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FBI: Hands off the Black Socialists in America!

By JOHN LESLIE

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation went to the home of Black Socialists in America (BSA) activist A. X., in Philadelphia on March 19. Agents left a card with his parents with a request to “talk.” They then went to his work in an attempt to interview him about alleged “advocacy” of violence against law enforcement because of a social media post.  

This is a blatant attempt to intimidate a Black revolutionary organization and to send a chilling message to activist groups as the coronavirus crisis hits the United States. The BSA, which does “base-building” mutual aid work in the community, must be defended against this government attempt to sow fear in activist circles. As this crisis unfolds, workers and oppressed people will want to organize and fight back against government and Wall Street attacks. The climate movement will likely be the subject of government spying, if it has not already. We can anticipate that repressive measures and spying will be deployed against movements for social change. 

If you are contacted by agents

If you are contacted by federal agents or police, don’t lie to them; that is a felony. Say as little as possible. You are not obligated to speak without an attorney present. Don’t open the door unless they produce a warrant signed by a judge. Ask them to leave a card and say that they should anticipate hearing from your attorney. If possible, record, photograph, or film any interaction.

An injury to one is an injury to all!

Government agencies have a long history of targeting organized labor, socialists and communists, and oppressed nationalities. Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, and the Black Power Movement were all objects of surveillance, spying, intimidation, dirty tricks, and ultimately, assassinations. Activists were snitch-jacketed (accused of being cops or spies) by police agencies to encourage disunity between organizations. Police agencies spied on and disrupted left organizations and the antiwar movement during the Vietnam War era. In the 1980s, agents spied on and targeted Central America Solidarity movements and the Free South Africa movement. An undercover federal agent (ATF) had knowledge of Ku Klux Klan planning for the 1979 Greensboro massacre that killed members of the Communist Workers Party and did nothing to avert the slaughter.  

Members of the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, and American Indian Movement (AIM) leader Leonard Peltier remain in prison today as the result of a massive federal campaign against revolutionaries called COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO aimed to disrupt revolutionary organizations and movements during the mass radicalization of the 1960s. FBI attacks on AIM and the BPP decimated and destroyed those movements and resulted in the assassinations and imprisonment of revolutionaries.

The FBI made the persecution of socialists and communists its central activity during the 1950s and even later. The agency shares great responsibility for creating a feeling of terror among working-class activists and in the population as a whole during the McCarthy era. Many scores of Communist Party members and sympathizers had their homes raided by the FBI or were spied on. Many lost their jobs as a consequence or had to undergo arrest, trial, and imprisonment. The Socialist Workers Party was also targeted by the FBI’s spying and disruption tactics, including under COINTELPRO in the 1970s, which led to its having to defend itself with a court suit against the government.

Far from being merely an investigatory agency, the FBI framed up Earth First! activist Judi Bari by planting a bomb in a car, which it blamed on her.This demonstrates  that the FBI is not neutral and has engaged in outright malicious and dangerous acts. 

It was revealed in a September 2010 Inspector General’s “Review of the FBI’s Investigation of Certain Domestic Advocacy Groups” that federal agents from 2001-2006, under the guise of stopping terrorism, had spied on antiwar activists and events sponsored by the Catholic Worker, Greenpeace, Quakers, and others. In regard to the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, the report stated, the FBI even fabricated a terrorism threat when it knew that none existed, leading to “inaccurate and misleading” testimony being given to Congress.

All people who support civil liberties and the rights of free speech and political assembly must speak with one voice against police state tactics. We must say no to political intimation by police and federal agents. We must say no to McCarthy-style witch hunting of labor organizations, antiwar activists, and socialists.

We call on the entire movement to unite in defense of these activists. It’s a basic principle of the socialist movement to say: “An attack on one is an attack on all!”

Hands off the Black Socialists in America!

Hands off popular movements! 

An attack on one is an attack on all!