Edward V. Hanrahan, 88
Prosecutor Oversaw Fatal 1969 Raid of Black Panthers in Chicago
By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 12, 2009
Edward V. Hanrahan, 88, the former Cook County, Ill., state's
attorney under whose oversight a squad of police officers raided the
Black Panther Party headquarters in 1969 and killed two of its
leaders, died June 9 of complications from leukemia at his home in
River Forest, Ill., a Chicago suburb.
Fourteen police officers assigned to his office, acting on a tip from
an FBI informant, burst into the West Side Chicago apartment early
Dec. 4, 1969, in search of illegal weapons. Police had raided it
three times before, but this time they were armed with a map that
showed where Panther leaders Mark Clark and Fred Hampton slept. In a
fusillade, Clark and Hampton were killed.
Mr. Hanrahan, who had made his name as a law-and-order prosecutor
unafraid to pursue organized crime figures, defended the police
tactics, saying the black activists shot first. Later probes showed
that one of the Panthers had fired at least one shot, and the
multiple bullet holes that Mr. Hanrahan pointed to as evidence of
more were exposed nail heads. The police fired between 82 and 99
shots in the four-room apartment.
Black and white Chicagoans were deeply enraged and frightened by the
event. Some considered the raid a massacre and blamed J. Edgar
Hoover's FBI Cointelpro covert intelligence program for setting it
up. Others thought Hampton was a dangerous radical -- just before his
death he had told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was "at war with the
pigs." The radical Weathermen two months earlier had staged the Days
of Rage, an anti-Vietnam War demonstration that attempted to spark
revolution. And no one had forgotten the riots at the Democratic
National Convention a year before.
Along with the police, Mr. Hanrahan was indicted on charges of
conspiracy to present false evidence and obstruction of justice, but
all were later cleared. A protracted civil suit ended in 1982, with
the survivors of the raid and families of the deceased receiving an
award of $1.85 million. A judge ruled that the government had
conspired to deny the Panthers their civil rights.
Mr. Hanrahan, who had often been talked about as a possible mayor or
Illinois governor, never recovered his political career. He lost a
1972 reelection campaign, two mayoral races in the 1970s and a
campaign for alderman in the early 1980s. He went into private
practice and often defended suburban governments as well as police
and fire officials, said his nephew, Tom Wheeler.
He was not bitter about what transpired, Wheeler said, nor was he a
bigot, an accusation that dogged him for years. The Black Panthers,
originally organized to protect minority communities from police
brutality, created medical clinics and provided free food to
schoolchildren before becoming a Marxist organization. Clark and
Hampton were held up as martyrs to the cause, and Hanrahan was
excoriated as a racist.
"Nothing could be further from the truth. At the end of his life, he
traveled, he learned two foreign languages, he studied philosophy and
the Bible, he learned to play the piano and joined a book club,"
Wheeler said. "He served meals to the homeless" through a church
Edward Vincent Hanrahan was born in Coconut Grove, Fla., and moved to
Chicago with his family when he was a boy. He graduated from the
University of Notre Dame. During World War II, he served in the Army
Signal Corps in the United States, and in 1948 he received a degree
from Harvard Law School.
Mr. Hanrahan ran for Congress unsuccessfully in 1960 and worked in
the district attorney's office until the powerful Mayor Richard J.
Daley sponsored him to President Lyndon B. Johnson as a candidate for
U.S. attorney, the leading federal prosecutor for northern Illinois.
"Let me say, Mr. President, with great pride and honor, he's a
precinct captain," Daley told Johnson. "You got him, you got him,"
In the all-power-is-local world of Chicago politics, the lowly job
trumped any other qualification. Four years later, in 1968, Daley
"promoted" Mr. Hanrahan from U.S. attorney to Cook County state's
attorney. But after the Black Panther raid, the Daley Democratic
political machine tried to drop Mr. Hanrahan from the ticket in 1972.
He won the primary, but largely because of the anger of black voters
he lost the general election to a Republican.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Geraldine Hanrahan of River
Forest; four children, Edward Hanrahan of Milwaukee, Gerald Hanrahan
of Austin, Kathleen Hefner of Oak Park, Ill., and Julie Danaher of
Chicago; and 10 grandchildren.
Controversial former Cook County prosecutor dies
June 10, 2009
By ABDON B. PALLASCH, Sun-Times News Group
Edward V. Hanrahan, the former Cook County state's attorney who led
the infamous 1969 raid on the Black Panther Party in Chicago, died
Tuesday, his nephew said.
Mr. Hanrahan, 88, was a Harvard Law School graduate, a U.S. attorney
and a rising star in the Democratic Party before the ill-fated raid
killed his political career.
"He was a man of very strong convictions, and he felt very
passionately about everything he did," said Circuit Judge Richard J.
Elrod, who served as county sheriff while Hanrahan was state's attorney.
Elrod's name likewise became synonymous with fighting the political
hyper-activism that engulfed Chicago in the late 1960s.
On the morning of Dec. 4, 1969, police detailed to Mr. Hanrahan
raided the Black Panther Party's West Side headquarters, killing
party chairman Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Mr. Hanrahan claimed his
men had been fired on by the militant group and showed bullet holes
in the door. The Chicago Sun-Times found the "holes" actually were
nail heads and the real bullet holes were above Hampton's bed.
"He was acting on police intelligence," Elrod said. "His error was
not so much in doing what he did but in, then, afterward, claiming
bullet holes in the wrong places."
Mr. Hanrahan had been talked about as an eventual successor to Mayor
Richard J. Daley, but instead Daley tried to remove Mr. Hanrahan from
the ticket. Mr. Hanrahan was the Democratic nominee for state's
attorney in 1972, but he lost to Republican Bernard Carey thanks, in
large part, to black voters angry about over the fatal raid.
Fred Hampton Jr., now chairman of the Prisoners of Conscience
Committee in Illinois, was born 25 days after the raid. He said
Tuesday it still bothers him that people he holds responsible for his
father's death - Mr. Hanrahan, former Mayor Richard J. Daley and
former FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover among others - "never served a day
in jail; none of these individuals received any punishment for
engaging in one of the most brutal acts of terrorism on U.S. soil."
After his political defeat, Mr. Hanrahan returned to the practice of
law and raising his four children in River Forest with his wife of 55
years, Geraldine, said his nephew, Tom Wheeler.
"He practiced law up until, virtually, his death," Wheeler said.
Besides his wife, Mr. Hanrahan is survived by two sons, Edward and
Gerald; two daughters, Kathleen and Julie, and many grandchildren.
Visitation will be held at St. Giles Church, 1045 N. Columbian Ave.,
Oak Park, at 4 p.m. Thursday with a Mass beginning at 6 p.m. Burial
will be Friday at St. Joseph Cemetery in River Grove.
Edward V. Hanrahan, 1921-2009: Political career ended by Black Panther raid
Ex-Cook County state's attorney was indicted on conspiracy charges
but later cleared
By Trevor Jensen | Tribune reporter
June 10, 2009
Edward V. Hanrahan's promising political career ended in a hail of
gunfire, when officers from the Cook County state's attorney's office
killed two Black Panthers in a pre-dawn raid on Dec. 4, 1969.
A firestorm of controversy and years of court hearings followed. Mr.
Hanrahan, who had once been seen as a potential mayor or governor,
was defeated by a Republican in a bid for re-election as the county's
top prosecutor in 1972.
Indicted on conspiracy charges as a result of the Panthers raid but
later cleared, Mr. Hanrahan never again held elected office.
Mr. Hanrahan, 88, died Tuesday, June 9. His death was confirmed by
Peterson Funeral Home in Chicago, which is handling arrangements. The
cause of death and other details were not immediately available.
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Harvard Law School,
Mr. Hanrahan built a reputation as a crime-busting prosecutor during
four years as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. He
was overwhelmingly elected Cook County state's attorney in 1968.
The raid on the Black Panthers apartment on West Monroe Street was
undertaken by officers from Mr. Hanrahan's office who carried a
warrant to search for illegal weapons. In a hail of gunfire, Fred
Hampton and Mark Clark, both members of the Black Panther Party of
Illinois, were killed.
Mr. Hanrahan's supporters argued that the raid was a legitimate
action against a group known for its militancy and vows to kill
police officers. Weapons and ammunition were found in the apartment,
and investigators claimed that officers had been fired on before
opening up with their own weapons.
To back that up, they pointed to alleged bullet holes created by
Panthers' gunfire. Those arguments fell apart when news reporters
found that the holes were merely exposed nailheads. A subsequent
investigation showed that only one shot was fired by the Panthers,
while police fired 82 to 99 shots.
In the years of controversy and trials that followed, Mr. Hanrahan
came to be held accountable for what happened to the two young black
men. A special grand jury investigation of the raid led to an
indictment of Mr. Hanrahan on criminal charges of conspiracy. He was
acquitted in 1972, and conspiracy charges in a civil suit were dropped in 1977.
Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Democratic machine declined to back
Mr. Hanrahan for re-election in 1972. He nonetheless prevailed in the
Democratic primary, only to be defeated in the general election by
Republican Bernard Carey.
Mr. Hanrahan was born in Coconut Grove, Fla., the youngest of five
children. The family moved to Chicago in his youth, and the Hanrahans
lived in a West Side apartment only a few blocks from the site of the
He attended Our Lady of Sorrows grammar school and St. Philip High
School, and in 1943 graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in accounting.
The future prosecutor spent three years in the Army Signal Corps in
World War II. In 1948, he graduated from Harvard Law School. In 1960,
he made his first try for public office, running unsuccessfully for
an Illinois congressional seat.
Mr. Hanrahan was tapped by Daley in 1964 for the powerful post of
U.S. attorney. Mr. Hanrahan embarked on a campaign against organized
crime, jailing crime boss Sam Giancana for contempt of a grand jury
and putting Sam Battaglia behind bars on conspiracy charges.
He ran for state's attorney under the theme "criminals fear this
man." He swamped his Republican opponent by 300,000 votes.
Unbowed but forever tainted by the Panther raid, Mr. Hanrahan went
into private law practice after leaving the state's attorney's office
but continued, initially, efforts to resurrect his political career.
He twice ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the 1970s, garnering just 4
percent of the vote in the 1977 Democratic primary won by Michael
Bilandic. He was also defeated in tries for Congress and 36th Ward alderman.
"I am politically ambitious," Mr. Hanrahan said in 1976. "I still
believe government service is a lawyer's highest calling, and I
believe that if voters can hear and study candidates, the better
candidate will be elected and politics can be a noble profession."
Information on surviving family members was not available.
Visitation will begin at 4 p.m., with mass at 6 p.m., on Thursday in
St. Giles Catholic Church, 1045 Columbian Ave., Oak Park.
The life and death of Edward V. Hanrahan
Chicago author Andy Martin remembers the controversial public
official Ed Hanrahan, whose own life was destroyed by a burst of
gunfire that killed two Black Panther party activists forty years
ago. Hanrahan died on June 9th.
The rise and fall of Cook County State's Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan
Hanrahan's career serves as a metaphor for the evolution and
revolution of the Democratic party locally in Chicago and nationally
(CHICAGO) (June 9, 2009) Former Cook County State's Attorney Edward
died earlier today. I got to know Hanrahan well during the
extraordinary 1977 primary election that followed the death of
Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley.
Hanrahan's rise and fall was a metaphor for the Viet-Nam era and the
evolution/revolution of the modern Democratic Party.
And, suddenly, I feel older today. With Hanrahan's death I am the
last surviving candidate of that unbelievable 1977 primary season.
Hey, I'm too young to be that old.
Ed Hanrahan was an extremely bright student who went from parochial
education in Chicago to Notre Dame, to Harvard Law School after World war II.
Hanrahan burst on the Chicago scene as a federal crime fighter. After
Mayor of Chicago, the two most important positions for the Democratic
Party are Cook County State's Attorney and United States Attorney.
Anyone who is aware of how the current U.S. Attorney, Patrick
Fitzgerald, has caused havoc for Richard J. Daley's son, Mayor
Richard M. Daley, knows why the local prosecutorial posts are so
critical to the survival of the Daley Machine's patronage and corruption.
Hanrahan was colorful and aggressive in pursuing organized crime. I
first came to Chicago for a visit in 1963 and fell in love with the
place. As a student, I waited until my friends finished their copies
of the Chicago Sun-Times, and then eagerly read the lurid stories of
hoodlum politicians and gangland corruption. Alderman "Paddy Bauler"
had said in 1955 "Chicago ain't ready for reform and indeed it
wasn't. I was to personally collide with Mayor Daley in 1968 over yet
another Illinois state corruption scandal.
But Ed Hanrahan's rise and fall had a broader significance. He was
prototypical of the mid-century Democratic party. The Democrats had
been demonized during the 19th century as the party of "rum, Romanism
and rebellion Nationally, the Democratic Party in the 1960's was
still led by many Irish Catholics who shared a common provenance:
parochial schools, excellent academic credentials and high
achievement. And pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism.
The 1960's were also the beginning of the end of the era of political
"big tents." "Liberal" Republicans were still welcome in the
Republican Party, and "conservative Democrats" were not only welcome
in the Democratic Party, they were the backbone of the party's urban
base in the North and racist stranglehold in the South.
In 1968 Mayor Daley "promoted" Hanrahan from the U. S. Attorney's
office to Cook County State's Attorney. Only in the bizarre world of
the Daley Machine would a step from the federal government to the
county government be considered a "promotion
One night in 1969, Ed Hanrahan's career was shattered. State's
Attorneys police staged a "raid" on a Black Panther Party cell and
two men were killed by police gunfire. Hanrahan probably approved the
raid but it is doubtful he had anything to do with the actual
operational implementation. The deaths produced a firestorm of
criticism and mortally wounded Ed's career.
Hanrahan followed the traditional approach to a botched police
operation: he defended police tactics. But the killings of Fred
Hampton and Mark Clark were no ordinary "mistakes During 1968,
Chicago had garnered an image and reputation as a racist,
mean-spirited city. Barack Obama's controversial supporters Bill
Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn had chosen Chicago to stage their "Days of
Rage" in 1969. The media were also evolving in a more confrontational
Hanrahan's public credibility was shattered by the aftermath of the
Black Panther raid. He would never escape responsibility for the
Overnight, Hanrahan went from being a powerful Democratic politician
to a political pariah. For a man who had taken great pride in his
progression through public office, the inner pain of this
estrangement must have been as close to a lethal wound as the ones
his police had inflicted on Hampton and Clark.
The Daley Machine tried to dump Hanrahan in 1972, but he survived the
primary only to be defeated during the national Republican Party
sweep that reelected President Richard Nixon and elected Republican
Cook County State's Attorney Bernard Carey.
During this era, from the late 1960's and the aftermath of the
disastrous Chicago Democratic National Convention of 1968, to the
1972 presidential election, the Democratic Party itself underwent a
massive metamorphosis: 1972 was the year the party assumed the form
it still has today: liberal, educated, upscale leadership, and all
still carried on the back of a Black urban underclass.
The working class Catholic, urban-based backbone of the party was
moving to the suburbs; these stalwarts were gradually supplanted by
the anti-war and then "McGovern" Democrats who gained control of the
party in 1972, four years after the convention disaster in Chicago
and three years after the deaths of Hampton and Clark.
While even today Irish Catholics continue to be an important
constituency of the Democratic Party, as well as "Reagan Democrats"
of 1980 and 1984, never again would an urban, Irish-based leadership
control the national party organization.
Indeed, the seeds of President Barack Obama's eventual nomination
were initially planted in the 1972 campaign, during which both Bill
and Hillary Clinton were pro-McGovern activists.
In 1972, at the age of 51, in the prime of his life, Edward Hanrahan
became a dead man walking in Chicago politics.
I met Ed in 1977 when he was a candidate for Mayor of Chicago in the
primary that was held after the death of Richard J. Daley in
December, 1976. And herein lies a story about a peculiarly
interesting period in my life.
In the wake of Daley's death, the Democratic Machine was thrown into
disarray. As a stopgap measure Alderman Michael Bilandic was
appointed interim mayor until a new election could be held.
I stumbled into the campaign as the only corruption-fighting reformer
challenging Machine domination of the city.
The Machine still feared Hanrahan's potential because of his high
profile in the media.
State Senator (later Mayor) Harold Washington was the candidate of
many semi-independent African-American leaders. The Machine tried to
neutralize his support by running a second African-American, Ellis
Reid. Former congressman Roman Pucinski Pooch thought he had a chance
of parlaying the Polish-American vote into victory in a divided primary.
Pooch didn't like Hanrahan and the feeling was mutual.
But Ed Hanrahan and I became friendly. Then Pooch and I became close.
Pooch discovered that I liked to work late into the evening. Rare was
the primary campaign night when I did not receive a 1:00 A.M. call
from Pooch. Occasionally, Pooch would ask me to act as an
intermediary with Ed. Once Ed learned I was having late night calls
with Pooch, Ed would also call, through not as late as Pucinski.
My improbable role as a candidate morphed into something quite
unusual, a liaison between the various candidates who would not deign
to speak to each other in public. Through my efforts, we took the
hard edges off each other, and focused our attention on the Daley
Machine candidate, Bilandic.
One writer, for the Chicago Daily News if my memory serves me
correctly, wrote a story about how this group of candidates got along
surprisingly well for such a contentious and controversial group of
big egos. No one could understand how we achieved such a casual and
cordial working relationship.
My role as political emollient in the process was beneath the surface
and was only known to a handful of media types who saw my own
metamorphosis during the campaign. The NBC station in Chicago,
WMAQ-TV, was attacked by Cook County Board President George Dunne for
being the "Martin" channel. Dunne accused WMAQ of biased coverage in
my favor. (Unbelievable.)
With the assistance of yet another Chicago legal institution,
colorful criminal attorney Julius Lucius Ecchles, I wounded the
Machine in court. My radio and TV commercials relentlessly attacked
the Machine candidate Bilandic.
It was also during this campaign that I began to focus attention on
an obscure federal statute, the "Civil RICO" law. My Chicago lawsuits
triggered a nationwide "RICO revolution
Almost all of the media from that era have "retired a word I
increasingly dislike in the extreme. I think Dick Kay of WMAQ-TV was
the last of the media Mohicans from 1977. He "retired" recently.
As I got to know Hanrahan in private, he was clearly a man of
impeccable integrity. His rigid religions upbringing and education
had infused his character with the "absolutes" of good and evil. The
police were good. Black Panthers were evil. Good could do no evil,
and evil could do no good. Hanrahan paid a penultimate price for his
stoic beliefs, beliefs that were then crumbling under the onslaught
of anti-war opposition and consequent radicalization of both the
Democratic Party and the Roman Catholic Church.
Having been converted to a more nuanced view of morality at Oxford
University, I did not take such an absolutist attitude. It was
because of the flexibility and intuitiveness of my Oxonian upbringing
that I was able to act as an interlocutor between Ed, Pooch, Harold,
Ellis and the streets of Chicago.
More than three decades have passed since that extraordinary primary
session in 1977. After losing the primary Ed lapsed into obscurity.
He must have played and replayed and replayed the events of December
1969 over and over again. One cold night, two young men were murdered
by excessive and unnecessary police gunfire. As the "commanding
officer" on that failed and fatal raid, Ed Hanrahan paid the price
for the mission's failure.
Politically, Hanrahan was adjudged guilty, and executed. Morally, he
was probably not guilty. His "crime" was rigid adherence to the
scheme of good and evil that had been schooled in him as a young man.
He could no more escape his past than the Panthers could escape the
police gunfire. Three men died that night in December 1969.
That primary also changed my life in many ways. And today I am the
last living member of the team of candidates that challenged Daley
Machine domination of City Hall. I am older, and wiser; but in many
ways I am still the relentless reformer fighting corruption and
working to help the average citizen get a fair shake and a fair break
from the high and mighty in government. My own sense of morality
keeps me going. There's a little of Ed Hanrahan in me as well.
Ed, rest in peace. You were a good man who paid a terrible price for
a mistaken judgment that could have consumed any one of us. Now that
you have joined the angels, I am sure you and Fred Hampton and Mark
Clark will have a lot to argue about and an eternity to debate a
flash in the night that forever incinerated three lives.
[There is more to my role the 1977 primary, and some day I hope to
have the time to publish an expanded version of these observations.
Tonight, however, I merely want to remember Ed Hanrahan, a good man
who was caught up in a situation that was almost biblical in its
tragic impact on all those who were part of the unforeseen and