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



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?246 In conjunction with a coordinated effort with local authorities against Klan activity in other states, COINTELPRO played a significant role in vitiating both Klan vigilantism and Klan organizing. This story is not well known, but it is important for two reasons.

First, since academic historiography and popular understanding of the Black freedom struggle has focused on the period from Montgomery to Selma before turning to Black Power organizations in the urban north after 1966, the dismal performance of the FBI before 1966 has received more attention than has COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE.247 Belated prosecutions due to bad relations between the FBI and Alabama authorities in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, as well as questions about the role of FBI informant Gary Tomas Rowe in the Viola Liuzzo murder case, has framed accounts of relationships between the FBI, Southern law enforcement authorities, and the Klan.248 .249.250.251.252 Using Rowe to frame analysis, polemical accounts have mis-characterized COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE as a police-state operation that used vigilantes to thwart social change.253

Second, while COINTELPRO was very successful in neutralizing the UKA, the operation had two unanticipated consequences with regard to the subsequent course of racist-right organizing in the United States.

This article also emphasizes that given a focus on a large, interstate group called the United Klans of America, COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE targeted many local Klan units that did not engaged in violence. It also targeted Klan leaders who actually held down violence, in order to facilitate disruption of the UKA organization. This point is important, because in the 1970s and 1980s, white power activists exploited COINTELPO in their esoteric conspiracy theories, alleging political repression of American patriots to justify terrorist insurgency against institutions of the Federal Government.254 So long as vigilantes could operate with impunity, Klansmen had envisioned themselves as allied with the police, the FBI, the HUAC, and other countersubversive institutions in American politics. Even after the Liuzzo-murder trial and the HUAC Hearings, Klansmen were slow to understand how the shift of Cold War foreign policy toward the decolonizing world was changing federal priorities.255

As racism and vigilantism became identified with “extremism” in American political discourse and Klan organizations declined however, remaining hard-core white supremacists abandoned Klan ideology and began to search for new discourses to explain their predicament. During the 1970s embraced racialist anti-Semitic discourses such as Nazism and Christian Identity, and some organized paramilitaries.256 In the late 1960s and early 1970s, white power activists came to view their primary enemy as the agents of federal law enforcement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, with whom Robert Shelton had hoped to achieve 'fraternal unionism' in 1966, came to be seen as the tool of a ‘Zionist Occupation Government.’ This too, was a legacy of COINTELPRO.257

The legacy of COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE is thus relevant to contemporary debates about interrelationships between criminal prosecutions, preventive counterintelligence and covert operations against transnational terrorist groups, the growing appeal of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and consequent concerns about erosion of American Constitutional rights and international human rights law in a globalizing world.


GO thru Book II Final report to talk about legacy of informants and local police relaitons IDIU selective law enforcement in other COINS??


Sulivan civil suis stuff?258
Check if used with regard to agressive interviews and curtailment or help police: Knoxville to Director, 5/10/65, 12/2/65, 12/7/65, 1/6/66; Memphis to Director, 4/1/66; New Orleans to Director, 9/9/64, 12/8/64; Drabble, "FBI in Mississippi; idem, "FBI in Alabama,"; idem, working paper, "The FBI, COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE and the Decline of Ku Klux Klan Organizations in Louisiana, 1964-1971.”
For a useful discussion of unintended consequences ensuing from watchdog exposés, see the exchange between Thomas Robbins and Jeffrey Kaplan in Novio Religio, 1:1, October 1997.

AG report: 11 cases opened in 68 and 38 pending. “. . . organized violent resistance to Negro rights in the South has abated somewhat and local law enforcement officers there have increasingly accepted their responsibility to enforce the law when the rights of negroes are violated . . .” so turn attention to increasing problem s in North.259 By 71, most of the AG investigations involved police brutality, not vigilante violence.260




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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