¡BEYOND CHICANISMO PRESENTS!
The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police
Murdered a Black Panther.
FEATURING: Author Jeffrey Haas.
WHAT: A discussion by Jeffrey Haas, author of The Assassination of Fred
Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther.
WHERE: AURARIA CAMPUS, TIVOLI ROOM 640.
DATE & TIME: THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 2010. 1:00 P.M.
WHO: Haas was born to German Jewish parents in Atlanta, Ga. in 1942. His grandfather was one of the lawyers for Leo Frank, the Jewish businessman, who was lynched outside Atlanta in 1915 in a wave of anti-Semitic fervor led by many of Atlanta’s elite. Jeff’s father worked with John Lewis of SNCC to set up the Voter Education Project, which registered hundreds of thousands of Black voters in the South. His mother founded the Atlanta Committee for International Visitors and she played a critical role in convincing Atlanta Hotels to integrate.
Jeff graduated from the University of Michigan as an English Major in 1963 and obtained his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1967. He worked for the Legal Assistance Foundation in Chicago from 1967 to 1969.
In August of 1969 Jeff, three other lawyers and two law students started the People’s Law Office, (PLO) setting up the law collective in a former sausage shop in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. PLO’s first clients were Black Panthers, Young Lords, SDS, and demonstrators against the Vietnam War. In the month after PLO started, the trial of the Conspiracy 8 (charged with disrupting the 1968 Democratic National convention) began. National Panther Chairman Bobby Seale was bound and gagged inside the courtroom. Fred Hampton, the young charismatic leader of the Chicago Black Panthers led large nationally viewed demonstrations outside the Federal Courthouse protesting Seale’s treatment. Two months later the Chicago Police under the direction of then Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, raided Hampton’s apartment at 4:00 am. Fred Hampton was executed as he lay sleeping in his bed and the police killed another Panther Mark Clark. Four other Panther occupants were shot, and no policeman was injured.
For the next thirteen years Jeff and his partners at PLO represented the families of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and the Panther survivors in a civil suit against the raiders and Hanrahan. In 1973 they joined three FBI Agents and an FBI informant as defendants after learning that the FBI initiated the raid as part of its Cointelpro Program to destroy and neutralize the Black Movement.
In addition to the Hampton case, Jeff worked at PLO as a criminal defense and civil rights lawyer for thirty-five years until 2004. During that time he and his partners represented the Attica Brothers, Lolita Lebron and the Puerto Rican nationalists who invaded Congress, as well as the entire spectrum of the Movement including Iranian students, Act-Up, and protesters against US supported death squads in Central America. Jeff was one of the lead counsel in defending the seventeen Pontiac prisoners charged with the capital offense of murder following the Pontiac prison rebellion in 1978 in which three guards were killed. In 1981, after a six-month trial, all were acquitted.
In 1994, Jeff and his PLO partners together with other lawyers represented the Ford Heights 4; four young Black men framed up for the murder of two whites. The four spent 18 years in prison, two on death row, before their convictions were reversed. The evidence showed that the sheriffs were sitting on documents that proved the Ford Heights Four were innocent and that in fact four other people were the killers. In 1997 the Plaintiffs obtained a $38 million dollar settlement.
In 1989 Jeff and fellow PLOers Flint Taylor, John Stainthorp sued Jon Burge, a Chicago Police Commander for torturing Andrew Wilson to extract a confession. In the course of the trial they discovered Burge and his cohorts had regularly used electroshock and asphyxiation, putting typewriter bags over suspects’ heads until they passed out, a technique known as dry submarino, to obtain confessions from Black suspects. What followed the disclosures was twenty years of litigation, public protests, and constant pressure from the Black community. Eventually not only was Burge fired, but everyone’s sentence on Illinois’ death row was commuted by Governor Ryan, in large part due to the exposure of Burge’s techniques for obtaining death penalty convictions. PLO’s has led the litigation resulting in millions of dollars being paid to Burge’s victims. Most recently Burge US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald indicted Burge for perjury for denying under oath at depositions that he tortured Black suspects. For more on the People’s Law Office go to http://www.peopleslawoffice.com
In 2002 Jeff and his family moved to Taos New Mexico, where he and his wife Mariel Nanasi passed the New Mexico Bar. They settled a large civil rights law suit on behalf of two Native American children, whose father was denied medical and psychological treatment in custody in the Santa Fe Jail. Also, in Taos they, began the Action Coalition of Taos, (ACT) which organized a 3000-person protest at the home of then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Taos. Most recently Jeff’s family moved to Santa Fe where Jeff is again representing victims of police abuse. Jeff is also a founder of Another Jewish Voice of Santa Fe, which seeks to offer alternatives to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict acknowledging and respecting the rights of Palestinians as well as Israeli Jews.
Jeff is currently the Chair of the Foundation for Self Sufficiency in Central America, which provides support to La Coordinadora, an organization in El Salvador representing 12,000 people in 85 communities. La Coordinadora provides the structure for communities to build and control their future through sustainable agriculture, youth development programs, protecting the environment, providing food and water security and promoting grass roots leadership. See http://www.fssca.net/.
The author has four children, Roger Haas-Roche, who lives in Chicago, Andrew Hampton Haas-Roche, who is a third year student at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, and Justin and Rosa Haas, who are at Santa Fe Prep High School in Santa Fe.
In 2004, Jeff began writing about the intersection of his life with the life and death of Fred Hampton, the young Panther leader killed by the Chicago Police. Chicago in 1969 was a microcosm of the forces in conflict in the world. The book attempts to capture the mood and political tensions of that moment and how they led to Hampton’s murder.
To enrich his writing, Jeff enrolled in Bennington College’s MFA program in creative non-fiction, where he obtained his master’s degree in 2007. The first part of The Assassination of Fred Hampton served as his master’s thesis. Chicago Review Press/Lawrence Hill Books will release Jeff’s book in the fall of 2009 on the fortieth anniversary of Hampton’s death. The launch event includes a reading, panel discussion and reception. It will be in Chicago at Thorne Hall at Northwestern Law School on November 5, 2009. Fred Hampton spoke at Northwestern Law School forty years ago in Novmeber, 1969.
This event is FREE and open to the public.
Sponsored by: The MSCD Department of Chicana/o Studies, Los Herederos of Change & Esperanza, and Conscious Journey.