To the editor:
Adam Langer's story on Fred Hampton's son ("Radical Without a Cause," July 10) tried to promote a cynical and antiblack outlook. To write such slander against the son of the Black Panther leader who made such a heroic effort to change the face of Chicago politics is irresponsible and deepens the racial divide in this city.
I'm sure that the cause that Fred Hampton Jr. fights for is well understood by the black community--where black babies die in their first year of life at twice the rate of white babies, black children go to schools that are more like prisons, police brutality is an everyday thing, the prisons are stuffed with black people living under inhumane conditions and forced into slave labor, and a black child is left to bleed to death outside a hospital emergency room while staff outside on a smoking break look on.
I am a white person living in Chicago. I became a member of the National People's Democratic Uhuru Movement, whose Chicago branch was led by Fred Hampton Jr. before he was imprisoned, because I'm sickened by the physical and economic violence carried out against African, Mexican, and Puerto Rican people by the system and by regular white people like the ones who beat 13-year-old Lenard Clark nearly to death.
I'm honored to be able to participate in and contribute to an organization led by the black community that stands up for the right of African people to economic development, as opposed to the policy of police containment imposed on African and other oppressed communities by Daley and the Democratic Party.
I'm disgusted by the anonymous "left-winger" who Langer quoted that said "Sounds to me like the kid did it." Fred Hampton Jr. was convicted of a so-called firebombing which was never reported to the Fire Department, the store suffered no damage, and there were no injuries. Did what?!? To make a statement like that without letting your name be used is typical of the COINTELPRO tactics used by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI and the Chicago police to discredit and attack the Panthers 30 years ago. It is a dishonorable form of journalism to print it. Why wouldn't this white leftist let his name be used and be accountable for his position? Perhaps he is among those who have made a career for themselves after the destruction of the Panthers and the Black Power movement of the 60s and who, today, would rather not see regular black people coming back into political life with their own independent program and strategy.
Notwithstanding Langer's confusion upon being confronted with Fred Hampton Jr. and his message, Fred Hampton Jr. has shown himself to be his father's son. He is the living proof of his father's famous words, "You can kill a revolutionary but you can't kill the revolution!" Before his imprisonment, Fred Jr. had begun to rebuild the movement for black rights, bringing young black people into the Uhuru House in great numbers for political education, organizing, and the opportunity for cultural expression and building unity.
Even under the most repressive conditions inside of the Illinois prison system, he just last month organized a nationwide call-in that succeeded in forcing Stateville to make repairs to rectify life-threatening health conditions that prisoners had endured for years.
I think that a leader like Fred Hampton Jr., who puts the needs of the community above his own, is needed here in Chicago. An effort is being made to file an appeal. Funds and legal expertise are needed. I hope that everyone who wants to take a principled stand for justice and freedom for all people, instead of one group at the expense of another, will lend support to the campaign to gain his release.