46 years ago a small group of activists—eight men and women—broke into an FBI office in Media, PA and removed every document on file. Their goal was to use an active, nonviolent method of civil disobedience to expose numerous illegal FBI operations which were infringing on the First Amendment rights of American citizens. They succeeded.
The documents they stole and sent to the press revealed J. Edgar Hoover’s “secret counterintelligence program” COINTELPRO, which was set up to disrupt dissident political groups, many of them legal civil rights organizations and antiwar groups that Hoover found offensive—as well as black activist groups, student activists, anti draft protestors, and conscientious objectors. COINTELPRO was a clear and obvious violation of the Constitution.
Two of the activists and a former Black Panther will be participating in a special screening and discussion of the documentary 1971 at Peterborough Community Theatre on May 8th.
To learn more about this stunning piece of history, the corresponding book by Betty Medsger, “The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI”, is available at The Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough.
In addition, the new book “The Black Panthers: Portraits from an Unfinished Revolution” is also available at The Toadstool.