In November 2017, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) met with the FBI to discuss the Black Identity Extremists report.
Modern Day COINTELPRO?
Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton had made a name for himself in Chicago and throughout the country by the late 1960s.
By the age of 21, Hampton had begun a multiracial coalition to challenge those in power throughout America.
His charisma, intellect and desire for unity across racial borders harkened back to the beginning of the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.
However, a year after the death of King, Hampton loss his life while he slept in his bed, as Chicago police fired over 100 shots into his apartment, killing fellow Panther Mark Clark, 22, while injuring several others.
After the killing, Black Panther Party Minister of Defense for the Illinois Chapter Bobby Rush declared that the FBI carried out the assassination of Hampton and Clark but very few believed him because of the lack of evidence at the time.
Rush’s statements probably intensified the Black community’s distrust of the FBI and local law enforcement officials.
Almost 50 years later, the distrust between the Black community and FBI still exists thanks to things such as the Black Identity Extremists list the FBI has kept on leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement and other movements that fight for equal rights for Black Americans.
According to NBC News, Black lawmakers met in November 2017 with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Capitol Hill to express their concerns with the FBI’s investigation into so-called “Black Identity Extremists Likely to Target Law Enforcement Officials.”
“(The list is) a characterization and it’s very inaccurate of the movement that is going on,” said Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.). “We don’t want anyone to view Black Lives Matter or other organizations that protest as an extremist group or a domestic terrorist group because we think that’s very dangerous.”
The Black Identity Extremists investigation makes many think of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program in the 1960s and 1970s.
Under the leadership of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) sought to destroy and dismantle civil rights organizations, anti-war groups and political opposition groups and leaders like King by extreme surveillance and by planting lies and deception within the ranks of the various organizations.
The COINTELPRO is responsible for creating division within the Black Panther Party and with other like-minded organizations, which led to many deaths and a crumbling of the groups’ infrastructure.
Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said, “I was straight forward and to the point. I think the point this made was, ‘Who is this pertaining to? Who makes the interpretation who becomes a Black identity extremist?’ I think we’ve opened the eyes hopefully of the director and hopefully there will be some engaging discussion and we will work through this.”
What many in the Black community want to know is does the FBI have ongoing investigations into White nationalists and White extremists?
If not, why is that?
The Black Identity Extremists report alarmed Black Lives Matter activists because they fear that the past will repeat itself and they too could become a victim like those included in COINTELPRO.
Although Rush did not have any proof at the time that the FBI coordinated the assassination of Hampton and Clark, his intuition proved correct.
Law enforcement said that Hampton and Clark lost their lives during a shoot out between police and Black Panthers.
However, the crime scene reports show that the cops fired over 100 shots into Hampton’s apartment, while the Black Panthers only fired one shot back.
Furthermore, the investigation showed that the FBI had infiltrated the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, and were given a layout of the apartment before the assassination.
By meeting with the FBI, CBC members are hoping that history does not repeat itself.