You Can Jail a Revolutionary
But You Can’t Jail the Revolution
Fred Hampton (1948 -1969)—was a charismatic and brilliant orator, organizer and head of the Chicago Black Panther Party. He was assassinated on December 4, 1969 by the F.B.I, working with the Chicago Police Department and the Illinois State Attorney’s Office.
Born in Illinois, Hampton was a student leader in high school and an activist with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1968, he joined the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party, and quickly became the Illinois State Chair of the organization. Hampton organized weekly rallies, taught political education classes, attended the Breakfast for Children program daily, and helped establish the Free People’s Clinic on Chicago’s West Side.
A powerful and eloquent speaker, he was set to be appointed the Party’s Central Committee as Chief of Staff in November 1970. Fearing Hampton’s ability to spread the Panther’s message, the FBI, through an informant, obtained a floorplan of his apartment. The same informant gave Hampton a drugged hot chocolate before he went to bed on December 3 to ensure he wouldn’t wake up. At 4:30 a.m. on December 3, 1969, the FBI raided the apartment, killing Hampton and Panther Mark Clark, and wounding several others.
The Murder of Fred Hampton was part of the Domestic Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPROs). COINTELPROs were covert operations designed to infiltrate, destabilize, and destroy organizations that law enforcement and government officials deemed as threats to national security. In the 1940s and 1950s, COINTELPROs were directed almost exclusively at the Socialist Workers Party and the Communist Party, USA. During the late 1960s the vast majority of COINTELPRO operations were directed against black organizations, for the purpose of causing internal dissent and conflicts with other black organizations. The special COINTELPRO division labeled “Black Propaganda” included fabricated publications designed to give organizations a bad public image, fabricated cartoons and letters to foster tensions between groups, infiltration by informers, false rumors, fabricated evidence, and police assaults. In August 1967, the FBI launched a COINTELPRO operation against the Panthers which contributed to the Panther's siege mentality.