A politician’s proposal to erect a street sign in tribute to a Black Panther killed in a 1969 police raid has angered members of the police force and injected controversy into Chicago’s usually rubber-stamp way of honoring people.
Chicago has nearly 1,300 honorary street signs, most of which were approved easily by city aldermen at the request of their colleagues.
But anger recently erupted after Alderwoman Madeline Haithcock, who is black, proposed a sign honoring Fred Hampton, who was state chairman of the Black Panther Party. He was killed with another Black Panther when Chicago police raided Hampton’s apartment in search of guns.
“It’s a disgrace that someone be honored who promoted violence against police officers,” said Mark Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Rep. Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther and friend of Hampton’s, defended the idea, saying that as a result of Hampton’s effort to bring attention to police brutality in Chicago, “the police department is a better police department.”
Haithcock said earlier this week: “If you read the history of Fred Hampton, you won’t see anything that bad. All he said is he was going to defend himself against policemen, and evidently he didn’t because they murdered him.”
The proposal could come before the City Council later this month.
The long list of the honored includes Frank Sinatra (twice), Hugh Hefner, Michael Jordan and various local figures, including people who went by the names Fluky, Moose, Auntie Rose and Whurly. Most sailed through with little attention.