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Tag: Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

Six Decades Later, FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List Still Hard to Crack

Osama bin Laden

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — In the film “Take the Money and Run,” Woody Allen played a bumbling, publicity-starved petty criminal named Virgil Starkwell. “You know he never made the Ten Most Wanted list,” Starkwell’s wife, Louise, lamented in the 1969 comedy. “It’s very unfair voting. It’s who you know.”

As Allen’s fictitious character learned, getting on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list is no easy feat. Just being a vicious criminal or a menace to society isn’t always enough.

For one, there has to be an opening. And then there’s the selection process: A committee at FBI headquarters reviews dozens of candidates from FBI field offices — there are 56 in all — before the top brass weighs in with a final decision.

“I’d be lying to say there’s no politics involved” in getting someone on the list, Tony Riggio, a former FBI agent and official, told AOL News.

In 1978, Riggio had the first organized crime figure — Cleveland mobster Anthony “Tony Lib” Liberatore — placed on the Most Wanted list. Riggio said sometimes an extra call to headquarters from a top official in the field helped get someone on the list, adding, “Being a top 10 case agent is really a feather in your cap. I got a lot of respect.”

James Earl Ray/fbi photo

Over the years, the Ten Most Wanted alum have included some of the nation’s most notorious criminals, including escaped Martin Luther King Jr. assassin James Earl Ray, serial killer Ted Bundy and current member, Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, who is wanted in connection with 19 murders. Most stay on until they are captured, a case no longer seems solid or authorities figure the person has died. Osama bin Laden was on the list up until his execution on May 1.

According to the FBI website, the list came about after a reporter for the International News in 1949 told the FBI he was interested in writing a story about the “toughest guys” the FBI was after. The FBI provided the names and descriptions of 10 fugitives — four escaped prisoners, three con men, two murder suspects and a bank robber — and the reporter wrote a story that captured national attention and triggered hundreds of tips.

Earlier this month, the bigger-than-life list, which had long become part of the American vernacular, turned 61. For decades a fixture in post offices and banks, the Ten Most Wanted photos are now more likely to pop up on TV shows, billboards and the Internet through websites and trendy social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

“We recognize the unique ability of the media to cast a wider net within communities here and abroad,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said in a statement marking the 60th anniversary. “The FBI can send agents to visit a thousand homes to find a witness, but the media can visit a million homes in an instant.”

Brad Bryant, chief of the Violent Crimes/Major Offenders Unit at FBI headquarters, says getting on the list is “very competitive.” Field offices are notified at once when an opening occurs.

“The criteria we’re looking for are, first of all, they must be particularly dangerous or be a menace to society or have a lengthy criminal history,” Bryant said.

Often, dozens of recommendations come in to headquarters, Bryant said. Field offices submit packets with information about the case, including a case file, photos and reasons why the person is worthy of joining the list. Some submissions include endorsements from local police chiefs.

The Violent Crimes/Major Offenders Unit also solicits input from the media representatives at headquarters, said Rex Tomb, who was chief of the FBI’s fugitive publicity unit in Washington until he retired from the bureau in 2006.

Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger

“Public affairs personnel like myself were generally asked by the Criminal Division to comment only on whether or not we believed there would be media interest in a fugitive,” Tomb said. “If for some reason there is little or no public interest in a particular case, reporters would generally pass on writing about it. … If there would be little print given to a Top Ten fugitive then there is really little or no reason to put him or her on the list.”

The candidates for the list are reviewed by a committee of agents from the Violent Crimes/Major Offenders unit, who carefully look over the submissions and case files.

“We rank the top four or five in the packet, and we prepare a briefing packet for the assistant director of the criminal division and his boss and the deputy director and the director,” Bryant said. Mueller must then sign off on it.

The tenor of the times has been reflected in the list over the years. In the 1950s, it hosted bank robbers. In the 1960s, some radicals made the cut, and later, organized crime figures and drug traffickers and eventually terrorists, violent gang members and sexual predators were added.

The shortest time anyone spent on the list was two hours. The longest-tenured was Donald Eugene Webb, wanted in the slaying of a police chief in Saxonburg, Pa., in 1980. He stayed on for 25 years, 10 months and 27 days before being removed in 2007. The FBI provided little reason why, only to say he no longer fit the criteria.

The oldest person ever to make the list is mobster Bulger, who got on in 1999 at age 69 and has stayed there ever since.

The list is regarded as a highly successful tool for the FBI. Of the 494 who have appeared on the list, 463 have been captured or located, with 152 of those from a direct result of citizen cooperation, the FBI said.

There are countless stories of citizens’ tips from the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list resulting in arrests. Two fugitives were even apprehended as a result of visitors on an FBI tour who saw the photos.

Ted Bundy

Retired FBI agent Brad Garrett said that in the end, a $2 million-plus cash award — not the Ten Most Wanted listing — helped bring in information that led to the capture of fugitive Mir Aimal Kasi at a seedy hotel in Pakistan. Kasi opened fire outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., in 1993, killing two CIA employees and wounding three others. A few months after the shooting, he landed on the list.

“It’s an incredibly successful and novel idea, and it has captured hundreds of fugitives,” Garrett said of the famous list. “But I think it’s a lot more effective in the U.S. than outside” in places like Pakistan.

“I think the idea of a top 10 didn’t carry a lot of weight” in this case, Garrett said. “The dollar signs after his name carried a lot of weight.”