Democratic Lawmaker and Former Black Panther Proposes Bill to Release FBI COINTELPRO Records, Including Details on Fred Hampton

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In this Oct. 29, 1969, file photo, Fred Hampton, center, chairman of the Illinois Black Panther party, speaks outside a rally outside the U.S. Courthouse in Chicago while Dr. Benjamin Spock, background, listens. “The First Rainbow Coalition,” a new PBS documentary, is exploring a little-known movement in 1960s Chicago that brought together blacks, Latinos, and poor whites from Appalachia that later resulted in the upending of politics in the American Midwest.
In this Oct. 29, 1969, file photo, Fred Hampton, center, chairman of the Illinois Black Panther party, speaks outside a rally outside the U.S. Courthouse in Chicago while Dr. Benjamin Spock, background, listens. “The First Rainbow Coalition,” a new PBS documentary, is exploring a little-known movement in 1960s Chicago that brought together blacks, Latinos, and poor whites from Appalachia that later resulted in the upending of politics in the American Midwest.

Right now, Republicans across the country are on a mission to whitewash America’s history in a way that protects white feelings and scrubs the stain of anti-Black racism from the nation’s fabric. GOPropaganda lawmakers have been introducing legislation to ban things like Critical Race Theory and The 1619 Project from school curricula, the military and the workplace and they’ve made it clear that, if they had it their way, only a white-guilt-free version of Black history would ever be taught—which is essentially not teaching it at all.

One Democratic lawmaker introduced legislation aimed in the other direction on Tuesday. Instead of a bill that seeks to hide America’s shameful past, his bill would expose it. And we’re not talking about something that goes back as far as the slave trade or America’s Reconstruction period; we’re talking about the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program that led to the /murder/ death of Black Panther Party Chicago chapter leader Fred Hampton in 1969.

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CNN reports that the bill introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) would require the government to release all records related to the program known as COINTELPRO, which was used to monitor the Black Panthers and other leaders of the civil rights movement as well as antiwar activists and so on.

“I want to shine a bright light on this dark chapter of our nation’s history,” Rush said in a statement introducing the bill. “And I think it is very timely and very important that we do it at this moment.”

Along with the release of COINTELPRO records, the bill would remove the name of J. Edgar Hoover—the FBI’s head white supremacist in charge at the time—from the bureau’s headquarters in Washington.

And just in case you suspect that this Rush is just another Democrat pandering to Black people amid America’s so-called “racial awakening”—nah, this brotha has a history with the movement.

From CNN:

Rush co-founded the Black Panther Party’s Illinois chapter and was close friends with Fred Hampton, the party chapter’s chairman who in 1969 created the first Rainbow Coalition before he was killed in a predawn raid by Chicago police. Rush, who blames the FBI for Hampton’s death, called for a full reporting of the domestic spying on civil rights activists and others.

“As a victim of COINTELPRO, I want to know, with honesty, with clarity, and with no redactions, the full extent of the FBI’s nefarious operations,” the congressman said. “I want to know the breadth and depth of the conspiracy to assassinate Fred Hampton and how taxpayer dollars were spent on his assassination. I want to know why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a focus of the FBI, why Billie Holiday was a focus of the FBI – I want to know why so many young activists were harassed by the FBI. What was the justification for the impact that it had on their lives?”

As CNN pointed out, the program’s own documents state that COINTELPRO’s objective was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” Black activist groups.

So, maybe the real reason Republicans want to control the culture—and by extension, school curricula, is because they don’t want people to see that America’s dark past actually doesn’t look much different from its present.

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