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Tag: Martin Luther King Jr.

New Legislation Will Help Prosecutors Bring Justice to Civil Rights-Era Killings

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Prosecutors have struggled for decades to bring justice to victims of civil rights-era killings because the decades-old FBI records are often redacted.

That could soon change after President Trump signed a bill Tuesday to allow the FBI to release unredacted documents related to the unsolved cases.

The legislation was set in motion by dozens of students at Highstown High School in New Jersey.

One of the students, who is now at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Clarion Ledger the bill is a reminder “that even if justice is long delayed, it does not have to mean that justice is denied.”

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the records are important for the victims’ families and the communities.

“An incredible level of healing and reconciliation can accompany knowledge,” he said. “Given the age of these cases and the fact it is highly unlikely that these cases could be resurrected, this is the way to get that healing and reconciliation.”

The students used the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992 as a model for what they called the “Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2017,” which would create an independent review board to coordinate the release of classified records on civil rights killings.

Many of the killings are detailed in FBI files that remain largely redacted. They include the KKK’s 1964 killing of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner and the 1959 lynching of Mack Charles Parker.

FBI records on the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. also contain redactions.

Activists also were calling on redacted files relating to the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X.

Civil rights lawyers said the largely secret files make it difficult to solve cold cases.

Social Media Backlash Follows FBI’s Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on Twitter

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI caught backlash Tuesday after tweeting a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on the anniversary of his assassination.

“Today, on the anniversary of his assassination, the FBI honors the life, work, & commitment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to justice.” the FBI tweeted from its official account.

The FBI also included one of King’s favorite quotes.

“We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” King said in the tweeted quote.

The FBI hasn’t also been so nice to King, who was repeatedly under surveillance by the bureau .

J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director during the height of the civil rights movement, is accused of sending King a blackmail letter that appeared to urge the activist to kill himself, the New York Post reports. 

The social media backlash was almost immediate.

“You have no f—ing right to co-opt the legacy of Dr. King nearly 50 years after you murdered him,” tweeted John Weiss, a writer and filmmaker.

“You shld have protected Civil Rights leaders, instead of running COINTELPRO smear campaign.” wrote Twitter user Kyle Linhares. “Evers, X, King might still be alive if you had.”

FBI Agents in Training Visit MLK Memorial As Part of Cultural-Sensitivity Training

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents who undergo months-long training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., undergo target practice and training for surveillance and self-defense.

But one of the newest exercises involves FBI agents in training to take a trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

The trainees, dressed in plainclothes, were told to pick the most inspirational MLK quote etched into the stone slabs of the memorial and then discuss it, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

The point of the exercise is to show the FBI’s questionable investigations into King, which included racially motivated wiretapping and harassment.

FBI trainees receive other forms of cultural-sensitivity training, including visiting the National Holocaust Museum.

“We wanted to provide a lesson of what happens when power is abused and the responsibility that comes with being in the FBI,” said Cynthia DeWitte, a curriculum manager at the FBI academy. “We wanted this to be more than a field trip.”

Why FBI’s Treatment of Martin Luther King Jr. Should Never Be Forgotten

martin luther kingBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two days after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech in August 1963, the head of FBI domestic intelligence called the civil rights leader “the most dangerous” American for “national security.”

The FBI believed King was working with foreign communists, and the attorney general approved wiretaps of his home and offices.

Slate reports that “the lessons of the King scandal should weigh heavy on our minds.”

There is a myth in this country that in a world where everyone is watched, everyone is watched equally. It’s as if an old and racist J. Edgar Hoover has been replaced by the race-blind magic of computers, mathematicians, and Big Data. The truth is more uncomfortable. Across our history and to this day, people of color have been the disproportionate victims of unjust surveillance; Hoover was no aberration. And while racism has played its ugly part, the justification for this monitoring was the same we hear today: national security.

Slate wrote that wiretaps and other surveillance, such as encryption, remain a problem following the revelation that the NSA and DEA were logging phone calls of innocent people.

That’s one reason why, Slate argues, the treatment of King must never be forgotten – because the pattern of surveillance continues on innocent people.

FBI Tried to Stop Martin Luther King Jr. from Delivering College Commencement in 1964

stanford.edu photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just days after Martin Luther King Jr. was invited to speak at Springfield College’s commencement in 1964, the FBI tried to get the school to cancel speech, the Atlantic reports in an account detailing new questionable tactics against the civil rights icon.

At the time, King had been the subject of extraordinary wiretapping at his home, office and hotel rooms where he stayed. Agents used those wiretaps to urge the college to cancel King’s commencement address.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was obsessed with discrediting King at the time.

In mid-June, King delivered his speech and spoke about segregation, pacifism and morality.

Stejskal: Mississippi Burning 50 Years Later

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com
 
The 60s were a tumultuous decade, and 1964 was emblematic of that decade. Arthur Ashe won the US Open, and Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace. The Beatles came to America and established a beachhead for the “British invasion.” Lyndon Johnson, a Southern Democrat, having become President when John Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963, showed great political courage and legislative acumen by getting landmark civil rights laws passed in Congress.

On June 19th the US Senate passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Two days later the need for that legislation became clear when three civil rights workers disappeared under suspicious circumstances in Mississippi. Two of the workers were white and from the north, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. The third, James Chaney, was black and from Mississippi.

In the heady days of the spring of ’64 with the civil rights bills moving through Congress, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) announced an initiative, the Mississippi Summer Project. It was to participate in this project that Schwerner and Goodman had traveled to Mississippi. There, they joined-up with Chaney and other local civil rights workers.

There were those in Mississippi who were dead set (literally) against the civil rights initiatives or any of the changes to the status quo that were portended by the civil rights legislation. Foremost in this opposition were the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi.

The following is a rendition of events based on the testimony at the 1967 federal trial, US v. Price; et al:

In May of 1964, Sam Bowers, Imperial Wizard of the Mississippi KKK sent word to his fellow klansmen, it was time to activate “Plan 4” – the “elimination” of Michael Schwerner. Schwerner had drawn the enmity of the Klan because he had organized a black boycott of a white-owned business and had aggressively been trying to register blacks to vote. The Klan referred to Schwerner as “Jew-boy” and “Goatee.”

Read more »

New FBI Agents, Analysts Required to Visit MLK Monument in Washington

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

All new FBI agents and analysts must visit the monument for the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., new FBI Director James Comey said Monday, Reuters reports.

The idea, he said, is to remind people of the African American struggles for equality.

For similar reasons, new agents and analysts also are required to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Both monuments are in Washington D.C.

“It will serve as a different kind of lesson – one more personal to the bureau – of the dangers of becoming untethered to oversight and accountability,” Comey said.

FBI Agents Held Off For Hours Telling Suspect Why He Was Arrested

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge  was none to happy to hear that the FBI intentionally failed for several hours to tell a man suspected of planting a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Wash., why he had been arrested, the Associated Press reported. He was also not immediately read his Miranda warning.

AP reported that the FBI held off on telling suspect Kevin Harpham, 37, a white supremacist, to try and gain his trust. Harpham provided no confession during that time.

U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush indicated he would have barred prosecutors from using any statement at trial, slated for Aug. 22.

In court testimony, FBI agent Joseph Cleary said agents were trying to win the trust of Harpham.

“Agent Cleary acknowledged that with this procedure the agents hoped Harpham would give a statement and confess to an offense, which he did not,” court documents said, according to AP.

Agents taped a 10 minute conversation with Harmpham at Stevens County Sheriff’s Office without reading him his rights, the court records showed.

“No incriminating or inculpatory statements were made by Harpham during that time,” court documents said.