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Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton remembered on his anniversary death

12/7/2018, 3:54 p.m. | Updated on 12/7/2018, 3:54 p.m.
The 49th anniversary death of Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton Sr. was recently recognized by more than 100 people ...
This year marks the 49th anniversary death of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton Sr. and his widow Akua Njeri, alleges he was murdered by Chicago police who raider their Westside home and shot him to death. (Photo by Wendell Hutson)

Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton remembered on his anniversary death

By Wendell Hutson

Contributing Writer

The 49th anniversary death of Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton Sr. was recently recognized by more than 100 people including his son Fred Hampton Jr. and widow Akua Njeri at the West Side home where he was shot dead by Chicago police.

The annual public memorial at the two-story building now owned by the Chicago Housing Authority included speakers and a re-enactment by Njeri of the day Hampton Sr. was killed. Tenants occupy the building’s second floor while the first floor, where Hampton Sr. died, is boarded up.

Hampton Jr. opened the memorial by asking participants for a moment of silence and to clench their fist and raise their arm in the air for five minutes. He ended the moment of silence by screaming out ‘Black Power.’

Njeri (formerly Deborah Johnson) was with Hampton Sr. at their home at 2337 W. Monroe St. on Dec. 4, 1969 when he was killed by police. “I remember it like it was yesterday. The police knocked on the door (around 4:35 a.m.) and Defense Captain Mark Clark (who headed up the Black Panther’s Peoria chapter) answered the door by saying, ‘Who is it?’ The police said, ‘Tommy.” And Mark responded, ‘Tommy who?’ Then the police responded back, ‘Tommy gun.’ After that, the police kicked in the front door and started shooting. And Mark was killed instantly,” recalled Njeri, 68. “There was no gun fight as the police would have you to believe. Mark was carrying a shot gun at the time so when he got shot, his gun went off once and that was the only shot fired from our side.”

She added that even after killing Clark, the police entered the home and came into the bedroom where Hampton and Njeri remained.

“I was nine months pregnant and one of the officers shouted, ‘he’s in here with his girl and she’s pregnant.’ They took me out of the room in handcuffs and into the kitchen, and then I heard several shots fired from the bedroom,” said Njeri. “I then heard a cop say, ‘he’s good and dead now.’ And that was how my husband violently died at age 21. Those ‘pigs’ stood over him and shot him. That’s why I say he was assassinated by the police.”

Njeri was not injured during the shooting but was charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault, two felony charges that were later dismissed in court.

Chicago police officials dispute Njeri’s account of what happened the morning of Dec. 4, 1969, and insist both men died in a gun battle with police.

Every year, since his death, Njeri has celebrated his life with a public memorial service at the home she shared with him. It was 25 days after his death that his son, Hampton Jr. (born Alfred Johnson), was born and today, he is the founder and chairman of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee and the Black Panther Party Cubs organizations. Hampton Jr. founded the PCC during the 1990s while serving time in an Illinois prison for arson. He insisted the PCC is not a prison activist organization, but a revolutionary organization.