04 March 2006

Savage PigWatch: Chicago's 'Finest' Try to Kill Fred Hampton... Again

"You can murder a liberator but you can't murder liberation."
Fred Hampton

At 4:00 a.m. on 4 December 1969, Pigs with the Chicago Police Department, using information gained from the FBI's COINTELPRO domestic spying program, illegally broke into the local Black Panther Party headquarters and wildly riddled the office with more than 80 bullets, assassinating the Party's Chairmen, Fred Hampton along with fellow Panther Mark Clark (watch a spectacular documentary about the assassination).

Fred Hampton again grabbed headlines when Chicago's neo-fascist Fraternal Order of Police excoriated Alderwoman Madeline Haithcock over her proposal to name the short block where Hampton was assassinated "Chairman Fred Hampton Way." The idea was proposed to Haithcock by Hampton's son, Fred Hampton, Jr., who carries on his father's revolutionary legacy through the Prisoner of Conscience Committee.

Hampton Jr. sees nothing surprising about the Pigs' outcry. He told the legendary Black paper, the Chicago Defender, “There is a war that is being waged on our people. The police officers represent the front lines of that war. Chairman Fred Hampton said that everything is political.”

In the past, the Board of Aldermen has honored other controversial figures with street names. The Sun Times reports that, "In April, 2000, female aldermen and women's groups managed to defeat in committee an honorary street sign for Playboy founder Hugh Hefner… only to have Ald. Burton F. Natarus (42nd) use a parliamentary maneuver to ram it through the next day."

It's one thing for Chicago's institutionally racist Board of Aldermen to honor a misogynistic cretin like Hefner who's made millions of dollars exploiting women. But it's quite another to honor a murdered revolutionary Black icon like Hampton in the very place where Pigs killed him.

Evidently ignorant that Chicago's 'Finest' killed Hampton and not the reverse, FOP President Mark Donahue responded to the news with the stupidity and anger befitting his position. "It's a dark day when we honor someone who would advocate killing policemen and who took great advantage of the communities he claimed to have been serving."

Before his murder, Hampton had become one of the most prominent, charismatic, revolutionary leaders in the Black Panther Party. Chairman of the Illinois chapter at 20, Hampton worked with a free People's Clinic, taught political education classes every morning at 6am, and launched a project demanding community control of police. His message of Socialism, liberation, and racial unity in opposition to the Pigs and the white power structure helped radicalized large numbers of people in the Chicago area and his own political standing such that, just prior to his execution, Hampton was named the next national Chief of Staff for the Black Panther Party.

Hampton's charisma and his revolutionary politics led the FBI to begin spying on him prior to his 20th birthday. After Pigs failed to send Hampton to jail on trumped-up charges (robbing an ice cream man), State's Attorney Edward Hanrahan ordered Hampton's assassination with information gained the help of Hampton's bodyguard and FBI snitch, William O'Neal, who received more than $10,000 for a floor-plan of the apartment (marking Hampton's bed with an "X") and other services rendered.

Alderwoman Haithcock initially defended the designation, arguing that the Black Panther Party's "purpose was housing, education, clothing and justice. They fought racism and discrimination." But her resolve seems to be eroding before our eyes. Defering to the racist heritage of Chicago politics, she has pathetically begun to equivocate, telling the Sun-Times, "it's only one block - and it's not even a long block. But I don't want to cause dissension among our police officers. If that's going to cause dissension with all of the negative things the Black Panthers did, then I won't put up the sign."

In other words, "Fred Hampton Way" will only become a reality if people compel the Alderwoman Haithcock to stand with the Fred Hampton and against the racist Pigs who killed him.
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