible Church, 1256 N. Waller, Chicago