It's early morning on December 4th, 1969, Deborah Johnson sits on a narrow cot and shivers uncontrollably. The air is frigid and Johnson is only wearing a thin robe. But that's not why she's shivering. Johnson stares at her arms and legs. Her brown skin has been sprayed with dark red blood. She rubs herself trying to get the blood off her handshake with desperation. But it's like she stained. It won't come off. And now, more than anything, she wants to scream to escape this nightmare.
But there's nothing she can do. Trapped behind the metal bars in the cell, Johnson has been sitting in this Chicago police station since just before dawn. That's when the cops shoved her in the cell. She's been waiting ever since and trying to find some way to get out. But she knows she's all alone. Except for someone else who's been keeping her company with a trembling hand. Johnson touches her swollen belly. She waits to feel something. Some sign that her baby is still with her, but she doesn't feel anything moving.
A tear rolls down her cheek as she pinches her eyes. At first they got Fred, the love of her life and her fiancee. She still can't believe it. He's gone forever. And now she's going to lose the baby, too. She clenches their jaws and keeps her eyes shut tight. Somehow she just has to get out of here and find a doctor. Johnson hears a door swing open down the hall. A police officer with a thick neck comes sauntering towards her.
He swings the door open and stares at her with cold and tired eyes. All right, let's go. Where are you taking me? No questions. Just move. The officer yanks her up, leads her down a hallway with buzzing fluorescent lights, a moment later, the officer shoves her into a small room. She catches herself from falling and looks up to see a young white man in a suit sitting behind a table. He jumps up furious. And you can't treat her that way.
Oh, I can't. You got ten minutes. The officer walks out and slams the door behind him. Johnson turns back and sees the other man hurrying around the table.
He pulls out a chair, gestures toward it. Sit down, please. Sit down. Who are you? My name is Jeff Hawes. I'm a lawyer who was defending Fred. I have my credentials. If you want to see them now. I believe you when you want. And I want us to help you the first. Are you OK? I'll be OK when I'm out of here. You make that happen. That's exactly what I'm going to try to make happen.
But just first, could you tell me what happened? Johnson holds back a tear. She can still see the pool of blood. She can hear the gunshots, the smell of gunpowder in the air. I was asleep, started shooting at us. The cops started shooting, pulled me out of the bedroom. And then what? And then two cops went back into the bedroom. I heard one of them ask if Fred was still alive. And then there were two more shots and then the other one said he's good and dead.
Now, the police claim they entered your home with a warrant. They say they were looking for guns and announced their presence. They claim they were fired upon and returned fire in self-defense. And that's how they shot Fred. They're lying. There was no warrant. They didn't warn anyone. They kicked in the door and started shooting. They're liars. They killed him. Deborah, listen to me. I'm going to get you out of here, I promise.
I need you to believe that he believe me, Johnson looks at this man. There's something about Jeff Höss that seems innocent and pure. He seems honest, I believe. OK, so I won't lie to you. They're all lined up against us, the mayor, the attorney general, even the FBI. They want people to think Fred was a dangerous criminal and he got what he deserved. But but you and I, we can prove them wrong.
Johnson's chest tightens with anger. Fred Hampton was no criminal. He was brave and smart and beautiful, a man who wasn't afraid to stand up for himself and his people and lead the Black Panthers in Illinois. Right then Johnson feels a jab in her rib cage. It's her baby. Incredible feeling of relief suddenly washes over her. And she smiles because she knows that he's a fighter. Just like his father, Johnson rubs her belly, feeling her son kick again.
And then she realizes that no matter what she's feeling, no matter how badly she's been hurt, she also needs to keep fighting. That's all she can still do now that Fred is gone. So first she needs to get out of here. And the second she's out, she'll start working with this lawyer. And together they'll bring Fred's murderers to justice. American scandal is sponsored by Monday Dotcom, I've got a small shop, me and two employees, but a lot of collaborator's writers, researchers, producers, the ad ops, people like that who remind me that I have to write and record this and my team is much bigger than me and my employees or the boundaries of any one organization.
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I'm Taraji P. Henson, host of Jack Rise of the New Jack Sound. You know the song Bobby Brown is my Prerogative. Bell Biv Devolve Poison. It wasn't a song. It became a movement that took over music, culture and style. Join Wandera Plus and the one rap to bend the entire series at free right now.
From Hornery, I'm Lindsey Graham, and this is American scandal. In 1966, civil rights activists founded the Black Panther Party, a political organization that fought to protect black Americans from police brutality from the start. The group was controversial. Its members call for oversight of law enforcement and they advocated armed self-defense. It wasn't before long that the Panthers drew the attention of J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI. Hoover had already waged warfare against other civil rights groups using a top secret campaign known as COINTELPRO.
This far reaching program used a number of unconstitutional methods to target activists, including spying, intimidation and violence.
Soon, the FBI was using COINTELPRO to target the Panthers, too, as well as one of their emerging leaders. Fred Hampton worked to unify Chicago's minority populations, bringing them together in the fight against racial injustice. Hampton develop programs to fight poverty, and as a black American, he aggressively challenged white supremacy. But his quick rise within the Panthers would lead to a quick downfall. And in their quest for justice for Hanton, activists would follow a trail of corruption leading from the Chicago Police Department to the highest levels of the FBI.
This is Episode three, Fred Hampton. It's the fall of 1967 and two years before Fred Hampton was killed by police, right now Hampton gazes at a crowd of people who surround him. They've gathered on the lawn outside City Hall in Maywood, Illinois. They're standing side by side, their faces intent and strong. The site makes Hampton feel like he's glowing because they're ready to take action. So is he. No matter what happens, Hampton plants his feet on the grass and steadies himself and he thinks back.
On the last four years, he's worked tirelessly to organize the young black people of Maywood. For some, this may be a sleepy town and a happy suburb of Chicago. But Hampton knows the truth is much more complicated. In Maywood, black people live very different lives than their white counterparts. Their lives aren't always so happy that injustice makes Hampton furious. And so he's educated himself and tried to figure out how to bring positive change to his hometown. He studied Martin Luther King Jr.
and Malcolm X, and now, at 19 years old, he feels fully prepared to meet this moment because tonight he and his supporters are going to make an important request of the city council. It could be a big step forward for racial justice and the first of many more to come. Hampton digs his feet even deeper into the grass. He pulls his black cap over his curly hair and he falls his arms as a gust of wind whips his pecker.
Up ahead, the door to city hall opens, a thin white councilman exits the building, he stops just beyond the door and peers out of the crowd. Hampton can see it right away. Councilman looks nervous. Hampton approaches him. Hello, sir. My name is Fred Hampton. I'm with the NAACP Youth Council called earlier this week. Yeah. OK, what do you want? What is all this about? We're here to ask that the city construct a public pool for the residents of Maywood.
I was told those who gathered here tonight would be allowed to speak before the council. I'm afraid whoever said that was made a mistake. There's there's too many of you. Our facilities are far too small. I understand that, sir. But these brothers and sisters are here to represent the black families of this city. They don't have a public school to swim in during the hot summer months. The councilman stairs at Hampton incredulous. What's wrong with the pool and beltway that's just down the road?
Dellwood Pool has a whites only policy. Problem is simple. Black residents don't have a local place where they can go and cool off. We need a pool just like everyone else on, I think. I'm sorry. There's just nothing I can do for you. Honestly, do yourself a favor. Come home. Just all of you go home. Sir, I was promised I could speak. Hampton spins around several black and white police cars suddenly pull up their lights flashing, Hampton turns back to the councilman, but the man has already re-entered city hall.
Hampton's mind begins to race. Then he addresses the crowd. Brothers and sisters, stay calm. I want you to stay calm. Please let me handle this. White police officer steps out from one of the squad cars. He holds a bullhorn to his mouth. Tension. You're order to disperse immediately. Disperse immediately. Officer Everything's all right here, officer. As you can see, this is a peaceful gathering. It will remain peaceful. But we this is your last warning.
Disperse all at once. Police officers jump out of their squad cars. Hampton's heart starts to pound. He watches in shock, disbelief as they rush the crowd of his black neighbors. The police officers shove and punch and force them to the ground. Hanson can't understand how this went so wrong so quickly. He thought he did everything right. He was reasonable and followed the rules. But now it's obvious that none of that mattered. Why people who run Maywood saw something that made them scared.
A large group of black people standing in one place that was all they needed to respond with force. Hampton watches the scene unfold when a police officer slams into the grass, he pulls Hampton's arm back and cuts his wrists as Hampton lies on the grass watching his friends and neighbors get beaten. He realizes he was wrong. He's done asking white people to treat him with respect. They won't give him any. So from now on, he'll demand it. It's time to change tactics.
He's going to start organizing on a larger scale and he's going to go to war on behalf of his people. It's November 4th, 1968, and a year after the skirmish at City Hall tonight, Fred Hampton sits at a kitchen table in a dimly lit Chicago apartment. He looks across the room and sees his new friend who's leaning into the fridge. Bobby Rush is a 22 year old dressed in black with a full afro and a neatly trimmed goatee. Rush grabs a couple of drinks from the refrigerator and returns to the kitchen table with a smile.
A moment later, the two clink glasses and they begin a meeting that Hampton hopes might change the course of his life. Hampton and Rush met earlier this year at a black power rally in Maywood. It was one of many rallies that Hampton had organized since he was arrested at City Hall, and his life took a turn. Since that moment, he's increased the intensity of his work. As he told Rush he's ready to take his activism to the next level.
Rush seems to have gotten the message because just earlier this evening he invited Hampton over and said he might have a new opportunity for him. Rush had just gotten back from Oakland, the city where the Black Panther Party was founded. Over the phone, he told Hampton to hurry over. This could be a big opportunity. Now, sitting together at the kitchen table, Rush launches into it. He explains that while he was in Oakland, he sat down with Black Panther leaders.
He learned a lot from them and was inspired by the state of Illinois needs a chapter of the Black Panthers. Hampton's eyes go wide at the tingle of excitement reaches to the tips of his fingers. Hampton knows that the Black Panther Party is one of the most important political groups in the country. They're organizing black Americans who refuse to wait for progress.
They're fighting for change now, not in a time frame that makes white Americans comfortable. The Panthers are exactly what Illinois needs, Hampton believes. And so, as he locks eyes with Rush, Hampton asks an important question What can he do to get involved? Rush laughs and takes a sip of his drink. He says that he was just about to get there.
He takes another sip and then explains that he told the Panther leaders about Hampton and all of Hampton's important work. He said Hampton was one of the smartest, most charismatic activists he'd ever met. Hampton shakes his head, both flattered and encouraged and embarrassed by Rush's praise. Then he begins to feel jittery with nerves. He feels like Rush is about to deliver news he's been waiting for. Rush smiles, takes another slow sip and then says it's official Hampton can join the Black Panther Party.
Not only that, but national leaders have asked them to help build the Panthers Illinois chapter. Hampton leans back and with a giant grin, rubs his hand over his forehead. He didn't realize how nervous and sweaty he'd gotten, but now he feels invigorated, ready to get to work in Illinois, chapter of the Black Panther Party could help him achieve his ultimate goal, uniting the city's people of color. Hampton tells Rush that this is a big step forward.
Now they can finally help feed, educate, defend the black community. Hampton leans forward, saying this last point is the most important. He believes, like the Panthers do, that if a white man hits you first, then you have a right to hit him back. But suddenly Rush's face grows on. He pushes aside his drink and asks if Hampton is prepared to die for those beliefs. He points out that the police have killed plenty of black men who think like Hampton does and doesn't hesitate right away.
He says he is ready to defend his ideals, even if that means facing his own death. Rush pauses, takes a deep breath for a second. Hampton is worried that he misspoke. But then Rush extends his fist and Hampton knocks it with his own. Rush announces that the Black Panther Party of Illinois is now officially established. Hampton will be the deputy chairman. Rush will serve as minister of defense. They have to get to work immediately after, not because with Rush at his side, he knows he can make the local Panther Party the most powerful force Chicago has ever known.
It's November 25th, 1968, J. Edgar Hoover sits reading a newspaper in his office at FBI headquarters. He finishes the article and with scowl on his face, he throws aside the newspaper over glances across the office, which is reserved especially for him, the director of the FBI. Hoover is now 73 years old and he knows that he can keep this space tidy and neat. But that's not how the rest of the world looks. Every day, dark and treacherous forces only grow stronger in America.
These subversives want to destroy everything. Hoover loves his life, his agency, his country, and he knows he can never let that happen. Hoover looks back down at his copy of The Washington Post, which is still open to the article he was reading, he covered recent demonstrations by the Black Panther Party.
Hoover has despised this group since he first learned of its existence two years ago. They're saying they're trying to lift up the black community, but Hoover's positive. It's a lie. They're just black thugs, he believes, and they want to kill any white man they can get their hands on. It's as simple as that. But even worse, their ranks are now rapidly swelling. There are now Black Panther chapters in over 60 U.S. cities and counting. Hoover's jaw clenches as he glances at those numbers.
He knows it's only a matter of time before these gangsters try to launch a revolution. Their endless war against decent white society. So Hoover makes a decision he knows he can't waste any more time. He must crush the Panthers now, and he'll do it with the most powerful weapon that he has, COINTELPRO, who returns to his typewriter and begins rapidly typing out a memo. He addresses it to all FBI offices. From this day forward, he writes, his agents are to employ hard hitting counterintelligence measures to cripple the Panther movement, and agents should work side by side with local law enforcement to do it.
Hoover types the last line and grabs a sheet from the typewriter. He then rings his secretary as she appears in the doorway. Hoover holds the memo out with an instruction distribute this without delay. After his secretary leaves, Hoover allows himself a grin of satisfaction. He's waited long enough. But now COINTELPRO will be unleashed on the Black Panthers. He's confident that today marks the beginning of the end for the Panthers. American scandal is sponsored by policy genius. I didn't plan it, but I've spent a fair number of years working for insurance companies.
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He straightens the collar of his overcoat and adjusts BlackBerry. He takes a deep breath. He's ready to go on camera right now. Hampton is waiting inside a dressing room in a public access TV station in Chicago. He knows that today's work is important. He's about to go on television and challenge the misinformation that's being circulated about the Panthers. People are saying that the Panthers are a gang, that they're drug pushers and attack white people without provocation. Hampton knows none of that's true.
And so tonight, he's ready to sit down with a talk show host and explain what the party is really about. You know, describe the Panthers free breakfast program for school kids and he'll promote his Rainbow Coalition, a multiracial group of Chicago residents who want community control of the police. Hampton straightens his brain and starts rehearsing his talking points when suddenly there's a loud knock on the door, must be time for the taping, he thinks. But when the door opens, he finds two police officers standing in the hallway.
One of the officers steps forward and growls that Hampton is under arrest and shouldn't make any sudden movements. Hampton feels his stomach lurch, but states calmly that he hasn't committed any crimes. The officer smiles and says Hampton has an outstanding traffic warrant. Yes, come with him immediately. Hampton is awash with bitter exasperation, but he knows he's not getting out of this building except in police custody. So he follows the police out to a squad car. He's told to get in, and Hampton does as he's told.
The police officers then began a quiet discussion across the street as Hampton sits in the squad car. He realizes he hasn't been put in handcuffs and the police officers just keep talking. Hampton's heart starts to race. Something about this isn't adding up. He looks around the squad car trying to find an answer. Then his eye catches the glint of metal in the sunlight. It's a revolver that's sitting right next to one hand and freezer's suddenly it's all too clear what's happening.
The police want him to grab this revolver. They can say he went from one of their guns and they had no choice but to shoot him in self-defense. Hampton feels his muscles tightening and he knows he only has seconds to act. So he sticks both hands out the window and starts shouting, saying that someone left a gun in the car. Both officers walk over looking annoyed and disappointed. One tells Hampton to just hand the gun over. It's not loaded, and Hampton knows that's just another trick.
He says he doesn't want to put his prints on it. He'd rather have the officer pick up the gun himself. The officer smirks, and Hampton can tell that he's won this battle. Then the officer says he surprised Hampton didn't try to use the gun to escape. The FBI told them to expect resistance. The FBI at that moment, Hampton feels like he's cratering down into the earth. He expects harassment from local police. But the FBI, if they set him up for an execution and Hampton isn't true danger.
It's May 1969, Fred Hampton stands in the reception area of Chicago's Black Panther headquarters. The party offices are small and dimly lit and only have a couple of wooden tables. But on those tables are piles of guns and ammunition. Hampton checks his watch. It's eight fifty eight p.m. He's expecting guests to arrive any minute, glances at the weapons sitting on the table. This should be a friendly meeting, but for the Panthers you can never be too safe.
Still, Hampton does feel hopeful because right now he's on trial for a robbery he didn't commit. He needs legal help and he needs it now. And it just so happened that earlier today he was at the courthouse when two white lawyers approached him. They said they came to voice their moral support. Hampton looked on in the eyes and said if they are serious about the revolution, they should come by the headquarters tonight. The two men agreed and Hampton felt grateful because not only could they help him fight these false charges, they could help the Panthers and the larger movement soon.
There's a loud knock downstairs and Hampton Exchanges looks with the men who stand by a side. There are two of his most trusted fellow Panthers. One leans silently against the wall, holding a heavy metal flashlight. The other carries a shotgun. Hampton speaks into the intercom. Who is it?
Hi, it's Skip Andrew from the Legal Assistance Foundation.
I'm here with my partner, Hampton Naji's fellow Panther, who buzzes them in a moment. Later, the two young white men in suits reach the top of the steps. Both looked nervous, but something has got Tilse Hampton that he can trust these men. So he grins and gestures to follow his fellow panther who stands with shotgun. It's nothing personal. Skip it. It's good to see you again. We've just got to be ready for anything. People aren't always who they say they are.
You know, Skip Andrew, one of the lawyers, straightens his tie and nods. We understand probably not a lot of folks you can trust these days, right? No, not when the Chicago police and the FBI are trying to destroy the party any way they can. Yeah, those are pretty serious enemies you've got. So. So how can we help you with that fight? Well, we need a legal team. We need you to fight the charges brought against the Panthers.
And the state keeps trying to set me up, get me convicted on crimes I didn't commit. That's why we need you. This trial isn't just a black struggle. It's a class struggle. It impacts us all. White people are welcome to join the cause. Well, we really want to help you, friend. We know the Chicago police are corrupt. Everyone knows that. And we believe in what the Panthers are doing. But the Legal Assistance Foundation doesn't allow us to work on criminal cases.
Hampton Sides. This isn't the first time that white do gooders have let him down. Well, then I don't think you can help us. Criminal charges are all we deal with. You heard them at the courthouse. They accused me of robbing an ice cream truck, one that's their plan. They think jailing me over and over will stop the Panthers, but we need to show them the wrong. Andrew looks down thinking not his head. He then turns to his partner and says a few words under his breath before turning back to Hampton.
Well, you know what, friend? We've got a partner, Jeffrey Haas. He's an incredible attorney and he specializes in civil rights law. Andrew then pauses, weighing his words. So that's what I'm thinking is what if we start a whole new legal office, independent, dedicated to representing the Panthers, fighting your fight and using the law as our weapons. But I need you to understand that if you defend us, you could become targets yourselves, your careers, your lives.
You're putting it all at risk. So, yeah, we could use your help, but I want you to think long and hard about this. Well, I don't have to because someone once said if you walk through life and don't help anybody, then you haven't had much of a life. Hampton blinks for a moment, he's overcome with emotion. Those were his words. Thank you. We've needed men like you for a long time, and we're happy to help Fred Hampton smiles as he walks the lawyers to the door.
For years, he's faced harassment from police and those in power. They'll do anything they can to keep black Americans from gaining equal rights.
And Hampton has fought back every way he can and sometimes feels like he's losing. But that's not how he feels right now. As he parts ways with the two young lawyers, Hampton feels a renewed sense of hope.
It's time to get back to work, organizing and speaking, making the world a more equitable place. Hampton thinks about Deborah, his fiancee and fellow Black Panther was two months pregnant. He thinks about the black child they're bringing into this world. And now that he has legal support on his side, Hampton knows there's no letting up. His work must continue. It's late fall 1969, William O'Neill walks quickly through downtown Chicago, he turns every few steps to make sure he's not being followed.
O'Neal steps into a bar where the air smells like cigarette smoke and mildew. His eyes adjust to the dim light and O'Neal scans the room. The skinny bartender is in his normal spot, winding down mugs. A couple of windows sit with their eyes drooping. Then O'Neal spot, who he's looking for, a balding white man in a dark blue suit sitting at the edge of the bar. O'Neill walks over, takes a seat next to the man and orders a scotch and soda.
The man takes a sip of his drink, then slides a cocktail napkin toward O'Neal. He clicks a black ballpoint pen and places it on the bar. He then tells O'Neill to get to work. He needs the floor plan of Fred Hampton's apartment. O'Neal's drink arrives and he pauses to take a deep swig, feels like the Scotch burns more than it should as it goes down and O'Neal dips his head thinking about the mess that brought him here two summers ago.
He tried stealing a car. That's when he was busted by the very man sitting beside him. FBI Agent Roy Mitchell O'Neal was given two choices. He could go to prison for Grand Theft Auto or he could go undercover as a Black Panther and report back to the FBI about the party's activities. O'Neal didn't have to think about it much if giving the FBI information would keep him out of prison while that was fine by him. But now this meeting today, O'Neal feels a slight pang of guilt.
He's pretended to be a friend of Fred Hampton and Deborah Johnson, not to mention all the Panthers. So he turns to Mitchell and asks the FBI agent what he plans to do with his information. Why do they need Hamptons for plan? Agent Mitchell takes a last sip of his drink and orders another, then he turns to O'Neill, his breath sour with alcohol, and says that it's not his place to ask questions unless O'Neill's tired of living on the outside.
There's always a place for him in prison if he wants. O'Neill shakes his head and sips his drink. He doesn't want to go to prison. Freedom does taste sweet. And so he begins explaining the floor plan of Hampton's apartment. He says that Hampton's pregnant fiancee, Deborah Johnson, lives there, too, not to mention several other Black Panthers. Mitchell Downs has drank and pushes the glass towards the bartender. Then he rises and says that this will probably be their final meeting.
Pat O'Neil on the shoulder tells him to have a nice night. And then he walks out the bar. O'Neal rubs his face with his palms and orders another drink. He looks around the bar and all the men drowning their sorrows. Everyone's running from something. He thinks some mistake, something you can never take back. When he knows that he's now crossed that line. He's not sure what the FBI will do with Fred Hampton's floor plan, but he knows he'll be bad for Hampton, for his fiancee, for all the people O'Neal has gotten to know so well, he can only hope that they make it out alive.
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Go today to simply safe dotcom as. It's December 4th, 1969, Deborah Johnson lies in bed asleep right now, she's in the middle of a dream. She's picnicking in Lincoln Park. It's a sunny, breezy day and she's lying on a cool patch of grass, but she's no longer pregnant. The stand, her boy is a toddler. He's wearing red overalls and he runs laughing toward his father, Fred Hampton. Hampton grins and scoops up her son.
He lays quick, playful kisses on the boy and her son squeals in delight. Johnson has never felt happier. More peace. But suddenly the ground begins to shake, gets louder, becoming a deafening roar, Johnson opens her mouth to cry out. Her eyes shoot open. She's back in the real world, back in her apartment in Chicago. And it wasn't just a nightmare. Her apartment is full of terrifying noises. Pounding footsteps, screams. Johnson jumps out of bed, instinctively holding her large belly.
She's still eight months pregnant. Whatever is happening, she has to protect this baby. Johnson freezes at the sound of gunfire and shattering glass. She can't see who's doing the shooting, but it's clear the Panthers are under attack. Johnson turns back towards the bed. She sees that Hampton is somehow still asleep. She shouted him to wake up. His eyelids flutter. He begins to lift his head, but then he sets it back down again. Johnson screams so loud her throat feels like it's going to tear open.
She shakes Hampton's shoulders, but he won't wake up. Fellow Panther appears in the doorway and shouted Johnson to get down. There's a series of more shots, and then plaster comes bursting off the walls and a white cloud of dust. There's another bang. Johnson sees the panther in the doorway. Take a bullet to the stomach, tumbling to the floor. Suddenly, the shooting stops, Johnson hears heavy footsteps approach, soon a policeman fills the doorway. He's a towering figure with a shaved head.
His eyes travel over her body and he sneers. Johnson pulls her robe close tight, but he marches into the bedroom and grabs her by the arm. He flings her into the hallway. Johnson trips over the wounded panther that just fell, and a second officer pushes past her into the bedroom where Hampton still lies. Sleep Johnson knows she should warn Hampton, and all she can manage is an incoherent stunner. Another police officer dripping with blood that isn't his own tells her to shut up.
He drags her to the kitchen. That's when Johnson hears an officer in the bedroom. Ask where Hampton is still alive. Then two gunshots rang out. Johnson puts her face in her hands. She knows what's happened. She doesn't even need to hear the other officer say that Hampton is good and dead now. Twelve hours later, Jeffrey Hall sits in a dark bar, drinking as fast as he can. The bar is crowded and other people bump into him, but he doesn't react.
He barely notices every part of his body is numb. Aside from his chest, which feels heavy with a dark past, sometimes comes here after work to sort through his thoughts. But today, there's nothing to sort through. He has only one thought and repeats in a loop. Fred Hampton is dead. Hawes is the lawyer who works with the Panthers and he just saw him, Hampton at the law office a couple of days ago. Hampton was talking about political education and programs for the poor.
He was powerful, larger than life. But that all changed this morning around four thirty a.m. when Hampton was murdered alongside another member of his group. Miraculously, seven Panthers survived, including Deborah Johnson. But that's small comfort. Her spoke with Johnson this morning and what he learned about the raid will haunt him for the rest of his life. He knows that he'll need to keep fighting to get justice for Hampton, but right now he doesn't have the strength.
Hodges is just about to order another drink when he looks up at the TV. In the corner on the screen is the Illinois attorney general. According to the news reports, the attorney general orchestrated the raid on Hampton's apartment. He's bringing criminal charges against the surviving Panthers, claiming they attacked police officers during the raid has feel sick to his stomach as he watches the state's highest law enforcement official line. He's so distraught that he barely notices a white, middle aged man taking a seat at the next bar stool.
Man lets his glass and salutes the TV screen. I heard the cops only got two of those Panthers. I wish I could have been there. I would have helped them get a few more glares at the man fury taking over his thoughts. Maybe you should stop talking. What did you say? You heard me. What's wrong with you, pal? You are on their side. You actually support what those animals are doing, shooting at cops, running around with guns.
They're terrorists. They're human beings is what they are. They just want the same rights you and I have. Give me a break.
When you set up there, they started a shootout. They got what they deserved. You shoot a cops, the cops shoot back. That's one thing. And now he slams his glass on the bar.
What they deserved was for the cops to leave them alone. That's not what they got, is it? Now, the cops ambushed them because the attorney general, he doesn't like that the Panthers criticized the cops are being dirty and corrupt, which they are. And you know it. He doesn't like what Fred Hampton stood for. Yeah, what's that? Revolution. Revolution, my friend.
One that is long overdue. Haas finishes his beer and stands. Man glares at him. Eyebrows raised that that on the TV that was murder. Hearts heads for the exit. He's determined he's going to keep digging and pushing and fighting in court until all the Panthers are vindicated and the official lies are exposed. He won't stop until the world knows the truth about Fred Hampton's death as he walks through the dark Chicago streets. He remembers the last four words that Fred Hampton ever said to him.
Four words Panthers often say to each other in greeting and farewell. Power to the people has turned a corner and breathes in the cold December air. He quietly repeats the words to himself. Power to the people. Jeffrey has spent the next 13 years working to prove that the FBI and the Chicago Police Department conspired to murder Fred Hampton. He ultimately succeeded in showing that the official account of the raid was a lie. Ballistics data revealed that Chicago police fired nearly 100 shots into Hampton's apartment.
There was only one shot fired. In response, the official account of the raid was a lie. The surviving Panthers were cleared of criminal charges, pursued for damages. And in 1983, the city of Chicago, Cook County and the federal government paid a settlement of one point eight dollars million, which went to the survivors of the raid, as well as the families of Hampton and his fellow panther who died. His legal team also used subpoenas to uncover internal FBI documents that proved to be damning.
The file showed the COINTELPRO, the top secret FBI program, was focused on the destruction of the Black Power movement, as well as its leaders such as Fred Hampton. Using the documents he unearthed, has his claim that the FBI coordinated with local law enforcement in preparation for the deadly raid in 2020, has described the murder of Hampton as the most well documented case of domestic assassination by the U.S. government. Many also believe that the FBI was responsible for Hampton's inability to wake on the morning of the raid.
They claim that the night before, Hampton had been drugged by William O'Neil, the FBI informant. 25 days after Fred Hampton death, Deborah Johnson gave birth to their son, Fred Hampton Jr.. Both are activists. To this day, Hampton didn't live to see the opening of an integrated public swimming pool in his hometown. But in 2006, the bust of Hampton was erected outside Maywood. Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center. Beneath the buses, a plaque inscribed with the following call for Hampton.
If I leave, I'll be back. And when I do come back, I'll be back to stay and join the revolution. Next on American Scandal in 1971, eight antiwar activists plot to steal documents from an FBI office in Pennsylvania, the truth they uncover will forever change the bureau and the country from January. This is episode three of the feds versus the activists for American Scandal. If you like our show, please give us a five star rating and leave a review.
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Be sure to listen to my other podcast. To American history tellers and American elections. We could get a quick note about our reenactments. In most cases, we can't know exactly what was said, but all our nominations are based on historical research. If you'd like to learn more about the feds versus the activists, we recommend the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton by Jeffrey Has American Scandal is hosted, edited an executive produced by me, Lindsey Graham for Airship Audio Editing by Molly BOQ Sound Design by Derek Barens.
This episode is written by Hannibal Diaz, edited by Christina Malzberg. Our senior producer is Gabe Rezvan. Executive producers are Stephanie Janns, Jenny Lara Beckman and Hernan Lopez for wondering. Have you ever had a dream, something you wanted so bad you just couldn't let it go? For a group of kids in Harlem in the 80s, their dream would change pop music forever.
I'm Taraji P. Henson.
And when I was growing up in D.C., there was a new sound we were all listening to nonstop.
It was a little bit of RB and a little bit of hip hop, and you couldn't help but shake your booty to it.
We just knew you had something different and that it was special and we weren't going to let it go.
It's a story of friendship, garlanded. And what it cost them is a high note, like right before I get to sing the high note gunshots and the whole crowd just split like the Red Sea.
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