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Talk to you through the events in the evening of December 3rd, what you did and where you were. December 3rd. It was cold that day. It was really a slow day. We were at the office, Hampton was there, Rush was there, and General Staff was there. It wasn't too much activity going on streetwise because the weather was so cold. It's a melancholy kind of day. It just came and went. Got down to the evening, we all decided to walk the block from the office to Hampton's house and eat dinner. The women were cooking dinner, a big dinner, big, I think we had chili and big fried spaghetti and most of us had it labelled at the office, looking forward to just going over there and eating dinner and reading and just being together. It was just a slow day. It was the last day we... It was the last type of day but we think that anything was going to happen. It was just too quiet.
Nothing was happening. Totally off guard. There are conflicting autopsy reports that Fred Hampton may or may not have been drugged. There are stories about whether or not you brought Fred Hampton food or drink. Do you have any information about whether he's drugged? Fred Hampton drugged. I've never known Fred. I knew him for about 16 months. I've been with him in a lot of different situations. We've been in hotels together. We've been out here and I alone in the car. I've never known Fred to take drugs. And to take it a step further, Fred would not tolerate anyone even smoking marijuana around him. And I don't think any of us in the hierarchy of the Bike Panther Party would dare get drunk or drink. So alcohols and drugs were unknown.
As far as the rumors that he was drugged that night, unless he was on some type of medication, I think it was just rhetoric. I think it was fabricated. As far as the insinuation that myself or someone else in the house would have drugged Frank. Fred Hampton, I don't buy it. It was just no way. Fred was the type of person that you didn't have to drug anyway. Fred was always tired. He could get in a car and we couldn't ride two blocks without him dosing off. I mean, he was a high energy person that ran on very little fuel and wherever he sat down, he was well rested. I've never believed that. In a day's prior to December 3rd, had you given Michel's specific information about what this is that we're at? Well, I can recall we had a couple of conversations, but where I told him basically what was in various apartments.
Yeah, the apartment on Monroe was not unlike the office and so forth. He had a running knowledge pretty much of where the weapons were, what weapons were there, and so forth. I can recall probably around the second or third verifying that certain weapons were still as previously reported. Yeah, I can recall having a conversation or two about weapons. How did you learn about police right on the Monroe Street car? Well, the following day, I went directly to the office and the office was empty, unusually empty. It was one girl sitting behind a desk and she was on the phone and there was just no people there. And I walked in, I guess it was about 10 o'clock in the morning, and I walked in and I was waiting on how to get off the phone to ask what was up. And I saw a sometimes, a copy of a sometimes land and had his picture on there and had Panther leader slain on it.
And boy, I felt bad. I felt just so claiming. And I remember walking out of the office and looking through a little clearing over on the next block, which was right in front of the Monroe Street address and seeing a lot of police cars over there. And at that time, Bible Rush came to the office so he had just come from over there or maybe the coroner's office. In any case, we walked back over there and we both were speechless. We just walked through the house and saw where what had taken place and where he died and it was shocking. Well, I think it was that morning that I began to feel that I felt really, I mean, everything that I had done flashed before me, I began to put it all together pretty much. And I couldn't believe it. I mean, it was just shocking and that he had died.
What did you begin to put together? The information, the information leading up to the raid, the attitudes and the whole thing. I mean, you just felt it in the wind. You know, something bad was going to happen. I felt like it would be a raid. I knew it would be a raid. I mean, two police officers had got killed. I knew it would be a raid, but I didn't feel like anyone would get killed, especially not for it. So, yeah, I was shocked. I felt a little... I didn't feel like I had done anything. I didn't walk in there with guns. I didn't shoot him. If I didn't do it, I felt somewhat like I was betrayed. I felt like if anyone should have known it was going to be a raid that morning, I should have known. Also, I felt like I could have been caught in that raid. I was there that night, and I felt like if I had laid down, I probably would have been a victim.
So, I felt betrayed. I felt like I was expendable. I felt like perhaps I was on the wrong side. Yeah, I had my misgivings. I'm not going to sit here. Now, I take responsibility for the raid. You know, I'm not going to do that. I didn't pull the trigger. I didn't shoot a warrant. I didn't put the guns in the apartment. So, I'm not going to take responsibility for that. But I do feel like I was betrayed. I felt like I should have known the raid was coming down. I felt like it was probably excessive. Yeah, I felt like it was a surgical strike. And I was real angry for quite a few days. Quite a few days. I refused to have any contact with Roy. Mitchell, at that point.
But I think he pretty much understood, too. We got together and had a few drinks, and he didn't take any responsibility for it either. He said, basically, he didn't know what was going to occur, which at that point was hard for me to believe. I just began to understand, basically, how serious and deadly the game we had all been playing for 16 months, the reality of what we were doing just came to bear on us that morning. I think the membership was automatically decreased by 300 members that never showed up again when that happened. I think that all of our enemies, like Panther parties, enemies came out of the woodwork to capitalize on the situation. The Russia was angry for quite a few days about all of the national leaders that showed up to lend support to the Black Panthers who wouldn't sit down and have a conference with him early in the game.
All of those people that showed up at Freda Hempson's funeral and looked over his coffin didn't give him 10 minutes of their time when he was alive. How were you paid and how much were you paid? Generally, I was paid in cash and normal amounts would have ranged from $300 to $500 depending on my needs. If I requested a specific amount, I knew that I could get it, but the payments were very infrequent. I mean, mental-determined, aged mental-determined early on in the game that spending money was the quickest way to blow your cover. Also, I was living in the Panther environment. I was living in a Panther house, which they call the crib. I was eating with them and sleeping with them, and I was with them 24 hours a day, so I had very little need for money.
So, I was always assured that my money was being held in trust and that I could draw from it, draw down on it any time I got ready. On any time I had a legitimate need that wouldn't compromise my security. I suppose at any point, if I needed $1,000, or $2,000 from the FBI, I couldn't have gotten it. How often did you need information? Depending on my travel schedule, and later on, within the Black Panther Party, I was traveling around a lot as a bodyguard to Hampton and so forth, and every way he went, I went. So, the meetings became infrequent as the activities picked up. Normally, once a week, in the fall of 1969, it got down to about once a week. And past that point, it was just telephonic contact. Yes. That's a rollout?
10 seconds.
Series
Eyes on the Prize
Raw Footage
Interview with William O'Neal, Part 4
Producing Organization
Blackside, Inc.
Contributing Organization
Film and Media Archive, Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip/151-xs5j96147j
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Description
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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Raw Footage
Genres
Interview
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Credits
Interviewee: O'Neal, William
Producer: Team C
Producing Organization: Blackside, Inc.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Film & Media Archive, Washington University in St. Louis
Identifier: cpbaacip1513775t3gc7b__fma269540int20130410_.h264.mp4 (AAPB Filename)
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Citations
Chicago: “Eyes on the Prize; Interview with William O'Neal, Part 4,” 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 May 27, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-151-xs5j96147j.
MLA: “Eyes on the Prize; Interview with William O'Neal, Part 4.” 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. May 27, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-151-xs5j96147j>.
APA: Eyes on the Prize; Interview with William O'Neal, Part 4. 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 http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-151-xs5j96147j