“J. Edgar Hoover was determined that no Black Messiah would rise to unite our people in their quest of justice and true liberation, and untold sums of taxpayers’ dollars were used by the FBI to hurt the legitimate movement of our people toward liberation.”
—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
John Q. Public and Jane Q. Public within Black America are under no illusion, the FBI is not our friend. As an institution, it has a long history of pursuing Black leaders and organizations and orchestrating their destruction.
The FBI as the federal police has functioned in keeping with the historical tradition of policing within America, specifically the historical tradition of sabotaging the Black pursuit of freedom and independence. As Turner, Giacopassi, and Vandiver write in their academic journal article entitled, “Ignoring the Past: Coverage of Slavery and Slave Patrols in Criminal Justice Texts.”
“The literature clearly establishes that a legally sanctioned law enforcement system existed in America before the Civil War for the express purpose of controlling the slave population and protecting the interests of slave owners. The similarities between the slave patrols and modern American policing are too salient to dismiss or ignore. Hence, the slave patrol should be considered a forerunner of modern American law enforcement.”
The suffering of Black America at the hands of the FBI is a gargantuan “elephant in the room;” a truly ignored and unacknowledged reality amidst recent calls for the defunding and dismantling of the FBI being made by members of the Republican Party.
From their respective Twitter platforms, Republican congresspersons Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) have all called for a defunding and dismantling of the FBI. Texas GOP chairman Matt Rinaldi tweeted on August 8: “Abolish the FBI.”
Critics of this growing chorus within the Republican Party have noted that the Republican Party has always presented itself as the “law and order” party; and these calls to do away with the FBI (“the federal police department”) expose a hypocrisy that it can no longer hide.
Andrew Solender and Alayna Treene for Axios.com pointed out:
“Republicans used the ‘defund the police’ slogan after George Floyd’s murder to paint the Democratic Party as radical. But since the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, a growing number of GOP candidates and lawmakers are rallying around their own calls to defund or abolish federal law enforcement agencies. The new demands muddle a narrative embraced by Republicans long before the Black Lives Matter demonstrations of 2020—that they are the party of law enforcement. They also show how much former President Trump has reshaped his party.”
The truth of the matter from our perspective is that the White ruling class has never accepted any notions that the American law enforcement apparatus would be used against them. With “a wink and a nod” the wealthy White men who rule America have always been able to reign and exist above the law. It is no wonder then that former President Trump and his followers are chafing at the current use of the FBI against him.
Moreover, the hypocrisy of those who now call for defunding and dismantling of the FBI as a result of the agency’s raid on former President Trump’s Mar-a Lago compound is glaring when we review the long history of dirty tricks and deadly sabotage the FBI used against Black people.
Most recently, the FBI targeted activists in the aftermath of the Mike Brown, Sandra Bland and Eric Garner killings, dubbing them “Black Identity Extremists.” This use of government tax dollars to surveil and sabotage young Black activists for organizing protests and holding police accountable for killing unarmed Black men and women is just the tip of the iceberg of Black America’s grievances against the notorious FBI.
The FBI’s most famous leader was the infamous J. Edgar Hoover. Its national office building is named for him. Hoover’s career of sabotaging the Black movement for freedom and justice is well documented. In fact, his first true achievement as a law enforcement official was the takedown of Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the United Negro Improvement Association.
PBS’s American Experience notes:
“Marcus Garvey soon rose to the top of Hoover’s list. Federal agents, in collaboration with the New York City police, had begun to report on Garvey’s speeches as early as 1917. … Over the next five years, largely under Hoover’s direction, Bureau of Investigation officers would report on U.N.I.A. activities in over two dozen cities and pursuit of Garvey would broaden to seven other federal agencies.” “They were going to find some way of getting rid of Garvey because they feared his influence,” Historian Theodore Kornweibel says of Hoover and his government colleagues. “They feared the hundreds of thousands, the masses of Blacks under his influence.
Garvey rejected America, and they could no more agree to and accept a militant rejection of America by Blacks than they could accept a militant demand for full inclusion by Blacks.” Hoover’s determination led him to take extreme measures to counter Garvey’s growing influence. According to historian Winston James, “They placed spies in the U.N.I.A. They sabotaged the Black Star Line. The engines … of the ships were actually damaged by foreign matter being thrown into the fuel.”
Hoover’s FBI via its infamous COINTELPRO strategy targeted for destruction the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. And Hoover set in his crosshairs any leader he believed could be the “Black Messiah” who would effectuate unity and liberation for Black people.
Many may not know that in 1999, a Memphis jury concluded that Dr. King was murdered as a result of a government conspiracy.
Many may not know that in internal memos, the FBI took credit for the assassination of Malcolm X and privately pointed to it as an example of the success of COINTELPRO.
Ken O’Reilly wrote an excellent book entitled, “Racial Matters: The FBI’s Secret File on Black America 1960-1972.” Jim Van der Waal and Ward Churchill wrote an excellent work entitled, “The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States.” Yet despite the growing amount of literature that exposes the FBI’s war against Black America, most fall short of fully exposing the FBI’s war against its number one target out of all Black groups, the Nation of Islam. On this point, Professor Mattias Gardell states:
“No research has focused specifically on the federal government conspiracy against the Nation of Islam. This is all the more remarkable since the Nation of Islam outnumbered most if not all of the organizations mentioned above and was targeted before these.”
To that end we conclude this article with a brief overview of timeline events of importance that document the long history of the U.S. Government’s war against the Nation of Islam, a war where the FBI was one of the primary agencies in charge.
1939-Security Index of the FBI begins; it will eventually contain 673 members of the Nation of Islam and only 476 members of the Communist party
1942-The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was arrested on charges of sedition and imprisoned him for 5 years
1957-Wire taps installed at residence of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad at 4847 S. Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago
1959-The FBI launches a full-scale media campaign against the Nation of Islam. This included the use of publications such as Time, U.S. News and World Report, Saturday Evening Post
1961-Wiretap and microphone were installed in the Phoenix residence of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad
1962-FBI begins new counterintelligence initiative by sending anonymous letter to NOI members depicting that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was living an affluent life while the believers remained poor.
1964-February memo from FBI revealed their plans to foment and exacerbate tensions between Malcolm X and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
1965-FBI informants on scene and integral part of the assassination of Malcolm X;
1967-Elijah Muhammad named as target in the newly established COINTELPRO-Black Nationalist Hate Groups program of the FBI. This intensifies and prolongs the FBI’s aggressive tactics to neutralize the Nation of Islam. Under COINTELPRO the Nation of Islam was the victim of negative propaganda via bureau friendly journalists; suffered the infiltration of informants and provocateurs; endured its efforts to recruit youthful members being frustrated; and experienced the bureau’s use of anonymous mailings to NOI members and leaders that sought to cause members to leave the organization and leaders to fight and hurt one another.
1972-Police seek to invade Muhammad’s Mosque No. 7 based upon a bogus phone call
1984-U.S. Senate votes 95-0 to censure Minister Louis Farrakhan
1994-Police seek to invade Muhammad’s Mosque No. 7 based upon a bogus phone call
1995-FBI informant Michael Fitzpatrick lures Qubilah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, into murder plot against Minister Louis Farrakhan.
2007-Department of Homeland Security admits to illegal surveillance on the Nation of Islam
2015-FBI illegally spied on Minister Farrakhan’s Justice or Else gathering in Washington, D.C.
Demetric Muhammad is a Memphis-based author, student minister in the Nation of Islam and member of the Nation of Islam Research Group. Read more at www.researchminister.com and follow @brotherdemetric on Twitter.