The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971)

A chronicle of Fred Hampton's revolutionary leadership of the Illinois Black Panther Party, followed by an investigation into his assassination at the hands of the Chicago Police Department.
  • 7.5 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Howard Alk, Director:
  • Mike Gray, Producer:
8 / 10

Fred Hampton, Chicago Black Panther, Murdered by the Chicago Police at age 21.

Fred Hampton, founder of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was assassinated by a special unit of the Chicago Police Department on December 4th, 1969 as he lay face down in bed. He was 21 years old when he was murdered. The police fired 99 unanswered shots into his apartment, wounding Fred as he slept. Apparently drugged by an informant, Hampton was unable to awaken. After the raid the police put two more shots into Hampton's head and said "Now he's good and dead."

This film follows the last year or so of Fred's life and the investigation immediately following his murder.

The first part of the film shows Fred speaking and organizing and provides a brief glimpse into the Panther community programs such as free breakfasts for school children, as well as a fairly good portrayal of Hampton's dynamic speaking abilities, vast depth of knowledge for someone so young, and his passion for the revolutionary struggle of all oppressed people worldwide regardless of race.

The remainder of the film focuses on Fred's murder including footage of the crime scene. The attacking police unit was so secret that the local precinct was not notified to clean things up after the bodies were removed. As a result the Panthers and their attorneys filmed and collected a vast amount of evidence which proved the police and states' attorneys were lying. The police and government arguments are given, interspersed with contradictory proof by the Panthers and their attorneys proving that this was not a raid gone sour, but rather a carefully planned assassination. The photo of the police smiling joyously as they carry Hampton's body out of the apartment is ominous.

This film was made right after Fred Hampton was murdered, and before the Panthers were aware that one of their own - William O'Neal - was actually an FBI informant who provided the police with the map of Fred Hampton's apartment. It was also filmed years before the information about the FBI's COINTELPRO campaign was made public. It is a great piece of history which gives a rare fair treatment to the Black Panther Party.

8 / 10

Powerful examination of a man and a murder

A powerful last third makes up for the technical rawness (including some sections where it's hard to hear what's being said).

Hampton can be initially be tough to sympathize with, especially for an audience 40+ years later, as he preaches what sounds like a hopelessly na?ve call for violent revolution. But the slowly growing evidence that the so-called 'shoot-out' in which he died was nothing less than the intentional murder murder of a charismatic black leader set up by the police is deeply chilling, and makes Hampton's call to take up arms in self-defense seem a little less unreasonable in retrospect.

An important reminder of a now all-but-forgotten time in our not so distant history.

7 / 10

I toured the apartment after the murder

I was 10 years old when this happened and I was taken to the apartment with my mother (a Chicago school teacher) and several of her co-workers. The black community was so up in arms about this that the schools pretty much closed down that day. We toured the apartment with the Panthers (not a police in sight). They had marked how all the shots in the walls were coming from outside to the inside. We saw the blood soaked mattress and how the apartment drawers and closets were all over turned like they were looking for something. Chicago PD was and still is crooked as hell. Fred Hampton was only 21 years old. Those young brothers (Mark Clark also) were about something great for the community and they were murdered!! Rest in Peace.

9 / 10

Historically important

This documentary can be split into two parts. The first half is a biography of Fred Hampton, a civil rights pioneer, community organizer, and Black Panther member. The second half is a stunning work of investigative journalism that provides clear evidence that Hampton was assassinated by the Chicago police.

Hampton was called a dangerous revolutionary, but his message was nothing more revolutionary than social justice and equality. While there is certainly a revolutionary aspect to that, it is not the angry and violent rhetoric with which the state wanted to tar him. So they simply assassinated him and concocted a story that portrayed him how they wanted him -- dangerously violent. The facts of the case just don't fit that narrative, however.

Hampton's story is not well known. That makes this film even more important. It is extremely dangerous to think that state-sanctioned political assassinations could not happen or do not happen in the United States. Hampton's death is tragic enough without us learning nothing from it. Fascism can rise anywhere, and it can be as petty as racist cops working for a corrupt city government or as insidious as a federal agency that engages in black ops against its own citizens.

10 / 10

I showed this movie around in the '70's

I saw this movie when i was a journalism student at NYU in the '70's. the organization that I belonged to-The Revolutionary Student Brigade-took the movie around to different collages and also showed it in Newark at a Project where a young boy-Charles Sutton-had been shot. The movie is an eye opener. There is no doubt in your mind as to why Fred Hampton was killed. It's a great job of investigative reporting. If your stomach is not already turned by what is currently called "news" this will do it for you. It will also make you mad to see what we were once, what we could have done-what we did do and how our potential was destroyed by the powers that be. We can all get along-we can doanything as long as we recognize who the enemy really is. The people united will never be defeated.