(Sputnik) – A leaked Federal Bureau of Investigation document indicates the bureau has designated “black identity extremists” as a major threat, and could be racially profiling activists as a result. Critics suggest there are strong echoes of the bureau’s controversial COINTELPRO program, targeted at civil rights groups.
The US government has declared “black identity extremists” a violent threat, according to a leaked report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) counterterrorism division, suggesting federal authorities may be racially profiling activists.
The August 3, 2017 report said the FBI assesses it “very likely” that Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans have “spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.”
Incidents of “alleged police abuse” have “continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement.”
The report noted specific cases of recent violence against police, most notably Micah Johnson, a 25-year-old shooter in Dallas who killed five officers and said he was targeting white people and law enforcement. Black Lives Matter — a movement protesting the killings of black citizens by police in the US — had no ties to Johnson or other targeted killings of police and has strongly condemned the incident.Moreover, official figures suggest the number of US police officers killed on the job is a fraction of the number of citizens killed by officers annually, and more white than black offenders kill officers. Around 750 people have been shot and killed by police as of October in 2017 and almost 170 of them were African-American.
The FBI also stated “BIE violence” peaked in the 1960s and 1970s “in response to changing socioeconomic attitudes and treatment of blacks,” and possible modern indicators for “BIEs posing a violent threat to law enforcement” include “violent anti-white rhetoric” and “attempts to acquire illegal weapons or explosives.” BIE appears to be a new term within law enforcement phraseology.
The report was released just nine days before violence erupted at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting the removal of Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue, which was attended by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members on the college town. In violent clashes, two Virginia State Police officers and one counter-protester were fatally injured.
Commenting, interim National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Derrick Johnson stated the report provoked “deja vu.”
“In a time when white supremacists are marching down city streets with loaded weapons and torches, organizing rallies of terror around the country, it comes as a great shock the FBI would decide to target black identity groups protesting police brutality and their right to exist free of harm as a threat. In light of this report, the NAACP is resolved to double down on our efforts to advance the rights of black Americans and people of color across this country. We remain steadfast and immovable in our fight for justice and equality — and we are not afraid,” Johnson said.
He added the report came as “no surprise” from an organization that had “a history of targeting black civil rights groups and leaders,” including wiretapping Martin Luther King Jr. and others fighting for civil rights in the 1960s.
These actions were conducted under the auspices of COINTELPRO, an FBI operation that targeted groups and individuals Bureau Director Edgar J. Hoover deemed subversive between 1956 and 1971. The bulk of the bureau’s fury was directed at Civil Rights activists and the Black Power movement, including the Black Panther Party, although anti-war protesters, feminist organizations, independence movements and other New Left groups were also targeted.
Hoover ordered agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of these movements and their leaders. This was achieved by; infiltration of groups by agents and informers, and subsequent exploitation of internal fears of infiltration; using myriad “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements; planting false media stories and publishing bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups; forging correspondence, sending anonymous letters, and making anonymous telephone calls; spreading misinformation about meetings and events; setting up pseudo movement groups run by government agents; manipulating or strong-arming parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists.FBI agents also abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment.
The bureau also conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents, conduct illegal break-ins in order to search dissident homes and commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations. Over the course of many raids, police ended up slaying many members of the Black Panther Party, most notably Chicago Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton on December 4 1969.
The program was only revealed in 1971 when the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI burgled a Bureau field office in Media, Pennsylvania, took several dossiers, and exposed the program by passing the material to mainstream media outlets, although many refused to publish the information.Within a year, Hoover declared COINTELPRO was over, and all future counterintelligence operations would be handled on a case-by-case basis.