COINTELPRO. 48 years ago to this day (March 3, 1968), aScreenshot_2016-03-03-15-21-15-1 COINTELPRO memorandum was sent out to its staff by J. Edgar Hoover that focused the goals of the secret organization, COINTELPRO.

These goals included:

1. Prevent the COALITION of militant black nationalist groups. 2. Prevent the RISE OF A “MESSIAH” who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. 3. Prevent VIOLENCE on the part of black nationalist groups. 4. Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability, by discrediting them to three separate segments of the community. The goal of discrediting black nationalists must be handled tactically in three ways. You must discredit those groups and individuals to, first, the responsible Negro community. Second, they must be discredited to the white community, both the responsible community and to “liberals” who have vestiges of sympathy for militant black nationalist [sic] simply because they are Negroes. Third, these groups must be discredited in the eyes of Negro radicals, the followers of the movement. 5. A final goal should be to prevent the long-range GROWTH of militant black organizations, especially among youth.

COINTELPRO is short for the Counterintelligence Program and serves as the domestic and international imperial militarization of the US agenda.

COINTELPRO is a secret part of the US government’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Counterintelligence Agency (CIA) in cooperation with local police departments, the Department of Justice, the US armed forces, right wing individuals and groups, with the cooperation of media outlets, newspaper, radio, television, etc.

COINTELPRO was formally created under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover in 1956 and lasted formally through 1971. In 1924, Hoover became director of the Bureau of Investigation, which became the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935. He remained director through his death in 1971. One of Hoover’s first activities was to monitor Marcus Garvey in the 1920s.

COINTELPRO is one of many responses of the United States government to keep control of its internally colonized people. Internal colonies include Africans, Native Americans, Chicano/a Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexican populations. External US colonies include Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, ly colonized people including African, American Indian, Puerto Rican, Latino/a, Mexicano/a, and Chicano/a communities.

COINTELPRO is directly responsible for the murder/assassination, arrest, and imprisonment of hundreds of activists from the African, American Indian, Puerto Rican, Latino/a and Chicano/a and Mexicano/a, white leftist, women’s, anti-war movements. Some of these activists have been in prison under maximum security conditions for over 30 years, while others have died in prison, and a few others have escaped.

Through the release of classified documents under the Freedom of Information Act, several political prisoners were forced free through legal means that exposed the illegal prosecution and false claims of law enforcement.

COINTELPRO is directly and indirectly responsible for the rise of drug cultures and drug violence in the Black and Latino community. By removing the black leadership, the responsible black men and women- that protected the black community from the rise of drugs and drug crime- a vacuum of leadership was created and the void was filled by opportunistic elements of the community.

COINTELPRO uses many tactics to prevent and destroy radical decolonization, independence, self-determination, Black Power, Red Power, Brown Power, anti-colonial, and sovereign movements and individuals.

Tactics include spying and surveillance of individuals, dirty tricks, psychological operations (PSYOPS), which are all forms of psychological warfare.

Psy-ops include providing misinformation, fostering division between groups by exploiting ideological differences, infiltrating groups with agent provocateurs. For example, the Baltimore Chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded by an agent of the National Security Agency, Warren Hart.

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In addition to Psy-ops, another strategy includes incarcerating members of organizations in order to drain the financial resources of an organization. The charges used to arrest people are typically false. However, the charges serve to publicly discredit the people and organizations in the eyes of the community and create a public campaign against them. For example, the individuals and organizations may be called a threat to national security.

The Church Committee investigated the illegal actions of COINTELPRO and determined that individuals were being targeted by COINTELPRO for harassment and torture.

COINTELPRO still exists and will never relent in the pursuit of undermining liberation movements. Individuals who were targeted during the 1950s-1970s are still targeted now as are their families. As long as people believe in freedom there will be repression.

The legacy of COINTELPRO has created an atmosphere of mistrust among activists, challenges in building sustainable movements, etc.

The destructive work of COINTELPRO is as important to know as other periods of American history and should be synonymous with: Slave Codes, Black Codes, Sharecropping, Jim Crow, etc.

For more information on COINTELPRO see the following websites:

Organizations that are working on issues related to Political Prisoners including those listed on the flyer.

Read books about the Black Panther Party, The Universal Negro Improvement Association, the American Indian Movement, Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, the Deacons for Self-Defense, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ella Baker, Ida B. Wells, etc. Authors to read specifically are Ward Churchill, Tony Martin, Mumia Abu Jamal, Elaine Brown, David Hilliard, Maxwell Stanford, Marshall Eddie Conway, Safiya Bukhari, etc.

Watch documentaries on the Black Panthers: Passin it on featuring Dhoruba Bin Wahad, Eyes on the Rainbow featuring Assatta Shakur, The Legacy of Torture featuring the San Francisco 8

Cointelpro 101 documentary

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