In August 2008, Steve da Silva and N. Zahra of Basics Community Newsletter met with Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee in Chicago in front of the historic site of the assassination of his father, Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois Black Panther Party. They spoke about police terror in Chicago, the legacy of the Black Panther Party, the hype around Obama, and the importance of people’s self-determination. This is Part 1 of our transcript of the interview...
Basics: Chairman, what exactly is going on here now in Chicago right now?
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr: Revolutionary appreciation for having me here today. Basically it’s been business as usual for the city of Chicago. We are standing in front of the site which we refer to as one of the “ground zeros” of black and other oppressed communities. And I say ground zero because it’s the site on which one of the most brutal acts of terrorism occurred on U.S. soil and when I say that I’m not talking about September 11th, I’m talking about December 4th, 1969 when the United States government via the Chicago Police Department assassinated Chairman Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. At that time the mayor of Chicago was Daley who we refer to as Gangster Daley Senior. He was a part of the brutal counter-insurgency program against the Panthers.
Lately especially, they’re continuing war, they’re continuing attacks on our leadership, on our movements and on the people in general. It’s in the numbers: 12 shootings by Chicago pigs, and 6 murders in one month. I want to point out too that the present mayor of Chicago is Gangster Daley Junior, the son of the mayor who was in place in 1969. This is the modus-operandi, how the police get down, cause the reality is there’s no war on drugs, there’s no war on guns, there’s no war on gangs, this is war on black and other oppressed communities and in case after case, you know what I’m saying, as soon as the shootin’ go down you hear the police say stuff like, ‘Well, it was a justified shooting,’ but I just want to point out also it’s met with resistance. Just recently, this past July 25th, I was locked up in response to resistance that was waged against Chicago pigs on the south-west side of Chicago in the heart of Englewood.
It’s important that the world hear this and see what’s goin’ on, especially in contrast to what U.S. propaganda’s been putting out, especially this whole election or selection, whatever the case may be, with people getting caught up with this whole façade about the first black, they say African American, running for President. A lot of people are under the impression that everything is okay in the States and in Chicago in particular. In fact, let the record reflect that Barack Obama is U.S. Senator from Chicago who has never addressed or acknowledged the atrocities that go down on a day to day basis right here in this city, and even atrocities such that the United Nations itself acknowledged Chicago as the torture capital of the country. I think it was last month, myself and our Minister of Defense, Aaron Patterson, who’s a political prisoner was also tortured by Chicago police.
Obama and all of these minions of Gangster Daley haven’t addressed or acknowledged these contradictions, you know what I’m sayin’ and when they do, if they do, they try to put it in some sort of abstract nostalgia, ‘Well this is how bad things was in the 60s and continued in the 80s,’ but the reality is in those numbers, and let the record reflect also a lot of these cases of police terrorism are not even documented. The black community is put in such a state of terror that when they get terrorized they acknowledge it as terrorism. In response we’ve also put several campaigns forward. We’ve got the African Anti-terrorism Bill. We say police brutality is a euphemism. The reality is it’s police terror.
Basics: Could you speak about the legacy of the Panthers?
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.: The Black Panther Party was a revolutionary organization that fought for self-determination, so that people can speak in their own interests and that’s something that should not be taken lightly. A lot of different organizations playin’ that they support that but they’re really not with it. People say, ‘Let us articulate your plan for you’. We say what Stephen Biko said in the Black Consciousness Movement, that people must learn the ability to distinguish intelligence from the ability to articulate. And the reality is that the masses, they may not be too articulate but the reality is they’re very intelligent. We’re the POCC, we’re the official caretakers of this legacy. They’ve tried to say that the Black Panther Party was a racist organization, a gang. So it’s very important that we show that this was a revolutionary organization that stood up fighting for self-determination. In closing, revolutionary appreciation, ears up, eyes open and fists clenched. Power to the People.