The Footprints of COINTELPRO from The Black Panther Party, the MOVE Organization, and Beyond
By Uhuru B. Rowe
The residue of COINTELPRO can be seen on the frame-up conviction of former Black Panther, Journalist, and MOVE supporter, Mumia Abu-Jamal, for the December 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer.
It is undeniably seen on the May 13, 1985, assault on MOVE by the Philadelphia police department and the federal government, this time at their Osage Avenue compound. When the well fortified walls of this compound could not be penetrated by police bullets, they dropped a bomb on the roof from a helicopter, reminiscent of the 1921 bombing of a Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma known as Black Wall Street. The explosion resulted in an inferno which burned to death 11 MOVE members, including five children, and decimated an entire Black neighborhood. Firefighters on the scene reported that the police department prevented them from extinguishing the blaze and even shot at MOVE members attempting to flee from the fire. When it was all over, Romona Africa and 13-year-old Birdie Africa were the only two survivors.
If COINTELPRO was allegedly dismantled in 1971 after being exposed as a secret domestic war strategy against the Black Liberation Movement which used blatantly illegal means to murder, frame and imprison Black Freedom Fighters, then how does one explain the events from 1971 onward, especially the two assaults on the MOVE Organization? The answer is simple: Even though the FBI dropped the name, COINTELPRO is still alive and well, and busy stifling dissent, and imprisoning, discrediting, and even killing those brave enough to radically oppose this corrupt american government which, since 1492, has washed its hands in the blood of millions, perhaps billions, of innocent people.
It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that MOVE 9 members Merle Africa and William Phillips Africa, and former Black Panther Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, died in prison on March 13, 1998, January 10, 2015, and March 11, 2016, respectively, under highly suspicious circumstances.
It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that the remaining MOVE 9 members and former Black Panthers like Ed Poindexter, Herman Bell, Seth Hayes, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), Sundiata Acoli, and several others, remain entombed in prison cells and are repeatedly denied parole for obviously political reasons.
It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, at the behest of the vindictive Philadelphia Fraternal Order of the Police, continues it’s original mission to legally lynch Mumia Abu-Jamal by denying him adequate medical treatment for his advanced Hepatitis C infection.
It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that the FBI on May 2, 2013 placed Assata Olugbala Shakur on the “Most Wanted Terrorist” list with an offer of $1 Million reward for information leading to her capture and return. This $1 Million FBI reward adds to the $1 Million reward offered by the state of New Jersey.
It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that since 1996, the Los Angeles Police Department, in collaboration with the FBI, has embarked on a campaign of terror to harass, imprison, and assassinate members of the Black Riders Liberation Party, which is a New Generation Black Panther for Self-Defense founded by former gang banging youth-turned-revolutionaries, as a polical vehicle to resist and overcome capitalist white supremacy and police brutality.
It is in the spirit of COINTELPRO that the corporate media, in collusion with government officials and various police departments and their unions, have attempted to discredit, slander, and vilify the Black Lives Matter activists as a bunch of anti-government, anti-law enforcement, and white-hating Black radicals who advocates the killing of police officers, government officials, and white people. This strategy used against Black Lives Matter was also used against the Black Panther Party in an effort to discredit them in the eyes of broader society, especially in the eyes of potential White sympathizers. This strategy mirrors goal number 4 of Hoover’s COINTELPRO which was to “Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability by discrediting them…to the white community, both the responsible community and to the “liberal” who have vestiges of sympathy for militant black nationalist [sic] simply because they are Negroes.”
And so what remains is that it is in the spirit of the revolutionary 60s and 70s that we must resist the racist power structure and the repression of the New Black Liberation Movement, and the continued unjust imprisonment of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War.
So what is to be done? A simple protest? Not if we desire real change and end our oppression once and for all. Protests often flare up after being popularized on social media, and after a short period of time, they fizzle out, and with it, the rage, energy, and enthusiasm of The People. The purpose of protest (in my opinion) is not an occasion to simply to show up and voice our opposition against a specific oppression or injustice, and then fade back into obscurity once concessions are promised, but not given. A toddler will express similar opposition by throwing a tantrum if its bottle or pacifier is unjustly taken away. In most cases the toddler will not relent until its adversary concedes and returns the thing it was deprived of. What the toddler does not know is that it won that battle but not the war; thus its adversary lives to treat it unjustly again, and the cycle repeats itself. This is the cycle that the oppresed class–like the toddler–finds itself locked in: injustice=protest=concessions promised or given=momentary satisfaction=new injustice.
As this demonstrates, the purpose of protest (i.e. struggle) should not be an occasion to simply voice dissatisfaction and seek concessions from the oppressive power structure, but to FORCE complete change. And if we only succeed in gaining crumbs from the table of the oppressor, but fail to force complete change, then capitalist oppression will do what it has always done when confronted with protests: slither like a snake behind closed doors, reorganize and reconstruct itself, then arise anew; e.g. from chattel slavery to segregation to mass incarceration; from Black Codes to felony disenfranchisement laws; from lynchings and ku klux klan terror to police killings of unarmed Black people; from “fugitive slave”-catchers to police officers (modern-day slave-catchers) occupying and patrolling Black communities seeking to “capture” Black bodies.
The only way that We The People can break this cyclical reorganization and reconstruction of racist and capitalist oppression is by forcing the current system to change COMPLETELY (utilizing whatever force is necessary) or by completely dismantling the current system and building a new one in its place.
In this era of multiracial class solidarity among the oppressed people on the planet, and savvy social media organzing, especially among the youth, we certainly have the capacity to do either. The question is do we recognize our potential, and if so, when are we going to MOVE…?
Free all Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War!