On December 4, 1969, just a few months after I moved to Chicago, Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot to death by Chicago police who kicked in their apartment door at 4:00 a.m. and fired over 90 shots to one possibly accidental shot from the Panthers. I worked in the Financial Aid Office at the U of I, and I didn't really understand why everyone was so upset. I was lucky enough to have a co-worker, Rakia Muhammed-Bey, who kindly sat me down and explained why this was so horrific and so important. I've never forgotten her or her kindness to a clueless little white girl.
A few weeks ago, I noticed an ad for a book, "The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the Chicago Police and the FBI Murdered a Black Panther," written by Jeffrey Haas, one of the attorneys who labored for years representing the survivors and their families in what ended up a federal case. It is an amazing story that traces the order to kill Hampton to Richard Nixon, John Mitchell and COINPROTEL. The question that continues to confound me: Why was a 21-year-old black man such a threat to the President of the United States? Could it possibly be true that it wasn't the hated Ed Hanrahan and the CPD who cooked up the plot to kill Hampton and Clark?
And then, at page 298, I got the shock of my life. Haas talks about calling his last witness, "George Jones, one of the two black officers on the CPD team, a soft-spoken, well-dressed man." My husband worked several years with George in the lobby of police headquarters at 11th and State. If you thought I was shocked, you should have seen his face - he absolutely could not believe it. He said George never mentioned his involvement, never mentioned the murders, never mentioned the court case. Nothing. Ever. George died several years ago.
So, I call my friend, Evelyn, who's knowledgeable about all things Chicago and I'm ranting on about George and the book and can you believe this shit? She said, in her calm Evelyn style, "Well, Debra, guess who I know. I know "Gloves" Davis, the other black officer on the team!"
"Did you know him in Chicago? Did you know he was involved? Do you know why they call him 'Gloves?' Do you know who ordered the assassinations?" I babbled.
"No, I met him when he moved in across the street from me here in Arizona. Never knew him before; met him when we moved from Chicago to retirement paradise. He was a bitter, sad old man who could only talk about his work as a police officer and he told me the whole Hampton story. He said he had everything written down, in his house, and he was going to write a book. No one could come in his house; I put a chair in my garage for him, where we'd sit and talk. He died about a year ago."
How weird is that? I know George and Evelyn knows "Gloves." How weird is that?
So, read the book. It's a page-turner and even though it's a "legal" book, it's written in layman's terms and is easy, eye-popping reading.