April 9, 2003

Fred Hamptom

Category: Politics — Biella @ 11:59 pm

Last night I saw a movie about the Black Panther Chicago chapter leader Fred Hamptom, “The Murder of Death Hamptom” by Mike Gray. The movie was mostly raw footage of the rawness in its best form that was the personal vibrancy of Fred Hamptom and the rawness in its worst form that was his murder by the Chicago police department as part of a larger FBI conspiracy.

The movie which was basically a lot of footage without any narration captured what was most unique about Fred Hamptom. He seemed to be everything at once and it was in his conversations and speeches in which that everythingness came to be. He was witty, biting, sarcastic, endearing, angry, compassionate, confrontational, engaging, very humane, and a revolutionary all at the same time. I guess that is pure charisma a pure power that scared the daylights out of US intelligence.

What bothered me so much about his murder is what bothers me so much about about “power and discipline” in this society. On the one hand, I really do value the freedom of speech that we have in this country. On the other other hand, I sometimes feel like the US “intelligence forces” have thought hard and frankly intelligently about how to quell unrest and dissent in this country. Instead of going at it from a sort of top down, let’s hammer all dissidents on the head, very visibly, we will make sure that there is a veneer of freedom of speech, association, etc. But we will target from within those elements of dissent that are the most threatening, avoiding to bring a lot of attention in such tactics. Cointelpro of course being the most famous example of this tactic.

It is no wonder that America is such a hotbed for conspiracy theories. Repression like exemplified by Cointelpro tends to work in a way that it is really there, but so hard to pin down because it emerges from within and in a suave, quiet, yet insidious way that must be uncovered and exposed to even be seen. It was largely the footage that is now the movie that helped prove that Hamptom was murdered although no one was every formally charged for the murder. A reminder of how important it is to keep channels of documentation and communication well and alive..

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