Edward Vincent Hanrahan (March 11, 1921 – June 9, 2009) was a Cook County, Illinois State's Attorney who had been groomed as a prospective successor to Mayor of Chicago Richard J. Daley. His career was effectively ended after Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton and member Mark Clark were killed in a raid by police attached to his office in 1969.
Hanrahan was born in Coconut Grove, Florida and moved as a child to Chicago with his family. He attended the University of Notre Dame. During World War II, he served in an intelligence role in the United States Army Signal Corps. After completing his military service, he attended Harvard Law School and earned his law degree in 1948.
Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley supported his successful bid for an appointment as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Hanrahan got the post after Daley told President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson "Let me say, Mr. President, with great pride and honor, he's a precinct captain". Running as a Democrat, he won a landslide election in 1968 for Cook County State's Attorney, winning support from White and African American voters.
Acting on the basis of a tip from an FBI informant (William O'Neal), 14 police officers assigned to Hanrahan's office staged a pre-dawn raid on December 4, 1969 to search for illegal weapons in the West Side apartment of Fred Hampton, a leader of the Black Panther Party. Dozens of shots were fired and Hampton and Black Panther Mark Clark were both killed. Despite guns found on the premises and police assertions that the Panthers had fired first, bullet hole markings presented by police in support of their claim turned out to be nail heads. An investigation found that the police had fired between 82 and 99 shots during the raid, and the Panthers had fired at least one shot. Hanrahan was indicted by a grand jury for obstructing justice and conspiracy to present false evidence, but was later acquitted. A civil suit concluded in 1982 ruled that there was a government conspiracy to deprive the Black Panthers of their civil rights and awarded nearly $2 million to the survivors of the raid and the families of those killed. The events leading up to the incident and the deaths of Hampton and Clark were the subject of the 1971 documentary The Murder of Fred Hampton, and the material filmed by director Howard Alk in the immediate aftermath of the incident was used as evidence in the civil suit.
The Cook County Democratic Party declined to endorse Hanrahan in his bid for reelection as State's Attorney in 1972, but Democratic voters renominated him anyway. The combined votes of Republicans and African American Democrats sufficed to elect his Republican opponent in the general election. He ran for Mayor of Chicago in two Democratic Primaries, losing to Daley in 1975 and to Michael Bilandic in 1977; Hanrahan placed fourth each time. He lost a race in the 1980s for alderman on the Chicago City Council. Hanrahan returned to his law practice, which he continued until his death, at which time he still had two active cases.
Hanrahan died at age 88 on June 9, 2009 at his home in River Forest, Illinois due to complications from leukemia and old age. He was survived by his wife of 55 years, their two sons and two daughters, and ten grandchildren.
- Napolitano, Jo. "Edward Hanrahan, Prosecutor Tied to ’69 Panthers Raid, Dies at 88", The New York Times, June 11, 2009. Accessed June 13, 2009.
- Sullivan, Patricia. "Prosecutor Oversaw Fatal 1969 Raid of Black Panthers in Chicago", The Washington Post, June 12, 2009. Accessed June 13, 2009.
- via Associated Press. "Former Cook County prosecutor Edward Hanrahan dies", Chicago Tribune, June 10, 2009.
- Henderson, Harold. "Reels From the Revolution: Slices of radical Chicago caught on film", Chicago Reader, September 29, 2006. Accessed June 13, 2009.