A brief, but revolutionary life

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Aug. 30, 1948 - Frederick Allen Hampton is born in the Chicago area, the youngest of Francis Allen and Iberia Hampton's three children. His siblings are Bill Hampton and Delores "Dee Dee" Hampton. 

 

Aug. 28, 1955 - On Aug. 28, Emmett Louis Till, the Hampton family's neighbor for a time when they lived in Argo, Ill., is lynched while visiting relatives in Money, Miss. "I couldn't stand going to his funeral and seeing him like that," Hampton's mother, Iberia, says of the little boy she knew as "Bobo." "I wanted to remember him as the active and saucy kid I babysat for." 

 

1958 | The Hampton family moves to Maywood, where Fred attends Irving Elementary School. At Irving, Hampton is the captain of the patrol boys, a unit responsible for controlling traffic and helping students cross the streets. Hampton also draws black and white classmates into his "morning homework sessions" before school. At 14, Hampton organizes a student chapter of the Maywood NAACP, which grows to 700 members.

 

1962 - 1966 - Hampton is an active student at Proviso East High School in Maywood. He's elected to the school's Interracial Cross Section Committee and helps "white students to acknowledge and reform their personal racist outlooks." He's also elected president of Junior Achievement, organizes the class picnic and leads campaigns against racist conditions at the high school. After one of his peers, Eugene Moore, is unjustly arrested, Hampton leads a march to the Maywood police station, where they protest and rally until Moore is released. Moore goes on to become the Proviso area's first black state representative, an achievement he credits, in part, to Hampton.

 

1966 - Hampton graduates from Proviso East. That same year, in California, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther Party, which will quickly garner national and worldwide attention. 

 

June 15, 1967 - Hampton participates in a demonstration in Maywood held to demand "a swimming pool, a community recreation center and an independent park district." Blacks are not allowed at the nearest pool in Melrose Park, which is for whites only. During the demonstration, a shed is burned and store windows broken. Hampton and 17 other young people are subsequently charged with mob action and disorderly conduct. 

 

August 1967 - The FBI issues "a directive to its field offices across the country, calling on them to 'expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize' Black leaders and organizations … the nationwide effort was coordinated under the Bureau's super-secret and highly illegal — 'counter-intelligence' program, COINTELPRO." In late 1967, the FBI also begins to actively monitor Hampton's activities in Maywood. 

 

Sept. 22, 1967 - Hampton is arrested and charged with inciting to riot and aggravated battery against a police officer. Hampton said he was arrested while trying to bring the crowd under control.

 

April 4, 1968 - Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated, which sparks a wave of urban rebellions and rioting in cities across the country, including Chicago. 

 

June 10, 1968 - Hampton is "indicted along with 16 other Panthers for the [kidnapping] and torture of a Summit man and woman who allegedly had a rifle the Panthers wanted. That case was pending at Hampton's death." 

 

July 10, 1968 - Hampton is accused of robbery and beating an ice cream truck driver in the playground of Irving Elementary School in Maywood. The driver, Nelson T. Suitt, 20, testifies that Hampton $71 worth of merchandise was taken from his truck "by a group of youths while Hampton entered the cab of the vehicle and beat and choked him. Hampton denied the charge, maintaining he did not arrive at the playground until after the truck had been looted." He is released on $4,000 bond. 

Not long after he's accused of robbery, Hampton breaks from the NAACP and joins the Chicago Black Panther Party, in large part due to his encounter with Lennie Eggleston, a Black Panther Party member who was on tour in Chicago for the party. 

"Joan Elbert, a friend of Hampton's, was asked by Karl Lutze, the director of the

Lutheran Human Relations Association, to house Eggleston. After being somewhat intimidated by Lennie, Joan asked Fred to come over and speak with him. This was the first Black Panther that the Elberts (Ted and Joan) and Fred had ever met." 

 

December 1968 - "Filmmaker Mike Gray and members of the Film Group meet Fred Hampton and decide to make him the subject of a documentary." The following spring, the Film Group "begins to follow Hampton around, chronicling his speeches and his efforts to help people of Chicago's South Side … Gray and his group capture the Panthers serving breakfast and milk to children, which appears in 'The Murder of Fred Hampton.'" 

 

Dec. 18, 1968 - The Chicago Black Panthers open an office at 2350 W. Madison St., shortly after organizing the Illinois chapter, which "quickly becomes the largest and most powerful chapter of the Black Panthers. Hampton is named chairman of the Chicago Black Panthers." Hampton is now "expressly targeted by the Chicago FBI office under the command of the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Marlin Johnson. Days after the office opens, Johnson's "Racial Matters Squad" directs one of its operatives, William O'Neal, to join the Party. O'Neal eventually becomes the party's security chief and Hampton's bodyguard. 

The Illinois Panthers negotiate with various street gangs like the Vice Lords and Blackstone Rangers in an attempt to persuade them "to give up their violent 'gangbanging,' and to focus instead on the true enemy — the government and the police." The party also builds the "original Rainbow Coalition which united the Panthers, the Puerto Rican Young Lords Organization, the Young Patriots, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and, for a time, certain Black street gangs." 

The chapter also opens a Breakfast for Children Program, which feeds hundreds of children before school. 

 

April 1969 - Hampton is convicted of the alleged ice cream truck robbery and assault. The trial judge tells him that he'll get probation. 

 

May 1969 - Hampton is sent to state prison in downstate Menard while waiting to go to trial for the robbery and assault. Hampton's bond was denied after the Black Panther leader stated under oath during a pre-sentencing hearing that he is an advocate for armed revolution in the United States. 

 

July 16, 1969 - Chicago police shoot and kill Black Panther member Larry Roberson. 

 

July 31, 1969 - Chicago police attack the Panther's West Side office and a shootout ensues. The police ransack the offices, and also destroy Black Panther Party newspapers and food for the breakfast program. 

 

August 1969 - The Illinois Supreme Court grants Hampton an appeal bond and he returns to Chicago "to a joyous welcome at People's Church on South Ashland Avenue. In an inspiring and memorable speech," Hampton tells how he "heard the 'beat of the people,' and was 'high off the people' while he was locked up in Menard." 

 

Nov. 13, 1969 - Former Black Panther member, Spurgeon "Jake" Weinters, and two Chicago police officers are killed in a shootout on the South Side. Hampton and other Panthers eulogize Winters as "a fallen comrade, further enraging the police." 

 

Nov. 19, 1969 - After FBI Racial Matters agent Roy Mitchell instructs O'Neal, to get him a detailed floor plan of the apartment at 2337 W. Monroe St., where Hampton and other Panthers live, O'Neal reports back with the requested floor plan, which includes the exact location of Hampton's bed. O'Neal also tells Mitchell that the guns in the apartment were purchased legally. Mitchell nonetheless contacts the Chicago Police Department's Gang Intelligence Unit and Hanrahan's assistant, Richard Jalovec, "chief of a Special Prosecutions Unit which included a semi-secrete group of police officers and prosecutors assigned to Hanrahan's 'War on Gangs.'" and tells them about the floor plan and the guns. The Gang Intelligence Unit plan a raid for late November, but cancel it at the last minute. They reschedule it for 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 4, to assure that Hampton and the Panthers are asleep in their beds. 

 

Nov. 26, 1969 - Hampton is sentenced "eight days before his death, to two to five years in prison for the ice cream truck robbery by Judge Sidney Jones of Circuit court." 

 

Dec. 3, 1969 - O'Neal, the FBI plant, visits Hampton's apartment and allegedly spikes his Kool-Aid with secobarbital, a barbiturate that induces sleep. Hampton never wakes up. 

 

Dec. 4, 1969 - The 14-man raiding party is "armed with a submachine gun, semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and handguns," and choose not to bring "teargas, floodlights or loudspeakers."  The raiders, "led by Edward Carmody, a childhood friend of an officer killed in a shootout with the Panthers, Sgt. Daniel Groth, a shadowy figure with suspected connections to the CIA," and James "Gloves" Davis, a black officer "who was so nicknamed because he supposedly put on gloves before he beat people up." 

They burst into the front and back doors of the Chicago apartment and fire off nearly 100 shots. The Panthers who are inside never return fire. Davis kills Panther Mark Clark "with a shot through the heart." Two people hear two shots ring out from Hampton's bedroom. They also hear an officer say, 'He's good and dead now.'" Physical evidence and post-raid statements point to the strong possibility that Carmody shoots Fred twice "with a .45 caliber pistol at close range in the head while he lay unconscious in his bed." Several other Panthers are injured during the raid. Two officers sustain minor injuries. 

The seven people who survive the raid are "physically abused, subjected to threats and racial epithets, and then jailed on charges of attempted murder." At a press conference held moments after the raid, State's Attorney Hanrahan describes a "a fierce gun battle, initiated by the 'vicious' and 'criminal' Black Panthers, and during which his raiders acted 'reasonably' and with 'restraint' — a version of events that most media outlets, including the Tribune, credulously repeat. 

 

May 14, 1970 - The Maywood village board votes to name the suburb's new swimming pool after Hampton. Maywood Mayor Leonard Chabala, who breaks the tie vote in favor of naming the pool after the slain Black Panther, is "heaped with obscenities and threatened with political extinction by many white persons in the audience of 300 that attended the meeting." 

 

May 1973 - A report by the Commission of Inquiry Into the Black Panthers and Police describes the raid as a criminal and unconstitutional "search and destroy" mission and that there was sufficient evidence to believe that Hampton was murdered and drugged before the raid by an FBI informant.

CONTACT: michael@austinweeklynews.com 

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