Was Fred Hampton Executed?
The 130 volumes of FBI documents were finally turned over to the plaintiffs, but not be-fore the bureau tried to charge them $17,353 for labor and materials in making the cop-ies. According to Taylor, Judge Perry said he wanted to assess those charges to the Panthers but could find no law to back him up.
The plaintiffs are faced with the problem of how to digest and utilize the mass of new material. The judge would not postpone the trial. Once, when attorney Haas asked per-mission to delay an interrogation until he could study the relevant FBI documents, a flushed Perry rose from the bench and yelled, "You're stalling, you're stalling, you're stalling." When fellow counsel Taylor answered, "No, we are not," Perry ordered him to sit down or be found in contempt. When Dennis Cunningham, a third Panther lawyer, attempted to say something, Perry screamed at him, "Sit down or you'll be held in con-tempt of court!" Needless to say, permission for a postponement was not granted.
As the trial inches along, the taxpayers continue to foot the bill for those who planned and carried out the raid. Cook County and the city of Chicago are paying for the defense of Hanrahan, his assistants, the fourteen raiders, and other police personnel to the tune of $20,000 per week. The federal government is covering the defense of the three agents and O'Neal. The cost is already well beyond $1 million and the trial isn't ex-pected to end until March 1977 at the earliest.
While the defense is well funded, financial woes have beset the plaintiffs. The Panther legal staff cannot afford to buy daily transcripts, an indispensable resource, but one that would cost $50,000 for the trial. The lawyers' request to make copies from the judge's or defense's transcripts was denied, but Perry agreed that they could inspect his when necessary.
Fred Hampton had been fond of proclaiming, "You can kill a revolutionary, but you can-not kill a revolution. You can jail a liberation fighter, but you cannot jail liberation." Be-tween 1968 and 1971, more than a score of Panthers were killed by police agencies, and more than 1,000 were jailed. That the party has survived at all is a minor miracle. While the death of Fred Hampton dealt a crippling blow to the Illinois chapter, the char-ter chapter in Oakland has never been stronger. The party currently runs fifteen, free "survival programs" in its Oakland stronghold, including free clothing, legal aid, ambulance, pest control, plumbing and maintenance, a breakfast for children programs, a food co-op, medical clinics and the Oakland Community School.
Although many talk about the FBI's destruction of the Black Panther Party as if it were a fait accompli, perhaps it is too early to discard the favorite slogan of exiled Panther leader, Huey Newton: "The spirit of the people will defeat the technology of the Man."