Seventeen years old. Sixteen gunshots. Thirteen months before a murder charge.

Voters in Cook County, Illinois, will go to the polls in the state’s primary tomorrow and will pick a candidate to run for Cook County State’s Attorney. The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as many prominent Democrats, have endorsed candidate Kim Foxx over incumbent Anita Alvarez. All have citied Alvarez’s slow handing of the Laquan McDonald case.

17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. Alvarez took over a year to charge Van Dyke with McDonald’s murder.

Almost 45 years before McDonald was killed, Chicago police with the involvement of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation killed two black men in an apartment on Chicago’s west side. A Cook County State’s Attorney would play a controversial role in that case too.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 4, 1969, a team of police officers organized by Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan stormed an apartment ostensibly in search of illegal weapons. The apartment was the residence of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, and it served as the chapter’s headquarters. Nearly 100 shots were fired. When the haze of gun smoke cleared, Fred Hampton and another Panther, Mark Clark, lay dead. The raiding officers had riddled them with bullets.

Many viewed Hampton’s death as an assassination, but Hanrahan steadfastly defended the raid and the actions of his officers. He cited alleged bullet holes in a doorjamb as evidence that his officers had been fired upon by the Panthers. These holes were later revealed to be merely exposed nail heads.

A federal investigation found that of the dozens of shell casings collected at the site of the raid, only one could have come from a Panther’s gun. The rest had been from guns used by the raiding officers.

Hanrahan was eventually indicted on charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to the raid. He was acquitted of all charges, but public anger surrounding the raid cost him the support of his political allies as well as his 1972 re-election bid. He would never again serve elected office.

In this clip from The Murder of Fred Hampton, a 1971 documentary by The Film Group, directed by Howard Alk, and produced by Mike Gray, we hear Hanrahan defending the raid, followed by a news report parroting Hanrahan’s version of events, then Panthers’ attorney Skip Andrew speaking at Hampton’s funeral.

Tomorrow’s primary will tell if the public anger over Laquan McDonald’s murder will cost Anita Alvarez her job in the same way that anger over the raid that killed Hampton cost Hanrahan his.
You can watch the full version of The Murder of Fred Hampton on Media Burn here and here. On the 20th anniversary of Hampton’s death, filmmaker Peter Kuttner created two followup films: Power to the People and Right On: A Friend Remembers Fred Hampton.

Monday, March 21: Join Scrappers,, and Media Burn at the Music Box for

Rights Lab: Can I record the police?

Where: Music Box Theater, 3733 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, IL
When: Monday, March 21, 2016 — 7:00 pm
Admission: Free
 Filming police is legal in all 50 states – but numerous people have been arrested while doing so.

The third episode of Rights Lab, a cross-genre web series using cinema verite techniques to explore the most pressing civil liberties questions of our day, explains the discrepancy between the law and what happens on the ground, with the help of performance artists Ricardo Gamboa and Steven Beaudion.

Along with a screening of the Rights Lab episode, the event will include a video of a clash between police and demonstrators at Cabrini-Green Homes in 1981 from Media Burn Archive. It will be followed by a panel discussion led by Beckie Stocchetti of Kartemquin Films with performance artist Ricardo Gamboa, civil rights lawyer Jerry Boyle and documentarian Tom Weinberg of Media Burn Archive.

For more information, check out the Facebook invite and learn more about Rights Lab on Scrappers Film Group’s website.



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