By Brenda NorrellCensored News
Collage by Censored News: COINTELPRO targeted black leaders and the American Indian Movement.
There appears to be a systematic operation underway, placing fake activists or self-appointed leaders, into grassroots movements. They are easy to identify as they quickly set out to dishonor the original purpose, gather information, cause internal disunity, promote violence and defame the organization.
Their purpose is to neutralize, coop and take over the movements. One tactic is the hit and run on Facebook, where a self-appointed leader coopts one movement after another to deflate or destroy it, while gathering information and identifying those who speak out. Another tactic is to distract the movement with meaningless information and futile efforts.
Some of the movements, such as the American Indian Movement and Black Panthers, were always targets of COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO includes covert operatives, provocateurs, who are there for the purpose of provocation. Now, peace activists and Indigenous grassroots movements are also targets. The current effort likely has a new name, while making use of COINTELPRO tactics. It is very systematic.
It goes beyond the regular informant, or snitch, who is trying to avoid jail time, get out of prison early, or pump up his ego or bank account. It is not just about gathering information. It is about disrupting and destroying a movement from within. The goal is to replace longtime organizers with new self-appointed leaders.
Some of it seems very personal, like the longtime vendettas of retired law enforcement. Other times, the goal appears to be the protection of destructive corporations, such as mining. In these cases, it is all about the money, including the money for politicians who are fed contributions from the corporations. Still other times it involves clowns in local law enforcement, who are very good at blowing the cover of their snitches.
As a news reporter in the early 1990s, I covered the federal court trial of Earth First! defendants in Prescott, Arizona. It was my introduction to the sleazy world of informants and snitches and the underbelly of US-orchestrated crimes and criminals.
Later, the police spy files on Denver activists, and more recently, the police files on peace activists across the country, offered new insights into entrapment, failed justice and the demise of the criminal justice system in the United States. In the Denver spy files, police spied on numerous attorneys and supporters of all the movements. Denver police even filed a report on an 80-year-old woman just because she had a Leonard Peltier bumper sticker on her car. It was only by accident, by way of discovery in another case, that the massive spy files were revealed.
For young and naive activists in social justice movements, it is good to become aware of how it works. With video cameras tiny enough to fit inside an ink pen, key chain, watch or belt buckle, there’s a good chance that most organizing meetings are being recorded. Also, if someone is spending money on you, and has no job, you might want to consider that the cash flow is coming from your future arresting officer. If you don’t have a vehicle, and a new friend offers to drive you to commit a crime, best to read up on domestic spy operations before wrapping yourself in Ninja gear.
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