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Sunday, June 16, 2024

On This Day: Black Panther leader Fred Hampton assassinated

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On December 4, 1969, Fred Hampton, a rising activist in the Black Panther Party (BPP), was assassinated in a raid led by the Chicago Police Department. Hampton, 21 years old at the time, was regarded as a charismatic and compelling figure who had quickly climbed to the position of deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. The Black Panther Party activist was known for his verbiage and his dedication to organizing communities to fight against poverty, racism and police brutality.

Hampton, a charismatic and influential figure, emerged as a prominent leader within the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), spearheading their Youth Council. Driven by a deep-seated obligation to social justice, Hampton joined the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party in November 1968, swiftly ascending to deputy chairman for the Illinois chapter. His unwavering activism manifested in organizing rallies, establishing a complimentary breakfast program, and cultivating a peace pact among rival gangs.

Hampton’s rise within the Black Panther Party attracted the attention of the FBI, who initiated a covert investigation aimed at disrupting the organization’s activities. On a catastrophic night in December 1969, William O’Neal, an FBI informant embedded within the BPP, surreptitiously administered a powerful sedative to Hampton during a gathering. Subsequently, a contingent of armed police officers stormed Hampton’s apartment, unleashing a barrage of gunfire that tragically claimed the life of his security guard.

Remembering Fred Hampton, Black Panther Party

Hampton was rendered unconscious and defenseless. Despite his incapacitated state, the officers mercilessly continued their assault, firing upon the bedroom. Upon discovering Hampton, an officer executed the Black Panther Party leader with two shots to the head.

The remaining Panthers present during the raid were arrested and charged with attempted murder, armed violence, and an abundance of weapons crimes. Nevertheless, these charges were dismissed following a subsequent investigation that revealed the clear difference in firepower, with Chicago Police discharging nearly 100 rounds compared to the Panthers’ single firing.

Hampton’s life, though tragically cut short, left an indelible mark on the pursuit of social justice and equality. His legacy continues to inspire generations of activists fighting for a more just and equitable society.


Contact multi-media staff writer Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846 or via email at noralp@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @3Noral. For more news courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here.

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