“In addition to being the important thing authorities tipster within the case,” the Tribune reported, O’Neal “might have witnessed one of many slayings final May of two males who allegedly have been killed by policemen and former policemen.”Attorney Jeffrey Haas reacted with amazement that morning as he learn the story and studied an accompanying photograph of O’Neal. The particulars of the piece have been disturbing sufficient, however Haas had one more reason for astonishment.Haas represented the Black Panthers in courtroom after confrontations with native legislation enforcement within the Nineteen Sixties. He was one of many attorneys main a $47 million civil swimsuit towards the town of Chicago, Cook County and the U.S. authorities on behalf of members of the family and survivors of the Dec. 4, 1969 raid during which Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22, died.Haas had recognized O’Neal for years — or thought he did.“Could the man I knew with the disarming smile and informal perspective be concerned in homicide for rent?” Haas recalled questioning in his e-book on the Black Panther raid and its aftermath. “More essential, did he drop the dime on Fred?”The reply, recounted within the movie “Judas and the Black Messiah”, was sure. The movie captures Hampton’s dedication, eloquence, sometimes violent rhetoric and dedication to Black empowerment. O’Neal struggles together with his twin function as a celebration member and FBI informant as he turns into more and more sympathetic to the Panthers and their chief.This movie depicts the betrayal and assassination of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Black Panther Party. (Warner Bros. Pictures)The movie reaches a grim climax with its depiction of the predawn raid during which Chicago police assigned to the workplace of Cook County State’s Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan burst right into a first-floor condominium on West Monroe Street.Inside, they unleash the withering gunfire that claimed the lives of Hampton and Clark and injured six others, together with two officers. A grand jury report after the raid concluded that just about all the gunfire throughout the raid got here from police.Hanrahan claimed hours after the raid that officers fired in response to “the quick, violent, legal response of the occupants in capturing at” the police. Bobby L. Rush, then the minister of protection for the Panthers and immediately a Democratic congressman from Chicago, declared “We’ll show it to the world that Fred Hampton was murdered.”Rush’s assertion resonated with many within the Black neighborhood who believed Hampton died due to a authorities plot towards the Panthers.“If the United States is profitable in its drive to crush the Black Panther Party, it gained’t be lengthy earlier than it seeks to crush your social gathering,” the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference warned at Hampton’s funeral.No one on the time suspected O’Neal of betrayal, however within the days main as much as the raid he equipped the FBI with a diagram of the condominium used within the raid by police. Even so, O’Neal appeared shocked by the loss of life of Hampton and the scene within the condominium, O’Neal’s uncle Ben Heard advised the Chicago Reader in 1990.“There was papers strewn all around the ground, blood throughout,” Heard mentioned. “There was a path of blood from the place that they had dragged Fred’s physique. Bill simply stood there in shock. He by no means thought it could come to all this.”The tangled story of O’Neal and the Panthers started in the summertime of 1967, in keeping with courtroom paperwork, when O’Neal was 17 and the FBI launched its COINTELPRO program geared toward undermining Black militants. Files found by antiwar protesters who broke into an FBI workplace in Pennsylvania included a memo from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordering brokers to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or in any other case neutralize” militant teams, Haas wrote.When the Black Panthers opened a department in Chicago in November 1968, the “Chicago FBI was fast to implement the ways mandated by Washington,” in keeping with the lawsuit filed by Haas and his colleagues. FBI Agent Roy M. Mitchell instructed O’Neal — whom he had initially contacted whereas O’Neal was within the Cook County jail — to infiltrate the fledgling militant group, in keeping with the lawsuit.At first, O’Neal ran errands and dealt with odd jobs. “He was mainly a flunky, gofer and handyman,” Rush advised the Tribune.O’Neal ultimately assumed safety duties for the Panthers whereas protecting the FBI apprised of Panther actions. After he discovered that the Panthers contemplated a merger with the Blackstone Rangers gang, the FBI concocted an nameless letter despatched to Rangers chief Jeff Fort warning “that the Panthers had a ‘hit’ out on him,” the lawsuit mentioned.While O’Neal mentioned he revered Mitchell, he insisted to the Tribune that he grew to admire Hampton and the Panthers. “These guys began impressing me somewhat greater than Mitchell did,” O’Neal mentioned of the Panthers. “They began speaking about Black battle and Black rights, and their entire program appeared to make sense.”O’Neal mentioned he argued with Mitchell concerning the Panthers and their objectives however nonetheless fed the FBI data.“I felt proud being on the legislation enforcement facet,” O’Neal advised the Tribune. “But I actually was only a pawn in a really large sport.”The sport ended for O’Neal after the 1973 Tribune exposé. He moved to California after coming into the federal witness safety program however struggled together with his new life and cut up up together with his spouse, in keeping with the Tribune. “If you ask me if I’m a contented man — no, I’m not completely happy. I’m not even content material,” he advised the newspaper.O’Neal remarried and returned to Chicago within the Nineteen Eighties — revealed stories differ on when — together with his new spouse and have become a father, the Tribune reported. Interviewed for the 1990 documentary collection “Eyes on the Prize II,” O’Neal declined to explain himself as a hero, then added, “on the identical time I don’t really feel ashamed.” But he by no means got here to phrases with the implications of his double life, Heard mentioned.O’Neal died early within the morning on Jan. 15, 1990, after bolting out of Heard’s condominium and into visitors on the Eisenhower Expressway. The Cook County Medical Examiner dominated his loss of life a suicide.“I feel he was sorry he did what he did,” Heard advised the Reader. “He thought the FBI was solely going to raid the home. But the FBI gave it over to the state’s legal professional and that was all Hanrahan wished. They shot Fred Hampton and made certain he was lifeless.”