Today In 1969, Black Panthers, Fred Hampton & Mark Clark Were Murdered While Sleeping By Police

1 Posted by - August 21, 2022 - LATEST POSTS

Black Panthers Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22, were gunned down by 14 police officers as they lie sleeping in their Chicago, Illinois, apartment. About a hundred bullets had been fired in what police described as a fierce gun battle with members of the Black Panther Party. However, ballistics experts later determined that only one of those bullets came from the Panthers’ side. In addition, the “bullet holes” in the front door of the apartment, which police pointed to as evidence that the Panthers had been shooting from within the apartment, were actually nail holes created by police in an attempt to cover up the attack. Four other Black Panthers were wounded in the raid, as well as two police officers.


The raid, which had been led by Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, was only one of many attempts by the government to weaken the Black Power movement. Under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI had been battling civil rights activists and other minority leaders for years with their Cointelpro program, whose purpose, according to one FBI document, was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist hate type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership and supporters.” Although the FBI was not responsible for leading this particular raid, a federal grand jury indicated that the bureau played a significant role in the events leading up to the raid; Hanrahan had utilized information provided by FBI informant William O’Neal, who was third in command of the Chicago Panthers, to plan his attack.


There was also a conscious effort by the FBI to use “aggressive and imaginary tactics” to prevent the “rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement.” They apparently considered Fred Hampton, an outspoken, charismatic activist who was chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, to be such a potential leader. Hampton became involved in the civil rights struggle at a very early age: At 15, he organized a chapter of the NAACP at his high school, and he became chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Partywhen he was 20. Many other leaders of the Panthers, such as Huey Newton, Assata Shakur, and Bobby Seale, spent time in jail on charges based on little or no evidence.

Although most media coverage of the Black Panthers focused on their violent rhetoric and the fact that they carried arms, the Panthers were involved in many nonviolent community-organizing activities. They provided food and medical care to the needy, preached political empowerment, crusaded against police brutality, and started a school. As Fred Hampton himself said shortly before his death, “There have been many attacks made upon the Black Panther Party, so we feel it’s best to be an armed propaganda unit. But the basic thing is to educate.” Unfortunately for Hampton and the other Panthers targeted by the FBI, being armed did not help to protect against governmental repression. In fact, it may have even made matters worse by aiding the FBI in legitimizing their aggressive tactics.

Despite the evidence provided by ballistics experts showing that police had fired 99 percent of the bullets and had falsified the report on the incident, the first federal grand jury did not indict anyone involved in the raid. Furthermore, even though a subsequent grand jury did indict all the police officers involved, the charges were dismissed.

Survivors of the attack and relatives of Hampton and Clark filed a lawsuit against Hampton and other officials, which was finally settled in 1983.

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  • Eddie Donahoo ka heru December 5, 2015 - 12:31 am

    Never forgotten

  • Martin macheru November 3, 2016 - 7:01 pm

    No matter where and when racial injustices happen, people should not forget, this is a lifelong learning curve.

  • Victoria Parks September 6, 2017 - 10:02 pm

    I remember this. I was 12 years old and grieved for these young men… it affected me. This was a time when racism was upfront & personal. Racist were proud of the stance & proclaimed it with legislation, the FBI and any other means, because they had all of the means. Today white folks would rather people of color say something crazy about their mother than to state the racism we experience. Freddy Grey, Travon Martin, Sam DuBois, from my hometown, etc… join Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in martyrdom. Shit is shit & it’s the same 48 years later & it still stinks!!

  • Lonna P Johnson September 10, 2017 - 8:40 pm

    I was born in the 60s . history has been pushed aside of the struggle of being black in America.I still have sadness when I read of the murders of these young activist. I’m sad that one of their own turned on them. But if Jesus was turned on because he came here to save us..Who are we…..Never forgotten..And first thank you Jesus. For freeing us from So ..Black Panthers for giving your life for freedom…

  • Leandro Witte June 18, 2019 - 2:31 am

    Wow! How did you comoe up with atht coolpost?