Fbi covert Operations and Suppression of Ku Klux Klan Violence, 1964-1971



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CHECK VA FILES TO SEE IF PURSUED After agents learned that South Carolina Grand Dragon Robert Scoggin was receiving $300 per month from the Veteran’s Administration as a 100% disabled veteran, even though he was operating a plumbing business, they alerted VA authorities, resulting in suspension of payments.279

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Keller concludes “overwhelming informant penetraoin disrupted and sometimes redirected Klan activity.” Use ubiquitous in intelligence ops and deployment solely at FBI discretion. Recruited, paid and directed in field by individual agents. Guidelines internal and unavailable outside agency. Number, names, pay, record of performance classified an avail only within B. since most intell ops not related to criminal prosec, few surfaced, and first ammendment questions did not come befre courts.280 Informants used in 85% of domestic intellignece ops (by comparison 5% electronic surveillance.281

1 Don Whitehead, Attack on Terror: The FBI Against the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, (New York, 1970); Howard Ball, Murder in Mississippi: United States v. Price and the Struggle for Civil Rights, (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004; Tinsley E. Yarbrough, Judge Frank Johnson and Human Rights in Alabama, (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1981); Bill Shipp, Murder at Broad River Bridge, The Slaying of Lemuel Penn by Members of the Ku Klux Klan, (Atlanta, 1981).

2 John Drabble, “The FBI, COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE and the Decline of Ku Klux Klan Organizations in Mississippi, 1964-1971," Journal of Mississippi History, 66:4, (Winter 2004): 353-401; idem, “The FBI, COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE and the Decline of Ku Klux Klan Organizations in Alabama, 1964-1971" Alabama Review, (February 2008); idem, working papers posted at <www.geocities.com/drabbs/workingpapers>

3 John Drabble, "To Ensure Domestic Tranquility:” The FBI, COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE, and Political Discourse, 1964-1971," Journal of American Studies, 38:2 (August, 2004): 297-328; idem, “‘Fidelity, Integrity, Bravery’: An Analysis of the FBI’s Campaign to Discredit the ‘Cowardly Jackals’ of the Ku Klux Klan, 1964-1971,” in Matthew Sweney and Michal Peprnik eds. "America: Home of the Brave". The 11th American Studies Colloquium, (Olomouc: Palacky University Press, 2005), 103-136.

4 John Drabble, “‘A Negative and Unwise Approach’: Private Detectives, Vigilantes and the FBI Counterintelligence, 1917-1971,” in Clive Emsley and Haia Shpayer-Makov ed., Police Detectives in History, 1750-1950, (Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2006): 219-250.

5 Drabble, “FBI in Mississippi,”; idem, “FBI in Alabama,”; idem, working papers.

6 For analyses of interrelationships between criminal-intelligence, domestic security investigation and counterintelligence see Keller, The Liberals and J. Edgar Hoover, 74-75; David Cunningham, There’s Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan and FBI Counterintelligence, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004). 183-190.

7 Belknap, Federal Law and Southern Order, xi-xxiii, 229-251. Subsequent COINTELPRO operations publicized arrests and convictions, discrediting the Klan before the public. See for example, Charlotte to Director, 5/1/67 and enclosed newspaper articles, in Athan Theoharis ed., COINTELPRO: The Counterintelligence Program of the FBI (Wilmington, DE, 1978). “Director” denotes FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and the Bureau’s executive council. All FBI documents cited in this article are contained in this file unless otherwise indicated.

8 In this article, “vigilantism” denotes private violence that received sanction, explicit or implicit, by local politicians, law enforcement, opinion molders and juries, whereas “terrorism” denotes private violence that authorities investigated and prosecuted, condemned, or suppressed with preventative clandestine police operations.

9 The size of the Klan group, and its level of activity was of less importance. Cunningham, There’s Something Happening Here, 122-132, 138, 143. Thus 96.2% of all COINTELPRO-White Hate actions targeted groups or individuals connected to a national-level target. David Cunningham, "Organized Repression and Movement Collapse in a Modern Democratic State" PhD. diss., (UNC Chapel Hill. 2000), 70.

10 In this respect, researchers must be careful to distinguish between, police-sponsored infiltrators, dedicated Klansmen who rejected violence, and Klansmen who worked with law enforcement to combat political rivals. See Steven Greer, “Towards a Sociological Model of the Police Informant,” British Journal of Sociology 46:3, (September 1995): 509-527.

11 Marx, Gary T. "Thoughts on a Neglected Category of Social Movement Participant: The Agent Provocateur and the Informant," 80 American Journal of Sociology 402 , 1975; Robert Justin Goldstein, Political Repression in Modern America: 1870 to the Present, (London: Schenkman Publishing Co., 1978), 473-477, 508; Frank J. Donner, The Age of Surveillance, (New York, 1980); X; Dave Dellinger More Power Than We Know, (Garden City NY: Anchor Press, 1975). 65-69, 70-72, 78, 92-93; Christine M. Marwick, “The Government Informer: A Threat to Political Freedom,” First Principals, 2:7, (March 1977): 1-10; Cril Payne, Deep Cover: An FBI Agent Infiltrates the Radical Underground; (New York: Newsweek Books, 1979); William Tulio Divale with James Joseph, I Lived Inside the Campus Revolution, (New York: Cowles Books: 1970); Anthony Giacchino dir, Camden28, (DVD: USA, 2006); Jacobs Weathermen, 464-70; Donner, Protectors of Privilege, 264; Seymour M. Hersh "FBI Informer is Linked to Bombing and Protest By Weatherman Group", New York Times, 20 May 1973, 52; Homer Bigart, “F.B.I. Agent Says He Supplied Explosives Manuals to Informer,” idem, 23 March 1972, 14; “Car Burnings and Assaults on Radicals Linked to F.B.I. Agents in last 5 Years,” idem, 11 July 1976, 20; John M. Crewdson,” ex-Operative Says He Worked for F.B.I. to Disrupt Politiclal Activities Up to ’74,” idem, 24 February 1975, 36; Anthony Ripley, “Big man on Campus: Police Undercover Agent,” idem, 29 march 1971, 1; Scott Camil "The Face of a Police State"in Bud and Ruth Schultz eds., It Did Happen Here: Recollections of Political Repression in America; (Berkeley, 1989), 319-333; Cowan et. al. eds., State Secrets; 222-247; Levin, Professional Betrayers, 318-321, 426-429; Platt, et. al., The Iron Fist and the Velvet Glove, 122-123; U.S. Intelligence Agencies and Activities, (Pike Committee),Part 3, 1050-1052, 1069; Civil Liberties, 27(3 December 1970), 42; Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement; (Boston, 1988), 477.

12 Joseph Luders, "The Politics of Exclusion: The Political Economy of Civil Rights in the American South, 1954-65." Ph.D. diss., (New School for Social Research, 2000); idem, “Countermovements, The State, and The Intensity of Racial Contention in the American South,” in Jack A. Goldstone, ed., States, Parties and Social Movements, (New York: Cambridge University Press: 2003).

13 Drabble, “FBI in Alabama,” 6-7; The Bureau also compiled information on Klan organizations and investigated Klan-police ties due to concerns about security of intelligence sharing. “Christian Anti-Jewish Party,” FBI Atlanta File 157-60, and “National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,” FBI file 157-93, in personal archive of FIOA researcher Ernie Lazar. http://ernie1241.googlepages.com/home. Three criminal investigations resulted in convictions before Congress took action: the September 1945 murder of a black farm hand by Jacksonville, Florida Constable Thomas Crews, the April 1949 whippings of seven black men by Klansmen in Trenton, Georgia, and the 1950-1952 wave of floggings in the Carolinas. Michael Newton, The FBI and the KKK: A Critical History, (Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co., 2005), 43-80; Belknap, Federal Law and Southern Order, 27-127; Melissa Fay Greene, The Temple Bombing, (Reading, 1996); George McMillan, “New Bombing Terrorists of the South Call Themselves NACRIEMA-America Spelled Backward,” Life, 11 October 1963, 39-40; Donald L. Grant, The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia, (New York: Carol Publishing, 1993), 380; Correlation Summary, 12/5/63, FBI File on Theophilus “Bull” Eugene Connor, [Bufile 157-HQ-1203], PdF 1, 15; Godwin, Black Wilmington, 70-71; Chalmers, Hooded Americanism, 337-342; W. Horace Carter, Virus of Fear, (Tabor City: Atlantic Publishing, 1991), 134-141, 159-169, 189-191; Jerry P. Lanier, “The Rise and Fall of the KKK in Southeastern North Carolina,” (M.A. Thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), 1977.

14 “Southern mayors Set Up An Agency To Curb School, Church Bombings,” Southern School News, IV: 12, June 1958, 13.

15 FBI HQ File 157-1, “Bomings and Attempted Bombings” in Lazar archive; “Racial Situation,” reports in David J. Garrow ed., Centers of the Southern Struggle: FBI Files on Montgomery, Albany, St. Augustine, Selma, and Memphis, (Frederick MD, 1988), hereafter cites as COTSS; GID note 5/1/62 and Birmingham to Director, 5/29/62 in the FBI File on Eugene Connor, PdF4; Thomas F. Parker ed., Violence in the U.S. Volume 1, 1955-1967, (New York: Facts on File, 1974), 28; “We'll Burn 1,000 Crosses Says KKK,” New Pittsburgh Courier, September 15, 1962, 22. In January 1963 FBI executives also directed field offices to compile information on “formation and identities” of “rightist and extremist” anticommunist groups engaged in violations of federal laws over which the Bureau had jurisdiction. Athan Theoharis Spying onAmericans: Federal Surveillance from Hoover to the Huston Plan, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978), 168.

16 Birmingham to Director, 7/9/60, 9/30/60, Klan Infiltration of Law Enforcement,” FBI Birmingham file 157-28

17 Director to SACs Los Angeles and Birmingham, 10/12/60, Birmingham to Director, 12/13/60, FBI File 157-28 “Klan Infiltration of Law Enforcement, Ernest Lazar Archive.

18 Elliff, “Federal Civil Rights Enforcement,” 648(quote)-651.

19 Elliff, “Federal Civil Rights Enforcement,” 659-668.

20 Director FBI to Albany et. a;., 7/11/61 FBI File 157-28 “Klan Infiltration of Law Enforcement, Ernest Lazar Archive.

21 Birmingham to Director, 4/19/61, 4/21/61, 4/26/61, 7/11/61 (quote), Birmingham to Director, 5/9/61, 5/15/61, and Charlotte to Director, 11/14/63, in FBI File 157-28 “Klan Infiltration of Law Enforcement, Ernest Lazar Archive; Gary May, The Informant: The FBI, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Murder of Viola Liuzzo, (New Haven Conn., 2005).

22 Keller, Liberals and J. Edgar Hoover, 72-103; Church Committee, Final Report, 82-82; De Jong, A Different Day, 194.

23 Charlotte to Director, 11/14/63, FBI File 157-28 “Klan Infiltration of Law Enforcement, Ernest Lazar Archive.

24 These disturbances occurred during November 1963 and May 1964, respectively. Memorandum, 11/1/63, “Racial Situation St. Johns County Florida,” Director to Jacksonville, 11/27/63, Reports on “Possible Racial Violence,” 8/14/64 and 12/1/64, Sullivan to Bland, 3/9/64, Sullivan to Belmont, 3/17/65 all in COTSS.

25 Drabble, “FBI in Alabama.”

26 William Keller, The Liberals and J. Edgar Hoover, Rise and Fall of a Domestic Intelligence State, (Princeton, 1989), 86-87, 90, 207; Church Committee Hearings, Vol. 6, 213, 215, 231; Howard Ball, Murder in Mississippi: United States v. Price and the Struggle for Civil Rights, (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004), 70-71; Drabble, “FBI in Mississippi,” 364-368.

27 Elliff, Federal Civil Rights Enforcement,” 668-669; Annual Report of the Attorney General, (Washington, 1965), 185-186.

28 Director to SAC Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Jackson, Jacksonville, Knoxville, Little Rock, Memphis, Miami, Mobile, New Orleans, Richmond, Savannah, Tampa, 6/25/64, 8/4/64, FBI File 157-93, “Klan Infiltration of law Enforcement, Lazar archive; drabble, “FBI in Mississippi”; idem, “FBI in Alabama.” .

29 Belknap, Federal Law, 128-158; Cunningham, There’s Something Happening Here, 122-127; John Drabble, “FBI . . . in Florida”; idem, “The FBI . . . in Mississippi,”; idem, “FBI . . . in Alabama” 8-9; idem, John Drabble, “From White Supremacy to White Power: The FBI’s COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE Operation and the “Nazification” of the Ku Klux Klan,” American Studies, (forthcoming, 2007).

30 Rosen to Belmont, 6/2/64, Racial Situation, St. Augustine, St. John’s County, Florida Racial Matters in Ibid (Reel 5). Local police and County Sheriff’s Deputies refused to protect civil rights demonstrators from vigilantes. Once the Florida State Police offered protection however, demonstrators furnished plans and established a close liaison with the FBI. Jacksonville to Director, 7/13/64, in Ibid. For context, see Drabble, “The FBI . . .in Florida.”

31 Gale to Tolson, 7/30/64, (Section 1).

Directory: drabbs
drabbs -> But Klansmen whipped a Columbus County woman in 1951
drabbs -> With the complicity of
drabbs -> The fbi, cointelpro-white hate, and the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina, 1964-1971
drabbs -> 2 From October 1871 into 1873, mass arrests and federal prosecutions “broke the back of the Ku Klux Klans” after which Southern violence took on new form
drabbs -> Tennessee was traditionally moderate on racial issues, reacting to
drabbs -> 2 From October 1871 into 1873, mass arrests and federal prosecutions “broke the back of the Ku Klux Klans” after which Southern violence took on new form
drabbs -> The fbi, cointelpro-white hate and the Decline of Ku Klux Klan Organizations in Mississippi, 1964-1971
drabbs -> Chapter ? ‘A negative and Unwise Approach’: Private Detectives, Vigilantes and the fbi counterintelligence, 1910-1972


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