By Uhuru B. Rowe
March 28, 2017
I will like to expound on the U.S. government-sanctioned attacks on the MOVE Organization within the larger context of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) campaign of harassment, murder, and imprisonment during the revolutionary 60s and 70s, and even today, in an effort to thwart the realization and actualization of Black Power and Black Liberation .
The MOVE Organization, founded by John Africa, a former Black Panther, was/is a militant Black Liberation “back-to-nature” communal organization, which, like the Black Panthers, advocated armed self-defense. This stance of armed self-defense put the MOVE Organization–like the Black Panther Party– unwittingly in the cross-hairs of the federal government.
I will attempt draw a connection between the tactics used to dismantle and destroy the Black Panther Party and disrupt the Black Liberation Movement and the attacks on the MOVE Organization and the imprisonment of some of its leadership in 1978 and 1985 as being directly related to former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s illegal Counterintelligence Program, although this program was discontinued in 1971.
More broadly, COINTELPRO was a clandestine and illegal counterintelligence operation which spied on and framed innocent America citizens deemed subversive. This included those in the Communist, Civil Rights, Human Rights, anti-war, anti-imperialist…..and ESPECIALLY those in the Black Liberation Movement.
Less than one year after Dr. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seal founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) in West Oakland on October 22, 1966, Hoover labeled the BPP “the greatest internal security threat to the country.” This one statement represented a declaration of war against the Black Panthers.
According to a August 1967 FBI internal memorandum, the stated goals of COINTELPRO during this period was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist, hate-type organizations and groupings…” This memorandum was distributed by Hoover to every FBI field office in the country with specific instructions to not “make this program public” and to not “tell anybody it exists.”
The goals of COINTELPRO were achieved by Hoover via illegal and evil activities like spying; infiltration; wiretaps; entrapments; frame-ups; fomenting and instigating conflicts and animosities between different black nationalist groups; and outright assassinations. Two hundred forty-five out of 290 COINTELPRO actions were directed against the BPP. During 1969 alone, over 400 Black Panthers were stopped and arrested, over 20 BPP offices nationwide were illegally raided without search or arrest warrants, and by the end of 1971, 40 members of the BPP were assassinated by police.
The most notable COINTELPRO responsible assassinations were of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968; Lil Bobby Hutton on April 6, 1968; Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins on January 17, 1969; Fred Hampton, Sr. and Mark Clark on December 4, 1969; and Carl Bernard Hampton on July 26, 1970.
There was the attempted COINTELPRO assassinations of Black Panthers on December 8, 1969 at their Los Angeles headquarters on 41st and Central where S.W.A.T. was deployed for the first time in U.S. history; and the attempted assassination of the leadership of the Republic of New Afrika on August 18, 1971 in Jackson, Mississippi. The last COINTELPRO action was the 1971 frame-up convictions of Black Panthers Ed Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (AKA David Rice), also known as the Omaha 2, for the August 1970 bombing murder of an Omaha police officer…Mondo we Langa died in the Nebraska State Prison on March 11, 2016 and Ed Poindexter remains entombed in a prison cell after 47 consecutive years.
The illegal and clandestine COINTELPRO was exposed and forced to shut down in 1971 when white anti-war activists broke into the FBI office in Media, PA, retrieved what came to be known as the COINTELPRO Papers, and released copies of it to news agencies across the country.
The point I want to make clear is just as the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has not prevented the the rise of neo-slavery in the form of the criminalization and mass incarceration of Black people, the dismantling of COINTELPRO did not prevent the FBI’s continued frame-up arrests and convictions, and assassinations of those fighting for the liberation of Black people.
The residue of COINTELPRO can been seen on the August 21, 1971 assassination of BPP Field Marshall George Lester Jackson in San Quentin State Prison in California, and the May 2, 1973 assassination of Zayd Shakur by New Jersey State Police which left Assata Shakur and Sundiata Acoli severely wounded and their subsequent frame-up arrest, conviction, and sentence of life plus 30 years in prison. Assata was liberated from Clinton State Prison on November 2, 1979 by the Black Liberation Army and has been living in exile in Cuba. Sundiata remains entombed in a concrete box after 44 consecutive years.
The residue of COINTELPRO-like operations can certainly be seen on the military assault on the MOVE Organization in Philadelphia. On August 8, 1978, the MOVE Organization’s Powelton Village compound was surrounded and shot up by 600 Philadelphia cops, who has such an uncontrollable lust for blood that day, they killed one of their own officers in their line of fire. The following nine MOVE members were framed-up for the officer’s death and sentenced to 30 to 100 years in prison: Merle Africa, Janet Holloway, Janine Phillips Africa, Debbie Sims Africa, Delbert Orr Africa, William Phillips Africa, Charles Sims Africa, Edward Goodman Africa, and Michael Davis Africa. They have become known as the MOVE 9.