3/14/04

Memories of a Panther Martyr:
FRED HAMPTON

By Mumia Abu-Jamal from death row

"...[Y]ou can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the
revolution. You can run a freedom fighter around the
country but you can't run freedom fighting around the
country. You can murder a liberator, but you can't
murder liberation."
-- Fred Hampton, April 27, 1969

I never had the pleasure of meeting Chairman Fred Hampton
in life.

I read numerous articles about him in *The Black Panther*
newspaper. I was impressed by this young man (who was
older than I at the time), and I found his speeches inspiring.
It was this ability, to organize and galvanize folks that had
the eyes of the Party on him; but also the eyes of the FBI.

On December 4, 1969, the FBI, working through state
agencies in Chicago, and utilizing an inside snitch and
infiltrator named William O'Neal, carried out a murderous
attack on 2337 W. Monroe St., a small apartment building
in the Windy City.

O'Neal had drawn up a floorplan of the apartment,
showing where people slept, and where guards were
stationed. He also tampered with the weapons there, and
laced Fred Hampton's Kool Aid with secobarbitol, a
barbituate which induced sleep. During the raid, several
Panthers would try to awaken the drugged Chairman, but
he was too deeply under to budge. Several cops killed him
as he slept, in his bed. They also murdered Mark Clark, a
captain from Peoria, Illinois.

Eighteen-year old Brenda Harris was shot twice, while
lying unarmed, in her bed. Several Panthers were also shot.

The state and federal so-called 'investigations' were
whitewashes.

In late December, 1969, several BPP members and
supporters left in a rickety sedan to join the Chicago
chapter in their remembrance of their murdered leader.
The chapter also did something extraordinary: they
tore down the police tape, and ran tours through the
dark, chilled apartment, to show the people directly,
what happened on Monroe. We walked through the
scene of carnage, and it was like walking through the
inside of a block of Swiss cheese. Bullet holes lined the
walls, revealing police machinegun fire.

But the bedroom, where Fred and his wife, Deborah**,
were sleeping, looked like a mortuary. Thick blood
still caked the floor; and a mattress lay soaked, dark
with the blood of Fred Hampton. If you looked at the
walls of the bedroom, all shots seemed to converge
where Fred's body once laid.

As Rene Johnson and I walked out of the Monroe St.
apartment, our eyes adjusting to the gray winter light,
we saw a line, running all the way down the block, and
around the corner, of Black Chicagoans, waiting to view
the death scene.

One of the supporters from Philadelphia, who had
helped drive us to Chicago, had been somewhat
reluctant to join the Party, although she would help.
She was a young mother, and knew that such a life
was dangerous. But after walking through the apartment
of West Monroe St., her heart was hardened; her mind
was set.

Rosemari Mealy was no longer a supporter, but would
join the Black Panther Party.

The murders on Monroe St. were a joint action of the
FBI and Chicago Police. They would later call their
operation a "success," for they succeeded in extinguishing
one of the brightest lights of the Black Panther Party. To
this date, not one state or federal agent has ever served a
second in jail for the premeditated, pre-planned, murders
of Hampton and Clark. In fact, the *only* people arrested,
then, and since, were Panthers. Presumed guilty of survival!

One of those survivors, Deborah, would shortly give
birth to Fred's son, a young man who bears a striking
resemblance and similar spirit, of his martyred father:
Fred Hampton, Jr.!

There was death, and life, on Monroe St.

Fred Hampton, who worked for Black liberation,
and Power to the People -- remembered.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

**Now known as Akua Njeri, (still a freedom fighter!)

[Mr. Jamal's upcoming work, *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, will be available
soon from South End Press, Cambridge, MA.
(www.southendpress.org).]


 

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Mr. Jamal has written widely about war and other issues. His latest work, *Faith of Our Fathers* (Africa World Press, 2003) was named one of "The Most Remarkable Books of 2003" by *Black Issues Book Review* (Nov/Dec '03).]

Check out Mumia's NEW book: FAITH OF OUR FATHERS: AN EXAMINATION OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF AFRICAN AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN PEOPLE at www.africanworld.com

Mumia Abu-Jamal is also the author of three other books: 'Live from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things Censored'.

When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die. And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal