Jeffrey Haas at Penn Bookstore

The Assassination of Fred Hampton by Jeffrey Haas

During the early morning hours of Dec. 4, 1969, Fred Hampton, the 21-year-old chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, was shot and killed by a barrage of 90 bullets fired by police specially assigned to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Hampton supporters claim the outspoken revolutionary—felled by two bullets to the head at point-blank range—was assassinated by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Chicago Police Department and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.

Attorney Jeffrey Haas’ book, “The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther,” gives his personal account of the trial in which he and partner Flint Taylor pursued Hampton’s alleged assassins and prevailed over FBI stonewalling bent on hiding the alleged conspiracy behind Hampton’s death.

Haas says he found himself in a police lockup in Chicago after Hampton’s death, interviewing Hampton’s fiancée, Deborah Johnson (now known as Akua Njeri), who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time of the shooting. She had tried to shield Hampton from the bullets.

Haas says that after the shooting, Johnson heard one officer say about Hampton, “He’s still alive.” Two more shots were fired and a second officer remarked, “He’s good and dead now.” Johnson then turned to Haas and asked, “What can you do?”

In 1969, Haas and colleagues set up the People’s Law Office. Their clients included Black Panthers, members of Students for a Democratic Society and other political activists. Today, Haas lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and continues to represent victims of police brutality.

Haas discusses his book on Feb. 2 at Kelly Writers House. The event takes place at 6 p.m. For more information, call 215-746-POEM or
email wh@writing.upenn.edu.

Originally published on January 7, 2010