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Tell me about typical news, and tell me how to get rid of the FBI agent. One of the typical meetings between my FBI contact Mitchell would be downtown Chicago at 11, 12 noon, down in the basement of at some bar, some dog bar, and I would meet him at the bar. He'd be there when I got in there, and he'd have a drink, and I'd have a drink. And we'd sit there and talk for 15 or 20 minutes, and it was very casual. I mean, it was like, I'd come in, and he said, oh, what you up to? And then I'd say, well, I'm going down to Champagne, and I'm speaking to engage me with Fred, and I'm taking such and such with me, and we're carrying guns, and we're driving this car. I'd just rattling off 10 or 15 minutes. I'd tell him everything I knew. He didn't have to say very much, because when I joined the Black Panther Party, most of the information that I was giving him at that time was new information to him.
So as I grew inside of the party and began to learn things, he grew also, so he knew the members better than I did. We talk about the girlfriends and who was, you know, pregnant and who had a venereal disease. And this was just casual conversation between he and I. He wasn't always writing. What he put in his files, I still don't have the benefit of. But I know after a while, he and I became friends. And we talked in casual conversation about what I was doing in the Black Panther Party. Well, the whole nature of that relationship changed right around November, maybe November 13, when two police officers were killed by a Black Panther member named Jake Winners on the south side of Chicago. At night, as I understand the gun battle, Jake Winners straddling one of the officers who were wounded in the shootout and performed a coup de gras, a mercy killing, and he straddled the officer after the officer was down and put a shotgun to his head and put him out
of his misery. Or at least that's the way the newspaper described it. And I think the whole city, I think the Black Panthers took the wrap for that one when they really didn't deserve it. Because Jake Winners was out there on his own. He wasn't out there on any official member mission for the Black Panther Party. He was out there on his own. And he got into an altercation with a guy and the guy called the police and the police came and the shootout broke out. And two police officers were killed and Jake Winners were killed. The panthers took the heat because Jake Winners was a Black Panther. And past that point, I noticed maybe a couple of days after this officer were killed, Mitchell had this grim, solemn atmosphere about itself. And I could tell he was looking for specific, he wanted specific criminal violations. He wanted something that he could move on.
And I think he may have implied or even expressed that at one or two points. He expressed his anger over what had happened, how, I mean, the total disregard for life. And I mean, it was the first time I ever saw him express his personal opinion about what he thought the Black Panthers were doing. Can you describe to me the kind of information you were giving Mitchell about what was going on? Well, he started, Mitchell became more specific during that time. He wanted to know the locations of weapons, caches. He wanted to know if we had explosives. He needed to know who were standing at what locations, who spent the night where. His information didn't change so much as he requested more detail.
And I knew why. The shootout on the south side pretty much laid the foundation within the party, within the Black Panthers. We knew that the police would react some type of way. We could just feel the stepped up surveillance. We could feel the pressure all the way around and we knew something bad was going to happen. And I think we were all prepared for it. During that time, Fred was conducting quite a few speaking engagements, but even his attitude had changed somewhat within the Black Panther Party. He was becoming less, he was becoming more reluctant to speak in engagements, to making those outward appearances. He became more reserved, more protective of himself. He very seldom traveled anywhere by himself and he began taking five and six bodyguards to him.
So he felt it also, he felt like he was going to prison. He was pretty sure that the robbery conviction was going to take him out of the game. So he started preparing other members to take his role. Pretty much. Well, I routinely supplied whatever floor plans or diagrams I could to the FBI. That started in June 1969, they had a floor plan and keys to the Black Panther headquarters. The specific apartment on Monroe, I supplied that floor plan. Perhaps not the one you saw, but I do remember meeting with Mitchell at one point and drawing
up a diagram of the apartment. The one I've seen in court that was a little bit more fine-tuned than the one that I drew. Did you spark a meeting where you remember giving information to Mitchell? Well, the meeting was not unlike the other meetings we've had. It was always at the same location, was always doing the daytime and it was routine. Here again, in my mind, I knew that a raid was being planned. In my mind, I knew it. I knew also from the type of information that it would be probably a top raid, meaning the leader, one of the leaders' apartments. I also knew that the most vulnerable spot was Hampton's house because it was the one
that had all the weapons in it. It was the one with the weapons. Very few of the other apartments had the kind of weapons he had at that apartment. When he asked me for the diagram, it didn't surprise me. I knew the raid was going to be planned. I felt like at that point what they wanted to do was catch him with weapons and seal his conviction. If he'd been caught with the weapons, I'd appeal. He wouldn't went straight to jail. I can't recall it being expressed. I can't recall any specific conversations I've had with Mitchell about the raid, but we had such a unity of mind, so to speak. Our efforts were basically one. I understood what was going on. He didn't have to tell me. He described to me going to the funeral of two police officers that got killed, and I knew he was hurt by that.
And I knew he was going to do what he could to help the police department do something about it. I'm sorry, we need to stop for a second. We need to stop for a second. We need to stop for a second. We need to stop for a second.
We need to stop for a second. We need to stop for a second.
Eyes on the Prize
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Interview with William O'Neal, Part 3
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Blackside, Inc.
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Film and Media Archive, Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri)
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Episode Description
Interview with William O'Neal conducted by Blackside for "Eyes on the Prize II." O'Neal discusses being recruited to be an informant for the FBI in Chicago, joining the Black Panthers as an informant, and giving them information about the Black Panthers' activities and Fred Hampton.
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Interviewee: O'Neal, William
Producer: Team C
Producing Organization: Blackside, Inc.
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Film & Media Archive, Washington University in St. Louis
Identifier: cpbaacip1513775t3gc7b__fma269539int20130410_.h264.mp4 (AAPB Filename)
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Chicago: “Eyes on the Prize; Interview with William O'Neal, Part 3,” Film and Media Archive, Washington University in St. Louis, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024,
MLA: “Eyes on the Prize; Interview with William O'Neal, Part 3.” Film and Media Archive, Washington University in St. Louis, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Eyes on the Prize; Interview with William O'Neal, Part 3. Boston, MA: Film and Media Archive, Washington University in St. Louis, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from