Debate, Hate & Wait: How to Spot an Agent in Your Organization

Tonight (Fri Nov 26, 2010)  in San Francisco there will be an screening of an incredible documentary called ‘Cointel-Pro’ followed by a community discussion w/ children of political prisoners and Hip Hop artists Wise Intelligent, Killer priest, Casual and Digable Planets..It’s an important discussion followed by a concert.. For more info on discussion and concert click here…

In the meantime.. I want everyone to read this article about government infiltration/ domestic spying  into organizations.. The author Supreme gives a lot of insight and encourages folks to set up protocals vs going on witch hunts and having endless discussions about who is real and who isn’t..

This is important because government infiltration still goes on today and as was shown in the documentary Cointel-pro it’s not limited to militant/ Black organizations.. In fact groups like the Black Panthers were the last to get infiltrated.

In recent years we’ve seen agents touch base in peace organizations as highlighted by Michael Moore in his film on 9-11. We seen this happen in the aftermath of Katrina with Common Ground organization. The agent (Brandon Darby) who came to disrupt recovery efforts had already caused havoc among organizations in Austin , Texas.  This is important to note, because as the author Supreme points out in his article, so many groups don’t talk to one another. Some have egos and see everything as uber competitive. Others are afraid of losing funding by tipping off other operations. Others are simply ignorant to history and don’t believe our government will go that far..

More recently we here in Oakland saw this happen during the Justice 4 Oscar Grant Movement.. Sometimes its the feds other times its local police departments doing the infiltrating.  Folks need to read the article, get informed and act on principle not personality..

The most important statement in this article is as follows

Agents are no longer gathering information, unless your org. is HIGHLY proactive and doing intensive work in the community…so let’s stop this talk of  “They can come and take whatever notes they want…and I’ma teach em.”  No. Most agents now are simply working to keep orgs at a STANDSTILL. Mired in debate, hate, and wait. Read that again. DEBATE, HATE, and/or WAIT. Through these three mechanisms, they do their job QUITE effectively. “

-Davey D-


How to Spot and Agent?

by Supreme Understanding!/notes/supreme-understanding-supremedesignonline/how-to-spot-an-agent/464236052290

Author Supreme Understanding

I’m sick and tired of watching good groups fail because of the wicked people who are still being sent among us. Moreso because of our failure to respond appropriately to these wicked people. I don’t blame them so much as I blame us for not doing anything about them. But we who are intelligent people should be wise enough to know that COINTELPRO still exists, both online and in real life. Yet very rarely do I hear about people being “run from among us” nowadays. So we know that they’re here, yet we continue to let them do their work? They’re not gathering info. They’re making us fall apart. And my survey says that they’re being highly successful. So if you can use this to improve your organization, please do so. If not, I’ve said my part. Here’s some qualities to look for, when you are wondering if someone is an agent provacateur:

  1. They bring confusion and chaos with them. Everytime they come around, it’s drama.
  2. They keep discussions and productivity at a stalemate. They’d rather keep debating than engaging the community you’re supposed to serve.
  3. They focus on impertinent theoretical points of contention as serious sources of conflict. It’s never about the people or the work. It’s always about some ideas, structures, philosophy, or abstract concept.
  4. They create/increase tribalism and intensify pre-existing organizational dissatisfaction. Whatever issues you had, they root them out and make them grow.
  5. They don’t have reputable sources or references for where they come from. Nobody knows them where they say they came from, or they can’t even tell you who can vouch for them. Anyone with more than 5 years of involvement in any community should have good references. Anyone with less than 5 years experiences should not be in a position to dictate or distract.
  6. Many have short bursts of vigorous activity, not long histories of continuous (documented/verifiable) growth and development. They come in, make a mess, then disappear to enjoy their plea deal, stipend, etc…or to move on to another org. Because we have little cross-organizational communication, they can sometimes do the same thing to 3 or 4 orgs in a row. So many of them are organization-hoppers.
  7. Others claim long histories, even claiming “birthrights” of some sort, as a means to establish authority. Yet these claims rarely hold up under further investigation. For example, some agents who were outed by the Church Committee had claimed to be “born into” the organizations and groups they’d later infiltrated. Oh, by the way, I’m a historical researcher. Everything in this list is based on extensive research on publicly-identified agent provocateurs, as well as the documented methods used by COINTELPRO, the CIA, the “hip hop police” etc.
  8. They have ambiguous sources of income. They may be on the payroll, but they’re posing as an independent hustler of some sort, or working in some office building you can’t visit.
  9. They came from prison or worked in the military or law enforcement in the past (or the present, if u dig deep enough). They may be working in exchange for reduced time/plea agreement/special assignment.
  10. They turn around all questions about them into attacks on the questioner. They create scapegoats, red herrings, and target people who may be onto them.
  11. They build alliances with weak-minded dissatisfied people through shared vices, financial generosity, or a sense of solidarity. Do you smoke with em and give em a free pass on their transgressions?
  12. They also “give” as a means of establishing authority and legitimacy. Some even give “knowledge” to an extent that it blurs their allegiances, making less critical-minded people believe they “must” be on the side of good, since they share so much “good information.” But even this can be a ruse. If the information does not serve to liberate people, empower the community (regular people, that is), and engender social change, then they are doing NOTHING to disturb the status quo.
  13. These people don’t tend to be primary sources either. They simply get credit by “sharing” or transmitting information and ideas created by others. Yet these people also tend to “modify” this info as well, significantly affecting the end result.
  14. They act like zealots but aren’t zealous about social change. You’ll never see them go this hard when it comes to helping regular people.
  15. They want power and control, but demonstrate no ability to use this power or control for the good of others. Once they have acquired enough authority, it’s all gonna get burned to the ground.
  16. They are masters of manipulation, but never teach others how to manipulate the system. But watch how they can twist, spin, and distort everything that comes their way. It takes TRAINING to be that good. And there are actually programs that train people on how to do this.

FYI, I’m not talking about people who are stupid and don’t know how to act right. I’m talking about people who are clear, consistent, and CONSCIOUSLY working to undermine and neutralize progress. It’s not impossible to distinguish the former from the latter. And typically, the former acts that way because they are following the lead of the latter.

Also, let’s be clear. Agents are no longer gathering information, unless your org. is HIGHLY proactive and doing intensive work in the community…so let’s stop this talk of “They can come and take whatever notes they want…and I’ma teach em.” No. Most agents now are simply working to keep orgs at a STANDSTILL. Mired in debate, hate, and wait. Read that again. DEBATE, HATE, and/or WAIT. Through these three mechanisms, they do their job QUITE effectively.

What do you do if someone has many of these characteristics? If your org has a structure for calling someone to attention and letting them know their actions are creating a disturbance, then it’s time to gather the people who can call that meeting and notify that person. Either they will (A) become belligerent and threaten physical harm, (B) respond quietly and soon disappear, or (C) continue doing the same. If they disappear, notify other orgs about them, because that person may be headed their way. If they do (A) or (C), proceed to whatever is “level 2” of your org’s protocol for dealing with serious offenders. Just know that the person is NOT someone with a misunderstanding, or someone who just doesn’t get it yet. If you are effective in explaining your concerns (as a collective) and they PERSIST, it should be clear that they are not naieve. They are acting purposefully and willfully, and it is YOUR collective failure if you allow this behavior to exist, remain, thrive, and destroy everything around it.

I’m just one man speaking, but I had to say something because it’s getting out of control in some places. I hope people will take notice and DO something. Beyond what I’ve said above, it’s important we establish some cross-cultural/cross-organizational communication. I propose that we identify, by name and picture, those individuals we run out of our groups, so that when they come to another group, we will know not to accept this person in with open arms. I’d love to some sort of online agent provocateur database (like, but that presents too much potential for abuse and misuse. In lieu of that, we should AT LEAST engage in (a) teaching awareness of the above, (b) background checks on new people coming to our groups, (c) some checks and balances for people trying to leverage power and authority, (d) an investigation and response protocol for people causing repeated disturbances, and (e) cross-organizational communication for people who have been rooted out.

Tag anyone you know who is involved with an organization/group/culture that is serious about the community, and who would benefit from this perspective.

Thank you,

Supreme Understanding

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

In the Wake of Eddie Long-What’s the State of the Black Church? Is it too caught up to fight for justice?

There’s an old saying that goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Hence it should come as no surprise that since the sex scandal surrounding New Birth pastor Bishop Eddie Long has emerged, there’s a whole lot of questions being raised about the current state of the Black Church. ‘What’s wrong with it?’, ‘Why has it failed?‘Where is it headed?’ and of course ‘Will it survive this scandal’?

First of all we have to acknowledge that we’ve seen this movie before. These types of questions come on the heels of every scandal and controversy involving a church leader. It’s happening now with Eddie Long. It happened a couple of years ago when President Obama had his falling out with his long time pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We asked these questions when iconic figures like Jesse Jackson, Bishop Thomas Weeks III or even gospel singer BeBe Winans found themselves in hot water.

Should the troubles surrounding Bishop Eddie Long lead to all Black Churches coming under fire?

Are these questions fair? Should the misdeeds of one pastor or one church put the totality of Black churches on front street?

Ideally the accusations levied against Bishop Eddie Long should’ve been an aberration. There was a time when talk of a pastor, who is an outspoken ‘strong’ leader in the community seducing young men would’ve been seen as too far-fetched to entertain. But sadly in 2010 Long’s alleged actions aren’t shocking in far too many circles. They seem to fit an over-riding perception that egregious, sexually abusive contradictory behavior in the church is the norm. His actions fit the narrative of Black churches being over indulged in material wealth coupled with ego driven sermons where the pastors come across as prima donna rock stars. That’s disconcerting and should be a wake up call for anyone who sees themselves as part of the Black church.

Some of the controversies involving Reverend Jesse jackson has led to us questioning the state of the Black Church

It’s disconcerting because a whole lot of good work that goes on in the Black church gets overshadowed. This is not to say bad behavior should be ignored or glossed over, but at the same time when we have exposes like the one recently featured in the Atlanta Post that highlights 10 Black Church Leaders who’ve been involved with Scandals it’s easy to forget that in most of our communities the majority of Black churches work tirelessly to fulfil community needs.

There are numerous Black churches that for years have been doing things like; building homes for senior citizens, setting up food, shelter and clothing programs for the homeless, putting together after school programs for youth and tours through Historically Black colleges for young adults. Many Black churches have established well received prison ministries that include parole to work programs. We could go on and on listing examples of where Black churches have stepped up to walk the walk and back up the talk.

With all that being said,  those of us who are members of a church still have to grapple with the challenging questions before us; ‘Is there a disconnect between the Black church and its aforementioned good works and the community at large?’ ‘If so how and why is that happening?’ ‘What is fueling these nagging negative perceptions?’ ‘Is it because of biased media coverage or are these off-color actions more widespread than we care to admit?’ ‘Do we not have not enough church folks stepping up and letting their light shine so to speak?’  or Is the Black Church dead? as Princeton religious professor Eddie Glaude Jr brazenly declared in his controversial essay earlier this year.

How did we move from a place where the Black church was considered sacred and its leaders highly respected  to a place where it’s routinely lampooned in the mainstream with the Black preacher often depicted as buffoonish ‘Reverend Porkchop’ type caricatures?

Members of the Black Church Have to Let their Light Shine in the Midst of Scandals

When looking at these types of challenges facing pastors like Eddie Long there are several things to keep in mind. To start, his transgressions are going to result in a number of people saying things like; ‘This is why I don’t go to church’, ‘So-called Christianity is a farce’ , There’s a thin line between pimping and preaching and what we saw go down with Eddie Long was pimping’, orthe Church has been an opium for Black people in this country that stirs us away from who we really are’. In short, left unchallenged and uncorrected the Black Church becomes an empty space and place  that turns people away instead of being an inviting place for those who seek healing and solace.

Second, such commentary should inspire us to step forth and take corrective action and show compassion for those victimized and for those in trouble. It should inspire us to do some serious self examination. This should be the case if you’re a member of a congregation and it should be the case for the entire body. Self examination should be a constant endeavor.

One should always be checking to see if one’s actions are aligned with the teachings in the Gospel. Are we Christ-like in our day-to-day behavior? How are we growing in Christ? If Jesus was to show up next week would he be pleased with the things we are doing? Those should be the driving questions of the day.

The proverbial question of ‘What would Jesus do?‘ should be more than just rhetoric for those of us who believe. Many of us look at Christ and see him as the ultimate personification of love. If so, how is love being manifested in our day-to-day lives? How are we showing love for family, friends and ourselves? How do we show love for our community? How are we growing in love?  Do we even have a full understanding of all the definitions of love from Eros to agape to Xenia?

What would Jesus do? This saying has to be more than rhetorical?

As Christians the goal should be for us to strengthen our spiritual relationship with Christ which comes from fellowship, prayer and constant ‘wrestling’ and studying of the word. We need to take these steps and ask those hard questions whether we have an Eddie Long scandal in our midst or not.

Lastly, we as a members of a church whether it’s a 25 thousand mega-church like New Birth or a church by the side of the road in the rural south with 15 people, should be asking how we are serving our community?

If we come from a tradition where feeding the poor and looking after the down trodden is a guiding tenet, how is our respective church fulfilling this mission? What role are we playing in seeing this happens? Do we volunteer to take those bold and much-needed steps or are we waiting on someone else to do it?  Serving our community is a form of love, it’s an everyday thing and its a way in which we serve God.

Being aligned with Christ does not mean playing ‘holier than thou’ games where your beating folks upside the head with a book demanding they see it your way or burn in hell. Nor does it mean pretending to be this flawless person who can do no wrong and showing little compassion for those who are trying to find their way. We’re supposed to be humble and not carry ourselves in such a way that people are hoping for our downfall but instead cheering for our upliftment.

Was It a Wrong Turn to Go from the Prophetic to Prosperity?

When talking with folks about the ‘State of the Black Church‘, many like to point to the hey-days of the Civil Rights Movement and note that the Black church was at its full glory. It was powerful, on point and gave birth to stellar leadership that was rooted in the Black prophetic tradition. Many were praised for fearlessly speaking truth to power and riding hard for social justice causes. As a result the Black church was deemed by many to be the ‘conscience of America‘. It’s leadership was best personified by preachers like Benjamin MaysRalph David AbernathyWyatt Tee Walker, Fred ShuttlesworthGardner C. Taylor and of course Dr Martin Luther King. The Black Church was one of the few, preeminent institutions in the community that we controlled from top to bottom. It was the place where folks gathered, strategized, sought refuge, and drew inspiration for the arduous fights against Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan and other forces of white oppression.

Church Leaders Like Fred Shuttesworth pushed forward even in the face of brutal attacks and killings

The Black church was seen as a ‘threat’ to many who opposed the upliftment of Black people. This resulted in quite a few churches being burned and its members attacked.

The KKK while espousing Christian values would eventually come to bomb a Black church. Most of us are aware of the tragic situation that took place at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham , Alabama in 1963. Here 4 young girls were killed.

For those who don’t know  16th Street Baptist church was a key meeting place for Black leaders including Dr King and Pastor Fred Shuttlesworth. As horrific as the bombing was the strength of the Black church shined through. Instead of slinking back, the Black Church leaders stepped up their efforts  with renewed vigor and determination. Folks became more outspoken in their demands for justice.

Today many feel those days are gone. They look at the rise of mega-Churches, TV evangelists and a marked political shift in many pews to the conservative right with the prophetic social justice, liberation theology teachings taking a backseat to what we now call Prosperity Theology . Here Jesus has been transformed from one who prioritized the poor and downtrodden to someone who now is only about the business of  providing material wealth for those he favors.

Initially championed by preachers like Oral Roberts around the time of World War II,  we later saw a few vestiges of this prosperity thinking during the Civil Rights era. One keen example was Reverend Ike who was outspoken in his opposition to Dr King especially when he started working on the Poor People’s Campaign. He claimed King was doing Black folks a disservice by associating ‘poor’ with Blackness.

The prosperity themes really hit full stride and grew in popularity throughout the 90s with iconic church figures like embattled Bishop Eddie Long, Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes and Joel Osteen who even though is white has enjoyed a large African-American following.

is jesus Really about the business of us being rich at the expense of the poor?

The fact that Jesus is depicted as one who emphasizes financially rewarding those he favors makes the prosperity teachings seem not to far removed from the God and Country, American Exceptionalism ideology expressed by  far right evangelicals.

Such thinking has been best exemplified by preachers like Pat Robertson and his Christian Coalition, the late Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority and in books like the recently published American Patriot’s Bible.

Was this turn to prosperity theology a natural evolution for the church because Jesus was directing folks or was the prosperity teachings a reflection of the current state of affairs both in the African-American community and the larger mainstream society? After all, we are in a day and time where we celebrate opulence and literally worship those who have it.

This was a point author and Spelman college history professor Jelani Cobb made during a recent radio interview where he noted that our desire for obscene riches is reflected in our music, our literature and the way we conduct business. Should we be surprised that its reflected in our churches?

When looking at this switch from the prophetic to prosperity, we should not be dismissive of the deliberate pushes made by sinister outside forces? I’m talking specifically about Cointel-Pro-The Counter Insurgency programs championed by then FBI director J Edgar Hoover.

If the Black church was a major cornerstone for the Civil Rights movements in the 60s would it be safe to assume that was infiltrated, compromised, discredited and ultimately redirected or destroyed via Cointel-Pro operations?

FBI director J Edgar Hoover made it pretty clear that organizations like the  Black Panthers, Black Muslims, SNCC, Free Speech and the Anti-War Movements were domestic threats that needed to be contained. We now know through the Freedom of Information Act that Martin Luther King was constantly under surveillance. Hoover’s men went out of their way to employ physiological games including issuing death threats, planting false stories in the media and attempting to play him off other leaders with the intent of causing divisions and tensions with other Civil Rights organizations. At one point FBI agents even tried to get King to take his own life.

It’s hard to imagine that the FBI did not look at the influence of the Black church and try to find ways to cause divisions, soften its impact and ultimately redirect its energies. Malcolm X in his speech ‘Message to the Grassroots talks about how Black  leadership was compromised with money and resources on the days leading up to the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech‘.

Reverend Dr Martin Luther King came from a long line of Black preachers who represented Prophetic Teachings

Many saw Malcolm X’s remarks as what best articulated the violence vs non-violence debates at the time. Others said Malcolm was simply hating on King, but years later when King gave his famous ‘Why I oppose the Vietnam war‘ speech on Aril 30 1967 at Riverside Church in Harlem, he got to really experience hate. Many church leaders at that time stepped away and shunned him. Some feared cuts in their funding and compromised. King points this out in his speech ‘Transforming a Neighborhood into a Brotherhood

“There are those who have said to me, ‘Why are you taking a stand against the war? You’re a civil-rights leader. You shouldn’t be on this. You’re out of your field.’

Long before I was a civil-rights speaker, I was a preacher of the Gospel. When I was ordained to the Christian ministry … I took a commission to bring the insights of our Christian heritage to bear on the evils of our day.

He goes on to add

“There are those who go on to say beyond that, ‘Aren’t you going to hurt your leadership?’ Somebody said to me not long ago, “People have respected you, and don’t you feel you’re going to lose that and, in order to maintain that respect, don’t you think you’ll have to start talking more in terms of the policy of our nation in Vietnam?’

“I looked into his eyes and said, ‘Sir, I’m sorry you don’t know me. I’m not a consensus leader. I don’t determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I don’t determine what is wrong by roaming around taking a Gallup poll of the majority opinion.’ …

It was said that after King gave these types of speeches it soured his relationship with then President Lyndon B Johnson who helped usher in important Civil Rights legislation with King at his side. King eventually was cut off and lost access to the White House while being roundly criticized by other leaders who became comfortable with tasting power.

Creflo Dollar represent the new breed of Conservative thinking Prosperity Gospel Preachers within the Black Church

Now contrast King’s willingness to stand up to the Vietnam War and sacrifice his friendship with President Johnson and Black Mega-Church Evangelist Creflo Dollar who reprimanded his congregation for speaking out against George Bush and his call for war.

He demanded that people repent for their criticisms. Professor/ commentator Marc Lamont Hill pointed this out in a October 2006 column title the ‘New Black Church Strikes Again‘ where he shows how he links’ blind patriotism to Christian duty’.Hill points out the letter..

When a nation is on the brink of war, the worst thing its citizens can do is allow themselves to become divided. The Bible says that there is a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8). In fact, Jesus said that in the last days there would be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6). When this country was attacked on September 11, 2001, there was a fierce public outcry. America wanted her enemies to pay. Now, two years later, those same Americans are protesting the war against terrorism.

President Bush is worthy of your prayers and support. He is a man who rises early every morning to seek God and His wisdom through prayer and the study of the Word. This is not the time for Christians to picket, carry protest signs or throw their opinions around. The election is over, and the man in the Oval Office is the one we, as Americans, voted in. Numbers 32:7-13 makes it clear how God feels about a nation divided during a time of war.

This country needs unity, and it begins with the church. It is your responsibility as a believer to pray for the president, others in leadership, this nation, the men and women serving in the Armed Forces and our enemies–whoever they may be. Forget about your political affiliation or preference. You are first and foremost a Christian.

Dr Cornel West said there's been alot of manipulation and distortion of Christ and his teachings within prosperity circles

As was mentioned earlier what has taken place over the years is a manipulation and distortion of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Professor Dr Cornel West noted in a recent interview “There’s been a whole lot of creativity and imagining to move Christ from helping the poor to being a wealthy individual who embraces greed and dislike people who are different..’

We don’t really know Christ and his basic teachings anymore because he’s been so distorted. Along with this manipulation comes an unwillingness by many to be empathetic toward people who are suffering and in pain.

West concluded now more than ever we have to step up and keep justice on our hearts and minds. The key word here is JUSTICE. This is especially true for those who profess to be Christians. If we don’t speak up who will?

We all know the famous quotes in Matthews where Jesus said its easier to pass through the eye of a camel than for a rich man to get into heaven.  Was he saying folks should be destitute and not have money?  Hardly.

Jesus was letting folks know that its easy to get caught up when you have riches. It’s easy to forget some basic things that he was teaching and believe your own hype. It’s easy to have money  become your master.

Can we let our material possessions go?  I means its hard times right now…so would we let our things go if asked by Jesus?  Can we let the money, fame and power go and be without?  Is this what happened to Bishop Eddie Long? Have we been getting to caught up?   Is this whats been happening in many of our churches? Is this a condition we’re struggling with?

The answer to those questions will require some serious reflection and thought. Our society makes it easy for us to move away off our square or foundation. Lets not get too caught up when we have mouths to feed and hearts to heel.

Something to ponder

Davey D

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Who Shot Ya?-The FBI Informant Civil Rights Photographer & the Murder of Dr Martin Luther King

In recent days damning information has surfaced about the role a pioneering Civil Rights photographer named Ernest C.Withers played in the murder of Dr Martin Luther King. Withers who died in 2007 had long been rumored to be an informant for J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI even though he was very popular figure in Civil Rights circles. It’s been reported that under his guise as a photographer he was reporting on King’s movement up to the moment of his assassination and in the days that followed.

Like so many organizations that were fighting for Freedom including the Black Panthers, SNCC, The Nation of Islam then known as Black Muslims, SCLC to name a few were all under constant surveillance with orders from Hoover to disrupt and discredit their operations. Hoover considered many of them to be hate groups, terrorists and communist sympathizers.

Sometimes the surveillance came from FBI agents planting listening devices, recording phone conversations and following Civil Rights leaders in cars. Other times it came from sending Black agents into key organizations where they would earn positions of high rank and trust and later report back critical information. This was all done in addition to the FBI sending letters to various leaders where they would attempt to black mail, play one-off the other, make threats or play mind games like encouraging distressed individuals to commit suicide.

Martin Luther King

The murder of Dr King is especially troubling, because it demonstrated the lengths the FBI would go to stop a movement…. I think people should pause for a second before reading on and really think about this. Again the FBI operates from the money we pay to them via our taxes. They are here to serve and protect the people.

The second point is when you’re talking about an individual like Martin Luther King, you’re talking about a man who was calling for racially harmony and non-violence. He was challenging systems of Jim Crow and overt racial discrimination that I would imagine very few would support in 2010.

On the day of his death he was working feverishly on a Poor People’s Campaign for economic justice. How much more benign could one get?  Sadly our government which to this day has buildings named after Hoover, the architect of these surveillance policies called Cointel-Pro stopped at nothing to get him. from the looks of things they got Withers to go along with the plan and several others.

Dick Gregory spoke about sinister forces at work that eventually killed Martin Luther King

Long time activist Dick Gregory spoke on the murder of Dr King and how there were all sorts of folks involved including the Black preachers in his entourage. I want folks to peep this video and pay close attention to the video he plays during his presentation. You can later on watch the rest of the lecture which is 3 or 4 parts.  After you watch pt1, I want folks to read this excellent article from Margret Kimberly of Freedom Rider/ Black Agenda Report to get better insight into Withers and the damaging role he played. pt1 pt2 pt3 pt4

Also as an added piece I am including the conversation Malcolm X had with the FBI when they tried to get him to turn on the Nation of Islam. I want folks to have richer context in which to understand the depth the FBI went in trying to compromise and intimidate our leaders.

Freedom Rider: Ernest Withers the Informant

by BAR editor and senior Margaret Kimberley

Margaret Kimberley of BAR

The long and infamous history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its attacks upon black Americans in their struggles for human and civil rights are by now well-known. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover actively worked to destroy any and all black activists beginning in 1919 when he pursued the political and personal destruction of Marcus Garvey. That subversion of legal rights and the democratic process continued for decades but operated at its fullest extent in the 1950s and 1960s.

The purpose of the FBI Counter Intelligence Program, COINTELPRO was, in Hoover‘s words, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” what Hoover called “hate groups” but which were in fact organizations fighting for full citizenship rights. The most infamous COINTELPRO action was the murder of the Black Panther Party Chicago chief Fred Hampton. An informant, William O’Neal, joined the Black Panther Party under FBI direction, served as Hampton’s bodyguard, and was then instrumental in planning his killing.

Commercial Appeal, Withers was an FBI informant who gave extensive information on King and other activists in Memphis, their movements, and their conversations. Withers reported to the FBI on the day of King’s assassination and in the days following.

Unfortunately, Withers died in 2007 without ever being confronted with the longstanding rumors of his activities. His colleagues are left to their own devices in trying to understand why he acted as he did. They are also left trying to decide how and, in some cases, whether to judge Withers for his betrayals.

“He actively sabotaged the work of others and endangered their lives, livelihoods and a movement which was bigger than any one person.”

The human response of wanting to defend someone thought to be a friend may be understandable on a personal level, but should never be acceptable politically. The charges against Withers are well documented and in all likelihood he was an informer and was paid by the FBI. This means he actively sabotaged the work of others and endangered their lives, livelihoods and a movement which was bigger than any one person, even those who may still feel a personal connection to Withers.

Whatever the justification for their activities, informants like Withers should never be forgiven and their acts should not be justified. Sadly, many of the people personally victimized by Withers are defending and rationalizing his actions. He had a large family to support, he may have been threatened, the information he gave probably did little harm, etc. Andrew Young’s comments about Withers are the worst of all. “I don’t think Dr. King would have minded him making a little money on the side.”

Andrew Young has been the king of the cringe-worthy comment for some time now, but this remark is appalling even for him. As one of King’s closest confidantes, Young should know better than anyone the damage caused by FBI’s actions against King. They tapped his phones, recorded his conversations and encouraged him to commit suicide. Because there was no timely investigation into the King assassination, we will never know if the FBI was directly involved. The fact that Withers was located in Memphis and reported on King’s activities and movements up until the very moment of his death is in and of itself suspicious. The revelation of Withers’ activity should be a reminder of the extent to which the state dedicated itself to destroying any organized effort at black empowerment.

The muted response to the Withers revelation is sad proof of the lack of study of the movement, its fall and its aftermath. If this world-changing phenomenon were considered in the light that it ought to be, there would be unified revulsion expressed about Withers and a meaningful discussion of how the movement ended. The killing of Martin Luther King meant the effective end of one of the most successful mass movements in the history of the world. It is difficult to imagine that the information Withers provided to the FBI was not in some way connected with King’s death. For that reason alone, the outrage surrounding this revelation should have been loud and clear.

“It is difficult to imagine that the information Withers provided to the FBI was not in some way connected with King’s death.”

The Withers case should not be seen through the window of the past. It is a warning to us in the present and a reminder that the police state apparatus is ever present.

J Edgar Hoover may be dead but his legacy and damning Cointel-Pro policies live on today

The Withers case should not be seen through the window of the past. It is a warning to us in the present and a reminder that the police state apparatus is ever present. Should the civil rights movement be reactivated and organizing for change become the norm once again, there will be another COINTELPRO, under a different name no doubt, but the activities will be revived and some “friends” will turn out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

We now have a government which gives itself the right to order the assassination of American citizens and which claims the right to order anyone arrested and incarcerated without charge or trial. Black Americans have been entrapped in dubious, false flag terror cases created out of whole cloth by the government and its informants. The past is prologue and Ernest C. Withers will not be the last person used to sabotage his own people.

An energized, well organized movement for political change is what this nation needs most. That movement should learn the history of past movements, including the errors, and the betrayals that brought so many people and organizations to premature death. Individuals brave enough to speak truth to the powerful should be able to do so without repeating past mistakes or falling prey to the snares which brought down so many in the past. Ernest Withers should be remembered as a traitor. Yes his photos are iconic but they are now tainted and cannot be rehabilitated for the sake of sentimentality. The revelations about Withers are indeed frightening and rightly cause paranoia and anger. Those feelings cannot be submerged. They should be discussed openly. If they are not, then there are more Ernest Withers’ in our future and more destroyed movements.

Commercial appeal

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner