FBI files related to the 1969 murder of Fred Hampton, newly obtained by Jacobin, shed light on two key aspects of the bureau’s anti–Black Panthers operation: one, FBI informant William O’Neal was more vital — beyond helping murder Hampton — than previously understood. Two, sabotaging the Panthers’ ability to work with other organizations was an explicit FBI goal.
Aaron J. Leonard is a writer and historian. He is the author of A Threat of the First Magnitude: FBI Counterintelligence & Infiltration From the Communist Party to the Revolutionary Union - 1962-1974 (Repeater Books, 2018).
The horrifying story of the 1969 police murder of Fred Hampton is now well known. But there’s still much to be revealed about the case — like the information in bureau files newly obtained by Jacobin showing the FBI awarded Special Agent Roy Martin Mitchell, the handler of informant William O’Neal who was key to the raid that killed Hampton, a $200 bonus for work well done.
Richard Aoki was well-known as a lifelong Bay Area radical, playing key roles in the Socialist Workers Party, Berkeley ethnic studies strike, and Black Panther Party. He was also an FBI informant.
The FBI has long tried to destroy socialist organizations, but its actions aren’t limited to surveillance. In the sixties and seventies, informants were key — even at the top levels of left groups.
How the FBI broke into the revolution business.