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fred hampton

The Murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark

There are many things we know today that they didn’t know back in 1969.  For instance, we know the the FBI had a counter-intelligence program and that part of their program was to infiltrate, undermine and destroy civil rights, anti-war and black consciousness movements by any means necessary.  The activities of what became known as COINTELPRO were exposed to the public by the Church Committee in 1975 and their findings are well documented.  But this was not fully known or understood in 1969.

At the time that Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were murdered, it was said that they had opened fire at the police.  As the case was investigated it emerged that of all the bullets that were fired that night, it was only possible that one of them was not fired by a police weapon. 

The full story eventually emerged and was linked directly to COINTELPRO.  FBI informant William O'Neal had provided agents with not only the whereabouts and plans of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, but he had given them a detailed layout of Hampton’s apartment too.  He had drugged Fred Hampton and so it was that all of the shots (but one) that were fired that evening were fired from police weapons, the majority of them were fired from outside of the apartment into the interior and Fred Hampton was murdered in his sleep.

The single shot that was fired by the Black Panthers was a reflexive shot fired by Mark Clark in the throes of death.  He had been on security duty with a shot gun on his lap.

So Who Was Fred Hampton?

Fred Hampton was a very powerful, charismatic leader of the Black Panther Party.  He was an excellent public speaker and he managed to broker a pact of non-aggression between the street gangs of Chicago.  He believed that racial and ethnic conflict would only serve to keep people in poverty and he worked hard to alleviate conditions of people in Chicago.  He worked with the Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast Program, gave political education classes and often spoke at rallies and meetings.

Hampton was an outspoken critic of America’s treatment of Black and poor people and it was inevitable that he would eventually come to the attention of the FBI.  He was just 21 when he was murdered on December 4, 1969.

You can view the film The Murder of Fred Hampton on YouTube.

About Mandy Southgate

Mandy Southgate is an accountant living and working in London. She is passionate about world events such as genocide and apartheid and has a desire to understand how these events continue to occur in the modern world. With a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries, A Passion to Understand reflects her continuing research and reading on these topics.
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