Fred Hampton: The Fight for Truth

​Defending our Rights in a Time of Rightist Revolts and Mass Media Handwringing
January 23, 2021
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Fifty-one years ago, the Chicago Police raided the office of the Illinois Black Panther Party killing Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. The police initially claimed they acted in self-defense, but this was quickly exposed as a lie. The Chicago Police undeniably not only fired the first shots, but fired at least 83 times. As the official story fell apart, disturbing details emerged. Fred Hampton was not only likely drugged by an FBI informant the night of the raid, but the raid was part of the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), covert actions designed to neutralize and disrupt political movements disfavored by the FBI. One of the goals of the program that killed Hampton was to “prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement.”

Central to exposing the truth about Hampton’s death at the hands of the state has been Flint Taylor and Jeffrey Haas, two lawyers with the People’s Law Office, which represented both Fred Hampton and the survivors of the raid that killed him. Their work led to the exposure of the FBI’s role in Hampton’s death. And they are still working to shine a light on exactly what happened. On January 19, 2021 they published new revelations in Truthout “New Documents Suggest J. Edgar Hoover Was Involved in Fred Hampton’s Murder.”

On Tuesday, G. Flint Taylor and Jeffrey Haas joined Defending Rights & Dissent & Truthout as DRAD Policy Director Chip Gibbons discussed the latest revelations about the FBI’s role in Hampton’s death and why it matters.

Flint Taylor is a founding member of the People’s Law Office in Chicago. He was, together with Jeff Haas, a lead lawyer in the landmark Fred Hampton and Mark Clark civil rights case. He has represented numerous police torture survivors during the past 33 years. He was one of the lawyers involved in the struggle for reparations and has chronicled the decades-long fight against Chicago police violence and torture in his book, The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago, which was released March 2019 by Haymarket Books.

Jeff Haas is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office (PLO) in Chicago. He was, together with Flint Taylor, a lead lawyer in the landmark Fred Hampton and Mark Clark civil rights case, and was one of the main lawyers for the 17 Pontiac Brothers, wrongfully charged but acquitted in the capital murder trial for the Pontiac Prison Rebellion in 1978. Jeff also worked with other PLO lawyers representing the victims of Chicago Police Department torturer Jon Burge. Most recently, Jeff provided legal support and represented Water Protectors at Standing Rock. He is a board member of the Water Protector Legal Collective as well as of the Adalah Justice Project. Jeff is the author of The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther.

Chip Gibbons (moderator) is Defending Rights & Dissent’s Policy Director and hosts the Still Spying podcast, which explores the history of FBI political surveillance. As a journalist and researcher, his writings on the abuses of the US national security state at home and abroad have appeared in Jacobin, In These Times, and The Intercept.