During the 1950s and 60s with the rise of (successful) liberation movements such as the civil rights movement, workers’ rights, women’s rights and leftist ideologies in general, the power dynamics established in the U.S. were threatened. These movements, especially the civil rights movement, was responded with a counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO, launched by the FBI “to disrupt the activities of the Communist Party… the Ku Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Black Panther Party.”
To gain back the power that was being threatened by leftist ideologies and specifically black people, the FBI tried to dissolve the groups’ work and power through fake propaganda or through direct involvement like in the case with Puerto Rico and self-determination. But one of the most incriminating actions taken during this operation was while targeting Black Liberation movements and various Black leaders.
The FBI’s personal view on Black liberation was made clear when after the oration of the “I Have a Dream” speech, MLK was “the most dangerous Negro in the future of this Nation” to J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director in charge during COINTELPRO.
In 1968, COINTELPRO posted 1,678 FBI agents every month to monitor Black activists including Malcolm X and MLK and to disrupt Black liberation movements, especially The Black Panther Party (BPP), after they released their Ten-Point Program,10 points demanding the end of institutionalized racism and in general advocating freedom for black people to live the (very minimal) lives their white counterparts were living.
The FBI rebutted to this by labeling them ( the BPP) as “the greatest [single] threat to the internal security of the country” to control the narrative the public received about the BPP. This narrative was institutionalized so well that it is still present in most Americans; they believe BPP was a violence advocating group that was only about guns.
After all this, in Dec. 3 1968, COINTELPRO (along with Chicago police) took its most deadly and horrendous action: the murder of the BPP members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. 21-year old Fred Hampton’s body was found on his bed with 100 bullets, and his eight-months-pregnant fiance was beaten and charged with “attempted murder.” She was asleep at the time of the attack.
This criminal operation struck my attention when in 2017 documents ranging from reports, emails, memos etc. were released by the FBI warning law enforcement and others about “black supremacists” along with classifying a new grade of terrorism: “Black identity extremists.” Ironically, the BIE report was released 5 days after the literal white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
A specific report titled” Black Identity Extremists (BIE) Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement”, which for some reasoning no one can get to the origin of(evidence or authority wise) was distributed to law enforcement all over the country. The term BIE has no scientific validity or relevance to violence towards law enforcement; in fact, statistically, the reverse is true: white supremacists have been the cause of 51 law enforcement deaths since 1990 while only 11 law enforcement deaths were caused by left-wing groups.
The arrest of Rakem Balogun (Christopher Daniels) in December 2017 directly showcased the “official” beginning of COINTELPRO 2.0 which is utilizing baseless terms(BIE) to suppress and punish black activism while protecting the racial structure established in the U.S. and those who are higher up in the structure. While Balogun had had a domestic violence incident prior and was charged with unlawful possession of arm, that doesn’t discount the fact that the he was monitored and categorized as a Black Identity Extremist due to his open opposition to law enforcement, act of co-founding the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, and even Balogun’s social media content including videos, tweets, facebook posts which were all tracked and used against him when all of his actions and values were in bases of fighting police brutality and racial oppression in the end.
While the approach used by Balogun in fighting oppression and approaches in fighting racial inequality has been debated since the time of MLK’s method of passive resistance and Malcom X’s self defense, that is an intra-community issue, and does not negate the fact that even though Balogun had not targeted or assaulted any law enforcement officials, he fell victim to this modern COINTELPRO simply because he was a black man using his first amendment to advocate for black lives.
This, one of the many reasons, is why I was frustrated (but not surprised) at the lack of media coverage on Balogun. Education on this topic should start right now; collectively, all of us, especially privileged individuals, should act to the extent we can through alertness, understanding the history and power this operation can/and has etc. so black people aren’t robbed of their right to live while they fight for their right to live.