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COINTELPRO

Tales From The Pages Of COINTELPRO

“Circulate, to educate, to liberate!” This was the constant intonation of Sam Napier, circulation manager of The Black Panther newspaper. As one Panther leader noted, Sam was “the main reason” why shortly after it began, the paper had “a 200,000 plus copies per week distribution.”2 Napier was a beloved member of the party, which is why many were taken by surprise when his body was found in March of 1971, tied to a chair, showing bullet wounds and signs of torture. After they left, perhaps while he was still alive, his killers set the building on fire. Sam Napier was one of the victims of a concentrated effort to destroy the Black Panthers by the U.S. government, as part and parcel of an effort to destroy the entire Black liberation movement and any other radicals who dared raise their voices against the U.S. ruling class and their imperial policies.

Anti-Colonial Free Speech Movement Launched

A fierce blow was struck against the weaponized FBI and U.S. government’s targeting of Black Liberation, anti-colonial, anti-war and free speech movements on July 8 with the formation of the Hands off Uhuru! Fightback Coalition. The Coalition, made up of over 30 organizations and individuals and led by black and anti-colonial movements, coalesced around a Statement of Unity that reads, in part, “Today we are facing a watershed moment in human history when our movements for freedom, liberation and democracy can fight on to victory or be pushed back, silenced and defeated. This is the moment when we must come together to vigorously fight as one, and win.” 

May 27: International Day Of Action For Black Power Activists

In early May, African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) Chairman Omali Yeshitela, 81, was shackled in handcuffs and leg irons after reporting to the Middle District Federal Court in Tampa for his arraignment in a courtroom packed with supporters.  Chairman Yeshitela faces federal charges after a lifetime of organizing dedicated to “the liberation for Africa and African people everywhere.” Penny Hess, 77, and Jesse Nevel, 33, two white people working under the leadership of the APSP also face charges after organizing for decades in the white community for solidarity and reparations to the black community. The “Uhuru 3” are charged with being unregistered “foreign agents” allegedly under the “malign influence” of the Russian government.

COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era Prisoners On The Agenda Of A UN Panel

Greenville, SC - Atlanta's April 26th UN Delegation session, bearing the 2010 human rights campaign theme, “Putting COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era Political Prisoners, Prisoners of War, and Exiles on the Global Agenda,” featured PP/POWs/Exiles in person, their relatives, and former co-defendants, has generated a buzz that will hopefully become a storm of sustained substantive activity for their release and relief.  It seems to have had the humanizing effect our interned comrades, their relatives, and we longtime advocates could only conjure in our dreams. Since 2010, with the visionary support of the U.S. Human Rights Network's founding director, Ajamu Baraka and his successor, Kali Akuno, I've been boarding planes to Geneva, Switzerland, to talk to UN Human Rights Council members, Commission staffers, treaty body reviewer mechanism experts, and others.

Africans In The United States Are A Colonized People

In the colonial context, the colonized have no rights that the colonizer ever really needed to recognize. Therefore, any social space that Africans in the U.S. experienced were won through resistance. The historic fight for African self-determination and liberation from the anti-human colonial/capitalist system has been an uninterrupted feature of what we claim as the “Black Radical Tradition.” An unapologetic opposition to the U.S. colonial/capitalist project and U.S. imperialism centers the Black radical tradition, along with internationalism and a commitment to socialist transformation. It is this tradition of principled, militant resistance that has been a constant source of concern and, consequently, systematic repression of Black/African radicalism by the U.S. colonial/imperialist state.

How Comrades Revealed The Existence Of Cointelpro

On March 8, 1971 a group of 8 activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and removed every document they could find. Calling themselves the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, they knew there was FBI infiltration and disruption of the antiwar movement and they were looking for proof to present to the public. They discovered far more than they anticipated. The burglars had all been politically active and some participated in the theft of records from draft board offices. After planning for months they successfully removed documents, copied them and began sending them to newspapers and to politicians who had liberal reputations.

Raided By The FBI For Being Socialist, With Omali Yeshitela

Today, “Behind The Headlines” host Lee Camp speaks to Omali Yeshitela, a man raided by the FBI for the crime of being a black socialist. Together, the two discuss the revolutionary black liberation movement, U.S. imperialism, racism, and the corruption of the two-party system. In August of last year, the FBI raided the offices of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), with agents using flash-bang grenades at 5 am on a Friday to startle and arrest individuals inside its headquarters. Yeshitela helped found the APSP in 1972, at a time when the Black Liberation movement was being similarly quashed by government forces. The group’s mission is to advocate for the rights and self-determination of African people globally. The organization has been a sharp critic of the U.S. and NATO-backed war in Ukraine and a defender of poor nations threatened by American sanctions, coups, embargoes, and blockades.

Ex-FBI Agent Coleen Rowley Breaks Silence On Leonard Peltier, COINTELPRO

The first FBI agent close to the Leonard Peltier case is calling for his freedom. Coleen Rowley recounts, in this wide-ranging and exclusive interview, her time as an agent in the Minneapolis field office. For nearly 50 years, the FBI has indoctrinated its agents on a specific version of events that led to Leonard Peltier’s arrest, conviction, and imprisonment. The mentality then, Rowley argues, is little different than the mentality today. That’s why she decided to break the silence and is calling on President Joe Biden to grant Leonard Peltier executive clemency. Rowley gives us an insider’s view of the FBI and how the dark and violent history of COINTELPRO, which targeted civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and social movements like the Black Panthers and AIM, didn’t end in 1971. It morphed and evolved over the years and continued well into the U.S. war on terror.

FBI Harasses Cuban Solidarity Activists For Delivering Medical Aid

The president of the Cuba Solidarity Committee (CSC) of Puerto Rico, Milagros Rivera, denounces the intimidation operation unleashed by federal agents through calls and visits to several activists of the Committee and members of the Juan Rius Rivera Brigade. Claiming that they were investigating the Cuba Solidarity Committee, they tried to find out details about the Committee’s spokesperson and the recent trip to Cuba by the Brigade under the category “various types of support for the Cuban people”. On its tour of the country, the brigade delivered sanitary donations to fight against COVID-19 in hospitals and engaged in cultural and educational exchanges with the people. Since early in the morning of Tuesday, August 23, agents who identified themselves as FBI agents visited over a dozen brigade members and friends in solidarity from different parts of the country, alleging an investigation against the CSC, its president, and the solidarity militancy.

No COINTELPRO In Washington DC

The DC government is deploying COINTELPRO like tactics against organizations and individuals fighting to protect and expand our rights. Of course, this is not news to those who have been engaged in political work here for any amount of time, but now, thanks to one local organizer, there is proof. Suspecting she was being surveilled by the Metro Police Department (MPD), April Goggans of Black Lives Matter DC (BLMDC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the documents the DC government had on her. After years of hiding, stalling and lying by MPD, April took the request to court. The most important hearing to date was scheduled for June 14, 2022 too determine if MPD is required to follow FOIA laws.

The Same FBI

Many Americans were shocked last year when the FBI released a statement saying that a group of 13 Michigan men had plotted to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation home.  The group, which called itself the Michigan Wolverines, allegedly planned to storm the state capitol and Whitmer’s vacation home as part of an effort to instigate a civil war. Several of them made Molotov cocktails, which they allegedly intended to throw at responding police officers, and several others had weapons.  They had spent months conducting surveillance training and practicing with their weapons.  As many as 200 people were involved in the planning, either in meetings or in conversations over Facebook.

Lessons From FBI’s Secret War On Activism

The Federal Bureau of Investigation tried to destroy left organizations and the black freedom movement during the last major upsurge in radical politics in this country, in the 1960s. It looks like they are trying to do it again. The bureau’s Cointelpro (Counterintelligence Program) was a secret operation the bureau carried out against left-wing groups from 1956 to 1971. It first targeted the Communist Party, and was expanded to the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in 1961 and the “New Left” in 1968. In a secret 1968 memo, longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover directed his agents to “expose, disrupt and otherwise neutralize the activities of various New Left organizations.

#COINTELPRO: Disrupting Resistance Movements In The Digital Age

By Tasha Moro for the National Lawyers Guild. Trials began last week in the historic prosecution of nearly 200 “J20” defendants indiscriminately arrested en masse during protests against Trump’s inauguration in Washington, DC, each facing more than 60 years in prison on rioting and property damage charges. In an affront to the First and Fourth Amendments, federal prosecutors seized more than 100 cell phones and obtained warrants for information of all visitors to the disruptj20.org website and those who “liked” their page on Facebook, among other personal social media data of organizers and participants. In contrast, law enforcement’s laissez-faire attitude during August’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA allowed white supremacists with guns, tiki torches, and Nazi flags to spew racial slurs and hate throughout the city for two entire days, culminating in the murder of anti-racist activist Heather Heyer on August 12.

Leaked Documents Reveal Counter-terrorism Tactics At Standing Rock

Alleen Brown, Will Parrish and Alice Speri for The Intercept. A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.

Anti-Black Surveillance Did Not End With COINTELPRO

By Stephanie Llanes for Truthout - Fifty years from now, what will the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture's exhibit on the Movement for Black Lives look like? Will the exhibit feature videos from the hundreds of protests that erupted around the United States and the world, alongside pictures of children with signs that say "I Can't Breathe," and "Say Her Name?" Will there be displays of the canisters of tear gas thrown by police at protestors, and a copy of the Vision for Black Lives policy plan for visitors to read?
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