Design a site like this with
Get started


[Book Excerpt #9\”The Roots of Racism in American Policing”]
The murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark on December 9, 1969, in Chicago, is an example of outright blatant political police murder.
Photo: Facebook

Charismatic Chicago Panther leader Fred Hampton murdered in his sleep by Chicago Police on December 4, 1969.

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book “The Roots of Racism in American Policing: From Slave Patrols to Stop-and-Frisk.”

Over the last few weeks, the Black Star News has been publishing selected portions from the book. The following excerpt is from Chapter 3.

The rise of Black Power groups, in the Sixties, like the Black Panther Party, and later, groups like the Black Liberation Army, were a direct indicator of this rising resistance to police oppression and political white supremacy. The original name of the Black Panther Party was the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The emphasis on self-defense must not be forgotten since this is a direct reference to resisting the violence and murder of Black Americans by the hands of police. Founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in the incendiary aftermath of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, and the assassination of the militant Muslim minister Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party declared, in point seven of their “Ten-Point Program,” that “We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people.”

This demand made it clear the Panthers would be on a collision course with America’s white-controlled police forces. Because of their stance, the FBI and American police departments in collusive cooperation embarked on a campaign to destroy and “neutralize” the Panthers, a tactic that would also be used against other Black Liberation groups. This led to some of the most obvious instances of outright police murder of Black radicals and activists and some that are not so clear cut. For example, the latter circumstance seems apparent in the February 21, 1965, assassination of Malcolm X where the NYPD and FBI probably colluded to, at least,  create the climate that led to Malcolm’s murder. We now know the NYPD had foreknowledge an attempt on Malcolm’s life would be made that night. Were they also involved? Reportedly, although there wasn’t the usual uniform presence of police at the Audubon Ballroom that day, an undercover police presence was on the scene when the assassination took place. We know that undercover officer Gene Roberts (who had infiltrated Malcolm’s circle gaining access to his security detail)  allegedly tried to revive Malcolm. Was he really trying to revive Malcolm or was he making sure Malcolm died? Moreover, why wasn’t Roberts able to stop the assassins–since he should have known about the plot? Was it because he was one?

NYPD elements tipped-off columnist Jimmy Breslin that he should go to the Audubon Ballroom because something significant would occur. This was exposed in the book “The Ganja Godfather: The Untold Story of NYC’s Weed Kingpin,” by Toby Rogers. According to Rogers, after the assassination, Breslin, who worked then for The New York Herald Tribune, wrote a story for the newspaper titled: “Police Rescue Two Suspects.” However, Rogers states that after this initial story ran no further mention was ever made of this other unidentified suspect who is apparently not one of the three people—Talmadge Hayer, Thomas Johnson and Norman Butler—who would eventually be prosecuted for Malcolm’s murder. In 2005, on the 40th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination Rogers, who was interviewing Breslin, says he decided to question the legendary journalist on these curious circumstances of intrigue that Breslin witnessed. Rogers claims Breslin started by telling him: “Well I was supposed to receive a journalism award in Syracuse that evening, but I got tip [from the NYPD] that I should go up to Harlem to see Malcolm X speak. I sat way in the back smoking a Pall Mall cigarette.” But Rogers says when he tried to raise the subject of the second suspect and the suspicious omission from The New York Herald Tribune’s coverage, in follow-up and secondary stories about Malcolm’s killing, Breslin’s mood quickly changed. “When I asked Jimmy about the reports of a second suspect and his strange disappearance, both in his Tribune story and the Times piece. All of the sudden Breslin got quite cagey,” Rogers said. “He knew exactly what I was referring to and refused to talk any further.” According to Rogers, Breslin’s response just before the interview ended was: “Fuck it, I don’t want to know no more, that’s it! I don’t fucking know what is what. I don’t know if there was two editions or one. I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to read it. Fuck it. Who cares! It’s 2005, I … fucking dead and disinterested.” Breslin died on March 19, 2017, apparently taking the secrets he knew about Malcolm’s assassination to the grave. All of this evidence strongly suggests that the NYPD operatives who were present at the Audubon Ballroom were likely intricately involved in the plot to murder Malcolm X.

However, the murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark on December 4, 1969, in Chicago, is an example of outright blatant political police murder. It was flagrantly done with the blessings of the then Cook County State Attorney’s Office, the Chicago Police Department, and the J. Edgar Hoover FBI. All the relevant facts tell us this.

Hampton, a young charismatic Chicago Panther leader, was executed in a hail of police gunfire—while he slept. Hampton was included on the FBI’s “Agitator Index,” as a “key militant leader.” The essential facts of this case make it clear Hampton’s killing was nothing more than state-sanctioned political murder. The police played their dutiful role by physically silencing this influential Black voice, killing Hampton under the cover of darkness pumping numerous shots into his body as he slept. A Black undercover informer, William O’Neal, was recruited to infiltrate the Chicago Panther chapter, where he became Hampton’s bodyguard. O’Neal drew a layout of the house where Hampton stayed. This act made it easy for the Chicago Police to attack the house and carry out this act of cold-blooded double murder. O’Neal reportedly slipped the drug secobarbital into Hampton’s drink the night before so he would not awaken during the pre-dawn police raid. During this time, and into the Seventies, America’s police departments, across the country, no doubt with the direction of the FBI, carried out numerous assaults—and murdered many Black Panther Party leaders and members.

Today, it would seem obvious to say the current climate between the police and Black America is not quite as volatile. At least, not yet. However, this will probably change if the political powers in Washington continue to turn a blind eye to the brutal institutional racism in police policy that leads to the continued killings and murders of Black people. The Black Lives Matter Movement has made an important contribution towards shining the spotlight on police brutality. For their efforts, they have been vilified and labeled as violent thugs by immoral politicians and police. But while these hypocrites make these sorts of slanderous statements they see it fit to do nothing about the rampant, racist, unchecked, murder that is being perpetrated by police.

In many of the police killings that we’ve witnessed since the chokehold death of Eric Garner and the shooting death of Michael Brown we see police using the “I feared for my life” defense. Even despicable former South Carolina Officer Michael Slager tried to use this excuse for his cold-blooded murder of Walter Scott, on April 4, 2015, in North Charleston, South Carolina. Unfortunately for him, the actions of brave bystander Feidin Santana, who videotaped Slager shooting Scott in the back multiple times, and planting evidence, destroyed his lie. How many police get away with similar acts because no video is available?

In the so-called “land of the free,” freedom was not meant for those who came here as African slaves. And the Slave Patrol police were the main instruments used to enforce this oppression. The police of today are tasked with a similar role as their militia Slave Patrols predecessors: they are the enforcers of a corrupt system that has exploited Black Africans to make America the rich superpower it is today. And their job, especially as it pertains to policing Black America, is very similar to their role during Slavery.


FBI tweets its ‘honors’ to Dr. King with zero mention of its attacks on him

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover in 1940. He directed the FBI and its predecessor down some dark paths for 48 years.

As a target of the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (CoIntelPro), I think the bureau would have been wiser to keep its Twitter trap shut on this day set aside to remember the wisdom, courage, and relentless intersectional activism of Martin Luther King Jr.



Today, the FBI honors the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A quote from Dr. King is etched in stone at the FBI Academy’s reflection garden in Quantico as a reminder to all students and FBI employees: “The time is always right to do what is right.”

View image on Twitter
7,582 people are talking about this

Perhaps if that quotation at Quantico included a line or three about the FBI’s despicable police-state behavior regarding King and other civil rights activists in the 1950s and ‘60s, this tweeted honoring might not leave such a sour taste. One quick-read at what the bureau was up to with King and other black people who dared to stand up for themselves and others can be found here.

Here’s one of the key examples. In 1964, the following letter was fabricated by FBI agents and sent to King. He told aides at the time he knew it was from the bureau. It was later discovered he was quite right. The bureau sent a letter urging King to kill himself. For years, only heavily redacted versions of this letter made it into the media. Then, five years ago, Beverly Gage, a professor of history and American studies at Yale, found a complete copy of the original:


Gage concludes her 2014 essay:

The current F.B.I. director, James Comey, keeps a copy of the King wiretap request on his desk as a reminder of the bureau’s capacity to do wrong. But elsewhere in Washington, the debate over how much the government should know about our private lives has never been more heated: Should intelligence agencies be able to sweep our email, read our texts, track our phone calls, locate us by GPS? Much of the conversation swirls around the possibility that agencies like the N.S.A. or the F.B.I. will use such information not to serve national security but to carry out personal and political vendettas. King’s experience reminds us that these are far from idle fears, conjured in the fevered minds of civil libertarians. They are based in the hard facts of history.


Hip-Hop and Counter-Intelligence

Is there a relationship between the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) and hip-hop? This topic is explored during this hour on the Hot Seat with Cassandra Harris Lockwood.

COINTELPRO 101 by The Freedom Archives (mentioned above…)

The Powerful Perspective of ‘Queen & Slim’

The story of “Queen & Slim” is propelled by an arbitrary traffic stop, in which a police officer detains a couple on a first date, played by Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith

, Andre D. Wagner / Universal Pictures

[View movie trailer.]

Last month, five days after the former police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced in the fatal shooting of Botham Jean, an unarmed twenty-six-year-old black man, whom she shot in his home, and five days before Atatiana Jefferson, a twenty-eight-year-old black woman, was killed in her home by the police officer Aaron Dean, “Queen & Slim” began previews in a small theatre just off Bryant Park. The film is the product of the vision of two black women: Lena Waithe, who wrote it, and Melina Matsoukas, who directed it. (Waithe and James Frey, the shamed memoirist, collaborated on the story.) It means something that a movie that was conceived years ago could land so squarely in the midst of dual tempests involving firearms, police, and black people whose lives expired violently, prematurely, at the hands of white people who were sworn to protect them. The fact that both Jean and Jefferson were at home when they were killed underscores a central conceit of the film: that a system capable of dispensing such arbitrary deaths cannot be trusted in any context, least of all to administer justice on behalf of those whom it also victimizes.

The recognition of this fact changes the implications of the story that Waithe and Matsoukas tell with this film: about a couple on a first date who kill a police officer in self-defense, and their subsequent life as fugitives. Early buzz around the movie pegged it as a “Bonnie and Clyde” tale for the Black Lives Matter set, but that would be an entirely different film from “Queen & Slim.” “Bonnie and Clyde” is the story of two outlaws who are fleeing justice; “Queen & Slim” is a meditation on a system of justice that treats innocent people as outlaws. This is not a novel undertaking. It’s hard to overlook, for instance, that this movie arrives in theatres in the same year as the thirtieth anniversary of Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing.”

That film follows the events of a single day in Bedford-Stuyvesant and culminates in the death of a neighborhood fixture named Radio Raheem, at the hands of the N.Y.P.D. In 2014, in the aftermath of Eric Garner’s death from a choke hold administered by a New York City police officer, Lee spliced together video from Garner’s and Raheem’s deaths, one cinematic, one chaotically real, both somehow true—a diptych of life and art relaying the same subject matter. As I wrote at the time, however, Lee conceived of the Radio Raheem scene after the death of Michael Stewart, a black graffiti artist who died in police custody, possibly as the result of a choke hold, in 1983. “Do The Right Thing” was not prescient in forecasting Garner’s death, it was archival in rendering a version of Stewart’s. But eight, years before Stewart’s death, the film “Cornbread, Earl & Me,” which features a fourteen-year-old Laurence Fishburne, tells the story of a rising basketball star, played by Jamaal Wilkes, who is shot by police in a case of mistaken identity, and it shows the ways in which the system protects the officers who killed him. And so it goes, act and depiction, tumbling all the way back to some unknown original insult. The capricious loss of black life is so common a reality as to have inspired an entire body of art addressing its implications.

The story of “Queen & Slim” is propelled by an arbitrary traffic stop, in which a white officer detains a couple, whose names we do not know yet, played by Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith. When the officer fires his gun to prevent Turner-Smith’s character from recording the incident on her cell phone, we are anticipating a scenario that has become a dispiriting cliché of social injustice, the indefensible but somehow bureaucratically justifiable death of a black civilian. But the gun is wrestled away and goes off during the struggle, killing the officer. The shooting, captured on the squad car’s camera, is a Rorschach test that asks all subsequent characters, and, by extension, the audience, what they see when they look at the incident. The officer himself is like Patient Zero in an outbreak: his actions set in motion the decisions made by everyone else whom Queen and Slim encounter en route to the film’s finale. Each television screen or cell phone upon which the footage plays serves as a kind of exposure to a pathogen, as everyone reacts to a different reading of the situation. Everyone is moral but no one is right.

Matsoukas has touched upon these themes previously. She directed the much-lauded video for Beyoncé’s “Formation,” which was criticized by police groups for provocative imagery of a police car sinking below water in a Hurricane Katrina-like flood. In “Queen & Slim,” the system is inundated by a metaphorical flood. In the opening scene, Turner-Smith and Kaluuya are on an awkward first date. She, we learn, is an attorney whose client was sentenced to death earlier that day. It’s the intimacy of her relationship to the criminal-justice system that makes it all the more damning when she demands that they go on the run rather than attempt to explain to other officers what happened. The hypothetical implicit in the scene itself is: what would have happened if someone like Eric Garner had fought back? What would have happened had Botham Jean or Atatiana Jefferson shot first? And what are the probabilities that anyone fighting back against unsanctioned police violence could be thought of as anything beyond a thug or a murderer by the greater public?

The connections between “Cornbread, Earl & Me” and Michael Stewart and “Do the Right Thing” and Eric Garner form a daisy chain in which the question is less about whether art or life is imitating the other and more about the ways in which art serves as a bridge between tragedies that occur at irregular intervals but with such similarities that they have formed a canon of the wrongly dead. This is part of what makes “Queen & Slim,” such a brilliant, indelible departure, and it’s most of the reason that I continued to think about it obsessively in the weeks after I saw it in that theatre in midtown. There is an accidental homicide, but it is not committed by a police officer. There is no template of bureaucratic responses, no corps of surrogates deployed to dispel the innocence of the victim in the media, no hedging of the deaths with reminders of how dangerous the shooter’s line of work is and what he means to the rest of society.

When the eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was killed by the police officer Darren Wilson, five years ago, in Ferguson, Missouri, the Times ran a piece that led with the description of Brown as “no angel,” to which outraged critics in Ferguson and beyond shouted that they didn’t know he had to be. The system here is no angel. It is the story of two people—a black everyman, played with sublime reserve by Kaluuya, and an attorney who is both sincere and cynical in equal measure, compellingly brought to life by Turner-Smith.

There are a great number of other implications to this story: the brilliant inversion of a slave narrative, in which two people flee from a Northern free state into the Deep South to seek freedom; the thorny and complicated ways in which other African-Americans respond to them en route; a twist in the middle of the film that unsettles any sense of moral simplicity that the viewer might have indulged up to that point. Most provocatively, the incident at the heart of “Queen & Slim” is framed in the context of a May, 1973, incident on the New Jersey Turnpike, in which members of the Black Liberation Army, including Assata Shakur, were involved in a shootout in which the police officer Werner Foerster was killed. Shakur, who is referenced multiple times in the film and serves as a kind of historical inspiration for the decisions Turner-Smith and Kaluuya make after the shooting, escaped from prison, in 1979, and has remained a fugitive in Cuba for nearly four decades. The State of New Jersey and the F.B.I. maintain rewards for her capture; she has been denounced by successive New Jersey governors. At the same time, her memoir, “Assata,” is a mainstay of African-American-studies courses and has remained in print for thirty years.

This is not a divergence in the responses to Shakur; it’s a divergence in people’s views about the credibility of the system that arrested and imprisoned her and of its representative who pulled her over that day. These different points of view are implicit in “Queen & Slim”—it is emphatically told from the vantage point of people with the vindicating view of Shakur. If we’re unaccustomed to grappling with these questions in film, it is because it’s been so long since they were raised. Matsoukas did not create a gangster-moll story for the modern era; she created a blaxploitation movie. The reference is not “Bonnie & Clyde,” it’s “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” Melvin Van Peebles’s indie film, released in 1971, is another audaciously black story that grapples with an African-American who attacks police officers and goes on the run. It, too, was a movie that took its audience’s understanding of systemic injustice as a given. It, too, recalled history, albeit not the strand of it we prefer to highlight in the United States.It was raining the night that I saw “Queen & Slim” and, after the screening, I stood outside the theatre beneath a construction scaffold sorting through the layers of the film. The movie reminded me of a historical reference buried deep in my memory. A hundred and nineteen years ago, a black man named Robert Charles sat with a friend on the steps of a building in New Orleans near where his girlfriend lived, waiting for her to get ready for a date. He was approached by several police officers, one of whom grabbed him. When a fight ensued, Charles fled after he and the officer both opened fire. Police tracked him to his apartment, where he killed two officers. A police manhunt terrorized black communities in New Orleans, but Charles evaded capture for several days, until he was tracked to an empty building, where, in the course of a standoff, he shot more than twenty more white men. The official versions of this story held that the men who set the building on fire and shot Charles as he exited were heroes. Black people chose a different protagonist. The journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett wrote of Charles that “white people of this country may charge that he was a desperado, but to the people of his own race Robert Charles will always be regarded as the hero of New Orleans.” People subject to the same abuses Charles suffered were unconcerned with whether he was an angel. What mattered was the number of white men who would now think twice before trying to pull the same stunt.

“Queen & Slim” is an extrapolation of thoughts that run through the heads of black people each time we’re called upon to mourn publicly, to request justice like supplicants, to comfort ourselves with inert lies about this sort of thing stopping in the near-future. That kind of insular honesty is rare in any kind of art but particularly perilous in cinema. This is a film that stands as strong a chance of being hailed and lauded as it does of being denounced and picketed, but it understands the inescapable fact that heroism is entirely a matter of context, that heroes need not be concerned with explaining themselves, and that it—like the characters at its center, like the history it draws upon—stands a great likelihood of being misunderstood. And, gloriously, neither its writer nor its director appears to give a damn.


source: The Powerful Perspective of ‘Queen & Slim’

The little-known story of Eugene Roberts; the black NYPD secret agent who infiltrated Malcolm X’s inner security and the Black Panther Party

Gene Roberts (in circle) was an undercover NYPD detective who infiltrated Malcolm X’s organization and became part of his main security detail via

A Black man who doubled as a detective for the police force managed to infiltrate the security detail of Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) founder Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party, two entities for the African cause and worked against its gains.Eugene Roberts also called Gene Roberts was close by when Malcolm X was killed at the Audubon Ballroom on 21 February 1965.

In fact Roberts was photographed trying in vain to resuscitate Malcolm X at the assassination. He was a man known affectionately within the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), an organisation Malcolm X founded to bridge the gap between Africans on the continent and those in the diaspora as “Brother Gene” only to later be confirmed as an undercover agent with the Bureau of Special Services and Investigation (BOSSI) in the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

BOSS was a super-secret political intelligence unit nickamed the Red Squad and when Roberts infiltrated the OAAU, he managed to become one of Malcolm’s chiefs of security while being an NYPD undercover cop. Two of the three men convicted of killing Malcolm X, Norman Butler and Robert 15X Johnson, were almost certainly not at the scene of the crime. The evidence points to a confluence of three groups involved in Malcolm X assassination: institutional forces (NYPD, FBI, CIA, etc.), The Nation of Islam, and elements within Malcolm’s own circle after his split with NOI. What is clear is that all these groups had a vested interest in eliminating Malcolm X who had at the time of his death become a potent threat to the established system thanks to his mobilization of disgruntled Blacks as well as the working class. His growing partnership with Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah helped birth the OAAU molded on the continental Organization of African Unity of independent African states.

Gene Roberts: The Undercover NYPD Agent Who Betrayed Malcolm X
Gene Roberts with Malcolm X via

After the formation of (OAAU) and Muslim Mosque, Inc. (MMI), Malcolm prepared to release a new political program which would have likely included voter registration drives, local organizing against police brutality, and a call for the United Nations to denounce American racial practices as human rights violations. He was gunned down on the very day he was set to unveil it.

To know for sure what roles infiltrators such as Ray Wood and Roberts played in Malcolm’s assassination, the NYPD has to release surveillance files and reports of undercover officers in the years surrounding the assassination, but the department has repeatedly refused to release them.

In the 1970s, the public learned about COINTELPRO and other secret FBI programs directed towards infiltrating and disrupting civil rights organizations during the 1950s and 1960s. J Edgar Hoover, who led the government’s COINTELPRO said… “there must be a goal of preventing a coalition of militant black nationalist groups, prevent the rise of a black messiah that can unify and electrify the black nationalist movement, along with preventing militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability, by discrediting them to the community”.

Roberts is said to have grown close to Malcolm and though he was reporting on him, had come to be fond of him and his death haunted his wife for decades who was also in the Audubon Ballroom. He is said to have been distracted by the assailants who killed Malcolm and when he shot one was also shot at except the bullet missed him by inches.

LIFE magazine feature Malcolm X assassination
The LIFE issue on the assassination of Malcolm X

But after Malcolm fell, Roberts was promoted to detective, by the NYPD and with that he infiltrated the Black Panther Party.

Roberts became a founding member of the New York chapter of the Black Panther Party, in July 1968, but had little to report on to handlers at BOSS.

“Nothing significant; usual black power rhetoric,” he is said to have noted on one occasion.

A Black Panther Demonstration

So when another undercover cop claimed to have managed to steal some dynamite that Lumumba Shakur, partner of Afeni Shakur had stashed, switching the real sticks for duds before bombs were planted at police stations, adding that a Panther sniper team was assigned to pick off cops as they fled from one precinct after the planned explosion, and that a gun fight ensued between a highway police team and the panther snipers where they escaped, it must have surprised Roberts.

In the ensuing hearing, the prosecutors’ case was compromised with inconsistencies.

Roberts had never testified in open court before, he was kept on the stand for six weeks and when he testified about the New York Panthers as being rebels without a clue and couldn’t have pulled off the crime they were being accused of, he was viewed as unhelpful to the prosecution as a witness. For the defense, he was mortifying. While being cross-examined by six white radical lawyers, they denounced him as “the trusted slave who would whip the other slaves when required,” and “secret agents . . . forced to sell their souls and forfeit their manhood.”

In the end, 21 of the panthers were charged with conspiring to blow up several police precincts, part of a railroad, the Bronx Botanical Garden, and five Manhattan department stores.

However, Roberts who had taken the lead in the department-store operation and was aware no one he knew had done anything more than window-shop must have been surprised as the Panthers. The “Panther 21” trial was the longest and most expensive criminal prosecution in the history of New York lasting some two years with the jury voting not guilty on all counts after two hours of deliberation.


Roberts during the Panther trials also shared how his undercover role was nearly discovered when a Panther came close to touching electronic equipment under his shirt while taping a heart‐shaped target to the garment. After the frightening experience of near discovery in the gun class, he said he no longer wore electronic transmission equipment to Panther meetings.

Several former cops said that Roberts struggled during his remaining years on the job. After the trial, Roberts was assigned to ordinary detective duties in the Bronx. He developed a drinking problem, which eventually cost him his marriage. He was given medals but never promoted.

Roberts gave an interview for a 1994 documentary called Brother Minister: The Assassination of Malcolm X. He noted: “There are a lot of people in the black community that consider me a traitor to my race and the community. . . . I felt then and I feel now . . . I would get some negative feedback. And I would get some positive feedback. I felt that it was a job. A job I felt was the right thing to do.”

He died alone in Virginia in 2008.


The FBI Spends a Lot of Time Spying on Black amerikans

by Alice Speri

The FBI has come under intense criticism after a 2017 leak exposed that its counterterrorism division had invented a new, unfounded domestic terrorism category it called “black identity extremism.” Since then, legislators have pressured the bureau’s leadership to be more transparent about its investigation of black activists, and a number of civil rights groups have filed public records requests to try to better understand who exactly the FBI is investigating under that designation. Although the bureau has released hundreds of pages of documents, it continues to shield the vast majority of these records from public scrutiny.

The sheer volume of documents those surveillance efforts have produced is troublesome, advocates say. The latest batch of FBI documents — obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and the racial justice group MediaJustice and shared with The Intercept — reveals that between 2015 and 2018, the FBI dedicated considerable time and resources to opening a series of “assessments” into the activities of individuals and groups it mostly labeled “black separatist extremists.” This designation was eventually folded into the category of “black identity extremism.” Earlier this year, following an onslaught of criticism from elected officials, civil liberties advocates, and even some law enforcement groups, the FBI claimed that it had abandoned the “black identity extremism” label, substituting it for a “racially motivated violent extremism. ” Critics say that this designation conveniently obscures the fact that black supremacist violence, unlike white supremacist violence, does not actually exist.

Although the FBI has frequently changed its labels and terminology, the surveillance of black Americans has continued. As The Intercept has reported, following the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, the FBI began spying on Ferguson activists and tracking their movements across states, warning local law enforcement partners that Islamic State group supporters were “urging” protesters to join their ranks. The FBI also drafted a mysterious “race paper,” the contents of which remain secret even though the bureau has disowned it. And as the Young Turks reported, the bureau has established a program dubbed “Iron Fist” targeting so-called black identity extremists with undercover agents.

The latest documents were turned over to the ACLU and MediaJustice after the groups sued the FBI last March over its failure to comply with a public records request. While the bureau is expected to release more documents in the coming months, what it has turned over so far is so heavily redacted that it is largely incomprehensible. In addition to removing entire paragraphs and all geographical and other identifiers from the documents, the FBI simply withheld hundreds of pages in full.

“These documents suggest that since at least 2016, the FBI was engaged in a national intelligence collection effort to manufacture a so-called ‘Black Identity Extremist’ threat,” Nusrat Choudhury, deputy director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, told The Intercept. “They are spending a lot of energy on this and they are clearly reaching out to other law enforcement.”

“We are troubled about the fact that so much information is not being made available to the public,” she added. “We just know that the government is likely redacting information that should be disclosed to the public — it frequently does.”

A bureau spokesperson wrote to The Intercept in a statement that “every activity that the FBI conducts must uphold the Constitution and be carried out in accordance with federal laws.”

“Investigative activity may not be based solely on the exercise of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” the spokesperson added. “The FBI’s investigative methods are subject to multiple layers of oversight, and we ensure that our personnel are trained on privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.”

Baseless Assessments

Most of the newly released documents are investigative files that show the FBI has opened a number of what bureau guidelines refer to as “assessments,” primarily into the activities of individuals it calls “black separatist extremists.” Assessments differ from full-blown investigations — or “predicated investigations,” in the bureau’s lingo — because they do not need to be predicated on a factual basis. That means the bureau needs no evidence of criminality or a national security threat in order to open an assessment. Assessments need only to be authorized for a specific purpose, such as recruiting new informants.

As a new report by the civil liberties group Defending Rights & Dissent notes, when choosing targets for an assessment, agents are allowed to use ethnicity, religion, or speech protected by the First Amendment as a factor, “as long as it is not the only one.” As the report notes, “Even though the standards for opening an assessment are extraordinarily low, the FBI is allowed to use extremely intrusive investigative techniques in performing them, including physical surveillance, use of informants, and pretextual interviews.”

During pretextual interviews, FBI agents are not required to disclose their status as federal officials and can lie about the purpose of the interview in order to elicit incriminating statements. Agents can open an assessment without a supervisor’s approval for a period of 30 days, after which a supervisor must sign off on an extension. After 90 days, an assessment must be reauthorized. Assessments can be reauthorized an unlimited number of times, which means that the FBI can surveil law-abiding citizens posing no national security threat for years.


Heavily redacted FBI documents show the bureau opened a series of assessments to investigate black groups and individuals despite no evidence that they were committing crimes or posing a security threat.

Document: FBI via ACLU and MediaJustice

Many of the new documents obtained by the ACLU and MediaJustice suggest that the FBI repeatedly reauthorized assessments beyond their initial duration periods. Because of the heavy redactions, however, it is not clear whether the bureau has opened many different assessments or whether the same handful of assessments have been extended multiple times. While some of the assessments refer to a particular geographic “area of responsibility,” others do not include such a designation, suggesting that they may refer to nationwide assessments of certain groups or organizations.

The reauthorization requests released by the FBI include a series of questions about the objective of the assessment, whether it was fulfilled, and any investigative techniques deployed. Because the answers are fully redacted, however, it’s impossible to tell whether the assessments had plausible justifications. It’s also unclear whether any robust review led to each reauthorization or whether supervisors merely rubber-stamped extension requests, Choudhury said. “Unfortunately they’re just redacting the parts of these that would give us an objective check on how they’re making decisions.”

Working With Police

In addition to paperwork relating to its multiple assessments, the new documents include reports of “liaisons” with organizations outside of the FBI and electronic communications suggesting active FBI collaboration with other law enforcement agencies. The bureau’s memos refer to a number of “strategy meetings” involving local law enforcement, including in the days before the first anniversary of Brown’s killing in Ferguson, which reignited protests. In another exchange, law enforcement partners were asked to contribute to “collecting better intelligence on possible Black Separatist Extremists.”

The documents also refer to the FBI’s work with “Joint Terrorism Task Forces,” which bring together agents with officers from hundreds of state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies. Because JTTFs are run by the FBI, they operate under FBI guidelines, which provide fewer protections for speech, privacy, and civil liberties than the rules governing local police and other law enforcement.

But while federal and other law enforcement cooperation is routine, involving local police in vague and sweeping political surveillance efforts is deeply problematic, critics say. In fact, threat assessment reports such as the one on “black identity extremism” pose a particular challenge to local law enforcement, said Mike German, a former FBI agent and vocal critic of the bureau.

“What is it telling law enforcement officers to do?” German told The Intercept. “Most of [these assessments] just say, ‘Be very afraid of this new threat,’ and they don’t give any practical advice for how to identify that threat, or how to distinguish that threat from legitimate protest, or nonviolent civil disobedience, or other First Amendment-protected activity that might promote some similar ideas, but isn’t violence. So then the solution for these police departments that receive it is to treat all of them as if they are potential threats.”

To activists already concerned with police violence and a lack of accountability, police collaboration with the FBI’s surveillance efforts is particularly troubling.

“This is happening at the same time when jurisdictions across the country, our police departments, are actively acquiring surveillance tools in really secretive ways, without any sort of oversight and regulation,” said Myaisha Hayes, an organizer with MediaJustice, in an interview. “And it makes me worry that those tools can be used against activists given the sort of environment that the FBI is creating around criminalizing dissent.”

Throughout the documents, the FBI repeats boilerplate warnings that some “indicators” of domestic terrorism “may constitute the exercise of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment” and reminds agents that “the FBI is prohibited from engaging in investigative activity for the sole purpose of monitoring the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

Even so, the documents suggest that the bureau did in fact target protected speech as part of its surveillance activities, at some point monitoring the October 2015 “Million Man March” in Washington, D.C. While most of the memo concerning the march is redacted, the document does refer to the “violent rhetoric and nature” of the event — even though the march was in fact a nonviolent demonstration that drew tens of thousands to the capital to commemorate the original 1995 event and protest a series of high-profile police killings of black men.

While the FBI has a long history of targeting black Americans — most notably when it infiltrated and sought to disrupt the civil rights movement as part of its COINTELRPO political policing campaign — the bureau has in recent years shifted its target from those espousing “separatist” views to the much larger group of those protesting police violence. As The Intercept has reported, in an internal email exchange obtained by the government transparency group Property of the People, Michael F. Paul, an official with the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, wrote to colleagues that the bureau had updated its definition of “black separatist extremism” in order “to broaden it beyond simply those seeking ‘separatism.’” Paul added: “The threat or movement has simply evolved, and many are seeking more than/other than separation.”

In fact, what those in the targeted “movement” say they are seeking is simply an end to police violence, as well as greater justice and government accountability.

“The Black Lives Matter movement, black-led organizations that are focused around policing and police brutality have not had a single incident of violence associated with their activist work,” Hayes told The Intercept. “That tells me that what the FBI is looking for is opportunities to basically disrupt organizing that challenges and threatens the status quo.”

FBI Targets Blacks and Left, Not White Supremacists

The FBI has plenty of powers but chooses not to use them against violent white supremacists, said Chip Gibbons, of Defending Rights and Dissent. “If the FBI gets more domestic terrorism powers, who do you think they’re going to use them against?” Gibbons asked, and then answered: dissidents and Blacks. “If anything, the FBI’s power should be restricted.”


Swamp Diversity: 4 Negro FBI Agents Who Busted Our Savior Marcus Garvey

U.S. Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection

Brothers will turn against their own brothers and give them to be killed.” -Mark 13:12

This scripture is prophetic when it comes to iconic civil rights and Black empowerment leader Marcus Garvey. Though four Black FBI agents and informants didn’t literally kill the Jamaican-born activist, they assisted with his character assassination, reported the Washington Post.

It all happened under the auspices of Black progress within the FBI who were ‘diversifying’ the organization by hiring Black agents and informants. Garvey had an immense love for his people and the FBI used that against him. Stress manifests itself in different ways. Garvey died at the young age of 52 from two strokes,

Depending on who you ask, history paints a complex picture of Garvey. However, as mentioned earlier, no one can dispute his passion for his people nor that he dedicated his life to fighting for the betterment of descendants of the African Diaspora across the globe.

Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and The Negro World. He was also an entrepreneur who started the Black Star Line and prominent leader of the “Back To Africa” movement. It is often said before Malcolm and before Martin, there was Marcus.

After emigrating to the U.S. from Jamaica and gaining a large following for his message and work to empower Black people, Garvey became a subject of interest of the Bureau of Investigation, the precursor to the FBI. They used Garvey’s love for his people as a strategy to plant Black agents and informants to take surveillance of him, the UNIA and their activities.


Emmett J. Scott was one of them. An agent at the Bureau, Scott posed as a reporter who attended Garvey’s UNIA meetings and conventions who interviewed Garvey.


Maj. Walter H. Loving was a retired Army officer and a member of the Military Intelligence Division who sent Black informants to UNIA meetings. He was assisting with intensive surveillance of the Black press overall.


Herbert Simeon Boulin was Jamaican businessman in Harlem who befriended Garvey but was really a Bureau informant. He began giving them gave harmful information such as accusations that Garvey’s movement was anti-white.


James Wormley Jones – a World War I veteran, Black police officer and first Black FBI special agent – also went undercover to take Garvey down. His information was the nail in the coffin J. Edgar Hoover needed to arrest Garvey.

Jones reported that Garvey’s Black Star Line was in “financial straits,” but the UNIA was continuing to promote stock in the company. He also said they would continue to sell stock and Hoover and his team deemed the sales fraudulent.


Based on Jones’ information, after years of repeated efforts by Hoover, they indicted Garvey on mail fraud and arrested him in 1922. Despite insufficient evidence, Garvey was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

Though his sentence was commuted by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927, he was deported back to Jamaica. Garvey, nor his movement ever fully recovered. He died in 1940 after moving to London.

In 2016, Garvey’s family made a huge push to have his name cleared and requested a pardon from then-President Barack Obama. However, the pardon was not granted. His family continues to fight to restore dignity to Garvey’s name.

Case in point: There is such thing as good diversity, but swamp diversity occurs when Black people are hired with ill intentions. While Scott, Loving and Jones made great strides for Black culture as individuals, they also helped take down a leader who wanted to advance the culture as a whole.

Maybe they didn’t see it that way at the time, but it’s hard to get ahead when one doesn’t know if the person standing next to them is for or against them.

ABA Journal@ABAJournal

J. Edgar Hoover hired the FBI’s first black agents, who were tasked with investigating and infiltrating the emerging organization of Marcus Garvey, a rising star in the politics of the nation’s black community. 

View image on Twitter
See ABA Journal’s other Tweets

Meet the most dangerous black woman of the 1870s whose powerful writings were ‘stolen’ by the FBI



Lucy Parsons, one of the most influential people in American history, was a journalist, an anarchist, socialist, and labour organizer who fought for the rights of the poor and disenfranchised in society. Pic credit: Medium
“She is more dangerous than a thousand rioters”.That was the description given to her by local Chicago authorities at the time. Lucy Parsons, one of the most influential people in American history, was a journalist, an anarchist, socialist, and labour organizer who fought for the rights of the poor and disenfranchised in society amidst an industrial economic system that was oppressive. This was at a time when most radicals believed that a woman’s place was in the home.

For about 70 years, she struggled for racial equality, believing that violence was the only way to change the capitalist system and ensure that workers’ demands were met.

She penned down most of her beliefs, and sources say that her writings alarmed the government at the time to the extent that police officers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) prevented her from speaking in public and often threw her in jail.

It is even recorded that on the day of her death, authorities seized her books and papers on socialism and anarchy, burying her ideals and depriving historians of her resources.

Despite her bravery and outspokenness, Parsons mostly kept things about her background hidden. When asked by a reporter to reveal her background, she replied: “I am not a candidate for office, and the public have no right to my past. I amount to nothing to the world and people care nothing of me. I am battling for a principle.”

Related image
Lucy Parsons. Pic credit: Famous Biographies

Thus, not much is known about her early life, apart from the fact that she had an African American, Native American, and Mexican ancestry. Varying accounts state that she was born in Texas around 1853, during the Civil War Era, and it is likely that her parents were slaves. She went under many surnames throughout her life just to disguise her racial origins in a prejudiced society, writes She often used the name Lucy Gonzales, denying her African American roots and claiming that her Mexican heritage was the cause of her dark skin tone.

As a teenager, she married an older, formerly enslaved man, Oliver Benton, otherwise known as Oliver Gathings, and had a child who died as an infant. She later met Albert Parsons, a printer and a former Confederate soldier from Alabama around 1869, who would eventually be her husband.

Their marriage was, however, not legal, since local laws at the time prevented interracial marriages or cohabitation between white people and other races. In 1872, Lucy and her husband, who had become a radical Republican after the Civil War, had to leave Texas for Chicago due to their marriage and anti-segregation activism.

Historians say that Albert had worked assiduously on registering Black voters and was shot in the leg and threatened with lynching. The couple had to leave because they felt threatened. Once in Chicago, they immersed themselves in the labour and anarchist movements while Albert worked as a printer for the Chicago Times.

At the time, the country had fallen into depression, and millions were unemployed. In Chicago, the situation was no different, and authorities were forced to bring wages down. In response to the depression, the Great Strike of 1877 took place, one of the greatest mass strikes in U.S. history. During the strike, rail workers engaged in a battle with the police who had tried to disperse the crowds. Lucy’s husband would be a leading figure in the railroad strike, as he is said to have organized the thousands of railroad workers. As punishment, he was fired from his job at the Chicago Times, and Lucy was forced to open a dress shop while working with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union.Lucy, who had worked in support of African Americans throughout her time in Texas, began to write for many radical publications, including The Socialist and The Alarm, an anarchist weekly published by the International Working People’s Association (IWPA), which she and Albert had helped found in 1883.

Alongside the IWPA, the couple were deeply involved in the labour protest at Haymarket Square in Chicago. The May 3, 1886 protest was in support of eight-hour workdays at the McCormick Harvest Works, but the protest turned violent, and in the process, police officers and others were killed. Lucy’s husband was arrested alongside other men and convicted though no evidence was found. Charged with conspiracy and murder, Albert was executed in 1887, in spite of Lucy’s fight for the release of the prisoners and appeals against an unfair trial.

Her husband’s death did not deter her from continuing her activism, as she continued her struggle for the rights of workers, women, and African-Americans in general. She continued to write for a strong working class movement while working with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), an organization that was formed out of the labour unrest at the time.

Lucy became the editor of the IWW’s journal, The Liberator and published her own paper, Freedom. Lucy travelled extensively to deliver speeches, “out of both financial necessity and political passion”, according to The Washington Post.

Due to her affiliations with the Socialist Party, Communist Party, and scores of radical newspapers, she became a prime target by the FBI and was constantly harassed and arrested. She, nevertheless, continued her activism until her death at age 89 in a fire on March 7, 1942.Even though the FBI confiscated all her books and publications just to bury her ideals, her image as a radical crusader has survived, a report by the Chicago Tribune said. A Chicago anti-fascist group called Black Rose uses a drawing of Parsons as its symbol. In Boston, there’s the Lucy Parsons Center, a radical bookstore and meeting place while a Chicago park was named after her in 2004, the report added.

Her legacy also remains valuable for radical groups seeking equality for minorities and the poor.


“…A Violent Battle Between the FBI and Black Power Movement in 1969…”

Tonight: Tuesday May 14, 2019
ABC – Channel 7
9-10 pm CST. 10-11 pm EST

Often imitated never duplicated, The Black Panther Party according to former FBI Director J.  Edgar Hoover was labeled “The Greatest Threat to The Internal Security of This Country.” 
Under the U.S. government’s COINTELPRO program, 90% of activities were aimed at the Black Panther Party.

On December 4, 1969, Chairman Fred Hampton, and Defense Captain Mark Clark were assassinated.

Join us as we walk the streets of Chicago with Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., Black Panther Party Cubs. Listen as Akua Njeri, Chairman Fred’s widow, gives an in-depth account of the 4:00 a.m. Massacre on Monroe. Former Black Panther Party members, police, and Black Lives Matter weigh in on this historic event. This 50 – year anniversary is highlighted with#SAVETHEHAMPTONHOUSE campaign.

  Deborah Johnson, Chairman Fred Hampton Sr.’s widow.