State murders of Nuns in El Salvador and Fred Hampton–repression at home and abroad.

[Partial rushed transcript below]

In this episode, we get into the politics of U.S. repression of dissent to its politics foreign and domestically. Bob and Scott talk about the anniversary of the Maryknoll sisters’ murder in El Salvador in 1980, and the assassination of Chicago Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in 1969.

Listen in: https://bit.ly/AgentsofRepressionGandR

We discuss these horrific state-sponsored murders, and show how the U.S. military-imperial state operates when it believes its interests are challenged–be it by nuns in Central America or Black activists in Chicago. And it will remind you that Trump is not uniquely evil.  Reagan defended and covered for the terror squads in El Salvador.

[Partial rushed transcript]:

Scott: That was New York Governor Mario Cuomo at the 1984 Democratic Convention convention, harshly condemning Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy and ending with powerful, powerful words. They kill nuns and live out it. It’s rare to hear that kind of attack on foreign policy. But the events in El Salvador, El Salvador were particularly brutal.

And today, Green and Red Podcast will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the events that prompted homos harsh words, the December 2 1980 murder and three nuns and the lay missionary by us back military officers in El Salvador, and also the December 4 1969 murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton by Chicago police. The theme is clear state repression at home and abroad, the way the people who run the country will get rid of people who stand in the way of their interest. I’m Scott Parkland park in in Berkeley, California. And I’ll be talking about Fred Hampton. But first we’ll have Bob zanko discuss the events of December 2 1980 in El Salvador, the largest context of the American role and bloodshed and terror in that country. Welcome to greeting.

 

Bob: Thanks, Scott, the great American novelist and Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien, in one of his most famous short story said

“a true war story is never moral. It does not instruct nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of the war story, you feel uplifted. If you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waist, then you’ve been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There’s no rectitude whatsoever, there is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity, and evil.”

And we’re going to talk about a couple of horror stories per se, today, in the annals of American committed atrocities. Some are immense, like the Vietnam War that O’Brien wrote about, and some are more intimate like the incident word about the discus, so whether it’s millions of peasants or for church women killed, they represent the casual nature of repression and death in the US Empire. It’s a somber story on December 2 1980, in the northern province of Charlton angle in El Salvador, Mary Knoll sisters, Mark Clark and Ida Ford, along with ursuline sister Dorothy Caviezel, and Elaine Donovan, were raped and murdered by Salvadoran military forces, amid a civil war and increasing terrorism by the government and associated militaries a heinous and brutal crime that was supported and covered up by the American government.

The people of Charltonango were poor rural, and they were suspected of siding with leftist groups in that region. They were frequently the target of bombings and massacres during a civil war that lasted about a dozen years more than 50 massacres were reported in Charlton ango Province alone. In 1979, the Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, who will return to requested that the NIT Mariano’s send more sisters to work in that region is impoverished and vulnerable area. So sisters Clark and Ford came there they went Bible study groups they taught Sister kaizala and lay missionary Donovan lived elsewhere. But they went to Charlton, they go often they brought food medicine and they sometimes would bring wounded children from these various attacks. Back to get medical attention and safety. Everybody knew it was dangerous in that area.

In August of 1980. Jean Donovan wrote in her journal that she had been, you know, driving down the road and seeing helicopters and trucks and soldiers all this this really massive military presence. And she said Charlton angle was just absolutely Civil War at the moment. A few weeks before she died. She talked about wanting to get out of El Salvador, but she felt that she had to stay because of the children who she called the poor bruised victims of this insanity.

On December 2, Sisters Clarke and Ford are coming back from a conference in Managua of marrying old religious, their marital religious order. Managua, of course, had had a revolution just a year earlier, which brought in a socialist government, the front they signed an ISA, the Sandinista government. And immediately the United States, you know, took actions to try to get rid of the Sandinistas. So these nuns were kind of caught up in this larger context of this insurgency in Central America. So Ford and Clark were returning from this conference in Managua. Caviezel  and Donovan went to pick them up at the airport. In San Salvador, the nuns were under surveillance by the National Guard they had been for some time. And the commander of that unit ordered them to go out change uniform and then apprehend the nuns. The fight landed about 9pm. Witnesses said around 10pm they saw a vehicle stopped, the guard took these women to a secluded area, beat them raped and murdered them. Later peasant said that they saw the vehicle that the women were driving a van on fire. And then the next day, they were found the four women were found in a ditch dead and brutalized.

 

Bob: Those murders occurred in a civil war, that would become a revolution and it was increasingly violent. The government and paramilitary forces were attacking in particular human rights workers, like the like the sisters, peasants and anti-government rebels. And they’re working on behalf of the solid Salvadoran oligarchy, which was closely tied to US interests. And El Salvador, like much of Central America in the 70s and 80s was really important to the United States, especially after late 1980.

In El Salvador, General Carlos Umberto Romero, who was a military official won an election in 1977 was fraudulent. And he and various police and security paramilitary forces, repress opposition groups, particularly those on the left human rights workers and peasant groups and union groups and various political organizations. And they went after priests who were politically active on behalf of the poor, and student groups and all these these other various kind of groups on the left. And this in turn, prompted more rebel groups to take up arms against the state. Romero himself was ousted in a coup in 1979, by what were considered moderate military forces who just continued the repression ramped up the violence.

And one of the main targets and this is a very well-known episode as well was Archbishop’s of San Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who had always been actually considered fairly conservative, and was not really involved in politics other than kind of, you know, taking care of the poor and that kind of typical stuff. Remember, we talked to jack Downey a few weeks ago about Catholic workers that tradition in the Catholic Church. And on March 23 1980, a, Romero gave a sermon and he was talking about the repression in El Salvador. And at the end, he said no soldiers apply to obey in order contrary to the law of God, and his name and in the name of our tormented people who have suffered so much and whose laments proud to have an I implore you, and he screams I beg you, I ordered you stop the repression. It’s really powerful. And the next day as Romero was celebrating mass, when he finished this sermon, a car stopped in front of the chapel, gunmen jumped out and shot and killed him on the altar.

So it’s incredibly brutal.

Now that seems really an amazing incident, but in fact, it wasn’t as unusual in Central America throughout the later 70s, the idea of liberation theology was gaining popularity throughout that region. It contained the idea that the gospel taught that the poor the church should give the poor preferential treatment, and it should resist the oppressive power of the wealthy. And that was a really important idea in the 70s, the revolution of 1979. And in fact, the Sandinistas had two priests, Ernesto Cardinale, and Miguel DeEscoto in the cabinet, the Vatican and Washington DC or alarmed by the political nature of the church, and attack civil liberation theology as a communist ideology. Pope John Paul the second reprimanded Romero before his murder, but then Romero was killed and everything became a lot more intense. That fall and October of 1980, the right wing terror was escalating. So several groups on the left join together to create the FMLM which would be the force you know, that really fought those next 12 years of revolution and Civil War, the FMLN which is a Marxist group, it paid homage to Marti, who had been a revolutionary who was murdered In 1932 massacre, where about 30,000 peasants were killed by Salvadoran planters.

Bob: So the FMLN was established in October. And then one of the pivotal days in this entire period was Tuesday, November 4 in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected president. And the United States and Salvadoran oligarchy felt like they were unleashed, they were ecstatic. They were partying, they were joyful. And then on just a few weeks later, the three nuns and Donovan were killed. And it was clear that these Catholic activists in El Salvador were being targeted. Jimmy Carter was in the last days of his presidency, he was kind of handcuffed by the hostage crisis in Iran. So it wasn’t really able to do much he had cut off aid to send Salvador, the US ambassador and El Salvador who is kind of unique in this because it’s, it’s, it’s a it’s a rare instance, where an American official actually kind of comes across as a good guy was Robert white, who’d been a holdover from Carter. And he was aghast at what had happened. And he was aghast at the support that the oligarchs had given to Reagan, and they assume that now they were free, they wouldn’t have to worry about, you know, the kind of scolding that Carter was giving to them.

And Reagan said, we believe that the government of El Salvador is on the front line in a battle that is really aimed at the very heart of the Western Hemisphere, and eventually us. So Reagan is now throwing down and saying El Salvador is part of a larger rebellion that is aimed at the United States, El Salvador, in the 1980s had a population of 5 million people, it 8000 square miles, which means it’s about as big as New Jersey. So that was that was now kind of the centerpiece of this Latin American Cold War, it was the place where the United States would show the Soviet Union that it was still the world’s greatest power. particularly low with some of this also is one of Reagan’s key foreign policy advisors, who then became the ambassador to the United Nations Jean Kirkpatrick. And if you lived through the 80s, you remember Kirkpatrick? Well, even after white described to her the situation in El Salvador, and told them that the conflict was local, it was caused by government repression, and these, you know, class problems with workers and peasants. Kirkpatrick in the Reagan administration continued to say, say it was government, it was outside interference from the Soviet Union from Cuba from the Sandinistas. And the new administration just didn’t relent on anything white said, and they rejected any idea that it was a homegrown revolution. And, and Kirkpatrick went further, she actually blamed the four women for their murder. She said, it’s a reminder that people who live by the sword die by the sword. The nuns were not just nuns. They were political activists. We got to be a little more clear about this than we actually are. They were political activists on behalf of the friend day, and somebody who was using violence to oppose the front they killed these nuns. When asked that the military and government was involved, you said the answer is unequivocal? “No, I don’t think the government was responsible.”

Al Haig was Reagan’s First Secretary of State. And he said, You know, he excused the two he said perhaps the the vehicle in other writing and may have tried to run a roadblock, or maybe accidentally was perceived to be doing so. And there may have been an exchange of gunfire. So the nuns were shooting as well, right. El Salvador was soon receiving $2 billion in foreign aid, most of it military. It was this small country as big as New Jersey, the third largest recipient of American large s. in that era. It had the third biggest embassy staff in the world by the early 1980s. Despite that humanitarian groups, and the Democrats, which had a spine at the time, were really outraged, and the Reagan administration couldn’t get political or public support. In February of 1981, the State Department put out a document called communist interference in El Salvador documents demonstrating communist support of the Salvadoran insurgency. It was called the white paper on El Salvador. It laid the burden for the rebellion on Moscow Havana and Managua and it was widely derided nobody bought it. Hey, tried to get Ambassador White who was still there in San Salvador, to say that there was no proof that the military had done the killings of the four church women, and that the government was conducting a serious investigation and white refuse. White knew that two of the ranking military officers in El Salvador general have Say Garcia and a notorious horrible individual a terrorist general I’m sorry Colonel Carlos v dice Casanova became really notorious throughout the 1980s were involved in planning the murder and covering it up and they were in the higher echelons of the Salvadoran military.

They, force White’s hand so White resigned, which is rare. And on his way out, he said, I regard it as an honor to join a small group of officers who’ve gone out of the service, because they refuse to betray their principles. That doesn’t happen very often. A few Foreign Service officers resigned in Vietnam a few did at the beginning of the Gulf War, but it’s an right notably, but it’s not not typical. Despite the killings of the nuns, and continued massacres, the most notable occurred in 1981, late 1981 at a village called a Masonic day, the Atlas Copco military battalion which had been trained at the School of the Americas notorious School of the assassins at Fort Benning, Georgia, saw slaughter in which 700 civilians were killed. muscletech wasn’t a Catholic area was not involved in liberation theology. It was not involved in the in the war, it was politically neutral, exactly evangelical Protestant, Protestant, and still the soldiers attacked the village brutalized children, raped women, and slaughtered the entire village seven to 800 people were killed. And just a few days after the slaughter at almost a Reagan certified that the Salvadoran government is making a concerted and significant effort to comply with internationally recognized human rights. And it is achieving substantial control over elements of its own Armed Forces, so as to bring an end to the indiscriminate torture and murder of Salvadoran citizens. During the 80s. The media would often say the civil war in El Salvador has killed 80,000 people. Civil Wars don’t kill people, militias, and paramilitaries kill people. And the 80,000 or so killed were overwhelmingly disproportionately victims of the paramilitaries and the government, not the fmln forces. It wasn’t close, but the media obviously created that false equivalency so in the aftermath of those killings, and the massacre that matanza de Reagan continued to ramp up aid to the revenge in some sense, Salvador. He was also obviously creating the Contras in Nicaragua and sending money to Honduras and Guatemala and elsewhere. So it was the entire the entire area of Central America was a under repression via American money and weapons and training at Fort Benning. In the 1980s, there was a so called modern government led by Jose Napoleon Dorf de who was American educated from Notre Dame, and then the vicious head of the Iranian party. Roberto Busan sign they’ll be sign was one of the heads of pilum paramilitaries during the 1980 coup. He had become active in the government he led a party called arena and he was a particularly known for his you know, his paramilitaries are particularly known for being you know, vicious and bloody. The violence still continue, though, in November of 1989, almost 10 years after the nuns soldiers attacked Central American University and murdered six Jesuit priest, their housekeeper and a 15 year old daughter, and then fired and destroyed a portrait of Archbishop Romero in 1992, the fmln and the government finally reached the ceasefire, which was supported by George Herbert Walker Bush administration. And since then they’ve had elections in El Salvador, and I believe the current government is led by somebody who had been part of the FMLA at one point. During the Obama years, the US sought to deport general Garcia and vidas Casanova, who had fled to Miami, like people from Cuba and Venezuela and elsewhere that the Latin American oligarchy tends to kill a lot of people and they go to Miami for refuge. And they were living in Florida. White Robert white came back and testified at their hearings, and they were both deported. No one was ever convicted for the murder of the four nines. But the UN had a truth commission for el Salvadoran a concluded that far right politicians including dubuisson had given the order and that Garcia and beat a Casanova had been involved in it.

 

Unknown Speaker  19:44

It’s a horrific, somber story and the murder of these four Catholic activist offers, I think, a lot of important lessons for today. No matter what one’s role in society is such as a Catholic human rights worker, you know, nuns State repression and murder are on the table. If the people who run these societies, in this case, the US and particularly the Reagan administration, acting on behalf of the Salvadoran oligarchy believe that you oppose their interest or you stand in the way of their interest somehow. And I think it’s also important because liberals have spent four years condemning Trump as this horrific departure from traditional norms. And you have like the Lincoln part project, I say that he’s not representative of what the republican party has traditionally stood for. The murder of the nuns and subsequent events like I’m a South Bay, and the cover up and the massive levels of American aid show that American presidents have in fact been more criminals just as a matter of, of national policy. So that’s the way us repression abroad takes place. And the same thing can happen here at home as well. And Scott, I know you have a, an equally bleak and somber but instructive tale to tell us.

 

Scott: Shifting to the domestic front to the home front to repression at home. This week is the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton, and Mark Clark, who was also killed at the same time that Hampton was killed. Fred Hampton was a talented organizer; he was the head of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. He was only 21 years old. And he had been an organizer in high school and, you know, in grew up in a town called Mayfield, Illinois, had been actually part of NAACP organizing in his in his home community, he moved to Chicago and got involved with the Black Panther Party, he had actually been recruited by the person who had started the Chicago Black Panthers, which was Bobby rush, who is actually now a congressman from Chicago. Hampton said a lot of notable things he was a he was as you know, fiery speaker. He could move crowds when Rush said that when he had met him that he knew that he was the person to get into the into the Chicago chapter to the Illinois chapter because he was such a passionate and intelligent and powerful speaker and, and leader, Hampton.

One of Hamptons most know quotes is,

“We don’t think you fight fire with fire best. We think you fight fire with water best. We’re going to fight racism, not with racism, but we’re going to fight with solidarity. We say you’re not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism. We’re going to fight it with socialism. We’ve stood up and said, we’re not going to fight reactionary pigs in reactionary States Attorneys like this, and reactionary States Attorneys like Hannaran within the other reactions on our part, we’re going to find their reactions with all of us getting together and having an international proletarian revolution.”

And besides being a Black Panther, Hampton was also a revolutionary socialist, and very much brought that into his work in organizing in Chicago, he actually co-founded an alliance of radical groups called the Rainbow Coalition. It was the original Rainbow Coalition. And it included the Young Lords, which was a Puerto Rican group. It included the Young Patriots, which was identified as a neo- Confederate group, but it was predominantly like white people from Appalachia who had a radical analysis. It also included some street gangs, which actually were a big part of life in the inner city in Chicago.

Just to take it back a little bit. I’m going to talk about the Black Panthers really quickly. Whereas, you know, the Chicago chapter was just one chapter. The Black Panthers actually originated were founded here in Oakland just a few miles from where I am right now. They originally called the call themselves the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, they later changed names to just the Black Panther Party. They were founded in 1966. And it began as an open carry armed patrol in Oakland, monitoring the Oakland Police Department, which is still has a notorious reputation for police brutality and police murder. But they began as an open carry on patrol in Oakland monitoring, Oakland Police Department and challenging police brutality. Just four years later, in 1970, they had chapters across the US, in the UK and Algeria, at its height, the Black Panther Party had 68 offices across the US and other parts of the world and had thousands of members. And besides the self-defense aspect of their work, they also instituted community programs like the Free Breakfast program, they opened up health clinics, the one in Oakland, is actually still open and operating. Sarah Koster, who was on with us last week, actually mentioned that. But they had, tests and treatment for things like sickle cell anemia, anemia, tuberculosis, and then later, HIV and AIDS.

Scott: They’re the open carry part of their work actually led to the 1967 Mulford Act, which was a Gun Control Act, passed in response to the Black Panthers. A lot of people talk about gun control today. And it’s in response to right wing shoot mass shootings, and increasingly right wingers carrying guns at protests and things like that, or counter protests. But the actual first some of the early kind of control in California was passed in response to the Black Panthers, they had actually crashed the California Legislature fully armed, which sort of like was able to make the legislation move a lot faster. And it was actually signed into, into law by Ronald Reagan, who we just spoke about Ronald Reagan’s fine with armed people as long as there believe in his politics, but not in armed people if they don’t agree with his politics. J. Edgar Hoover, who was the head of the FBI, was its head for 50 years described the Black Panther Party as “the greatest internal threat to the security of the nation.” Richard Nixon had an enemies list, and he put the Black Panthers at the top of it. And so what happens in response to their organizing to their radical politics to them in many ways advocating like for armed self-defense, is that J. Edgar Hoover creates a program called COINTELPRO. Or the counterintelligence program. And he used it to wage war against the Black Panther Party. He also uses against the New Left and other radical groups, including the Brown Berets, which was a Chicano radical group and AIM or the American Indian Movement. I’m going to talk actually a little bit more about COINTELPRO a minute. The one thing I do want to say is that COINTELPRO waged war against the Black Panthers, fomenting internal division, fomenting inter-movement divisions, he tried to pit radical groups against each other. They also use assassination, against radical leaders like Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.

And then also very aggressive prosecutions. There’s still 19 black radicals in prison from this period. Both affiliated with the Black Panthers or other offshoot black liberation groups.  That’s over 40 years to 50 years later. I’ll say that in 1970, when they were at the height with 68 chapters around the world and thousands of members. By 1980, after a decade of COINTELPRO waging war on the Black Panthers, we see Oakland, Chicago and Seattle chapters fold. And by 1980, there were only 27 members remaining.

To shift back to Fred Hampton. Like I said, Fred Hampton was this talented organizer, who rose quickly through the ranks of the Black Panther right before his assassination, he had actually been moved into like national leadership of the Black Panther Party because he was such a dynamic, powerful leader. I’ll say part of this is because of his work with the rainbow coalition, the original rainbow coalition, which actually united these different radical groups from different ethnic backgrounds under an anti-racist class conscious based Alliance, they worked on poverty, corruption, police brutality and housing. They had agreements in Chicago that if members were arrested, all groups contribute to the bell fund. If members were assaulted or killed by police, all members responded with non-violent action. And so it was and then they also began to make alliances with the sort of street gangs of Chicago most notably the Black Stone Age, Asian or the Blackstone Nation Rangers. And part of what Hamptons strategy there was to actually bring peace to these sort of, like, warring criminal street gangs and that alarmed the FBI greatly. They feared that could actually lead to what we would call today like autonomous zones where we don’t need police, where we don’t need the government come in and tell us what to do. Because, the community is governing itself. And that was very alarming. That, you know, that sets a very concerning precedent for the people in power. So COINTELPRO, the FBI, working with the Chicago Police Department, and a special unit run by this guy Hanrahan called the “Racial Matters Special Prosecution Unit” that was an extra-judicial police unit.

Scott: Bob talked about paramilitaries in El Salvador; this is the equivalent of a paramilitary in the streets of Chicago. Chicago has a long history of that. Even in recent time, it’s been exposed that CPD has run extrajudicial military style operations, which has included torture chambers. But in 1969, they decided they wanted to take out Fred Hampton. There was actually an informant in an FBI informant in Hampton’s inner circle named William O’Neal. Hampton, his fiancé and number of other Panthers were living in a four bedroom apartment in this neighborhood in Chicago. There were a number of people who were sleeping that night in the apartment including Hampton and his eight month pregnant fiancée, Deborah Johnson, who now goes by Akue Njeri. But O’Neal made dinner and actually drugged Hamptons drink with barbiturates. Now, the other thing to note about Hampton is that he never drank alchohol or used drugs. I’m going to get into some of the details of assassination here in a moment, but two different autopsies found barbiturates in Hampton’s system. Even though he never drank or use drugs.

The Night of the raid, 14 police officers bust into the house, eight in the front, and six in the back. They killed Mark Clark while he was standing guard.  He’d fallen asleep sitting in a chair with a shotgun in his lap. They went into Hampton’s room, shot through the walls shot him tomorrow, he’s asleep. He did not awaken during the raid, which was further evidence that he was drugged. He didn’t put up any resistance. They dragged his fiancée out of the room, she overheard the police saying that he’s alive, he’s barely alive, he’ll probably survive. And so then she heard to two more shots. And then she heard one of the police officers say “he’s good and dead now.”

Scott: And what the police put out afterwards was that he resisted that he had exchanged gunfire where in truth, he wasn’t even able to awaken and that they just killed him cold blooded in his bed. I want to say that Hampton murder had a huge impact on the community. And there was a huge, there was a huge I would call it a backlash. And not just like in radical circles in Chicago, but also in like, what we would consider more like mainstream liberal circles that also happen nationally.

One other note I want to put in here before I kind of get into some of the aftermath is that on November 23 1969, Hampton actually spoke at the University of Illinois and event organized by the Women’s International league for peace and freedom. And one of the people in attendance was a gentleman named Luis Kutner. Kutner was a lawyer and he is, even though this is disputed, a co-founder of Amnesty International. Amnesty admits that he was involved with him early on but they say he was not a co-founder in a rather defensive press release they put out earlier this year. But Kutner was also an FBI informant who had reported on the meeting to his FBI handler and claimed that Hampton was “ranting and raving” and said “Nixon was a member of the capitalistic establishment.” “Nixon must die.” Kutner said that he was telling the FBI this because it’s possible violation of federal law. A few days later, you know, is when the FBI assassinates Hampton. So you know, there’s some possibility that Kutner, who has championed like liberal human rights causes as part of Amnesty International, was also a participant in the state violence against Fred Hampton. It wasn’t the right wing element within the Chicago police or just J. Edgar Hoover. There is also full complicity of liberals here.

And so the aftermath to Hampton’s assassination is they began, you know, black leaders in Chicago began demanding an independent investigation. This included the NAACP, the Congress on Racial Equality, American Jewish Committee, there was actually an Afro American Patrolmen’s Association, who also joined in the call for an independent investigation, as well as the United Auto Workers. This after the assassination of Hampton, there’s actually a lot of like, what I would call like struggle and response from the community. Over 5000 people attended Hampton’s funeral. We saw protests in New York and Chicago from like New Left groups. There were national mobilizations in support of the Chicago Black Panther Party. And then there was also National Black leadership again to call for an investigation which led to actually a, a tour of Hamptons apartment. And in a large, well-attended Town Hall community members with black members of Congress, which included Adam Clayton Powell, who was was the congressman from Harlem and who was it was a leader in the community at the time. They also went after Bobby Rush, who’s now congressman, but was also a co-founder of the Chicago Panthers with Hampton, was arrested. And so when he turned he’d negotiate with his lawyer to turn himself in, in a crowd of 5000 joined him when he went in to turn himself in.

And so this, this has led to a lot of stories over the last 50 years. There’s actually a documentary from the early 70s called “the murder of Fred Hampton,” which actually plays out the forensics and all those sort of facts and proves that Hampton did not exchange gunfire, he wasn’t even awake and that the police, the Chicago police, cold blooded murdered him. The other part I want to just mention, I don’t want to just mention that I want to talk about this with this is that it wasn’t just a Chicago Police Department operation. It wasn’t just this special unit in the Chicago police, the race matters. Unit, but it was also an FBI unit, an FBI operation. And so you know, the FBI it actually through COINTELPRO it actually used a lot of tactics to foment division. They really did things like release racist cartoons designed to alienate white activists from the Black Panthers. They ran a whole disinformation campaign against the rainbow coalition. They actively fomented violence between the Black Panthers and other radical groups. And as well also in the period leading up to Hamptons death. We also saw like firefights between the Chicago Panthers and the Chicago police where there were deaths on both sides. And so there was a lot of violence being instigated by the FBI. And, you know, this is a this is a story. the COINTELPRO story is something we can tell in a wider sort of way. I don’t want to get into it too much. We can do a whole other episode on it, and probably well, or multiple episodes.

But the one thing I’ll say about the Chicago or about the Chicago police, FBI assassination of Fred Hampton, is that is that there was a burglary in Media, Pennsylvania. A few years after this, anti-war activists were actually able to steal a whole bunch of files which actually expose COINTELPRO and until then it was secret. And on the on the Fred Hampton front, they actually found in the files floor plans of Hamptons apartment, and evidence of a deal brokered between the FBI and the Deputy Attorney General, someone from the Nixon Justice Department who actually want they want to conceal the FBI involvement, because they would have been too scandalous, especially in the aftermath, especially with national attention being shown on the assassination of of Hampton.

Scott: The other thing I’ll say is the legacy of Hampton is that he is still a cultural icon in Chicago. There’s all particularly black neighborhoods in Chicago, there’s memorials to Hampton, their statues, there’s busts., And there is a cultural legacy, as groups like Rage Against the Machine, Gil Scott Heron, all including in their music, lyrics about Fred Hampton. Then I would also say, in the last couple of decades, and in the last decade, particular as we’ve seen the of Rise of the Black Lives Matter movement that Fred Hampton is very much lifted up as a cultural icon. And what the state did to him as well. And so it’s on December 4 1969, when the Nixon administration conspired with the Chicago police to have him assassinated. And still today, when we look at Trump may actually even look what happened during the Obama years as we saw a lot of FBI activities trying to disrupt the, you know, these, you know, black liberation movements and very sadly it ties very neatly in with what we also see abroad.

 

 

Author: Sparki

Scott Parkin is a Senior Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network and organizes with Rising Tide North America. He has worked on a variety of campaigns around climate change, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mountaintop removal, labor issues and anti-corporate globalization. Originally from Texas, he now lives in San Francisco.

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