Jericho national demonstration to free US political prisoners, March 27, 1998, Washington, DC.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
In January 2007, Congressman John Conyers will become the new chair of the United States House of Representative Committee on the Judiciary. The House Committee on the Judiciary jurisdiction includes the following areas: (1) the judiciary and judicial proceedings, civil and criminal; (2) civil liberties; (3) claims against the United States; (4) national penitentiaries and (5) Revision and codification of the Statutes of the United States.
Herman Ferguson, on behalf of The Jericho Movement, has written a letter to Congressman Conyers requesting that he schedule hearings on "COINTELPRO: Its Legacy and Continuing Impact." A copy of Herman's letter is below. It is our hope that these hearings, if held, will not only further expose the FBI and local law enforcement crimes against the Black Liberation Movement and many of those involved it, but also result in legislation addressing some of these injustices.
Of particular concern to the Jericho Movement is the release and treatment of our political prisoners. Though the United States steadfastly denies it, presently there are many political prisoners in the United States, the majority of them Black/New Africans who were targets of the COINTELPRO "Black Nationalist Hate Groups" program. Many of these brothers and sisters have been incarcerated for decades.
For example, Jalil Abdul Muntaqim has been incarcerated since 1971; Sundiata Acoli and Herman Bell since 1973. It is critical that the human rights and constitutional violations surrounding their arrests, trials, sentencing, conditions of their confinement and continuing incarceration because of their political histories—all were members of the Black Panther Party—and continuing commitment to the liberation of Black/New Afrikan people be brought to the wider attention of the public. Sundiata Acoli, now 70 and with a near exemplary record, has twice been denied parole.
If nothing else, congressional hearings on "COINTELPRO: Its Legacy and Continuing Impact" would go along way towards achieving this result.
To this end, we are calling on all supporters of political
prisoners—defense committees; revolutionary nationalist, radical, and progressive organizations, elected officials, community, religious, spiritual leaders, etc.—to write, fax, or call Congressman Conyers to urge that schedule hearings on COINTELPRO. Congressman Conyers' address is as follows:
The Honorable John Conyers
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-0072 Fax
Your support of Jericho's call will help ensure that it becomes a reality. Forward, download, copy and distribute this letter and Jericho's call to as many people as possible. Please mail or email copies of your letters to Herman Ferguson at the following address:
National Jericho Movement
P.O. Box 340084
Jamaica, NY 11434
Thank you in advance for your support of this effort. Please also do not hesitate to contact Herman or us if you have any questions about this campaign.
Joan P. Gibbs, Esq. (718) 270-6296 OR 1-718-757-4093
Mani Gilyard, Chair, Malcolm X Commemoration Committee
December 7, 2006
The Honorable John Conyers
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Congressman Conyers:
Congratulations on your pending ascendancy to the chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary. We write to request that you schedule hearings on "COINTELPRO: Its Legacy and Continuing Impact." For more than a decade, many of us have been requesting hearings on COINTELPRO, and hopefully, legislation that begins to address some of the injustices committed against the Black movement and activists as result of COINTELPRO. We hope that one of your acts as the new chair of the Judiciary Committee will be to schedule these hearings.
As I am sure you are aware, COINTELPRO is an acronym for a series of FBI counterintelligence programs against, inter alia, the Communist party, and so-called "Black Nationalist Hate Groups." The August 1967 FBI memorandum announcing the Black Nationalist Hate Group program describes its goals as:
1. Prevent a coalition of militant black nationalist groups;
2. Prevent the rise of a messiah who could unify and electrify the militant nationalist movement;
3. Prevent violence on the part of the black nationalist groups;
4. Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability by discrediting them;
5. Prevent the long range growth of militant black nationalist organizations especially among youth.
The targets of the Black Nationalist Hate Group program included a wide array of Black organizations and individuals, among them the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Revolutionary Action Movement, the Republic of New Afrika, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Kwame Toure, formerly known as Stokely Carmichael, and countless others.
Though the Black Panther (BPP) was not among the original targets of the program, in September 1968, then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover labeled the BPP "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country." Thereafter the BPP became the primary focus of the program, and was ultimately the target of 233 of the believed total authorized "Black Nationalist" COINTELPRO actions.
As the Final Report of the 1976 Select Committee to Study Government Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activists states: "Although the claimed purpose of the Bureau's COINTELPRO tactics was to prevent violence, some of the FBI's tactics against the BPP were clearly intended to foster violence, and many others could reasonably have been expected to cause violence."
In its pursuit of the BPP, the FBI, often together with local law enforcement officials, knew no bounds. BPP members and supporters were not only spied on and harassed but, in blatant violation of the both the United States Constitution and International law, falsely accused of crimes that they had not committed. Many were wounded and murdered by police and FBI.
December 4, 2006, marked the thirty-eighth anniversary of the assassination of Fred Hampton, one of the leaders of the Chicago chapter of the BPP, by local Chicago police thanks to information from an FBI informant, while he slept in his bed. Hampton was shot twice in the head, once in the arm and shoulder; while three other people sleeping in the same bed escaped unharmed. Mark Clark, sleeping in a living room chair, was also murdered while asleep. Hampton's wife, who was eight months pregnant, was also shot but survived. Four Panthers sleeping in the apartment were also wounded, while one escaped injury. Fred Hampton was 21 years old when he was assassinated; Mark Clark was 17.
While the true impact of the COINTELPRO Black Nationalist Hate Group Program on the Black Liberation Movement will probably never be known because the FBI never recorded all of its activities, has destroyed many of its files, and many of the architects and participants are now deceased, it is crucial that the impact and continuing legacy of this program be investigated and remedies developed to repair the damage it has done. This is particularly true with respect to the many members of the Black Panther party, the Republic of New Afrika and other organizations who today languish in jail as a result of their having been targeted by the FBI and local law enforcement officials as part of the counterintelligence programs.
We urgently request that you schedule hearings on "COINTELPRO: Its Legacy and Continuing Impact" in the near future. Thank you in advance for your prompt attention this matter. We expect that you will give our request the serious attention that it deserves.
Co-Founder, The Jericho Movement
National Jericho Movement • P.O. Box 340084 • Jamaica, NY 11434