The killing of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, in a pre-dawn raid coordinated by the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, the Chicago police, and the FBI, was a major incident in the repression of the Black Power Movement. A less well-known victim of that raid was the 22-year-old, Peoria-born Mark Clark, who had come to Chicago to attend an Illinois-wide meeting of party leaders. On the night of the raid he was on security duty in the front room of Hampton’s apartment and was shot in the heart when authorities stormed the apartment.
Mark was the brother of Richard Pryor’s close friend Matt Clark, and had been — at four years old — the youngest member ever of Juliette Whittaker’s acting company, the Carver Players. After working as a teenager with his family in the town’s local NAACP chapter, he had founded the Peoria chapter of the Black Panther Party.
John Gwynn, president of the Peoria and Illinois chapters of the NAACP, recalled that “all of the Clark brothers were participating. All were alert and pretty much read up on the issues.” He added that Mark “could call for order when older persons or adults could not.”
“He was a nonconformist,” his sister Eleanor said. “He was the type of person who, regardless of whether anyone went along with his ideas…he was going to do what was right and appropriate.”
The Clark family was never notified by law enforcement officials of the shooting, according to the Tribune.