Fifty Years After the Police Murders of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark

This week, in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the raid, Haas is reissuing his 2009 book, The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther. In the book’s introduction, Haas writes, “The need to protest, expose, and hold accountable those in power who violate our laws and personal liberties continues and remains a fundamental struggle of our society and any society.”

Haas, along with fellow attorney Flint Taylor and a team from the People’s Law Office, helped tie the Chicago murders to the FBI’s secret COINTELPRO project, in which director J. Edgar Hoover sought to “destroy, discredit, disrupt the activities of the Black Panther Party by any means necessary and prevent the rise of a Black Messiah.”

Haas has continued to fight for the rights of political protestors and advocates for change. Among other projects he has volunteered his legal skills on behalf of the water protectors opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline project in South Dakota.

Now a resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Haas travelled to Chicago this week for the book launch and other events on the fiftieth anniversary of the killings. Just before he left, Frances Madeson caught up with him in Santa Fe for a short conversation about the significance of the Hampton case today.

Q: Fred Hampton was not a well-known national leader. Why was he assassinated?

Jeffrey Haas: In the course of our thirteen-year lawsuit, including an eighteen-month trial, to expose what happened to Fred and the other Panthers that night, we learned that the government had a plan in place to deal with any black leaders emerging “who could unify and electrify the masses,” in the words of the FBI documents.

Fred was doing that.

Read the article at The Progressive.