Director: Howard Alk

The Murder of Fred Hampton was originally supposed to be a portrait of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther party and its chairman Fred Hampton. During production of the film, however, Fred Hampton was murdered during a police raid, and the film instead became an investigative report into his death. The assassination of Hampton is a dark, violent chapter in civil rights history that continued to haunt activists after a blue-ribbon panel found the death of Hampton to be “justifiable homicide” in 1970. Released in 1971, this documentary astonishingly manages to capture the murder in its immediate aftermath through re-enactments, evidence from the scene, and interviews, and alleges that the Chicago police willingly murdered him, contradicting the findings of the earlier panel. The Murder of Fred Hampton is a haunting piece of cinema that expertly captures the spirit of the Black Panther party and pokes holes in the police department’s official story of Hampton’s death (Hampton’s family wouldn’t receive any modicum of justice until 1982). Unfortunately, The Murder of Fred Hampton feels just as relevant now as it did 42 years ago. —Andy Herrera