Tag: Bill Hampton

Maywood Park District Hires New Lawyer Over Objections of Some Residents

Thursday, November 16, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 11/17/17

In 2015, when the Maywood Park District’s 5-person Board of Commissioners voted to replace the district’s attorney, Dalal M. Jarad, with Steven A. Hinton, commissioners Terrance Jones and Dawn Williams-Rone were in the minority.

Continue reading “Maywood Park District Hires New Lawyer Over Objections of Some Residents”

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Maywood Native Son Focus of Black Panther Retrospective

Friday, November 3, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

A photo of Bill Hampton, a Maywood park district commissioner and brother of Fred Hampton, during a 1974 press conference. The photo, published in the Chicago Reader, is on display in the Movement & Justice Gallery’s “Black Panther Party 50 Year Retrospective.” 

Fred Hampton’s brief, wondrous life as the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party is the subject of a Chicago gallery’s Black Panther retrospective.

Continue reading “Maywood Native Son Focus of Black Panther Retrospective”

Maywood Park District Celebrates a Revived Park

Sunday, October 22, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Aamina James, 5, leads the ribbon-cutting for the Maywood Park District’s newly renovated grounds at its Central Park Area District, on 9th Ave. and Madison St. in Maywood. 

Burden Langworthy, a security guard with the Maywood Park District, could hardly conceal his excitement as he watched young people and old people taking shots on a newly paved outdoor basketball court on the district’s Central Area grounds, on 9th Ave. and Madison St., after an Oct. 21 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Continue reading “Maywood Park District Celebrates a Revived Park”

Funeral Arrangements for Frances “Dee Dee” Hampton Set

Friday, August 25, 2017 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews

Funeral arrangements have been scheduled for Frances “Dee Dee” Hampton, the sister of Fred and Bill Hampton who died suddenly on Aug. 23 at 69. Her brother, Bill, announced the arrangements today.

Continue reading “Funeral Arrangements for Frances “Dee Dee” Hampton Set”

Antoine Fuqua Developing Film on Maywood Native Fred Hampton

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Slain Black Panther Fred Hampton, whose life will be turned into a movie by director Antoine Fuqua, pictured below. | Wikipedia 

Antoine_FuquaThursday, May 11, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Antoine Fuqua, the Academy Award-winning director of Training Day, is developing a film about Maywood native and Black Panther icon Fred Hampton, according to numerous media reports. Deadline Hollywood broke the story.

“The untitled movie is a passion project for Fuqua,” reported Variety. “It’s based on Jeffrey Haas’ book ‘The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther,’ which has been adapted by Chris Smith.”

Hampton was assassinated in 1969 by a tactical unit comprising FBI agents and Chicago police officers, who were carrying out orders given by the Cook County State’s Attorney. After his death, a 1982 civil lawsuit, filed by family members of Hampton and slain Panther Mark Clark, resulted in a settlement worth nearly $2 million.

The Village Free Press first reported about the prospects of a Fuqua film made about Hampton in December 2015.

Hampton’s brother, Maywood resident and park district commissioner Bill Hampton, said at the time that production conversations would begin in January 2016, although he didn’t know a precise timeline for the film’s completion. Hampton said at the time that the film would be loosely based on Haas’ book.

Hampton said at the time that he hopes filming takes place in Maywood, as well as in places in Chicago. He was also hopeful that the film would hire local actors.

“It will be based on Fred’s life all the way up to his death,” Hampton said, adding that he didn’t know which actor will be tapped to play the role of his larger than life brother. VFP

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Bill Hampton, Others Reflect on Fred’s Assassination in the Era of Trump

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Bill Hampton, the brother of Fred Hampton, in their childhood home in Maywood, flanked by photos of his mother Iberia’s grandparents, Edmond and Christine White, who were the children of slaves. | William Camarg/Wednesday Journa || Below left, former Black Panther Billy Dunbar, middle, speaks with members of the Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club last Thursday. | Michael Romain/VFP

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

G. Flint Taylor, Fred Hampton’s attorney who has also represented the slain Black Panther leader’s family for the half-century that’s elapsed since Hampton’s death in 1969, was recently cleaning out the basement of his Chicago law office when he stumbled on boxes full of familiar files.

“I found box after box of FBI documents,” Taylor said during remarks delivered during a meeting of the Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club, held at Meal of the Day Cafe, 1701 S. 1st Ave. in Maywood, on Feb. 23.

“In the middle of our trial, the government admitted that they had been hiding all of the FBI files on the Black Panther Party and on Fred,” Taylor recalled. “There were 200 volumes in our basement that they had to turn over — 15 volumes of surveillance and COINTELPRO documents of Fred Hampton alone.”

COINTELPRO is a clumsy portmanteau that’s jumbled from the words Counter Intelligence Program. The Federal Bureau of Investigations utilized the program heavily during the 1950s and 1960s as a covert, largely unconstitutional, method of spying on, discrediting and destroying political organizations considered threats to the United States.

Some of those ‘threats,’ like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, are now considered icons today. After King’s 1963 speech delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Hoover dropped the hammer, telling William C. Sullivan, the federal agent at the helm of COINTELPRO, to intensify efforts to discredit King and disarm the potency of his message.

In the wake of King’s “powerful demagogic speech,” Sullivan wrote, “We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.”

If being a charismatic, articulate African American male willing to speak out about constitutional ideals marked one as an enemy of the state, Fred Hampton might as well as have been marked since childhood, said many who reminisced on the Maywood native during last Thursday’s meeting.

Rotarian Delores Robinson, who attended Proviso East High School with Hampton in the mid-1960s, remembers how he would lead her and her fellow African American classmates out of the school’s clock tower entrance down Warren Avenue after classes let out. 

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“There weren’t many blacks at Proviso back then,” Robinson recalled. “When we would leave out of school at the end of the day, the blacks would walk out of that door and Fred would always have this song that went, ‘The more you give, the more God gives to you; you can’t beat God giving.’ We’d all walk down the street singing that.”

Don Williams, another member of Rotary who served as Mayor of Maywood in the 1990s and led the local NAACP at the time of Hampton’s ascendancy, recalled how he helped recruit Hampton to become the leader of the West Suburban NAACP’s Youth Council — a position that would become a launching pad for the young leader’s rise in the world of social activism.

“There was some turbulence at Proviso East and it seemed that the African American students were being short-changed,” Williams recalled. “We didn’t have anyone in the NAACP at that time we could offer who was young. There was a basketball player, Al Nuness, who was very well-known in the community and we thought we would solicit him.”

Williams said that Nuness was too busy with other commitments. The popular basketball player, however, recommended that the NAACP recruit Hampton.

“Nuness said, ‘You want Fred Hampton,’” Williams recalled. “He said he’s very active in the school and very well-known among the young people. You want Fred. So [we] recruited Fred Hampton. The rest is history.”

By the time Billy Dunbar joined the Black Panthers in 1968, the young Hampton’s reputation had circulated across Chicago several times over.

“I didn’t meet Fred until I got to headquarters at 2350 W. Madison St. [in Chicago], but people were telling me that this guy really had charisma and that he was talking about poor people and about how black people got mistreated by Mayor Daley’s regime,” Sullivan said. “He articulated the goals, needs and aspirations of black people at the time.”

When Dunbar and Hampton eventually met, Hampton had ascended to the position of chairman of the Black Panther’s Illinois chapter. Both men were in their early 20s — if they were that old.

“I found out later, through my experiences in the party, about the type of organizer Fred was,” Dunbar said. “He had the ability to analyze and initiate the programs that were told to employ by our leadership on the West Coast. He would identify members he thought had the qualifications or the ability to get the job done and he’d assign the tasks. We then got busy applying many of these things.”

Many times, Dunbar said, Hampton made great personnel choices. In the case of William O’Neal, Dunbar recalled, “he chose poorly.”

The ‘most dangerous group in the U.S.’

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On the night of Dec. 3, 1969, Bill Hampton spoke to his younger brother on the phone, mostly “about family things.”

“The next morning, after I got off work, I saw his picture on the front page of the paper that said, ‘Cops kill Panther leader,’” Bill said, recalling how he learned about the death of his brother the following day.

Fred had been murdered by a 14-man Special Prosecutions Unit, made up of Chicago police officers who entered the Black Panther chairman’s West Side apartment building at around 4 a.m., with a warrant for illegal weapons.

Fred had fallen asleep hours earlier while talking on the phone with his mother, Iberia. On the night of Dec. 3, he had taught a course in political education at a local church. By his side in the would-be deathbed was his fiancee, pregnant with Fred’s unborn son.

The tactical unit sprayed the apartment with automatic gunfire, unleashing a barrage of between 90 to 100 bullets. Another Black Panther, Mark Clark, was fatally shot in the chest. Fred was wounded when Black Panther Harold Bell claimed to have heard officers verbally identify Fred, before noting that he was “barely alive.”

“He’ll make it,” Bell recalled an officer saying. Then, two shots later: “He’s good and dead now.”

An autopsy would reveal that Fred sustained two point-blank bullets to the very head that had made him an Enemy of the State.

Taylor and his colleague, Jeffrey Haas, filed a civil suit in 1970 on behalf of the relatives of Fred and Clark. The young attorneys wanted to prove what many Illinois Black Panthers, namely Bobby Rush, were saying all along — that the FBI helped orchestrate the raid that killed Fred through its COINTELPRO operation.

When the civil case began in federal court, Taylor recalled in an article he wrote last December about Fred’s assassination for truth-out.org, the judge “reluctantly ordered” the FBI to hand over all of the files it had relating to Hampton and the Illinois Black Panthers.

The contents of those boxes that are located in the basement of the People’s Law Office, which Haas and Taylor founded together, reveal that O’Neal had infiltrated the Black Panther Party as an FBI informant.

“Memos to and from FBI headquarters and the Chicago office,” Taylor wrote, show that O’Neal was paid $300 for his part in the raid, which included slipping a sleeping agent, secobarbital, into the drink Fred had along with his dinner the night before he was killed. The barbiturate was to ensure that Fred would not wake up while officers riddled the apartment with bullets. O’Neal also gave the FBI a detailed layout of Fred’s apartment.

In 1979, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a trial judge’s initial ruling against the plaintiffs, “finding that the FBI and their government lawyers ‘obstructed justice’ by suppressing documents,” Taylor writes.

Those documents, the appeals court added, showed “that there was ‘serious evidence’ to support the conclusion that the FBI, [Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, who ordered the raid] and his police unit had participated in a ‘conspiracy designed to subvert and eliminate the Black Panther Party and its members.’”

Those suppressed files also provide evidence that the FBI deliberately incited violence and dissension between the Panthers and other black political organizations and street gangs. O’Neal, specifically, was ordered to create conflict among the Panthers and other organizations.

In 1968, Iberia’s phone was tapped and in 1969, “Fred was sent to [prison] for an armed robbery he didn’t do,” Taylor said at the Rotary meeting. Hampton was alleged to have stolen $71 worth of Good Humor Bars during a 1967 theft in Maywood. That’s how Taylor, a young Northwestern law student, first met Fred.

“They sent me and another law student out to Maywood to get affidavits about how great a person Fred was and to raise some bond money,” Taylor recalled. “So, I came out to Maywood and met a lot of people who were in awe of the Panthers.”

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All levels of government, however, would work to upset that positive perception of Fred and the Black Panther Party — lest it spread and morph into real political empowerment among a larger segment of the black population. Hoover was deeply terrified that the Panthers might muster the political and physical power to overthrow the government.

According to an FBI document relating to Fred’s assassination uploaded to the bureau’s digital records ‘vault,’ Hoover is said to have called the Black Panthers “the most dangerous group in the U.S.”

At the time of his death, Fred was in the process of attempting to increase the Black Panther Party’s membership and reach by joining forces with an array of black, white and Latino organizations. According to Stanley Nelson, Jr.’s documentary film, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” Hoover ordered the FBI to stop the Panthers by “any means necessary.”

The demonization of Fred and Black Panthers went on even after Fred’s assassination, with Hanrahan praising his officer’s “restraint” and “professionalism” against the violent black men.

Rotarian Henderson Yarbrough, a sitting Maywood trustee and the village’s former mayor, said that he never met Fred personally, but he saw him speak at an event on the West Side in the early 1960s.

“I don’t remember what the event was all about, but it was about five Panthers that came through and, at the time, I feared some of them because of what the FBI and Hoover had done to destroy their reputation and to paint them as bad people,” he said at the Rotary meeting. “The [federal government] did a good job at dividing and destroying that group in the end.”

Connie Harvey, a former Black Panther who Fred recruited to help out with the organization’s famous breakfast program, still struggles to dispel the mythology that’s been propagated against the Panthers.

“Fred and I go way back to Argo, Illinois,” Harvey said at the last week’s Rotary meeting. “Our parents were friends with Mamie Till [Emmett Till’s mother]. They were staunch NAACP back in the day. I felt honored when Fred asked me to help cook for children on the West Side.”

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Harvey said that when she would tell people that she was a Panther, she’d often be met with responses rooted in fear and misunderstanding.

“They thought we were some gun-toting hoodlums,” she said. “My sister and I cooked and helped feed those children before they went to school. That was the first breakfast program. I was a teenager when we did that. I didn’t tote a gun.”

Dunbar and Bill characterized Panthers as Black America’s best and brightest — not hoodlums; but, rather, young men and women who put their lives on hold to struggle for justice. Today, Dunbar said, many former Panthers are lawyers, Ph.D.’s, educators and administrators.

“Fred encouraged all of us to get an education,” Harvey said. “I just finished my bachelor’s degree in educational development. We teach our children to get educated. We’re not bad people and anybody who thought we were was deceived.”

Bill said that he often confronts people who believe that the Panthers were wholesale against the police. That wasn’t the case, he explained.

“Nobody ever said that the whole police force was all bad,” Bill said. “For example, the Afro-American Patrolmen’s League worked very closely with the Panthers. The [patrolmen] caught slack. They were harassed because they wanted to be decent policemen.”

But the conspiracy to demonize isn’t particular to the Panthers, Bill added. 

“That’s the conception of black people in general,” he said. “We’ve been conceived in a lot of ways. That’s not by accident.”

The future ‘may well be upon us’

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Longtime Hampton family attorney G. Flint Taylor. | Pat Hickey

Nowadays, Taylor has been speaking against what he considers to be the resurgence of COINTELPRO-like methods and actions by the Donald Trump administration, particularly Trump’s executive order that gives Attorney General Jeff Sessions — the man whose checkered history on race prompted Coretta Scott King to write a letter opposing his nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986 — a broad set of directives.

Among them is the call to “develop a strategy for the Department’s use of existing Federal laws to prosecute individuals who commit or attempt to commit crimes of violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.”

Taylor stated on truth-out.org earlier this month that the president’s executive order gives Sessions “a carte blanche to bring down the wrath of the federal government on anyone who is unfortunate enough to have a confrontation with a cop, a prison guard, a border patrol officer or who knows who else outfitted with a badge and carrying a gun.”

“At first blush, the order could be seen simply as a wildly unpopular president playing macho man to our nation’s police departments and their reactionary police unions,” Taylor wrote. “The unions have been chafing over being curbed by the previous administration’s Department of Justice […] which, by means of pattern-or-practice investigations and consent decrees, started to put the brakes on racist police violence.”

But on deeper analysis, Taylor added, “the order can be read as an official authorization, from one white supremacist — Steve Bannon — to another — Jeff Sessions — to pursue the most racist and reactionary criminal legal policies in recent memory.”

“Within the rubric of that declaration,” Taylor writes, is a sinister plot that the attorney is all too familiar with. That executive order essentially “takes aim at protesters,” Taylor states — Fred’s ideological descendants if you will.

They include Black Lives Matter protestors, the protestors at Standing Rock, “people protesting against the Muslim ban and many others who practice acts of civil disobedience that bring them into conflict with law enforcement.”

In his article written last year on Fred’s death, Taylor urges readers “not to relegate the Hampton assassination and COINTELPRO to the annals of history,” before referencing a 1964 FBI directive.

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Part of the text of President Donald Trump’s Feb. 9 executive order. 

“Over the years,” the directive states, “our approach to investigative problems in the intelligence field has given rise to a number of new programs, some of which have been most revolutionary, and it can be presumed that with a continued aggressive approach to these programs, new and product ideas will be forthcoming.

“These ideas will not be increased in number or improved upon from the standpoint of accomplishments merely through the institution of a program such as COINTELPRO which is given another name and in fact, only encompasses everything that has been done in the past or will be done in the future.”

For those who would resist — in the vein of Fred Hampton and other black radicals and even non-violent dissenters like King — that future “may well be upon us again,” Taylor writes. “The only answer now, as it was then, is to organize, educate and resist.”

During his Rotary remarks, there was more to Taylor’s story about those boxes he happened upon in his law office basement. They not only included a story of injustice. They also included stories of courage and resistance, particularly by Maywood residents.

“I also found down there a trial transcript,” Taylor said. “One that I thought was missing. It was from a trial that took place right here in Maywood in 1969. An intimidated African-American judge sentenced Fred Hampton to 2 to 5 years in the penitentiary for robbing an ice cream truck out here, which Fred professed not to have done. He even had an alibi, but he was convicted by a predominantly white jury.”

Taylor said that the trial transcript included the names of Maywood residents “who stepped up” to testify on Fred’s behalf when “it wasn’t popular in this community to do so.”

Those names included Delores Smith, Walter Allen, Bernice Brown, Ella Mitchell and James Sykes, Taylor said. Then Don Williams called on his fellow Rotarians to summon the courage of those witnesses to fight today’s battles.

“Mr. Taylor made a point,” Williams said, referencing the attorney’s insistence on considering Fred’s assassination as less a strict history lesson than a guidepost to inform present dissent. “Each one of us has the opportunity to stand up and step up and assert ourselves in some capacity.” VFP

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In Maywood, Community Leaders Lament President Barack Obama’s Departure

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President Barack Obama delivers his Farewell Address on Jan. 10 in Chicago. | Getty Images/Bloomberg

Thursday, January 12, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

On Thursday afternoon, Maywood Park District Commissioner Bill Hampton was still basking in the reflected glow of President Barack Obama’s Farewell Address, delivered two days earlier on Jan. 10 before a crowd of around 18,000 people in Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Hampton had been given two tickets to the historic speech — one for himself and another for his mother, Iberia, who died last October at the age 94. Hampton took his sister in his late mother’s place.

“I thought the speech was really good,” Hampton said during a regular meeting of the Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club, held Jan. 12 inside of the Meal of the Day Cafe, located on the fourth floor of Eisenhower Tower, 1701 S. 1st Ave.

“I thought it would be a little longer, but it was good. With all that’s going on in Chicago, I thought him being here would help us with our problems,” Hampton said. “I was glad to get invited.”

During the Rotary meeting — which featured a speech by Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, a former foreign minister for Liberia who is running for president of that country — numerous civic leaders shared their thoughts on the country Obama inherited and the one he’ll be leaving behind.

“I loved his presidency from beginning to end,” said former village trustee, former village clerk and Rotarian Gary Woll. “That doesn’t mean I didn’t think, at times, that he should’ve pushed harder or sooner on things. My wife and I cried a little bit when we were watching the speech in our home. It was like a campaign rally.”

Woll said that he was proud that his north Maywood neighborhood voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton, Obama’s preferred successor, by nearly 90 percent over Republican Donald Trump.

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Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club President-elect Talei Thompson interviews Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, whose running for president of Liberia, during a Rotary meeting Thursday afternoon. | Michael Romain/VFP

“That was the exact same percentage Obama received on the north side of Maywood four years ago,” Woll said.

Debra Vines, the executive director and founder of The Answer, Inc., the autism awareness nonprofit, was among many civic leaders who praised Obama’s performance over his two terms.

“He did a lot for people with disabilities,” Vines said, adding to the accomplishments voiced by others.

“He made so much progress,” said Rotarian Karen Thompson. “So much has improved over the last eight years. Unemployment went down and the economy has shown so much improvement.”

Barbara Cole, the founder and executive director of Maywood Youth Mentoring, said that, although she was encouraged by the president’s passion for community involvement, she was also disappointed by his inaction on an issue close to her heart.

“I was disappointed that he didn’t create a commission to study the impact of slavery on African Americans,” Cole said. “I was hoping he would announce it in his farewell speech. Hopefully, he’ll still do it.”

If there were other areas where the nation’s first black president failed, it wasn’t for a lack of trying, said some leaders.

“The Republicans have not said a positive word about him,” said Maywood author Mary Morris, who recently published a new calendar book called “Kings and Queens of Ancient and Modern Africa.”

Morris said she’s currently working on an essay about how two Republican politicians, in particular, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — both of whom ran for president last year in the Republican Primary — have treated the outgoing Democratic president.

“Everything that comes out of their mouths about Obama is ugly,” Morris said. “They don’t know what they’re doing to their grandchildren. Obama’s presidency, I think, has been awesome. My dad worked for General Motors and Obama brought that company back from the brink and some people still can’t say a single good word about him.”

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Barbara Cole and Mary Morris during a Jan. 12 Rotary meeting. | Michael Romain/VFP

Leonor Sanchez, the deputy clerk for Broadview, reinforced Morris’s opinions about Republican efforts to block Obama’s agenda.

“He was the hope,” she said. “He tried his best to implement as many things as possible, but he was bombarded with people constantly trying to block his agenda.”

Alexander Gbayee, Liberia’s former Consul General in Chicago, said that he recalls Obama’s days on the South Side, when the future president was still just a rising community organizer. The years that have been marked by the president’s rise, Gbayee said, are ones that people of African descent all over can take pride in.

“We’re very, very proud of him,” Gbayee said. “While he was in office, he didn’t make us feel shame in any way. He’s a very brilliant person and he carried himself in a dignified way. All black people should be proud of him. It’s a loss, but I think we’ve made some progress. He brought us as blacks to the table. I hate to see him go. I don’t know what will happen once Trump takes over.”

Ngafuan touted Rotary International’s motto of “service above self” as a possible antidote to a world marred by self-interest, corruption and greed.

“Whether in public or private service,” Ngafuan said, “ I believe our world can be a better place for a critical mass of people. I move to light the candle wherever we see darkness; for as Martin Luther King once said, ‘The time is always right to do the right thing.’” VFP

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