On this date exactly a half-century ago, Chairman Fred Hampton, one of the most prolific and recognizable leaders of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, was assassinated in his home by the Chicago Police Department, who were carrying out orders from the J. Edgar Hoover-led Federal Bureau of Investigation. Party member Mark Clark was also killed in the government-sanctioned raid.

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Hoover, along with his COINTELPRO initiative, labeled Hampton and the Panthers as a threat to national security, making it legal to kill the 21-year-old dynamic leader in a pre-dawn raid. A tactical unit from the Cook County State Attorney’s office along with the FBI organized the hit with the help of Black government informant William O’Neal, who gave the agency the floor plans of Hampton’s apartment for $300.

In 1990, O’Neal ran into Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway and killed himself.


In 1982, the survivors and relatives of Clark and Hampton won a civil lawsuit for $1.85 million, in which Cook County, the City of Chicago and the federal government each paid one-third of the settlement to the nine plaintiffs.