by Jae Jones
Every African-American should remember the date July 26, 1970. It was the day that one of America’s most influential and well-known Black leaders was killed viciously by the Houston Police Department, special unit, the Central Intelligence Division (CID). The man who was killed was Carl Bernard Hampton. He was only 21 years old, and was assassinated for his commitment to improving the lives and conditions of African-American people in Houston and around the United States.
Many people still to this day have a difficult time forgetting the horrific crime against this young man. The assassination still is commemorated 45 years later. On Saturday-July 26- organizers within the community held an event at the Judson Robinson Community Center that would commemorate the 45th Anniversary of the assassination. The day was deemed the “#Carl Hampton Day: Son of Pleasantville.” The day was filled with art exhibits, vendors, music and speakers who highlighted the life and legacy of Hampton.
Hampton, was born in 1948 on December 17th. He grew up in the Greater Houston area and began the struggle plight of Black Americans at a very young age. When Hampton spoke he spoke with authority, conviction and power. He made sure people were rallying and fighting for the cause of saving Black lives. He was strong in what he believed in. He organized and helped establish the People’s Party II in 1969, the group was one that modeled after the Black Panther Party.
Before returning to Houston to establish the People’s Party II, Hampton did a great amount of work with the BPP in Oakland, California. Hampton was disappointed at the BPP chapter’s decision not to open new chapters. Undeterred by their decision, Hampton decided to establish the People’s Party II as the name, out of respect for the BPP, who he recognized as the original People’s Party. Because Hampton had connections and was very well respected he was able to rouse people and get their commitment to helping with the cause.
It wasn’t long before Hampton set up shop in the 2800 of Dowling Street in Third Ward an area that was known as one of the roughest areas in the community. People quickly became worried about Hamptons power, such as the Houston Police Department. There was one incident that took place and after that Hampton never did set well with the police department. He was like an open sore that they had to get rid.
It has been reported that on July 17, 1970, Hampton showed up at his People’s Party II headquarters on Dowling, and upon arriving, he noticed two officers harassing a young Black man who had been out on the streets. The young black guy was selling Black Panther newspapers. As Hampton approached the police officer to find out what was going on, the policer officer saw that Hampton, a young Black man was openly strapped with a firearm. Hampton did inform the officer that it was his constitutional right to carry a firearm. So, the officer drove Hampton to reach for his firearm, when the police officer in the car saw what was going on he radioed for backup, because other Black men had come out to stand up with Hampton.
Hampton and the other guys realized that what was about to take place and went into the People’s Party to barricade themselves. They saw police everywhere dressed in riot gear, ready to take them down. The standoff went on for 10 days and this was after the HPD went in to talk to Hampton, to get him to surrender. The HPD and other collaborating agencies decided on a well-orchestrated plan to take Hampton out through assassination. On the night of July 26, 1970, Hampton was speaking to a crowd of roughly 100 people at an impromptu rally held in front of the People’s Party II headquarters. The rally was held for the purposes of raising bail money for two Black men who had been arrested earlier. A car speeding by with two women in it shouted out that there were White men shooting from the roof of St. Johns Baptist Church, which prompted Hampton to dismiss the crowd out of concern for their safety.
Hampton left to cross the street to get a better view at what was going on, it was then a White news reporter on the roof pointed Hampton out to the armed sniper, Howard Dupree of KULF Radio Station. It just so happened Dupree had just has an interview with Hampton, so he knew better than anyone on that rooftop what Hampton looked like. Using night vision scopes, the snipers shot Hampton several times in the stomach and chest with illegal hollow point dum-dum bullets. A young woman saw what was happening and got to Hampton’s body, dragged him to her car and to the hospital-however it was too late, he died in the emergency room on July 26, 1970. Of course later, the Houston Police Department defending the actions of the police department and condemned what the People’s Party had done to help Hampton.
It seems that things are not getting better in the African-American community. More people are dealing with police brutality cases and being murdered by law enforcement. It is important to constantly remind people of the Carl Hampton story and share it with young Black men and women all over the United States.