When Chicago attorney Jeffrey Haas first met Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, he was impressed by the one-year-old’s “tremendous amount of energy” and charisma Activists It was August 1969, and then 26-year-old Haas and his colleagues at the People’s Law Office had just secured Hampton’s release from prison on charges of stealing $ 71 ice cream bars on the occasion, Hampton held one Speak at a local church and ask the crowd to raise their right hand and repeat his words, “I am a revolutionary”

“I can’t quite say because I thought I was an advocate for the Movement, but not necessarily the Movement,” recalls Haas, who is white. “But when Fred went on to say that I was on the third or fourth time like everyone else “I’m a revolutionary” shouted ”

Judas and the Black Messiah, a new Shaka King film co-produced by Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, cleverly dramatizes this moment, capturing both Hampton’s oratorical skills and the mounting injustices that inflame him and got his audience to declare themselves Revolutionary The film, chaired by Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya, chronicles the months leading up to Hampton’s murder in a police operation in December 1969 and describes his contributions to the Chicago community and commitment to the struggle for social justice in Im At the center of the story is the activist’s relationship with FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), who is considered Judas for Hampton’s “black messiah”, and his subsequent betrayal ”

“The Black Panthers are the greatest threat to our national security,” says a fictionalized J Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) reiterating an actual claim made by the FBI director in the film, “Our counterintelligence program must prevent the rise of a black messiah”

Here’s what you need to know to find out facts from fictions before Judas and the debut of the Black Messiah in theaters and on HBO Max this Friday, March 12th February, to separate

In short, yes, but with extensive license, particularly with regards to O’Neal As King Tells the Atlantic, he worked with screenwriter Will Berson and comedians Kenny and Keith Lucas to create a biography of Hampton in the form of one Writing Psychological Thrillers Rather than just focusing on the chairman, they chose to investigate O’Neal – an enigmatic personality who rarely discussed his time as an informant – and his role in the FBI’s broader counter-espionage program, COINTELPRO

“Fred Hampton came into this world fully realized He knew what he was doing at a very young age,” says King, “While William O’Neal is in conflict; he’s confused and that keeps becoming a more interesting protagonist”


Speaking to Deadline, the filmmaker adds that the crew wanted to venture beyond Hampton’s politics into his personal life, including his romance with activist Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback), now named Akua Njeri,

“[When we think of these freedom fighters and revolutionaries a lot, we don’t think they have families … and plans for the future – it was really important to focus on the Fred side,” says King Deadline ” On O’Neal’s side, [we] also wanted to humanize him so that the audience of the film could leave the film and ask themselves, “Is there any of that in me?”

Born in the Chicago suburbs in 1948, Hampton showed an appetite for activism from an early age, such as Haas, who interviewed members of the Hampton family while researching his book The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Department worked murdered a black panther, explains, “Fred just couldn’t accept injustice anywhere. At age 10, he began hosting weekend breakfasts for other neighborhood kids and making their own meals, as Haas calls the forerunner of the panthers’ free breakfast program, And In High School, he led strikes to protest the exclusion of black students from the race for the homecoming queen, and urged officials to hire more black teachers and administrators

According to William Pretzer, a supervisory curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the young Hampton was well aware of the racial injustice in his community and his mother babysat for Emmett Till before the 14-year-old was murdered in Mississippi in 1955; Ten years after Till’s death, he saw white mobs defying Martin Luther King Jr Attacked Chicago Crusade firsthand

“Hampton is really influenced by the desire of the NAACP and the King to make changes and the kind of resistance they encounter,” says Pretzer. “As early as 1966, Hampton began to be interested in Malcolm X. [and his] philosophy of self-defense and not nonviolent direct action ”


After graduating from high school in 1966, Hampton campaigned as president of the local NAACP youth chapter to establish an integrated community pool and recruited over 500 new members, in large part because of his proven track record of successful activism, the leaders of the burgeoning Black Panther Party recruited Hampton to start the movement in Chicago in November 1968. By the time of his death, a little over a year later, he had risen to chairman of the Illinois chapter and vice national chairman

O’Neal, on the other hand, was a habitual criminal with little interest in activism before he infiltrated the Panthers at the behest of FBI agent Roy Mitchell (portrayed in the film by Jesse Plemons) As O’Neal recalled in a 1989 interview, Mitchell offered to overlook the then-teen’s involvement in a multi-state car theft in exchange for information about Hampton

“[A] quick-talking, deceitful black kid from the West Side who thought he knew every nook and cranny,” O’Neal joined the Chicago Tribune and quickly won the admiration of members for his valor, mechanics and carpentry skills and a willingness to be in the thick of the action At the time of the police raid that killed Hampton, he had been named Panther Security Chief

“Contrary to what we can imagine that an informant is a quiet person who appears as a listener, O’Neal was out there the whole time splattering things,” says Haas. “People were impressed by it … He was a go do it guy ‘I can fix this I can bring you money I can do things like that And … that had an appeal for a while ”

At the beginning of Jude and the Black Messiah, Hoover identified Hampton as a leader “with the potential to unite the Communist, antiwar and New Left movements. Later, FBI Director Mitchell shares that the success of the Black Power movement will result in the loss of our entire way of life rape, pillage, conquest, will you follow me? “

Once O’Neal is truly embedded in the Panthers, he discovers that the activists are actually not “terrorists.” Instead, the informant finds himself in the midst of a revolution that, as co-founder Bobby Seale said, is committed to ” Bringing about changes in daily life ”and at the same time advocating comprehensive legislation Achieving equality

The Panther Ten Point Program, written by Seale and Huey P Newton outlined goals in 1966 that are profound today (“We want an immediate end to police brutality and the murder of black people”) and others that were certainly controversial (“We want all blacks to be exempted from military service” and) ” We want freedom for all black men held in federal, state, county and city jails “) As Jeff Greenwald wrote for Smithsonian Magazine in 2016, members did not limit themselves to speaking” Taking advantage of the open- California’s carry laws, for example, responded to the murders of unarmed black Americans by patrolling the streets with guns – an image that quickly drew condemnation from both the FBI and upper-class white Americans

According to Pretzer, law enforcement agencies viewed the Panthers and similar groups as a threat to the status quo “They are focused on police harassment, challenge the authority figures, “he says “They focus on social activities where everyone believes the government should do something,” but not like providing health services and making sure impoverished Americans have enough food

The FBI founded COINTELPRO – short for Counterintelligence Program – in 1956 to investigate, infiltrate, and discredit dissident groups ranging from the Communist Party of the United States to the Ku Klux Klan, the Nation of Islam, and the Panthers of particular interest for Hoover and other top officials were figures like Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Hampton, many of whom endured illegal surveillance, explicit threats, and harassment by the police. Details of the covert program did not become known until 1971 when activists stole confidential files from an FBI office in Pennsylvania and exposed them to the public

Although Hampton stated that the Panthers would only use violence for self-defense, Hoover interpreted his words as a declaration of militant intentions

“Because of COINTELPRO, because of the aggravation, the harassment, the infiltration of this and the provocateurs established by them in these organizations, this is from the point of view of the FBI a self-fulfilling prophecy,” explains Pretzer that] they get the violence that they expected ”

As Haas and his legal partner Flint Taylor wrote for Truthout in January, newly released documents received at the request of the Freedom of Information Act confirm attorneys’ long-held suspicions that Hoover himself was involved in the plot to assassinate Hampton was involved

King’s film, set between 1968 and 1969, sheds light on Hampton’s accomplishments during his brief tenure as chairman of the chapter before delving into the betrayals that led to his death The key to Hampton’s legacy was the Panther survival programs, which, according to Pretzer, should provide access to “basic elements of life” (As Hampton said in 1969, “Reading is so important to us that a person must go through six weeks of our political training before we can consider them a member”)

On an average day, Hampton arrived at Panthers headquarters with “a staccato of orders that energized everyone around him,” says Haas. “But it wasn’t just what he asked people to do. He was at 6: 30 o’clock in the morning there, made breakfast, served the children and talked to their parents ”

Not only did Hampton support these community initiatives, one of which, the free breakfast program, paved the way for modern nutritional policy, but he also led the Rainbow Coalition, a cross-border alliance between the Panthers, Latino Young Lords, and Young Patriots Group of white working class Southerners He also brokered peace between rival Chicago gangs, encouraging them to “focus instead on the real enemy – the government and the police,” whom the Panthers referred to as “pigs”, according to the Village Free Press

Historian Lilia Fernandez, author of Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Chicago after the War, told Craig Phillips of PBS ‘Independent Lens last year: “The Rainbow Coalition offered a possibility gave us a vision for what might be among the urban poor in terms of interracial politics ”

Meanwhile, O’Neal balanced his informant duties with his growing stature within the party. Prone to dramatic tendencies, he once built a fake electric chair that ironically was supposed to scare informants. He also urged the Panthers to take increasingly aggressive steps Taking action against the establishment – actions that resulted in “more people, especially Fred, doubting him,” says Haas

In the months leading up to the December 1969 raid, Hampton was embroiled in legal troubles as tensions between the police and the Panthers increased, and he was falsely accused of theft and assault for the heist of an ice cream van in July 1968 and received none Bail until the People’s Chancellery intervened and ensured his release in August 1969. There were repeated clashes between the authorities and the Panthers between July and November of that year, resulting in shootings in which several party members and police officers died

By late November, the FBI working on O’Neal’s information had persuaded Cook County Attorney Edward Hanrahan and the Chicago Police Department to raid the Hampton home when he and his fiancée Johnson were killed in action Was nine months pregnant, slept around 4:30 a.m. On December 8th, a heavily armed 14-person raid group stormed the apartment and fired over 90 bullets at the nine panthers inside.One of the rounds met and killed Mark Clark, a 22-year-old panther stationed right behind the front door, despite law enforcement later claimed otherwise, the physical evidence suggests that there was only one shot from the apartment

Johnson and two other men tried to wake the unconscious 21-year-old Hampton who allegedly had been drugged earlier that night – possibly by O’Neal, Haas said (O’Neal also had a detailed draft for the cops Forced out of the bedroom and into the kitchen, Johnson heard a police officer say, “He’s barely alive. He’s hardly going to make it.” Two shots were fired before she heard another officer explain, “He’s fine now and dead ”

Judas and the Black Messiah come to an end shortly after the raid.In the final scene of the film, a conflicted O’Neal accepts an envelope filled with cash and agrees to continue providing information about the Panthers. Overlay text states that O’Neal stayed with the party until the early 1970s and eventually more than 200 after adjusting for inflationAfter being identified as the Illinois Chapter mole in 1973, O’Neal was given a new identity through the federal witness protection program. In January 1990, the 40-year-old, who had since secretly returned to Chicago, was put into circulation and was hit by a car. Investigators considered his death a suicide

“I think he’s sorry he did what he did,” O’Neal’s uncle Ben Heard told Chicago Reader after his nephew died. “He thought the FBI was just raiding the house. But the FBI turned the operation over to the prosecutor and that was all Hanrahan wanted. They shot Fred Hampton and made sure he was dead. ”


The attempt to uncover the truth about the deaths of Hampton and Clark began on the morning of Jan. December and continues to this day.While one of Haas’ legal associates went to the morgue to identify Hampton’s body, another took an inventory of the apartment the police had left unsecured, while Haas went to interview the seven survivors, one of whom four had been seriously injured

Hanrahan alleged the panthers opened fire on the police. But testimony and physical evidence contradicted this version of the events. “Bullet holes” allegedly left by the panthers’ shooting were later identified as nail heads Blood stains in the apartment suggested that Hampton was dragged into the hallway after being shot dead close in his bed

Public outrage over the murders, particularly within the black community, increased as evidence emerged that the authorities’ narrative grew as an elderly woman who stopped by the apartment to view the crime scene discovered what it was like the attack “nothing more than a lynching in the north”

After the robbery, Hanrahan accused the survivors of the attempted murder. Haas and his colleagues secured Johnson’s release early enough to ensure that they could bring their son, Fred Hampton Jr Didn’t give birth in jail, and criminal charges were eventually dropped. But the attorneys, “who weren’t satisfied with taking people off the shelf, decided to file a civil lawsuit,” alleged a conspiracy not only to save Hampton but also to cover up the circumstances surrounding his death, says Haas

For the next 12 years, Haas and his colleagues have overcome challenges ranging from racist judges to stone walls of the defendants, backroom deals between the FBI and local authorities, to charges against the lawyers themselves, based on limited information, including leaked COINTELPRO -Documents, the team slowly pieced together events related to the robbery and presented compelling evidence of the FBI’s involvement in the conspiracy

Although a judge dismissed the original case after 18 months of trial in 1977, Haas and the rest of the team successfully appealed to a new hearing.After more than a decade of protracted litigation, the defendants agreed in 1982 to settle the amount of $ 1.85 million to be paid to the nine plaintiffs, including Clark’s mother and Hampton’s mother, Iberia

“I used to describe myself being in court every day like going to a dog fight,” says Haas. “Anything we would say would be questioned. The [defendants’ lawyers] would everything to the jury tell what the Panthers were ever accused of in Chicago and elsewhere, and [the judge] would let them do that, but he wouldn’t really let us interrogate the accused ”

The death of Hampton dealt a severe blow to the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party He terrified the members by demonstrating the reach of law enforcement and deprived the movement of a natural leader

According to Pretzer, “the Hampton attack is a classic example of the wrongdoing and overreach of law enforcement agencies provoking violence”

As he once predicted in a speech: “I don’t think I’ll die if I slide on a piece of ice I don’t think I will die because I have a bad heart I do not believe that I will die of lung cancer. I believe that I can die if I do the things I was born to do. I believe that I can die as a revolutionary in the international revolutionary proletarian struggle ”

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Judas and the Black Messiah

World News – CA – The real story behind ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

Source: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/true-history-behind-judas-and-black-messiah-180976975/