Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 19:44:56 -0400
Akua Njeri, Widow of Fred Hampton, Guests on SFLR
Excerpted from SFLR News, Friday 3 September 1999
"My special guest here, all the way from Chicago, Illinois, is Akua Njeri, and she is a long time soldier and freedom fighter, former member of the Black Panther Party, Chicago Chapter, wife of the late, great revolutionary Fred Hampton and mother of Fred Hampton Jr."
With these words our very own Kiilu Nyasha introduced Akua Njeri, one of the most remarkable women who has ever graced our airwaves--in one of the most remarkable interviews we've ever been fortunate enough to air.
To say that these two women--Akua Njeri and Kiilu Nyasha--have a great deal in common with each other would be an understatement. Both former members of the Black Panther Party, both women lost loved ones to acts of state-sponsored terror and murder against the party. Yet despite these tragedies of decades past, both have become strong, powerful and dignified women.
An interview between Kiilu, who was a special friend of San Quentin Panther leader George Jackson, and Akua, widow of murdered Chicago Panther leader Fred Hampton, promised to be a tour de force, i.e. the mother of all radio interviews, when we set it up. And this one didn't disappoint either.
"I'm always teary-eyed," said Akua, "the few times that I run into soldiers that are still on this battlefield fighting for the liberation and freedom of African people. And Kiilu--I'm just getting goose bumps just talking with you and flashing back on times when we were struggling toe to toe with this government for the liberation and freedom of African and oppressed people throughout this country."
Njeri's husband, Fred Hampton, was killed in a pre-dawn raid on a Panther apartment, carried out by what can only be described as a police death squad. At the time, Hampton, at the age of just 21, was regarded as one of the brightest and most dynamic up-and-coming young Panther leaders nationwide--a leader who had toured and made speeches nationally, and who had been instrumental in setting up the Chicago chapter's Free Breakfast Program as well as a clinic where poor people were able to receive free medical care.
On the night of the raid--December 4, 1969--Njeri was eight and a half months pregnant with the couple's son.
"That was the night we had a political education class at our office," said Akua, adding that she and Fred had originally planned to visit the latter's family after the meeting was over--"but the class went on so long."
Later, back at home, Hampton fell asleep while talking on the phone--"but I didn't think anything about it," Akua told Kiilu, "because he was out on appeal bond from this ice cream truck robbery--he was accused of stealing $71 worth of ice cream...and he was just running. He had been touring all over the country, really trying to tighten up the party, and he fell asleep on the phone, so I just hung it up because he was tired."
In reality, however, Hampton had been drugged by a police informant.
"The next thing I remember," said Akua, "was someone coming into the back bedroom shaking Fred, saying, 'Chairman, Chairman, wake up. The pigs are vamping.'"
The next moment, says, Akua, the police began firing.
"The mattress was vibrating and there was plaster flying off the wall."
Later the shooting stopped, "but Fred was not moving."
"They (the police) grabbed my robe and started laughing, 'Well what do you know, we gotta broad here!'"
"I was very pregnant. They grabbed me by the hair and slung me into the kitchen area. I heard them say, 'He's barely alive' or 'He'll barely make it.' Then the shooting started again and then they said, 'He's good and dead now,' and I knew they had murdered Fred."
Akua today devotes her time struggling to win the freedom of her son, Fred Jr. The latter today resides in the same Illinois prison which once held his father. Fred Jr. is currently serving 18 years on a 1992 arson charge.
"In the aftermath of the Rodney King/Simi Valley verdict they said he was walking down the street of an open mall with a crate of molotov cocktails with black-eyed peas in them casually throwing bottles into Korean merchants' stores.
"They arrested him--Chicago Police, FBI, Gang Intelligence, Bomb and Arson, Korean Task Force--all of these different police agencies--the same type of agencies that descended on our apartment on Dec. 4 of '69, grabbed Fred Jr. when he was going with his daughter to play with a water gun in the park."
Fred Jr's experience in the American judicial system has been perhaps typical of that meeted out to poor people every day in this country.
"They had a trial, if you want to call it that," said Akua. "It lasted three days. Most of the people on the jury were related to police officers in one way or another."
Kiilu Nyasha's interview with Akua Njeri is available for a $12 donation to SFLR. Price includes postage and handling.
San Francisco Liberation Radio, 750 LaPlaya St. Box 852, San Francisco, CA 94121, 415-386-3135, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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