fred hampton 071520CHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is calling for the Chicago Police Department to apologize for the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in 1969.

“The murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were violent and brutal acts by the Chicago Police Department. Though it happened more than 50 years ago, Black Americans are still waiting for justice and accountability,” Van Pelt said. “How are Black and Brown Americans ever expected to trust the police when they got away with murder, and continue to do so?”

Van Pelt joins Chicago native Chance the Rapper and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush in calling for CPD to take accountability. Hampton and Clark were prominent members of the Black Panther Party, which was founded to challenge police brutality and promote social change. They were dedicated to serving their communities by sponsoring free food programs, schools, health clinics, voter registration drives and other projects.

The FBI’s COINTELPRO campaign targeted them in an attempt to disrupt and undermine dissident political organizations, allegations that have been proven by the families of Hampton and Clark. Hampton’s killing is widely regarded as a government assassination of a charismatic rising Black leader in a resistance movement. 

The Chicago Police Department fired nearly 100 rounds into Hampton’s apartment. Hampton was only 21, and died sleeping next to his fiancé, who was eight months pregnant at the time. No one was convicted of the murders, but a $1.85 million settlement was eventually awarded to survivors of the raid. 

This dark chapter in the department’s history is especially relevant now in light of the recent murder of Breonna Taylor, Van Pelt said. Taylor, who was an E.M.T., was shot eight times in her own bed sleeping beside her boyfriend. Police then arrested her boyfriend for defending their home, while the officers who killed her have never faced charges.

“Statistics show that nearly 1,000 people are fatally shot by police annually, yet only 110 law enforcement officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter nationwide,” Van Pelt said. “How long will the police be able to kill us with no consequences? How long will we have to chant, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ while hoping that the legal system agrees with us?”