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Black Messiah Biography
The new film Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story of the FBI’s infiltration of the Black Panther Party and the subsequent death, at the hands of law enforcement, of AFF leader Fred Hampton.
What is the real story? Was Hampton killed by the police in real life? Was the FBI involved? Over the years, many have claimed that the official police version of the raid is false. They say Hampton was assassinated as part of then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s war against black revolutionary groups, an effort called COINTELPRO.
Hampton was shot in the head during an early morning police raid by a unit affiliated with a state attorney. Another Black Panther leader, Mark Clark, also died. Over the years, the accounts of law enforcement and survivors of Black Panther differed markedly, and some investigations exonerated the police; however, the family members subsequently obtained a large settlement and the agents and the state attorney were charged with obstruction of justice (but later acquitted). Forensic evidence corroborated the claims of the Black Panthers; officers fired all but one of the bullets that day. That bullet came from Clark’s gun, but then he was shot in the heart.
In 1970, The New York Times reported that “a special federal grand jury in Chicago reported today that police had greatly exaggerated the resistance of Black Panthers in a shooting on December 4 in which two of the militants were killed and four others were wounded.. “The Times article says that” police riddled the Panthers’ apartment with at least 82 shots, while apparently only one shot was fired from the inside “by a man already shot in the heart. However, the jury did not charge them and found that the officers “may have been returning fire to each other.” Others have argued that the shooting was deliberate. The grand jury said the surviving Panthers refused to testify and tied his hands. Twenty-three of its members were white.
You can see a photo of the crime scene later in this story, but keep in mind that it is graphic. According to STMU History Media, Hampton’s pregnant girlfriend, who tried in vain to protect him from officers’ bullets, claimed to have heard officers say:
First voice: “That’s Fred Hampton.”
Second Voice: “Is he dead? Get him [out of his bedroom].
First voice: “he is hardly alive; he will do it. ”
Fourteen Chicago Police Officers in a Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Unit Conducted the Raid that Led to Hampton’s Death
The Times article says the initial clue that the Black Panthers were thought “were stockpiling guns in Chicago” came from the FBI.
An appeals court decision in a civil lawsuit filed against the police provides these details of the raid that took Hampton and Clark’s lives.
According to those court documents:
The appeals court document describes the raid as “a shooting that occurred in Chicago during the early hours of the morning of December 4, 1969. Two Black Panthers were killed and four other Panthers were wounded by gunfire.” However, the evidence has questioned that the Panthers were firing guns at the police, making the term “gun battle” a misnomer.
Court documents say the raid occurred at 4:30 a.m. meter. on December 4, 1969, and involved 14 Chicago police officers, “detailed in the Special Process Unit of the Cook County State Attorney’s Office.” “They came to an apartment building located on the near west side of Chicago.”
The documents give the following names of officers involved in the raid:
Shooters: Daniel Groth, James Davis, Joseph Gorman, George Jones, Raymond Broderick, Edward Carmody, and John Ciszewski.
Non-shooters: William Corbett, Lynwood Harris, Fred Howard, Robert Hughes, Philip Joseph, William Kelly, and John Marusich.
They had obtained a search warrant authorized by a judge to search and seize “sawed-off shotguns and other illegal weapons” at the first-floor apartment, 2337 West Monroe Street, where Hampton was staying.
Inside were nine members of the Black Panther Party. The court documents say:
Seven officers took “cover” positions at the front and rear entrances of the apartment; seven entered the apartment. Immediately after the entry of the police there was a huge burst of gunfire. Two of the occupants, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, were killed as a result of the gunfire and four others, Ronald Satchel, Blair Anderson, Brenda Harris and Verlina Brewer, were wounded. Louis Truelock, Deborah Johnson and Harold Bell escaped without physical injury.
The 14 officers gathered at the State Attorney’s office for a briefing at 4 a.m. the morning of the raid. They learned the layout of the apartment and brought with them “a machine gun, a sawed-off shotgun, a .30-caliber semi-automatic carbine and other weapons.” When they arrived at the apartment, seven officers were told to guard the exterior and four, Groth, Jones, Gorman and Davis, approached the front, while three, Broderick, Carmody and Ciszewski, “circled the back door.”
The Panthers, Clark, Truelock, Bell and Harris, “were in the living room on chairs and mattresses scattered around the room. Satchel, Anderson, and Brewer slept in the front bedroom, which was directly south of the living room. The back bedroom of the apartment, directly south of the front bedroom, was occupied by Hampton and Johnson. ”
An article from STMU History Media says that it was pointed out during a federal grand jury investigation that “the whole concept of conducting a raid in a high crime density area to obtain weapons from known militants, led by a convicted criminal who is believed to be dangerous, with only fourteen men in plain clothes, in the dead of night, without sound equipment, without lighting equipment, without tear gas and without a plan to deal with potential resistance, it seems ill-conceived. ”
The Black Panthers Described a ‘Violent, Well-Armed, Unprovoked Attack’ on Hampton’s Apartment
The law enforcement and Black Panthers stories differ widely, but forensic evidence later determined that only one of the 90 bullets fired that day came from a non-police weapon, according to the Huffington Post.
Media coverage in the early stages after the raid has been harshly criticized. The article claims that what the Chicago Tribune called bullet holes later turned out to be nail heads in the wall.
The appeals court document in the civil case says the Black Panthers described “a violent, well-armed and unprovoked attack on the apartment. The plaintiffs testified that the officers did not announce their purpose when they arrived at the apartment. ”
Here’s what the documents the Panthers outlined below say:
After hearing a knock on the apartment door, Truelock and Bell ran into the back bedroom to wake Hampton. Davis stormed through the living room door and began firing into the darkened room. Clark, in the northwest part of the room, about three or four feet from the door, was shot in the heart by Davis’ rifle. According to Harris, Clark’s gun went off as he fell. Groth also began firing at the living room from the apartment door. Harris was shot while he lay on the bed. She testified at trial that she did not fire or handle a weapon during the raid.
After the first burst of gunfire, other officers entered the apartment. The docs give their roles like this:
Carmody went through the back door and into the kitchen. Using a .38 revolver, she fired five times. Corbett, Ciszewski, and Broderick followed him into the kitchen. The last two fired at the two bedrooms from the dining room. Bell, Truelock and Johnson came out of the back bedroom during a lull in the shooting. Meanwhile, Gorman had entered the living room and started firing his machine gun toward the south wall toward the bedrooms. Davis also began firing at the south wall. Carmody went into the back bedroom and found Hampton lying on his bed.
This is when Hampton was shot, the court documents say:
Carmody approached the head of the bed with a revolver in his right hand. During the course of the shooting, Hampton was shot several times in the body and head. The bullets that went through his brain were never found. Carmody came out of the bedroom, dragging Hampton’s body by the left wrist. In Carmody’s firearms report, she indicated that he had seriously injured a suspect. He recorded that his first shot was fired from a distance of three meters and noted the distance of his second shot with a question mark.
More shots erupted.
The officers testified that they were shot. They said Clark fired a shotgun, prompting other officers to open fire. Groth, who led the raid, claimed, according to The Nation, “There must have been six or seven of them shooting. The shot must have lasted ten or twelve minutes. If 200 shots were exchanged, that was nothing…. It is a miracle that no police officer died. ”
However, contrary to law enforcement statements, survivors said the Black Panthers did not fire their weapons. Court documents state that Robert Zimmers, a ballistics examiner for the FBI crime lab “examined the guns seized from the apartment, the guns of the shooters and their bullets, bullet fragments and shells and shotgun shells found in the apartment.”
The documents state:
He also analyzed the impact points on the walls and furniture of the apartment. Based on this examination and his analysis, he concluded that there was no evidence of a shotgun blast coming from the corner of the room where Harris was located during the raid. He also concluded that there was no evidence of shotgun blasting from the front bedroom where Satchel, Anderson and Brewer were sleeping, and found no evidence of a gunshot from inside the back bedroom where Johnson, Hampton, Truelock and Bell were staying. located.
He counted a large amount of firepower, including 48 bullet holes from the living room to a front bedroom and 33 bullet holes in the south wall of the front bedroom. That’s just to start.
Zimmers believed that the Panthers had fired only one bullet. “Only one projectile was identified with the seized weapons and that this projectile corresponded to an exit hole in the door of the room; furthermore, he claimed that a bullet extracted from Hampton’s body was fired from the .30 caliber carbine that Davis carried in the raid, ”the court documents say.