Rush co-founded the Black Panther Party’s Illinois chapter and was close friends with Fred Hampton, the party chapter’s chairman who in 1969 created the first Rainbow Coalition before he was killed in a predawn raid by Chicago police. Rush, who blames the FBI for Hampton’s death, called for a full reporting of the domestic spying on civil rights activists and others.
“As a victim of COINTELPRO, I want to know, with honesty, with clarity, and with no redactions, the full extent of the FBI’s nefarious operations,” the congressman said. “I want to know the breadth and depth of the conspiracy to assassinate Fred Hampton and how taxpayer dollars were spent on his assassination. I want to know why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a focus of the FBI, why Billie Holiday was a focus of the FBI — I want to know why so many young activists were harassed by the FBI. What was the justification for the impact that it had on their lives?”
CNN has reached out to the FBI for comment.
The Black Panther Party emerged from the Black Power era and the global political upheaval of the 1960s. Inspired by Malcolm X’s revolutionary Black nationalism, it borrowed rhetoric from radical movements in Cuba, Africa and the developing world and demanded decent housing for Black people and an end to police brutality, even patrolling Black neighborhoods to protect residents.