started its file on Fred Hampton, chairman of the BPP's Illinois state chapter, in 1967. It would grow to total more than 4,000 pages. At the same time as the file's creation, the FBI planted an informant near Hampton, and by 1968 had his mother's home wiretapped. By 1969, he would be killed by Chicago police. He was 20.  For the infiltration, the FBI brought in William O'Neal, a convicted felon who agreed to spy on the Panthers in order to have his charges dropped. O'Neal quickly became Hampton's personal bodyguard and Director of Chapter Security.

The FBI's action against Hampton was precipitated by his work to bring the Blackstone Rangers, a Chicago street gang, that scared the FBI into drastic action. O'Neal, playing the FBI-sponsored role of a militant revolutionary, intentionally pushed the Panthers into violent clashes with the Rangers in 1969. O'Neal, ironically, used torture tactics against Panther members he accused as being informants, attempting to make them "confess."

COINTEL-PRO's objectives were to destroy the Panther's community programs, including its free breakfast for children program and the distribution of its national newspaper.
O'Neal drew up the floor plan of the BPP's Illinois state headquarters for the FBI. The Cook County State Attorney's office used that information when it raided the office in the early morning of Dec. 4, 1969, killing Hampton and Mark Clark and wounding several other Party members. Police claimed there was a gun battle, but out of 70 bullet holes in the headquarters, only one round came from the Panthers. (The sole Panther round came from Clark, who shot into the floor while being assassinated.)

The police and the FBI engaged in a coverup. No one served a single day in jail for the attack.


Copyright 2001-, Terry Muse
Revised: November 6, 2001
Contact: Terry Muse