Tag Archive: Cointelpro

What I Learned From Breaking the Law

In 1971, I helped burglarize an FBI office and leaked documents that exposed J. Edgar Hoover’s abuses of power. Here’s what that experience taught me.

From The Nation/ By John Raines

I have been asked to develop a set of reflections on the moral lessons I learned from breaking the law. Here is part of that story. In 1961 I was arrested and put in jail in Little Rock, Arkansas. I was a “freedom rider.” Then, ten years later, a group of us calling ourselves “The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI” broke into the Media, Pennsylvania office of the FBI, removed the files and released them to the news media. What did I learn from breaking the law? Here are five lessons I learned. I learned that:

1) Law is not to be trusted without interrogating its complicity with privilege and power.

2) Identity is morally problematic, especially if you get yourself born a white male of class privilege.

3) A nation that lets itself be governed by fear will become a poorly governed nation.

4) The arrogance of power contributes to its own demise when confronted by persistent resistance, and finally….

5) I learned that the anger called hope can overcome despair, create a community of resistance and build a future that seemed impossible.

Let me begin with the issue of law and criminality. It is my contention that breaking the law and committing a crime are not identical. Indeed, I would go further. I would claim that under certain circumstances not to break the law is a crime—a crime against justice. That is what I learned back in 1961 when being found guilty of “threatening a breach of the peace” when four of us—two blacks and two whites—sat down together in the “White” waiting room of the Trailways bus station in Little Rock. (more…)

FBI’s “Suicide Letter” to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Dangers of Unchecked Surveillance

mlklettersFrom The Electronic Frontier Foundation

The New York Times has published an unredacted version of the famous “suicide letter” from the FBI to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter, recently discovered by historian and professor Beverly Gage, is a disturbing document. But it’s also something that everyone in the United States should read, because it demonstrates exactly what lengths the intelligence community is willing to go to—and what happens when they take the fruits of the surveillance they’ve done and unleash it on a target.

The anonymous letter was the result of the FBI’s comprehensive surveillance and harassment strategy against Dr. King, which included bugging his hotel rooms, photographic surveillance, and physical observation of King’s movements by FBI agents. The agency also attempted to break up his marriage by sending selectively edited “personal moments he shared with friends and women” to his wife.

Portions of the letter had been previously redacted. One of these portions contains a claim that the letter was written by another African-American: “King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all us Negroes.” It goes on to say “We will now have to depend on our older leaders like Wilkins, a man of character and thank God we have others like him. But you are done.” This line is key, because part of the FBI’s strategy was to try to fracture movements and pit leaders against one another. (more…)

Former Political Prisoner Eddie Conway To Speak at UNC and in Durham

Eddie_Conway_WebThursday, November 13th
@ 7pm @ Sonja Haynes Stone Center – Auditorium
150 South Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27599Friday, November 14th, 2014
@ 7pm @ The Pinhook in Durham, NC
117 W. Main St. Durham, NC, 27701

Marshall “Eddie” Conway was the defense minister of the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panther Party. Framed for the murder of two Baltimore police officers in 1970, he was sentenced to life in prison. While in prison, Eddie Conway earned three diplomas, started a prison literacy program, and organized prisoner unions and libraries. Conway has authored two books from prison, Marshall Law: The Life and Times of a Baltimore Black Panther, and his exposé The Greatest Threat: The Black Panther Party and COINTELPRO. After serving 43 years in prison, Conway was released on March 4, 2014.

Eddie Conway will be speaking about his time in the Black Panther Party, his prisoner organizing work inside prison, and what his life has been like since being released.

You can find out more about Eddie Conway’s story here.

Register your attendance with your employer, law enforcement, and various government agencies and corporations here.

Then They Came for the Juggalos

Juggalo-Mask-Article-400x266By Doug Lyfe /From Mask Magazine

“This ain’t no civil war. We ain’t civilized no more!”
—Twiztid

“The time has come for the blood to run into the streets paved with gold. We have lived in the zoo of the ghetto for so long. We must move into the suburbs and punish the rich for their ignorance. For the horror of death that is part of our life in our neighborhood and give them a taste of the same.”
—Insane Clown Posse

“The FBI just came to talk to you,” my friend deadpanned over the phone. My heart immediately started beating faster. “Fuck,” I thought, “I always thought this day would come.” I was at my girlfriend’s house — she had already left to go to school and I was getting ready for work. As I sat down to collect myself, my friend told me that two FBI agents had come by my former home looking for me. When my friend asked who they were, they responded that they were with the FBI and gave him a card. He told them I wasn’t there, so they got back into their black SUV and left.

After we hung up I rushed out of the house and headed over to the home of a former member of the Black Panther Party — someone that had lived through the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, which targeted revolutionary groups in the 1960s and 1970s. With the help of a lot of nicotine and some encouraging words, I talked to several friends and lawyers and got an appointment to see an attorney. Fearing that the feds would be coming to my parents’ house next, I called them and broke the news. They were just as shocked as I was, but also not that surprised.

The next morning, my dad called — the FBI was at his house. I gave him the number to an attorney and told him to tell the feds to suck it. (more…)