In the wake of recent killings of black people in the US, resulting in protests, we go back to December 4, 1969 when the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, Fredrick Allen Hampton, was assassinated in bed.
The incident took place during a predawn raid by the tactical unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The 4:00am raid also claimed the life of Hampton’s friend and security Mark Clark. As if killing 21-year-old Hampton was not enough, his 19-year-old pregnant fiancée Deborah Johnson alias Akua Njeri was also in bed with him.
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Of that cruel and bizarre use of state force, Njeri recalled: “I looked up and saw bullets coming from what seemed like the front of the apartment and the kitchen area in the back. Bullets were going into the mattress. The sparks of light, the bed vibrating – I just knew with all this going on, it was all over. At some point the shooting stopped. Fred didn’t move anymore. I came out with my hands up. There were two lines of police I had to walk though. One of them grabbed my robe and pulled it open. I was eight and a half months pregnant then. “Well, what do you know. We have a pregnant broad.” Another policeman grabbed me by the hair and slung me into the kitchen area. I looked around and saw Ron Satchel on the dining room floor. He had blood all over him. Verlina Brewer was in the kitchen, bleeding. She started to fall. They grabbed her and threw her against the refrigerator. Then more shooting. I heard a voice that wasn’t familiar to me say, “He’s barely alive. He’ll barely make it.” I assumed they were talking about Fred. The shooting started again, just for a brief period. It stopped. Then another unfamiliar voice said, “He’s good and dead now.””
Just 25 days after this callous treatment of black citizens, Njeri, who was then eight-and-a-half-month pregnant birthed Fred Hampton, Jr.
Years later, Njeri revealed: “The reason I wasn’t killed, because there were multiple bullets shot through my bed, was because Mark stood at that door and slowed them down long enough.”
Njeri is a former member of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party. She served as the chairperson of the December 4th Committee, which fights to defend and maintain the legacy of the Black Panther Party. “December 4th co-coordinates with POCC (Prisoners of Conscience Committee) the annual Aug. 30 birthday celebration and commemoration of Chairman Fred Hampton and the life, work and commemorative events around the annual December 4th International Revolutionary Day (IRD), the anniversary of the “Massacre on Monroe” – the assassination of Chairman Fred and Defense Captain Mark Clark.”
She is also the co-author of the proposal to name one Chicago block – 2300 W. Monroe – “Chairman Fred Hampton Way.”
Njeri coordinates free clothing and fresh vegetable giveaways with POCC and other survival programs. She continues to fight against police terrorism and for the freedom of political prisoners in the U.S. She is also on the Advisory Committee for POCC.
The December 4 deadly raid uncovered government motives, and their efforts to silence the Black Panther movement and decades later, the federal government, Cook County, and City of Chicago paid a $1.8 million settlement to Clark and Hampton’s families, along with the survivors.
Fred Hampton Jr. leads the Black Panther Party Cubs.