Foes of Hampton Sign Cite Cops’ Slaying

Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, March 3, 2006

Ald. Madeline Haithcock (2nd) and Fred Hampton’s brother have made the case for renaming a West Side street after the slain Black Panther leader by arguing that “Off the pigs” was just a figure of speech used by the Panthers during the turbulent 1960s.

But a Web site dedicated to fallen police officers is posting details of Chicago Police officers gunned down by Black Panthers to shoot down the claim that the Panthers were all talk and no action.

The Officer Down Memorial Page, www.odmp.org, wants to put two faces on the issue that has reopened decades-old racial wounds in Chicago: Officers Frank G. Rappaport and John Gilhooly.

On Nov. 13, 1969, Gilhooly, 21, and Rappaport, 36, were “ambushed by a member of the radical group Black Panthers on a false call of a man with a gun,” according to the Web site.

“As the officers entered a gangway between two buildings, the man opened fire with a shotgun from a porch below, striking Officer Rappaport in the chest and Officer Gilhooly in the face and neck. The suspect then shot Officer Rappaport again as he lay on the ground, killing him,” according to the narrative that appears below the names and photos of both slain officers.

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Haithcock could not be reached for comment about Gilhooly and Rappaport. Earlier this week, she argued that the families of slain officers mobilizing to block the street name don’t “know the history” and that Hampton’s words were only that—words. “If you read the history of Fred Hampton, you won’t see anything that bad about him,” she said.

Hampton had a criminal record that included a conviction for robbing an ice cream truck at a Maywood playground in July 1968. Hampton had testified he was not there the day of the robbery. While in prison, he was indicted along with 15 other Panthers in connection with a kidnapping in Summit. Police said the kidnapping charge stemmed from a woman hiding weapons the Panthers had entrusted to her. She was burned with a propane torch after she refused to say where the weapons were hidden.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

We asked commuters making their way through the Loop on Thursday what they thought about creating a Chairman Fred Hampton Way.

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“I don’t think it’s a big deal to name a portion of a street for him. I mean if City Council approves it—they are our representatives—then we should do it. We’ve honored a lot of forefathers who have done things we don’t agree with. Some have had slaves, but have done great things.”

Fred Farris, 28, River North

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