Last week was the 49th anniversary of the Dec. 4, 1969 assassination of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton during an early morning police raid inside of his West Side apartment. I spoke with Congressman Danny K. Davis inside of his West Side office, 2815 W. 5th Ave., about his recollection of that day during an interview on Dec. 7.
At the time, I was a young school teacher. I remember going into A.A. Rayner and Son’s funeral home where the body was and I remember going into the house on Monroe where he was killed, with a friend of mine. It was late in the afternoon.
We saw police tape, the blood on the mattresses. There wasn’t much in the house. We saw the bed. It was kind of an eerie feeling.
I knew who James “Gloves” Davis [one of the cops who were involved in the raid]. He used to come around the schools when the kids would be getting out and run them off the corner. He had these leather gloves and would sometimes hit people in the face with them. He’s the guy who was supposedly one of the main police officers working with the State’s Attorney.
Fred’s death sparked a tremendous voter revolt. We were pleased when people voted against [State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, who reportedly authorized the raid] and elected Bernard Carey, which was kind of unheard of.
I think what I learned from that experience was that if you don’t keep the fire burning, it will go out. You have to keep constantly reinforcing and teaching. The real deal is that the fires have to be stoked continuously; otherwise, they go out.