The Assassination of Fred Hampton by Haas, Jeffrey, 9781556527654
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The Assassination of Fred Hampton

How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther

4.23 based on 30 reviews.


Hardcover Book



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The Assassination of Fred Hampton Description

It's around 7:00 A.M. on December 4, 1969, and attorney Jeff Haas is in a police lockup in Chicago, interviewing Fred Hampton's fiancee. She is describing how the police pulled her from the room as Fred lay unconscious on their bed. She heard one officer say, "He's still alive." She then heard two shots. A second officer said, "He's good and dead now." She looks at Jeff and asks, "What can you do?" "The Assassination of Fred Hampton "is Haas's personal account of how he and People's Law Office partner Flint Taylor pursued Hampton's assassins, ultimately prevailing over unlimited government resources and FBI conspiracy. Not only a story of justice delivered, the book puts Hampton in a new light as a dynamic community leader and an inspiration in the fight against injustice.

Product Details

  • Media: Hardcover Book, 424 pages
  • Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books (Nov. 30th, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1556527659
  • ISBN-13: 9781556527654

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The Assassination of Fred Hampton Reviews


    Book Rating 5 out of 5
    Read Reviews on Goodreads

    by Ernesto from Houston, TX | Nov 28, 2009

    Among some circles, Fred Hampton is a luminary without peers. Though new generations may only catch his reference in a song, his legacy in Chicago and to the Black liberation movement is without question. The charismatic Black Panther Party chapter leader demonstrated a natural gift for reaching people, and marshaled young people into political action for the first time. His brutal murder — in which Chicago police, after wounding him as he slept, delivered two rounds to the head, killing him — horrified the world. He was just 21 years old.

    The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and Chicago Police Murdered A Black Panther is the account of attorney Jeff Haas’ fight to ensure justice for the families of Hampton and Mark Clark, killed in the police raid spun by authorities at the time as repelling a Panther attack. It is also a chilling chronicle of the depths authorities will sink to silence dissent and to cover it up.

    Haas and three other lawyers set up the People’s Law Office in 1969, and he defended many social justice activists since then. The Hampton case, however, drove Haas. It dragged on for years, facing defeats along the way, until a settlement. The book is as much about the commitment of scores of people, who poured in their time and energies to see that justice was done, as it is the quest to hold the police officers and establishment involved accountable.

    Subsequent investigations of Fred Hampton’s murder would reveal involvement by a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant and collaboration with local police that resulted in the organizer’s assassination. Few knew it at the time, but what occurred would be shown to be part of a sophisticated federal effort, labeled COINTELPRO, aimed at disrupting, demoralizing, dividing and exterminating Black activism primarily among social justice tendencies. It wasn’t until activists burglarized a Pennsylvania FBI office and released documents in 1971 that COINTELPRO was exposed. Operative William O’Neal, working through the bureau’s Racial Matters unit, provided key information just hours before the murder. His work, and the war the FBI waged on Black revolutionaries, figures prominently in the book.

    Those familiar with writings that trace legal trajectories will find The Assassination of Fred Hampton cuts a familiar path, yet one that takes on a particular heft given the case. The final days of Hampton’s life is imparted, but it is the excruciating detail with which the murder is told that is where Haas’ legal background brings the story out. Culled from volumes of testimony, research, released documents and other sources, Haas compares what happened with conflicting police testimony and justifications. His writing presents a penetrating image of law enforcement bent on protecting its own, even if some recognized the fault in their actions. Indirectly, the book shows the determination of the Hampton and Clark families as well as the legal team to counter the coverup in court and in the community.

    Though contemporary political movements in the United States have few comparisons quite like the Fred Hampton case in terms of severity today, Haas’ book is a primer on how a movement can challenge official misconduct through a diversity of efforts. The Assassination of Fred Hampton stands out, just as Hampton himself did all those years ago.


    Book Rating 4 out of 5
    Read Reviews on Goodreads

    by Carrie from Miami, FL | Jan 12, 2010

    This book is a very valuable first-hand account of some of the legal aftermath of Fred Hampton's assassination. The author was a lawyer for the Black Panthers, and explains in detail the appalling miscarriages of justice that occurred every step of the way in the lawsuit brought by the survivors of the police raid during which Fred Hampton was killed. For example, he describes how, after he (the author) frustratedly stated in court that all they want is a fair trial but it looks like they're not going to get it, the judge angrily responded, "You're damn right you're not going to get it".

    My only quibble with the book is that a more accurate title for it would be something like "The Assassination of Fred Hampton: Recollections of a Self-Conscious Counterculture Lawyer". I thought I was picking up a popular history; what I got was more of a memoir. I learned a lot of personal information about the author that I thought was totally irrelevant, like how he had two unhappy marriages, and a tendency towards recent law school graduates much younger than him. I get it that he's of the "the personal is political" generation, and I do think there's some truth to that, but I found his writing style more or less artless.

    I still strongly recommend the book, though. I'm sure that not everyone will be put off by his style, and even for those who would be, the content of the book is so important that it's worth it.