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Editorial reaction to Hampton shooting 1.LIOWU100 Ot t g o \(‘ p o o l i mp aori o d Post/conservative daily Chronicle/conservative daily Tribune/extremely conservative weekly Voice of HOPE/liberal black weekly Forward Times/moderate black weekly Space City!/radical biweekly Cougar/University of Houston 0 ci members and supporters who solicited from cars which slowed at the intersection. AT 7:30 P.M., the day shift of the Houston Police Department was ordered held over for night duty and approximately 250 others were summoned to go into operation using riot-control techniques they recently had learned. For the first time since May 6-7, 1967, when 300 police *rushed a dormitory housing snipers at black Texas Southern University, the department was utilizing “sniper squads.” As the rally broke up probably about 10 p.m., the time still is not clear Hampton and his colleagues received reports that police armed with rifles were on the roof of St. John’s Baptist Church. It appears that Hampton was shot in the second investigative sortie from the storefront, and Bartee Haile, in a third. No marked patrol cars were in evidence and no call to surrender was heard from police before the shooting began. Reports are entirely in conflict as to who fired first. The Houston Chronicle on Aug. 9 published a selectively edited set of excerpts from a tape recording’ made by Howard Dupree, a KTHT radio reporter who was on the roof of the church with C. Kitzmann, D. A. Barnard, R. G. Blaylock, and R. Q. Blackburn, all of the Criminal Intelligence Division. It is clear that the crowd at the intersection scattered as firing began, and that a long period of silence ensued until shortly after 11 p.m., when all 250 of the specially-outfitted police \(flak’ vests, storefront and began taking Panther buttons as souvenirs and ripping posters off the walls. These police then arrested 52 members of the crowd on Dowling, striking many with rifle butts in a swift unannounced sweep which followed their riot instruction to the letter. Hampton was in surgery at Ben Taub Hospital, where he was admitted as “John Sims,” and where he died at 2:50 a.m. Monday morning, the 27th. Five others, including Haile, were wounded. That Monday morning, the frightened remnant of PP2 reoccupied the storefront. A group of black leaders representing their organizations in most cases, but in some cases, themselves, met at the Wheeler Street YMCA and organized a Black Coalition, which announced itself the following day at the site of the shootings with a call for the dismissal of Police Chief Herman Short, a selective boycott of downtown merchants by blacks until December 31 and the establishment of a civilian police review board. Ovide Duncantell, a former employe of the Houston-Harris County Community Action Association, the anti-poverty agency, and the chairman of The Central Committee for the Protection of Poor People, which appears to have little existence beyond his use of the name, found himself the object of suspicion by many blacks. The Rev. Earl Allen, a Coalition spokesman and head of the independent anti-poverty group, HOPE Development Inc., accused him and another black of working for “the man,” and Duncantell, the most visible and audible of the men surrounding the dead Hampton, continued his harangues against the police. PP2 members and others state it was Duncantell who told Hampton of the police on the church; Duncantell states it was not. 1 “Houston police patrolmen J. E. Murphy and J. M. McCoy were no-billed by a Harris County grand jury Thursday in a charge of aggravated assault on Johnny Joseph Coward, 17, 3214 Arbor, who lost his left eye while in police custody last Dec. 7. Assistant Dist. Atty. I. D. McMaster said the grand jury heard testimony from four police officers and Coward. He could not elaborate on the reason for the no-bill. Coward claimed his eyeball was ruptured by a kick from a booted officer after he had been taken to an office, which he believed was in the Police Station… . Police claimed Coward fell in a parking lot after he attacked an officer.” [ The Houston Post, December 7, 1969] Subsequently, another grand jury heard Coward’s allegations and returned true-bills against the officers. The week before Carl Hampton was killed, the charges were dropped in court on the motion of the state prosecutor. 2 “Houston’s antipoverty agency is confronted with the ticklish job of defining how far its employes may go in public protest. Its problem is prompted by the appearance of Ovide Duncantell, a Harris County Community Action Assn. employe, before City Council Dec. 17. Duncantell accused police officers of unnecessarily gunning down a black high school student during an arrest for car stealing. He vowed retaliation. ‘We will exterminate 10 pigs for every black brother that is killed,’ he told council. … Duncantell took a day off without pay to appear before council.” [The Houston Chronicle, Dec. 25, 1969] 3 “Be prepared for big stuff. We’ve got the area secured.” [Ovide Duncantell to City Council July 22] 4 [Are those men with shotguns at the door there to defend you?] “They’re there to defend themselves and this property. I’m to defend myself.” [Carl Hampton in KPFT interview July 24] “We started calling in officers about 7:30 after we got the reports of the stopping of traffic to ask for donations. It has got to the point where you had to decide if you are going to control the area August 21, 1970 3