M. Wesley Swearigen in FBI Secrets: An Agent’s Expose (1995)
There is a lounge at the FBI National Academy which sells low-alcohol beer in the evening after classes, but no hard liquor. Gregg York and I had finished a few pitchers of beer one night as we discussed old times. I don’t recall just how the subject of the Black Panther Party came up. I may have started the conversation by comparing the work on the Los Angeles racial squad to the bag jobs Gregg and I had done in Chicago.
I told York that some agents in Los Angeles had informants who had assassinated Black Panther members and I told him how Geronimo Pratt had been framed for murder and had been sentenced to life in prison.
York grinned and said he had a better story than that.
York told me about the December 1969 raid on the Chicago Panther headquarters in which Fred Hampton and Mark Clark had been killed by the Chicago police. He said the FBI had arranged for the raid by telling the police that the Panthers had numerous guns and explosives, and that they would shoot any police officer who entered the building.
As York outlined the details of what had happened during the pre-dawn raid on December 4, 1969, directed by the state attorney general’s office, his smile went away. His mouth tightened. York looked as though he was about to confess to a horrible sin. We had been through some tough times together and I admired him as a friend and fellow agent. York had always been there when we needed him on a difficult bag job. He was one of the best agents with whom I had ever worked. From his expression I felt he was about to tell me something I did not want to hear and something he should not tell me. York looked over his shoulder in both directions, to be sure no one was listening. We were alone at a corner table. I poured another glass of beer and sipped it while York told his story.
York explained that agent Roy Mitchell had an informant in the Chicago Black Panther Party
and that the informant had given Mitchell a
detailed floor plan of Panther headquarters
long with a description of their weapons cache.
He explained that the Chicago FBI office had
held a conference with the Chicago police and
had detailed the violent background of the
Panthers and their collection of firearms. He
said, “We gave them a copy of the detailed
floor plan from Mitchell’s informant so that
they could raid) the place and kill the whole
I was speechless. Gregg York had just confessed to me his part, as a supervisor in the Chicago office, in the FBI’s plot to assassinate the Panthers in a style similar to the Chicago gangland murders of the 1950s. York had confessed to being an accessory to murder. The judge later ruled that indeed there had been a conspiracy between the FBI and the police in this case.
We did not speak for what seemed a long time. I kept thinking of how my old friend thought I was on his side when it it came to killing African Americans. I felt sorry for Gregg York because he was still fighting Hoover’s imaginary enemies: the communists, the Native Americans and the African Americans.
We began to talk again, and York said, “We expected about twenty Panthers to be in the apartment when the police raided the place. Only two of those black nigger fuckers were killed, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.”
I could not take anymore of York’s depraved attitude. I changed the subject to our upcoming retirements.
On the last day of the seminar I said good-bye
to York and wished him well in his retirement.
I never spoke to him again. During my career I had done many things that I was not proud of, but I never had been involved in a plot to murder or assassinate anyone. I knew it would be hard for me to live down the transgressions I had committed against the Constitution in what I thought were honorable acts in the defense of our country, but I had no idea how Gregg York and the other agents involved in plots to assassinate and murder innocent citizens could ever have a peaceful night’s sleep.