A look back on the war against the Panthers is uncomfortably relevant today
Though this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the start of the Black Panther movement, in just a few years, we will be noting the 50th anniversary of its demise, which began when the Chicago Police Department and Cook County State's Attorney's Office, with assistance from the FBI, assassinated Panther Fred Hampton in his bed in Chicago in 1969. This was the two-year peak of the FBI's COINTELPRO surveillance of and war against the Panthers.
It's difficult to not look at this history of federal and local law enforcement surveillance of black communities and be reminded of the times that we live in right now. Federal and local law enforcement agencies still target and monitor black activists closely—the Chicago Police Department in particular is up to its old tricks again, funneling civil asset forfeiture profits into surveillance equipment—and though black activists have been found dead under suspicious circumstances, none have been linked to law enforcement (yet).