By MURPHY BROWNE (Abena Agbetu)
Fred Hampton was born on August 30, 1948 and was only 21 years old when he was assassinated by agents of the American government, including the Chicago Police Department.
Hampton was an African-American activist and deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP). On December 4, 1969, he was sleeping in his apartment when a tactical unit of the Cook County, Illinois State Attorney’s Office, together with the Chicago Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), invaded his home at about 4:45 a.m.
Jeffrey Haas, a White American lawyer, has written about the invasion of Hampton’s home and the subsequent attempt to “cover up” the extrajudicial killing of Hampton and Mark Clark, another member of the Black Panther Party in that early morning home invasion by American government forces. Haas’ 2009 book, The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther, documents the murder and the investigation that uncovered the role of the FBI and its undercover agent that had infiltrated the movement.
In an interview with Amy Goodman and Ralph Gonzalez of Democracy Now on December 4, 2009 (www.democracynow.org/2009/12/4/the_assassination_of_fred_hampton_how) Haas spoke of the attempted cover-up by the American government agents:
“And when we gathered all the evidence, it turned out that the police had fired ninety shots into the apartment with a submachine gun, shotguns, pistols and a rifle. There was only one outgoing shot, and that came from a Panther who had been fatally wounded, and it was a vertical shot, after he was hit himself. So, Hanrahan, who was a politically ambitious law-and-order prosecutor who wanted to get the political advantage of having attacked and taken out the Panthers, was on the TV that morning saying the Panthers opened fire. It turned out, we proved, that, quite to the contrary, it was a shoot-in, not a shootout. ”
The Black Panther Party (BPP), originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was founded in 1966 and was considered a threat to White supremacy in the USA. J. Edgar Hoover, the infamous director of the FBI, was on a mission to destroy the BPP and used a paid informant, William O’Neal, to great advantage. Just as he had done a few generations before with the character assassination of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Hoover used every underhanded tactic his devious imagination could dredge up.
The machinations of the FBI included the development of COINTELPRO to be used as a tool to undermine civil rights organizations and/or anyone who sought to improve the lives and fortunes of African-Americans. The Nation of Islam (NOI), which has been a target of the FBI and COINTELPRO, describes the organization on its website:
“COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic organizations deemed ‘subversive’. On March 8, 1971, a group of anonymous activists broke into the small, two-man office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Media, Pa., and stole more than 1,000 FBI documents that revealed years of systematic wiretapping, infiltration and media manipulation designed to suppress dissent. The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, as the group called itself, forced its way in at night with a crowbar while much of the country was watching the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight. When agents arrived for work the next morning, they found the file cabinets virtually emptied. Within a few weeks, the documents began to show up – mailed anonymously in manila envelopes with no return address – in the newsrooms of major American newspapers. COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological warfare, planting false reports in the media, smearing through forged letters, harassment, wrongful imprisonment, extralegal violence and assassination. Covert operations under COINTELPRO took place between 1956 and 1971, however the FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception.”
Speaking of the vicious attack on the members of the BPP, the attempted cover-up of the assassination of Hampton and the attempt to vilify the BPP in 1968 Haas said:
“What we uncovered years later – we also filed a civil rights suit after the charges were dropped against the Panthers. And in addition to proving, as I said, that it was a one-sided raid, that the police came in firing, the evidence also showed that Fred Hampton was in fact killed with two bullets, parallel bullets, fired into his head at point-blank range. He wasn’t killed with the bullets through the walls.
But what we uncovered was that the FBI had obtained a floor plan of Fred Hampton’s apartment. That floor plan was complete with all the furniture, including the bedroom where Hampton and Johnson slept and a rectangle showing the bed. And it turned out that this FBI informant, William O’Neal, and his control took that floor plan and gave it to Hanrahan’s raiders before the raid, so that they came in knowing the layout, knowing where Fred would be sleeping. And when we looked at the directions of the bullets, in fact, they converged on the bed where Fred Hampton was sleeping that morning.”
The recent spate of extrajudicial killing of African-Americans and the attempts to whitewash the Caucasian police perpetrators and vilify the victims as criminals is reminiscent of the struggles of the 1960s. The fact that the first African-American President of the United States seems to be muzzled even though he cannot seek re-election speaks volumes about how much “not much has changed” in the lives of most African-Americans.
On July 17, 2014, an African-American man, Eric Garner, was a victim of extrajudicial killing when a member of the New York Police Department wrapped his arm around Garner’s neck in an illegal and lethal chokehold. There was a rush by the authorities to demonize Garner. On August 9, 2014, unarmed 18-year-old African-American, Michael Brown, was gunned down by police in Missouri and left to lie on the street for hours.
Five days after the extrajudicial killing of Brown the smear campaign to impugn his character began. The tried and true propaganda machine that proved so useful to the FBI in their COINTELPRO operation remains in use. Gullible television viewers become convinced that accusations of selling loose cigarettes, stealing cigarettes or running from police are all (hanging offences) death penalty crimes with the murderous police as judge, jury and executioner. The grieving family members seem compelled to react on television and newspapers with interviews that their murdered loved ones were “good people”.
It seems that African-American lives have no value and those who are charged with the responsibility to “serve and protect” do not consider that African-Americans fall under that purview.
In America there are at least some national organizations that will publicize and make an attempt to hold the killer police accountable. Here in Canada there are no such organizations and there have been several extrajudicial police killing of African Canadians. When police in Canada brutalize, maim or kill African Canadians there is hardly any outcry and the police are never held accountable. On July
19, 1952, Clarence Clemons, a 52-year-old African Canadian longshoreman, was so brutally beaten by White police officers in Vancouver, British Columbia, that he slipped into a coma and died five months later on December 24, 1952. Since then, there have been several cases of White police killing African Canadians, yet no police officer has ever been convicted of killing an African Canadian.
These are only some of the documented incidents of White police killing African Canadians:
On August 9, 1978, Buddy Evans was killed by John Clark at a nightclub on King Street West in Toronto. August 26, 1979, 35-year-old Albert Johnson was killed in his apartment by William Inglis and Walter Cargnelli.
November 11, 1987, 19-year-old Anthony Griffins was killed by Allan Gosset in a Montreal police station parking lot. August 9, 1988, 44-year-old Lester Donaldson was killed in his home by David Deviney. December 8, 1988, 17-year-old Michael Wade Lawson was killed by Anthony Lelaragni and Darren Longpre in Mississauga. April 20, 1993, 21-year-old Ian Clifford Coley was killed by Rick Shank, from 41 Division. March 30, 1997, Shank killed another African Canadian, 31-year-old Hugh Dawson. June 11, 1996, 24-year-old Wayne Rick Williams was killed by Kenneth Harrison and Gordon Hayford.
The most recent: September 29, 2010, 26-year-old Eric Osawe was killed by David Cavanagh. August 29, 2010, 25-year-old Reyal Jensen Jardine-Douglas was killed by a police officer whose name has never been released.
As we read about the killing of Trayvon Martin, Ramarley Graham, Eric Garner and Michael Brown in the “the land of the free and home of the brave”, we are not much better off in this Great White North where racial profiling is practiced by police forces across this country. We need to read and watch critically and be aware of the propaganda.