US Human Rights Network Training Call
COINTELPRO and its Historical Legacy Educational Call
Thursday, October 28, 2010
2 pm EST
“COINTELPRO” was the FBI’s secret and illegal program to undermine and destroy the popular upsurge and mass movements for social justice that swept the US, beginning with the early civil rights movement and Puerto Rican independence movement in the 1950s, and continuing through the 1960s and 1970s. The name comes from "COunterINtelligence PROgram, and it was ordered by the infamous FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, to “misdirect, discredit, disrupt, and otherwise neutralize” progressive and radical organizations and leaders, up to and including outright assassination of leaders. Illegal FBI operations also included infiltration, wiretapping of phones, opening mail, break-ins, psychological warfare, grand juries, frame-ups, imprisonment, and a wide range of other surveillance, harassment, and intimidation. Illegal activities were directed at a wide range of groups and individuals, from Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King to more militant groups, such as the Black Panther Party, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Revolutionary Action Movement. The most intense operations were directed against movements by peoples of color, particularly the Black liberation movement, and Native American, Puerto Rican, and Chicano/Mexicano movements, but also included the entire antiwar, student, women’s movements, and leftwing organizations. While COINTELPRO was an FBI operation, it now is seen to include many other government and military agencies, local police, and right wing organizations. COINTELPRO was discovered in March, 1971, when still anonymous antiwar activists found secret files when they raided a draft board that shared offices with the FBI in Media, Pennsylvania. They removed the files and released them to the news media. While there were Congressional investigations and some of these illegal activities were exposed, many of the crimes of COINTELPRO remain unknown. In addition to the highly destructive impact of COINTELPRO during those times, many political prisoners, convicted in the 1960s and 1970s, remain in prison to this day.
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A prolific American Indian scholar/activist, Ward Churchill is a founding member of the Rainbow Council of Elders, and longtime member of the leadership council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. In addition to his numerous works on Indigenous history, he has written extensively on U.S. foreign policy and the repression of political dissent, including the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. Churchill has written over 20 books, including Fantasies of the Master Race, Struggle for the Land, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, From A Native Son, Critical Issues in Native North America, The COINTELPRO Papers, Indians R Us?, Agents of Repression, Since Predator Came, and A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas. Five of his books have received human rights awards.
Akinyele Umoja is an activist, scholar and educator. He is been active over thirty years in the liberation struggle of Afrikan people, particularly working with the New Afrikan Independence Movement. He is a founding member of the New Afrikan Peoples Organization (NAPO) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). Akinyele is particularly committed to work to gain Amnesty for political prisoners and prisoners of war and to win reparations for Afrikan people. Akinyele is an Associate Professor of African-American Studies at Georgia State University (GSU). Akinyele has contributed articles in several publications including Soulbook, Nommo, By Any Mean Any Necessary, Black Agenda Report, Breakthrough, BLU, Black Star, Journal of Black Studies, The Black Scholar, New Political Science, and Socialism and Democracy.. He is currently writing a book based titled, “Eye for an Eye: The Role of Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement. He also contributed articles to The Black Panther Party Reconsidered, edited by Charles E. Jones; Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party, edited by Kathleen Cleaver and George Katisaficus; The Malcolm X Reader edited by James Conyers and Andrew Smallwood; and the Companion on African-American History edited by Alton Hornsby.
To join the Political Prisoner and State Repression Working Group email Efia Wangaza at email@example.com.
In Unity and Struggle,