The Murder Of Fred Hampton

Almost everybody has an opinion on the Black Panthers. Some laud them as the revolutionary alternative to the sometimes passive peace movements of the 1960's. Others dismiss them as an overglorified street gang, predecessors to the Bloods and Crips. The Murder of Fred Hampton (Facets) DVD documentary chronicles the untimely death of the Black Panther party chairman, 21 year old Fred Hampton. According to the FBI, his passing was just another “accidental” death, self-defense from the FBI officials who raided his Chicago apartment. Yet, people of the Civil Rights Movement generally regard his death as murder by government officials who invaded Hampton's home before he could arm himself.Black and white footage of Fred Hampton portrays the diversity of this outspoken iconoclast, The film shows Hampton the powerful orator and rabble rouser, but also Hampton the community organizer. Cameras follow the young leader to peaceful protests, breakfast programs for schoolchildren, and free medical clinics. The climax of the documentary centers around Fred Hampton's impending trial for robbery and assault. He allegedly robbed a white ice cream truck driver, because he felt that the man was exploiting his neighborhood by selling to the poor children. In a humorous yet insightful juncture in the film, the Panther Party conducts a mock trial vindicating him. Unfortunately, Hampton is later convicted by the state of Illinois and sentenced to two to five years in prison.The Murder of Fred Hampton carries on the tradition of black orators during the Civil Rights Movement. It spotlights an unsung shining star who followed in the steps of great leaders like Malcolm X; a hero who is only martyrized by today's underground revolutionaries, and not by the general public. It's a shame that underground emcees haven't modeled their mode of communication after Hampton. Instead of just moving the crowd, emcees could be like Hampton and usher the crowd away from oppression.