• Little Known Black History Fact: Fred Hampton

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    Fred Hampton was an activist and deputy chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party in the 1960’s. His death was a major crime investigation, with charges of conspiracy from the FBI. Hampton studied law and used his knowledge to watch for police brutality cases with the NAACP and the Black Panther Party. After joining the Panthers in 1968, he rose through the ranks quickly after organizing peace among Chicago’s most notorious street gangs. Hampton worked to form a “Rainbow Coalition” on the streets by appealing to the gangs’ desire to get out of poverty.

    In less than a year, Fred Hampton had risen to the levels of Stokely Carmichael in the Black Panther organization. The FBI had opened a 4,000-page file on Hampton, who was next in line as the Black Panther’s Chief of Staff.

    The 21-year-old would never see the appointment, as he was set up and assassinated in an FBI raid on December 4, 1969. An FBI informant named William O’Neal setup a raid against the Black Panther Party at Hampton’s Chicago apartment. Hampton lived there with his pregnant girlfriend, who gave birth four weeks after he was shot and killed by Chicago police.

    After a political education class, Hampton and the other party members, including Mark Clark, went back to his apartment where O’Neal had made a late meal for them. O’Neal apparently spiked Hampton’s food with drugs that would make him sleep through the raid. The drugs were later found to be introduced in his system by the coroner.

    When the FBI raided Hampton’s apartment, he was under the influence and unable to quickly react. Hampton was shot three times, the last two in the head after the police relocated his body to a doorway and shot him in cold blood. Black Panther Mark Clark was also shot and killed by the police officers. Others were severely injured and arrested.

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