50 Years After the First Memo Leak of the FBI’s Cointelpro, the Question Stands: Are We Free?
In March of 1968, a memo by the FBI was addressed to 14 field offices. In it contained instructions on how to create fictitious decoys for the Black Panther Party (BPP). It mapped out an official war strategy against the advocacy group. In a calculated and egregious effort, the agency forged letters containing death threats to different Black organizing groups, causing deep tensions and sometimes deadly disputes amongst them.
President Edgar Hoover labeled the Black Panther Party a “hate group” and publicly demonized the organization as “the greatest threat to internal security”. This was the same group that orchestrated a children’s breakfast program when the government failed to provide children with their necessary needs for survival. The Black Panther Party was fully committed to ensuring that children learn and grow in a healthy and affirming environment.
The free breakfast program of today was inspired by the Black Panther Party’s program. At its highest popularity, it fed thousands of children with more than 40 programs around the nation. But, despite its impact Hoover went after the program,” Consequently, the BCP (Breakfast for Children Program) represents the best and most influential activity going for the BPP and, as such, is potentially the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralize the BPP and destroy what it stands for.”
Hoover, was on to something. The community-based programming served to exposes the power in unity that was being formed by the Black Panther Party and the ways the government misguided their attention away from adequately serving communities.
50 years later, the Black Lives Matter rallying cry turned into a movement to end systematic violence against Black communities represents a similar threat to the FBI today.
In 2017, a leaked FBI report revealed that BLM was a domestic terror group labeled as “Black identity extremists”. Activists across the country have experienced monitoring through phone disruptions. It’s a tactic, that seeks to interfere with one activist’s biggest tools by causing interference to organizing and recording the police. In some instances, reports of law enforcement disguising as protesters has served as a way to cause paranoia or initiate conflicts and have even lead to arrests at peaceful protests.
This reaction by authorities in response to Black groups organizing for better treatment is a chapter of our histories ugly past that has resurfaced in an attempt to silence and divide political power among black communities seeking change.
It’s the same demonization that would serve to dismantle the Black Panther Party. The only threat present was and still is the threat to white supremacy.
In the spirit of turning L’s of 1968 into lessons. We must continue to be both aware and vigilant in the fight for justice, dignity, life and humanity.