Rep. Bobby Rush introduces bill forcing FBI to release Fred Hampton files

It requires the FBI to release all counterintelligence files, including those about Hampton and Martin Luther King.

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A co-founder of the Illinois Black Panther Party on the eve of his 30th year serving in Congress has introduced a bill mandating the disclosure of secret FBI files related to the death of Chairman Fred Hampton. 

Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush also sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland in which he requested “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.”

Congressman Bobby Rush (center), co-founder of the Illinois Black Panther Party, has introduced a bill mandating the disclosure of secret FBI files related to the death of his friend, Chairman Fred Hampton. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Hampton and Mark Clark were assassinated on Dec. 4, 1969 in Chicago by federal agents. 

The last days of Chairman Hampton’s life were recently depicted in the Academy Award-winning film Judas and the Black Messiah, for which the acclaimed Daniel Kaluuya won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Hampton. 

As previously reported, interest in Hampton’s life has greatly increased since the buzz over Judas and the Black Messiah, the long-awaited spellbinder directed by Shaka King, which depicts the relationship between Hampton and FBI informant William O’Neal, who infiltrated the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party.

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A fundraiser to restore Hampton’s childhood home quickly surpassed its $350,000 goal after the film’s February release. 

According to The Chicago Sun-TimesRush wrote in the Garland letter: “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.”

Rush, who was elected to Congress in 1992, said it was important that “the American people know about the odious and inhumane legacy of J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO operation and its assault on our nation’s civil liberties.”

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“COINTELPRO was spying on American citizens,” said the longtime congressman. “Anyone who took a political position against the status quo, anyone who wanted to make America better was subject to being penalized, investigated — and in the case of my friend Fred Hampton, assassinated — by the official legal arm of the federal government.”

The bill would require the FBI to release all files related to now-disbanded counterintelligence programs, including those related to the Black Panther Party and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It would also remove Hoover’s name from the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. The former FBI leader devised and carried out COINTELPRO.

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