Black History in March
Although Black History Month has come to a close, African-Americans still continue to make history 365 or 366 days a year.
Emmerson Buie Jr., originally from the West Side of the “Windy City” in addition to growing up in Englewood, Ill., recently became the first African-American to head the FBI Field Office in Chicago.
“I have a family and it’s my family’s community,” said Buie. “I have a vested interest in protecting it to protect my family. I want to build a relationship. I want to protect my community. By the same token, in the event that something unfortunate happens, I want to heal my community as well.”
The Army veteran who served in Desert Storm will lead an office of approximately 1,000 people.
Buie said that it is imperative to become proactive and not reactive when addressing the concerns of Chicago residents.
By becoming proactive, Buie hopes to build relationships with the residents of his hometown and the FBI.
“By being out in the community, and working with the public—that is our best asset and biggest weapon: the relationship we are able to forge outside the FBI’s office,” Buie said.
Although Buie obviously does not want to deal with tragedy as head of the Chicago office, he unfortunately has dealt with tremendous tragedy while working for the FBI.
Buie served as head of the El Paso, Texas FBI at the time of the mass shooting at a local Wal-Mart.
The mass shooting in El Paso, Texas claimed the lives of 22 people.
Buie said, “It’s unfortunate that in today’s society, sometimes it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”
When that day happens, the FBI would have spent much time preparing to handle mass shootings.
“It’s crucial to ID and apprehend the offenders, but it’s as critical to ID victims and asses their needs, and provide the appropriate resources to address those needs,” said Patrice Heelan, an FBI specialist in Chicago.
Despite the history making promotion for Buie, who took the job offer last fall, the FBI has had a checkered past with the African-American community for decades, especially in the “Windy City.”
Former Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton of Chicago had all of the skills to bring races together in the late 1960s according to many historians.
Hampton advocated for Black empowerment in a way that created allies from other races.
Furthermore, Hampton succeeded in uniting Black gangs in Chicago.
Nevertheless, former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover viewed militant African-Americans as the biggest threat to America in the late 1960s and he began an intelligence and infiltration campaign designed to dismantle groups like the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam.
Hoover even sought to destroy less militant leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., who once lived in Chicago.
The former FBI director convinced a criminal, William O’Neal, to join the Panthers and befriend Hampton.
O’Neal became a bodyguard for Hampton and director of chapter security.
The new security officer worked to dismantle the coalitions that Hampton helped to develop.
The FBI later used information from O’Neal to storm Hampton’s apartment, resulting in Hampton’s death.
As a result of O’Neal infiltration, FBI officers knew exactly where Hampton’s bed and bedroom were located in the apartment.
Hampton died of gunshot wounds he endured while asleep.
Although seven Black Panthers got arrested after the FBI shooting, charges got dropped when an investigation showed that the FBI fired 99 shots into Hampton’s apartment while the Panthers only fired twice.
Later, COINTELPRO documents showed a cache of information, including the floor plan to Hampton’s apartment.
Actor Daniel Kaluuya (“Widows”) will portray Hampton in an untitled Fred Hampton biopic.
LaKeith Stanfield (“The Photograph”) will portray O’Neal in the untitled Hampton biopic.
Martin Sheen (“Selma”) will portray Hoover.
According to a 2019 FBI press release, “FBI Director Christopher Wray has named Emmerson Buie Jr. as the special agent in charge of the Chicago Field Office. Most recently, he served as the special agent in charge of the El Paso Field Office in Texas.
“Mr. Buie joined the FBI in 1992 and was assigned to the Colorado Springs Resident Agency of the Denver Field Office, where he investigated criminal matters. He was promoted to supervisory special agent in 1999 and was assigned to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Operations Unit in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“In 2002, Mr. Buie became the senior supervisory resident agent at the Fairview Heights Resident Agency in Illinois, under the Springfield Field Office. In 2006, he moved to London as the assistant legal attaché and the acting deputy legal attaché. While overseas, Mr. Buie served as the primary contact for coordinating the FBI’s participation in several international counterterrorism and anti-organized crime agencies.
“Mr. Buie was promoted in 2008 to the assistant special agent in charge of criminal matters and subsequently served over national security and administrative matters in the Springfield Field Office. He also served as the office’s leadership development coordinator. In 2014, Mr. Buie served as the Cyber Division’s senior liaison to the National Cybersecurity, Communication and Integration Center at the Department of Homeland Security. As liaison, he helped coordinate numerous public and private sector investigations and intelligence-sharing efforts between the FBI, DHS, and other agencies.
“He was named the special agent in charge of the El Paso Field Office in 2017.
“Prior to joining the FBI, Mr. Buie served for four years in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer and served in Desert Storm. He was awarded a Bronze Star, Combat Infantry badge, and multiple accommodations and awards. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University.”