Carl Hampton, the leader of the People’s Party II in Houston Texas shown in an undated image, was slain by police July 26, 1970 in an ambush by law enforcement.
The People’s Party II was an African American organization along the lines of the Black Panther Party and was seeking affiliation with the larger organization. They maintained close relations with the John Brown Revolutionary League, a white organization in the city.
Hampton’s organization set up a storefront office along Dowling Street in what was the heart of a working class area of Houston. The group put forward demands including black juries and judges for African Americans charged with crimes, reparations for African Americans for slavery and Jim Crow, decent housing and jobs and exemption of African Americans from military service.
The group also advocated armed self-defense against police violence.
Ten days earlier, People’s Party II and the John Brown Revolutionary League engaged in an armed standoff with police outside Hampton’s Dowling Street headquarters. The police ultimately withdrew and there were no shots fired.
After two African American youths were arrested for carrying a shotgun and a pistol on July 26th, the People’s Party II called for a rally at the Dowling Street the following day.
As several dozen began gathering for the evening rally, a report of armed men on the roof of a church was relayed to Hampton who was inside the group’s storefront. Hampton and Haile, carrying weapons, went to investigate and police snipers who were stationed in the church across the street opened fire killing Hampton and wounding Haile.
In an exchange of gunfire that followed, three other African Americans were wounded.
A police spokesperson said the following day during a rally by 200 protesting the shootings where no police were visibly present, “We are in there all right. You just can’t see the officers. That’s what happened last night. They couldn’t see us.”
A reporter for KULF who was on the roof with the officers said Hampton was shot by the officers using night vision scopes using illegal dumdum bullets.
A Houston grand jury later exonerated the police and said Hampton and other members of People’s Party II opened fire first.
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