Mark Clark (June 28, 1947 – December 4, 1969) was an American activist and member of the Black Panther Party. He was killed with Fred Hampton during a Chicago police predawn raid on December 4, 1969.
After reading their literature and the Ten Point Program, Clark joined the Black Panther Party and later decided to organize a local Peoria chapter. He went from church to church in an effort to find a building to house a free breakfast program. He was eventually successful when Pastor Blaine Ramsey agreed to allow a free breakfast program. Church members later voted against continuing the breakfast program because of concerns of government monitoring of the Black Panther Party.
Some family members and friends say Mark Clark knew he would be murdered in Chicago. In the predawn hours of December 4, 1969, Chicago Police stormed into the apartment of BPP State Chairman Fred Hampton at 2337 West Monroe Street, killing both Mark Clark (age 22) and Fred Hampton (age 21), and causing serious bodily harm to Verlina Brewer, Ronald “Doc” Satchel, Blair Anderson, and Brenda Harris
Hampton and Deborah Johnson, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with their child, were sleeping in the south bedroom. Satchel, Anderson, and Brewer were asleep in the north bedroom. Harris and Louis Truelock were sleeping on a bed by the south wall of the living room, and Harold Bell slept on a mattress on the floor in the middle of the room. Clark, sitting in the front room of the apartment with a shotgun in his lap, was on security duty.
The first shot hit Clark in the heart. He died instantly, and his gun went off as he fell, according to Harris, who watched from the bed in the corner.
The single round was later determined to be caused by a reflexive death convulsion after the raiding team shot him. This was the only shot the Panthers fired. A federal grand jury determined that the police fired between 82 and 99 shots, including into bedrooms, while most of the occupants lay sleeping.
The killing of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, in a pre-dawn raid coordinated by the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, the Chicago police, and the FBI, was a major incident in the repression of the Black Power Movement. A less well-known victim of that raid was the 22-year-old, Peoria-born Mark Clark, who had come to Chicago to attend an Illinois-wide meeting of party leaders. On the night of the raid he was on security duty in the front room of Hampton’s apartment and was shot in the heart when authorities stormed the apartment.
Mark was the brother of Richard Pryor’s close friend Matt Clark, and had been — at four years old — the youngest member ever of Juliette Whittaker’s acting company, the Carver Players. After working as a teenager with his family in the town’s local NAACP chapter, he had founded the Peoria chapter of the Black Panther Party.
John Gwynn, president of the Peoria and Illinois chapters of the NAACP, recalled that “all of the Clark brothers were participating. All were alert and pretty much read up on the issues.” He added that Mark “could call for order when older persons or adults could not.”
“He was a nonconformist,” his sister Eleanor said. “He was the type of person who, regardless of whether anyone went along with his ideas…he was going to do what was right and appropriate.”
The Clark family was never notified by law enforcement officials of the shooting, according to the Tribune.