We’re only a month into 2021, and already, what might become the most electrifying movie of the year is here. The Ryan Coogler-produced Judas and the Black Messiah is based on the real-life assassination of the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton, and the FBI informant who played a significant role in his death, William O’Neal, during the late ’60s.
O’Neal infiltrated the Black Panthers—a party deemed “the greatest to internal security of the country” by then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover—to obtain as much information as he could to benefit the FBI, who equated the Black Panthers with hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Here are some details on the true story behind Judas and the Black Messiah.
O’Neal played a pivotal role in the December 1969 raid.
As in the movie, O’Neal lived in Chicago’s West Side. When he was 17, he was arrested for taking a stolen car across state lines and getting into an accident; in exchange for a lesser sentence, he agreed to provide information to the FBI as an informant.
“So when he [Roy Mitchell] asked me to join the Black Panther Party, and he used terms, he never used the word ‘informant,'” O’Neal said in a 1989 interview. “He always said, ‘You’re working for me,’ and I associated him as the FBI. So all of a sudden I was working for the FBI, which, in my mind, at that point, I associated with being an FBI agent. So I felt good about it. I felt like I was working undercover for the FBI doing something good for the finest police organization in America.”
Both in real life and in the film, he’d successfully infiltrate the Black Panthers and later become the head of security. Also true to real life, O’Neal was responsible for providing the floor plan of the apartment in which Hampton and other Panthers resided in to the FBI, allowing the December 1969 raid to take place.
Following the raid, O’Neal’s involvement would not become public for another four years. He would later be placed in the Witness Protection Program for his own safety.
In 1990, O’Neal was struck by a car and killed at 40. His death was ruled a suicide.
Hampton was a leader for the Black Panther Party until his death.
Hampton, too, was born and raised in the Chicago area. As in the film, he was a vocal member the Black Panther Party, a chairman for the Chicago chapter. In 1969, just months prior to the raid, he was arrested over the alleged robbery of an ice cream truck and imprisoned. (Hampton testified that he was nowhere near the site in which the robbery took place.)
The night of the raid, Hampton taught a politics class and returned home. At around 4:30am and with a search warrant permitting the seizure of illegal weapons, the FBI raided their home, firing somewhere between 80 and 100 bullets, with just one fired in return by accident. Hampton and fellow leader Mark Clark were killed. A medical examiner had determined that Hampton had consumed a sufficient amount of barbiturate the day of the raid, lulling him to sleep and likely slipped by O’Neal.
Fred Hampton Jr., Hampton’s son, recently watched the film and his this to say about his father: “A legacy is more important than your life,” he told ET. “And the legacy of such a force of Chairman Fred and the Black Panther Party in general, we hold it tight.”
Source: Read Full Article