Recent evidence would seem to indicate that it was the FBI, at the direction of J. Edgar Hoover, not the Chicago police as widely believed, who engineered the assassination of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton on December 4, 1969. In 1976, Hampton’s family, the family of Mark Clark (another Panther slain in the raid), and survivors of the raid filed a $ 47.5 million civil suit in Chicago against 28 local, state, and federal officials. The suit alleges that the occupants of Hampton’s apartment were deprived of their civil rights, that the seven survivors were maliciously and falsely prosecuted, and that there was a conspiracy to hide the true facts surrounding the raid. The thousands of. pages of FBI memos (many signed by J. Edgar Hoover) now released would seem to support the accusations. One such document authorizes the payment of a $ 300 bonus to an FBI informant who had succeeded in infiltrating the Chicago Panther Party. That informant, later identified as William O’Neil, eventually became Hampton’s personal body guard. It was O’Neil who supplied the FBI, and the Chicago police tactical squad, with a detailed floor-plan of Hampton’s apartment, a floor-plan the police referred to extensively during the raid. O’Neil is a key witness in the case, and, according to the evidence, still on the federal payroll at.$ 3,000 a month. The mantle of secrecy shrouding the Chicago trial, the nearly obstructive manner in which Judge Perry has conducted the trial, and the near-total lack of coverage by the mass media qualifies the Fred Hampton story for nomination as one of the “ten best censored” stories of 1976.
Morton H. Halperin, Director
Project on National Security and Civil Liberties
“Fred Hampton: A Case of Political Assassination” by Susan Cantor. First Principles, Vol. 2, No. 3, November 1976.