On Monday, Fred Hampton Jr., chairman of the Black Panther Party Cubs and Fred Hampton's son, joined Radio Sputnik's By Any Means Necessary to talk about the efforts to save his father's boyhood home, discussing the intersection between place, space and political movements.
"Maywood, Illinois, sits right outside the west side of Chicago, the home where my father grew up in," Hampton Jr. told hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon.
"The urban elementary school he attended is directly across the street from the home, the high school that he attended is approximately five blocks away from the home," he reminisced.
On December 4, 1969, at roughly 5 a.m., 14 police officers raided Hampton's apartment in Chicago's west side and fired dozens of bullets. Along with Hampton, Mark Clark, a party leader, was shot dead, while several others suffered bullet wounds. The Black Panther Party, originally named Black Panther Party for Self Defense, was an African-American revolutionary party founded in Oakland, California, in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The party's initial goal was to patrol African American neighborhoods to protect its residents from police brutality. It quickly grew into a call for full self-determination for black communities, decent housing, full access to education, full employment, criminal justice reform and other reforms.
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Around a month ago, Hampton Jr. discovered that his father's childhood home was on an auction listing. Along with a coalition of community members, Hampton Jr. started a fundraising campaign to raise the money owed to three banks for the home.
An investigation by the Village Free Press into the Cook County Recorder of Deeds records revealed that Hampton's parents took out a $265,000 adjustable rate subprime loan on the house in 2007. A subprime mortgage is a loan provided to borrowers with impaired credit records. Such loans are usually accompanied by high interest rates to compensate lenders for offering loans to risky borrowers.
"One of the things that was striking about this was that the loan in 2007 is by far one of the worst loans that [Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen] Yarbrough or myself has ever seen and we've seen thousands of mortgages," Mario Reed, the recorder's director of public information, told the Village Free Press Sunday.
"This was a several hundred thousand-dollar mortgage, with a 9.8 percent interest rate. And because it was an adjustable rate mortgage, the interest rate could go all the way up to 15.8 percent. That's predatory lending," he added. Predatory lending refers to lending practices that convince borrowers to accept unfair or abusive loan terms.
Records obtained from the Recorder of Deeds by Village Free Press revealed that US Bank, LaSalle Bank and Bank of America currently own the loan on the house, with US Bank owing the majority of the loan. US Bank foreclosed on the house without contacting the owner's home. The home currently belongs to Iberia Hampton, Hampton's mother, who passed away in 2016.
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"In Cook County, most foreclosure cases take between 12 and 18 months, on average, because banks are required to negotiate with the owner — something that came out of the 2008 foreclosure crisis," Reed told the Village Free Press. "We don't want banks to take people's houses without having to negotiate with the owner of the properties."
"We're now in the process of getting Fred Hampton Jr. and his cousins to become the rightful owners of the property. The process has to go through probate court, which is typically a lengthy process, but there are some ways, such as a proof of heirship, by which you can make the process go faster," Reed continued.
According to Hampton Jr., this experience is "a microcosm of what is happening to black communities all over."
"We have brought people from all walks of life to come support us about saving this landmark. In the last two months, the transformation that we have had in the community is phenomenal. Tomorrow was supposed to be the date for the auction, we just received a late last-minute word that the US banks and mortgage companies are sending us a tentative continuance," Hampton Jr. told Radio Sputnik.
The home's foreclosure sale, which was originally scheduled to be at 10:30 a.m. on October 23, has been canceled for now, according to the Judicial Sales Corporation website, which conducts foreclosure sales throughout the Illinois and neighboring states.
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"Our call is to the community, to the people, to mobilize and maintain the legacy of [Fred Hampton]. Legacies are, in fact, more important than our lives," Hampton Jr. added.
Another fundraiser, called "Save the Hampton House," was also established to help money for the cause. It is a fiscally sponsored project of Affect Real Change, Inc.
Hampton Jr.'s initial fundraising goal of $80,000 is the amount required to end the foreclosure action. He also hopes to eventually raise another $200,000 to pay for repairs required to bring the building up to code so that the home can be turned into a museum.