In the 1960s, the [now-deceased] Kwame Ture’ was apparently targeted for special persecution by the FBI after he became prominent as the chairperson of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC], and as a popular, charismatic orator who was then known as Stokely Carmichael. As a former FBI agent named Robert Wall revealed in an essay entitled “Why I Got Out Of It,” which appeared in the book Investigating The FBI in 1971:
“In the case of Stokely Carmichael the FBI was particularly determined and vicious. When he moved to Washington, D.C. in December, 1967, our squad kept him under surveillance 24-hours a day, following him about the city from lookouts and cars, and on foot. The investigation became even more intense a few days after Martin Luther King was assassinated. When blacks in Washington, D.C., as well as in many other cities, outraged by the murder, rioted for a day and a half, in the Washington Field Office a 50-man special squad was assembled to get Carmichael for inciting to riot. We were directed to gather evidence showing that Carmichael had plotted, planned and directed the rioting, burning and pillage that took place in Washington, D.C. Fifty agents spent their full-time for over a month on this one case.
“…Carmichael had urged the crowd not to dishonor Dr. King’s memory by rioting and had politely asked shop owners to close their shops in his memory. Lacking any substantial evidence on which to base a charge, the Bureau nevertheless submitted voluminous reports on the minute-by-minute activities of Carmichael that were heavily weighted to imply that he had actually incited the mobs. Had Carmichael not decided to leave the country and go to Africa, the FBI, I am confident, would eventually have found something, with which to bring an indictment against him.”
According to The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Domestic Dissent:
“In Sepember of 1958, a personal file had been opened on King…By October 1960, as the Southern Christian Leadership Council [SCLC] call for desegregation and black voting rights in the south gained increasing attention…the Bureau began actively infiltrating organizational meetings and conferences…Actual counterintelligence operations against King and the SCLC more generally seem to have begun with a January 8, 1962 letter from Hoover to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy…SCLC was targeted within the Bureau’s ongoing COINTELPRO-CP,USA beginning with the planting of 5 disinformational `news stories’ concerning the organization’s `communist connections’ on October 24, 1962…Attorney General Kennedy had also authorized round-the-clock…surveillance of all SCLC offices, as well as King’s home. Hence, by November 8, 1963, comprehensive telephone tapes had been installed at all organizational offices, and King’s residence."
The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. by David Garrow described how Hoover’s FBI also hired a staff employee of King’s SCLC Atlanta office, named Harrison, to work as an FBI informant:
“`AT 1387-S,’ as Harrison was called in Bureau communications, soon eclipsed the wiretaps on the SCLC office as the bureau’s most valuable source of information on Dr. King’s organization. Weekly he would meet with Atlanta agent Alan G. Sentinella…
“Initially Harrison was paid in cash for his information each time he and Sentinella met. Eventually, though, as Harrison’s tenure lengthened and his stipend increased, the payments were made monthly…
“The major subjects of the conversations were SCLC finances and demonstration plans, with a heavy smattering of office politics and personnel matters.”
By 1964, according to The COINTELPRO Papers, “the Bureau’s intent had crystallized into an unvarnished intervention into the domestic political process, with the goal of bringing about King’s replacement with someone acceptable to the FBI” and “the means employed in the attempt to accomplish this centered in continued efforts to discredit King, maintaining a drumbeat of mass media-distributed propaganda concerning his supposed `communist influences’ and sexual proclivities…” The same book also asserted that “there are serious questions concerning the possibility that the FBI might have been involved in the assassination of Martin Luther King…”
Although people who spy on their fellow-citizens for the U.S. government have never been too popular with most people in the United States, the FBI apparently used our tax money in the 1960s to hire a lot of people to spy on African-American political activists. According to The COINTELPRO Papers:
“By the fall of 1967, every FBI field office was assigned at least one, and in some cases as many as four, agents devoted exclusively to development of `quality nonorganizational sources…for the purpose of expeditiously infiltrating militant black nationalist organizations.’ The Ghetto Informant Program, also called `Ghetto Listening Post,’ was launched at this time and, by the Summer of 1968, employed some 3,248 snitches…Hoover described this small army of contract spies as being `inadequate’ and demanded a major expansion of its ranks during the Fall of 1968…”
Next: Did CIA Play Role In Che Guevara’s 1967 Execution?