Murder of Fred Hampton, The (1971)

Murder of Fred Hampton, The (1971)

“Now he’s good and dead.”

Fred Hampton, 21-year-old chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, is murdered in cold blood by Chicago policemen.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • African-Americans
  • Assassination
  • Documentary
  • Murder Mystery

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this film is “crudely made but powerful and important”. Amazingly enough, the filmmakers set out simply to show the hardships of being a black, openly political activist in 1960s Chicago, but instead found themselves documenting the controversy surrounding Hampton’s death (purportedly done by police in self-defense). The most compelling scenes show various Black Panthers giving stirring speeches and organizing community projects to combat poverty. The least successful are those attempting to understand what exactly went on in the apartment where Hampton was killed — it’s hard to keep track of the evidence.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • Powerful footage of Black Panther speeches and projects in action

Must See?
Yes, as an important historical document.


  • Historically Relevant


One thought on “Murder of Fred Hampton, The (1971)

  1. First viewing. A once-must, as a powerful document of a chapter in American history and an illustration of bewildering police corruption.

    Although it is not the most professionally made documentary, it doesn’t really need to be. The film does ask that attention be paid closely (many people in it speak rather quickly, esp. in the first half) but it is not exactly impenetrable. I don’t think the film claims to be a thorough rundown of what underscores and motivates the Black Panther Party. But it is quite valuable in shedding light on race relations and the lack thereof. I don’t find the details of the evidence confusing – indeed, overall I find the film rather straightforward and illuminating for the most part.

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