The Crusader Newspaper Group

Vigil planned on December 4 to commemorate Black Panther murders

The family and supporters of the late Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton will gather at the site of his execution on the 52nd anniversary of the leader’s assassination. A vigil will be held at 12:00 p.m. on December 4 at 2337 W. Monroe St. on the city’s West Side.

“We’re meeting at what we call ground zero to reaffirm our commitment to justice and calling out the contradictions,” said Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. “We want to also encourage the community to join us in Maywood in a commemoration of my father’s life.”

Hampton Jr., who serves as head of the Black Panther Party Cubs and works on prison reform issues, also announced plans to lead a caravan to Stateville prison to take water to inmates. He has also led efforts to turn his father’s childhood home into a national museum and historic site.

“There are people who are being deprived of their basic human rights throughout Illinois’ prisons,” Hampton said. “At Stateville, we are taking a caravan there to bring bottled water to the incarcerated brothers down there— some of whom haven’t been given just liters to sip on per week. Meet us at ground zero with the water donations, and then join us December 7 in delivering it to the people.”

In 1969, the elder Hampton was a charismatic 21-year-old political and social justice activist when he was riddled with bullets in the early morning hours of December 4 during a raid ordered by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office carried out by the Chicago Police Department. Also killed was Mark Clark, a young Panther visiting from the Peoria chapter.

Their deaths were part of an orchestrated counterintelligence campaign to stop the “rise of a Black messiah.” COINTELPRO sought to dampen, disrupt, discredit, and stop mounting dissent by Blacks who had elevated the civil rights struggle in the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hampton, who had retired to bed along with his pregnant wife Akua Njeri (Deborah Johnson) who was just days away from childbirth with their son, had unwittingly been drugged by an FBI/police informant posing as a Panther comrade. The murder caused outrage and shockwaves across the globe and cemented Chicago’s status as having one of the most corrupt and murderous police forces in the country.

Then-State’s Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan, who died in 2009, falsely asserted the raid on Hampton’s apartment started as a search for illegal weapons but that it escalated into a shoot-out resulting in the leader’s murder.

The case unraveled due to eyewitness accounts along with scientific evidence that indicated the police not only fired first but also shot Hampton while he was “asleep.”

The family subsequently sued and has spent a lifetime seeking justice and awareness for police brutality, crimes, and murder for countless people throughout the country. Last year, Hampton’s assassination was dramatized through the Oscar-winning film, “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

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