The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther

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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 fiancée. 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
On December 4, 1969, Fred Hampton, the 21-year-old chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, was shot dead in his bed during a police raid. Hass and his law partner, Flint Taylor of the perpetually underfunded People's Law Office, spent the next decade fighting a well-financed opposition team and a hostile judge to prove that Hampton had been shot not in self-defense, as the police advocates claimed, but as the result of an FBI assassination The dramatic David and Goliath struggle embodies many of the era's fiercest debates, but Haas lacks the skill to transmute his experience into compelling reading. The prose is studded with clichés, and nearly every physical description reads like a checklist: age, size, build, skin color and length of Afro. Hass strays from the narrative to relate irrelevant information about his personal life, as when he recollects that his third wife first captured his attention when she “propped her red, calf-length boots” on his desk. The book is most engaging when Hass offers a straightforward account of the legal process, a testament to the power of the story—not the author's proficiency. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
An earnest attorney looks back at a notorious 1960s slaying. Haas, a founder of the People's Law Office (PLO) in 1969, renders this disturbing eyewitness account in straightforward prose. It's a memoir of his experiences as well as the story of an incident still recalled in Chicago as a deplorable example of police brutality. Growing up Jewish in middle-class Atlanta, the author's early awareness of Jim Crow propelled him toward engagement in progressive politics. As a young lawyer in Chicago, he became fascinated with the youthful Fred Hampton, who combined a passion for the black militant cause with eloquence and cool-headedness. Haas volunteered the PLO's services to the Panthers shortly before the fateful events of Dec. 4, 1969. The entire city became mired in tension as word spread that officers working for State's Attorney Edward Hanrahan had riddled Hampton's apartment with bullets, killing two and wounding several Panthers. Hanrahan and the Chicago police were quickly put on the defensive, as the African-American community seethed over an evident cover-up: "It was clear to anyone viewing the ravaged apartment that Fred was shot to death on his bed." The raid accomplished the goals of Hanrahan and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, as the Panthers rapidly declined in membership and influence. "No one could replace Fred's charisma, energy, or organizing ability," Haas writes. However, the murder destroyed the credibility of Chicago law enforcement and the Chicago Tribune, and ruptured the relationship between the black community and the Daley political machine. When charges against the Panthers were hastily dropped and a federal grand jury petered out, the PLO lawyers pursued acivil-rights suit, never dreaming that it would take 15 years to settle. Along the way, they unearthed proof that the FBI's COINTEL program had encouraged violence against the Panthers. Although the dramatic tension dissipates in the book's second half, which covers the suit in minute detail, Haas mostly avoids leftist melodrama and offers a diligent defense of the legal rights of political radicals. A still-chilling tale of law-enforcement misconduct. Agent: Frances Goldin/Frances Goldin Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556527654
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 424
  • Sales rank: 822,437
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Attorney Jeffrey Haas has spent his career working for justice. In 1969 he and three other lawyers set up the People’s Law Office, whose clients included the Black Panthers, SDS, and other political activists. Haas went on to handle cases involving prisoners’ rights, police torture, and the wrongfully accused. He continues to represent victims of police brutality.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 7, 2012

    A great mystery story.

    This was a great mystery story of the murder of Fred Hampton. Jeffery Hass explains the details about the black panther party during the turblent times of the sixties. This is a sad story of how a twenty one year old man name Fred Hampton died in a shootout by the Chicago police. Hass gives you details on how the Chicago police tried to cover up his murderd and frame the panthers for the shootout instead of them. Anyway, the ending is shocking when the verdict of the murder is revealed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 26, 2009

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    Posted November 2, 2009

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    Posted January 10, 2011

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    Posted November 21, 2011

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