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"Fred Hampton Way" abandoned at city council

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Plans to honor a slain Black Panther leader with an honorary street sign were abandoned Wednesday. The controversial proposal failed to garner enough support to move past the City County committee.

Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police flexed its considerable political muscle at City Hall. While there was never an actual vote, sources said the FOP won over enough Latino aldermen to kill the Fred Hampton Street sign, which was favored by the vast majority of black aldermen.

Supporters of the measure, including Alderwoman Tillman, hoped that the council would vote Wednesday on whether to designate the 2300-block of West Monroe "Honorary Chairman Fred Hampton Way". The sign would remember the late Chicago Black Panther leader who was killed in 1969 during a police raid. However, sponsor Alderman Madeline Haithcock said the measure would remain in committee because she could not find the votes to pass it.

"I just didn't have enough to do it. And, my thing was, I wanted it to be passed. And, I can't pass it," said Ald. Madeline Haithcock, 2nd Ward

The Fraternal Order of Police lobbied alderman to vote against the designation. The FOP leaders said Hampton and the Black Panthers advocated killing police officers and should not be honored. The controversy sparked a major demonstration at Chicago City Hall last month with street sign supporters demanding a floor vote on the issue.

This morning, when Fred Hampton Junior and others arrived outside the council chambers they were not allowed inside.

"We tried several times to get in and they were backing us up so we cannot come in," said Fred Hampton, Jr., Street Sign Supporter.

"We did have a situation at the last meeting. If some people were excluded, I'm sorry about that," said Tina Butler, Council Sgt. at Arms

During the meeting, the Fred Hampton Way issue was not mentioned until an alderman asked his colleagues to condemn a recent raid on businesses that allegedly hired illegal immigrants.

"I cannot discuss the raid that happened two weeks ago, when there was a raid that murdered Fred Hampton in 1969, and he was not even raised to the floor to the vote just outside! There's something hypocritical about that," said Ald. Dorothy Tillman, 3rd Ward.

There are no public plans by other aldermen to pick up the Fred Hampton sign resolution.

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