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Remembering the murders of Manuel Ramos and Fred Hampton

That same year, two more murders took place and were never solved. Rev. Bruce Johnson and his wife, Eugenia, allies of the Young Lords, were killed in their home as their three children lay asleep.

The Young Lords and others march in May 1969 to protest the killing of Manuel Ramos by an off-duty Chicago police officer.
The Young Lords and others march in May 1969 to protest the killing of Manuel Ramos by an off-duty Chicago police officer.
Sun-Times archives

The moving op-ed from Manny Ramos on his grandfather’s death from police violence brings back incredible memories to this old man.

Manuel Ramos was a young 20-year-old leader of the Young Lords, unarmed yet shot dead by an off-duty cop as he, Manuel, was trying to break up a fight. Those who held down the cop were arrested. The cop was never sanctioned in any way. That was in May 1969.

Seven months later, 21-year-old Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was shot dead in his bed by Sheriff Ed Hanrahan’s police, as part of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s secret COINTELPRO program, more properly called “domestic terrorist” unit. On behalf of my Methodist bishop, I witnessed the immediate aftermath of that assassination, walking through the blood-stained bedroom on Chicago’s West Side the next morning.

All the bullets went one way through that front door.

The recent movie “Judas and the Black Messiah” recaptures this sordid event. Unmentioned among these horrendous events are two more murders between Manuel’s death in May and Fred’s in December. On Sept. 29, 31-year-old Rev. Bruce Johnson and his wife, Eugenia, allies of the Young Lords, were murdered in their home, Bruce in his living room chair and Eugenia in her bed, while their three pre-school children lay asleep.

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Bruce, my colleague and friend in ministry, pastored the Armitage Avenue Methodist Church, recently taken over by the Young Lords and renamed the People Church. Bruce assisted them in setting up a breakfast program and a health clinic in the church, against the wishes of several parishioners. The police seem to have been called off from a normal investigation, and no one was ever charged in their brutal deaths.

Manuel, Bruce, Eugenia, Fred, and Mark Clark too, were murdered in an atmosphere not unlike today, 2021, when “domestic terror” is again a major threat in our divided society. May our memories help rekindle the determination to oppose such violence today.

What happened on Jan. 6 in our nation’s sacred center must never happen again. Memory and vigilance, truth and decency must guide us in these days ahead.

Rev. Martin Deppe, Ravenswood Manor

Republican infighting benefits Democrats

The Republican Party is becoming more and more intolerant with each passing day. A rigid party that will punish anyone who steps out of line. You dare criticize former President Donald Trump at your own peril and risk.

Virtually every Republican in the House and Senate who voted to impeach or convict Trump has received the party’s vicious wrath in state after state. One censure after another, some sending a message you will have a primary challenger the next time you run.

This intolerance has reached fever pitch in Illinois with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who has been censured by several counties in his congressional district. To top that off, Kinzinger has been savaged by his own family, writing a letter stating he sold his soul to the devil. In essence, disowning him by saying, you have betrayed Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and Rush Limbaugh.

They imply Kinzinger is not a good American, not the kind his family members are. How low and vicious can you get?

With each censure and each threat of a primary challenger, the GOP is giving Democrats a gift that keeps on giving. They are tearing each other to bits. The Democrats are overjoyed because they will certainly be the beneficiaries of this nasty, vicious fight.

Herb Vermaas, Salem

No sense in arguments against higher minimum wage

Larry Craig’s recent letter raised two issues regarding the federal minimum wage. One made sense. The other did not.

Perhaps, as Craig argued, consideration should be given to having a lower minimum wage for “smaller grocery stores” to keep them in business. But arguing that “food costs will go up significantly across the board . . . so the increase in wages will immediately be eaten up in higher food and fast food and restaurant cost increases” seems an argument for not having any minimum wage at all, lowering what it is now, or at the very least, not increasing it now even though it has not been raised since 2009.

If minimum wage increases had been tied to inflation, a move Craig argues against, this problem could have been avoided. It’s okay to tie Social Security increases to inflation but it’s not okay for those trying to live on minimum wage?

Kevin Coughlin, Evanston