Ryan Coogler Is Producing A Film Based On A Real-Life Black Panther
Ryan Coogler has written and directed three beloved films, including Fruitvale Station, Creed, and last year’s blockbuster Black Panther. Starting with late 2018’s Creed II, the 32-year-old is also moving into film production. The Oakland, California native is now reported to be producing a film on slain Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton.
The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that the producers of Jesus Was My Homeboy are in talks with two Get Out cast members, Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield. The report says that the Oscar-nominated Kaluuya has been approached to portray Hampton. If he agrees, Stanfield will reportedly play William O’Neal, who infiltrated the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s under the direction of the FBI. During the infiltration, he became Fred Hampton’s bodyguard. Information that O’Neal provided the Bureau aided the eventual assassination of Hampton, who was just 21 years old when he was fatally shot during a police raid on December 4, 1969.
Hampton, who was active in the NAACP during his upper-teens, joined the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s. Relocating from the suburbs to inner-city Chicago in 1968, he helped the party build its fledgling local chapter. In the next year, Hampton was instrumental in establishing a street organization truce within the Windy City. He also helped pioneer the Panthers’ free breakfast program, taught morning courses, and began working with the party’s national leadership.
Having been under FBI surveillance since 1967, in early 1968, the FBI’s “Racial Matters Squad” appointed William O’Neal to infiltrate the Black Panther Party. O’Neal was awaiting trial on car theft and impersonating a federal agent. The Bureau offered to clear his charges in exchange for participation. While serving the interests of the J. Edgar Hoover-directed agency, O’Neal also instigated violent incidents that created rifts among the street organizations in Chicago.
The night before Hampton’s assassination, O’Neal allegedly drugged him. Hours later, while Hampton slept with his pregnant fiancee, 14 police officers raided the apartment. Mark Clark, serving as security, was killed upon entry. Hampton was struck twice in the head, before a barrage of police gunfire took place elsewhere in the unit. In total, over 90 police rounds were fired. The occupants of the apartment fired only one. Seven surviving Black Panther Party members were arrested, although charges were subsequently dropped. While an investigation ruled “justifiable homicide” in the deaths of both men, relatives of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark settled with the city, county, and federal government for $1.85 million in 1982.
In 1990, 40-year-old William O’Neal (who had been living under the alias “William Hart” since the early 1970s) died while running across Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway. His death was ruled a suicide.
Shaka King is reportedly signed on to direct, having been at the helm for five episodes of TV’s People Of The Earth. Meanwhile, Will Berson, who has written for Scrubs, has completed the Jesus Was My Homeboy script.