“But when I leave you can remember I said, the last words on my lips, ‘I am a revolutionary.'”
Whether one agrees or not with the strong convictions of Chairman Fred , it’s almost impossible not to feel the undeniable power of this gripping documentary that not only bears witness to radical politics in action but goes to lengths to expose alleged corrupt police authority. The Murder of Fred Hampton captures the fiery speaker of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party at a challenging time in his life, as he prepares for a trial, and is later imprisoned. But through it all, we see a determined young man who is focused on a goal for drastic social change in the U.S. While certainly pro-Black, Hampton explains that the Panthers are seeking allies, regardless of color, in their struggle: “We said that we will work with anybody or be in coalition with anybody that has revolution on their mind. We are not a racist organization because we understand that racism is an excuse used for capitalism. We know that racism is a byproduct of capitalism. Everything would be alright if everything was put back in the hands of the people. And we’re gonna have to put it back in the hands of the people.”
The filmmakers choose to use only minimal narration, allowing the subjects to speak for themselves, and often get close-ups that capture a certain intensity. Particularly effective is the fact that the film doesn’t just capture speeches but shows those words manifested into reality. The most memorable footage — apart from the crime scene at Hampton’s Chicago apartment — is of the breakfast programs for children and free clinics organized by the Black Panthers, the militant group’s private meetings to discuss armed strategy, and the bullet-riddled headquarters after law enforcement opens fire on the building. What’s also striking is that Hampton comments on his potential death several times in the documentary. At one point, he says:
“Why do they want to get rid of me? Because I’m saying something that might wake up some other exploited people or some other oppressed people. And if all these people ever get together, then these pigs that are exploiting us, we’ll be able to [get rid of them]. That’s why they want to get rid of us… I’m part of an organization who will be the first organization that they’ll move on because I happen to be part of the Black Panther Party… that’s the only organization, in fact, that has came out and stood up loud and clear and said that we don’t care what anybody says, whether they have guns or not, and badges or…uniforms, whenever they step out of the bounds of legality into the bounds of illegality, then we’ll blow their brains out if they’re bothering the people.”
For a closer look at a man willing to die for his beliefs, watch The Murder of Fred Hampton .
Directed by Howard Alk .
(Props to EpiCenterOfChange for the upload)