LETTER TO DOJ REQUESTING RELEASE OF UNREDACTED FILES RELATED TO ASSASSINATION OF FRED HAMPTON

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March 31, 2021
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RUSH LEADS LETTER TO DOJ REQUESTING RELEASE OF UNREDACTED FILES RELATED TO ASSASSINATION OF FRED HAMPTON
 
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) led six of his colleagues in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting the release of unclassified and unredacted versions of U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files related to the assassination of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party.  Rush cofounded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and was a close friend to Hampton. 
 
Fred Hampton was assassinated in his sleep on December 4, 1969 in a predawn raid that was executed by agents of the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, Chicago Police Department, and FBI.  A wrongful death civil suit and FBI whistleblower later exposed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s nefarious COINTELPRO operation, a series of covert and illegal projects aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations including the Black Panther Party. 
 
“Such violations of legal and constitutional protections are not only unacceptable, they pose a direct threat to our notion of justice and to our standing as a nation of laws.  We, therefore, request that you release unclassified and unredacted versions of any files or papers in the possession of the U.S. Department of Justice or the FBI pertaining to this assassination,” Rush and the members wrote.
 
“Government officials — at all levels of government — chose to lie about not only the circumstances of Fred’s murder, but their role in it, as well.  For these reasons, we believe that it is past time that our country fully knows and understands its dark past and the release, and study, of this information is an important step on this journey,” the letter concluded.
 
Joining Rush on the letter to Attorney General Garland were U.S. Representatives Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
 
The full text of the letter is available below.
 
Dear Attorney General Garland: 
 
Congratulations on your appointment and confirmation to serve as the 86th Attorney General of the United States.  We are also heartened by your dedication to justice, our constitutional liberties, and the First Amendment, in particular. 
 
With that in mind, we write you today in regard to a matter of justice that has been long-overdue and suppressed.  Specifically, we write you regarding the assassination of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. 
 
As you know, Fred Hampton was assassinated as he slept on December 4, 1969 in a predawn raid that was executed by agents of the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, Chicago Police Department, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  This assassination has been described as having “fulfilled FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s goal of disrupting the local Black Panthers.”
 
Later, through a wrongful death civil suit and an FBI whistleblower, Hoover’s nefarious COINTELPRO operation was exposed.  As described by the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (the Church Committee), COINTELPRO “violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens.”  Furthermore, the Church Committee went on to say that “the [Federal] Bureau [of Investigation] conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association.”
 
We are certain that you would agree that such violations of legal and constitutional protections are not only unacceptable, they pose a direct threat to our notion of justice and to our standing as a nation of laws.  We, therefore, request that you release unclassified and unredacted versions of any files or papers in the possession of the U.S. Department of Justice or the FBI pertaining to this assassination. 
 
The release of this information is even more timely now as, recently, new revelations have been unearthed.  The fact that these revelations are just now coming to light is worrisome.  This is especially true given the intensive scrutiny that has been paid to this heinous act, including the aforementioned wrongful death civil suit.  Furthermore, the circumstances of Fred Hampton’s assassination have been riddled with, at minimum, obfuscation and, most egregiously, downright lies.  This is evidenced by the fact that a press conference following the killing, then-Cook County State’s Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan stated that “the immediate, violent, criminal reaction of the occupants in shooting at announced police officers emphasizes the extreme viciousness of the Black Panther party.”
 
This statement was not only intended to intentionally mislead the public surrounding the circumstances of this cold-blooded, violent act, but it also ignores the fact that at the time of his death, Fred Hampton was asleep in bed, having been drugged by an FBI operative.  With these lies, government officials — at all levels of government — chose to lie about not only the circumstances of Fred’s murder, but their role in it, as well. 
 
For these reasons, we believe that it is past time that our country fully knows and understands its dark past and the release, and study, of this information is an important step on this journey.  Therefore, we, once again, request the full, unclassified, and unredacted release of any files or papers in the possession of the U.S. Department of Justice or the FBI pertaining to this assassination. 
 
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
 
Sincerely,
Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) led six of his colleagues in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting the release of unclassified and unredacted versions of U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files related to the assassination of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party.  Rush cofounded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and was a close friend to Hampton. Joining Rush on the letter to Attorney General Garland were U.S. Representatives Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
 
Fred Hampton was assassinated in his sleep on December 4, 1969 in a predawn raid that was executed by agents of the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, Chicago Police Department, and FBI.  A wrongful death civil suit and FBI whistleblower later exposed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s nefarious COINTELPRO operation, a series of covert and illegal projects aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations including the Black Panther Party. 
 
“Such violations of legal and constitutional protections are not only unacceptable, they pose a direct threat to our notion of justice and to our standing as a nation of laws.  We, therefore, request that you release unclassified and unredacted versions of any files or papers in the possession of the U.S. Department of Justice or the FBI pertaining to this assassination,” Rush and the members wrote.
 
“Government officials — at all levels of government — chose to lie about not only the circumstances of Fred’s murder, but their role in it, as well.  For these reasons, we believe that it is past time that our country fully knows and understands its dark past and the release, and study, of this information is an important step on this journey,” the letter concluded.
 
The full text of the letter is available below.
 
Dear Attorney General Garland: 
 
Congratulations on your appointment and confirmation to serve as the 86th Attorney General of the United States.  We are also heartened by your dedication to justice, our constitutional liberties, and the First Amendment, in particular. 
 
With that in mind, we write you today in regard to a matter of justice that has been long-overdue and suppressed.  Specifically, we write you regarding the assassination of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. 
 
As you know, Fred Hampton was assassinated as he slept on December 4, 1969 in a predawn raid that was executed by agents of the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, Chicago Police Department, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  This assassination has been described as having “fulfilled FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s goal of disrupting the local Black Panthers.”
 
Later, through a wrongful death civil suit and an FBI whistleblower, Hoover’s nefarious COINTELPRO operation was exposed.  As described by the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (the Church Committee), COINTELPRO “violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens.”  Furthermore, the Church Committee went on to say that “the [Federal] Bureau [of Investigation] conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association.”
 
We are certain that you would agree that such violations of legal and constitutional protections are not only unacceptable, they pose a direct threat to our notion of justice and to our standing as a nation of laws.  We, therefore, request that you release unclassified and unredacted versions of any files or papers in the possession of the U.S. Department of Justice or the FBI pertaining to this assassination. 
 
The release of this information is even more timely now as, recently, new revelations have been unearthed.  The fact that these revelations are just now coming to light is worrisome.  This is especially true given the intensive scrutiny that has been paid to this heinous act, including the aforementioned wrongful death civil suit.  Furthermore, the circumstances of Fred Hampton’s assassination have been riddled with, at minimum, obfuscation and, most egregiously, downright lies.  This is evidenced by the fact that a press conference following the killing, then-Cook County State’s Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan stated that “the immediate, violent, criminal reaction of the occupants in shooting at announced police officers emphasizes the extreme viciousness of the Black Panther party.”
 
This statement was not only intended to intentionally mislead the public surrounding the circumstances of this cold-blooded, violent act, but it also ignores the fact that at the time of his death, Fred Hampton was asleep in bed, having been drugged by an FBI operative.  With these lies, government officials — at all levels of government — chose to lie about not only the circumstances of Fred’s murder, but their role in it, as well. 
 
For these reasons, we believe that it is past time that our country fully knows and understands its dark past and the release, and study, of this information is an important step on this journey.  Therefore, we, once again, request the full, unclassified, and unredacted release of any files or papers in the possession of the U.S. Department of Justice or the FBI pertaining to this assassination. 
 
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
 
Sincerely,