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Democrats Cite New COINTELPRO Movie in Push to Remove Hoover’s Name from FBI Headquarters

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C., named after J. Edgar Hoover.

By Steve Neavling

Democrats who are leading a push to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI headquarters building are citing a new film that explores the bureau’s former attempts to discredit civil rights activists under a subversive program known as COINTELPRO.

COINTELPRO, or Counter Intelligence Program, existed from 1965 to 1971 and subjected African Americans to illegal FBI surveillance.  

“You take a poll and I would bet 90% of the society has no clue what COINTELPRO was,” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn, who was among 23 co-sponsors of a bill to remove the longtime FBI director’s name, said, Yahoo News reports. “This is an ugly part of our past that is not well known.”

The film “Judas and the Black Messiah” depicts the stories of Fred Hampton, the charismatic leader of the Black Panther Party, and Bill O’Neal, the FBI informant who betrayed him. 

Cohen says he hopes the film will spur action on his longtime effort to remove Hoover’s name from the FBI headquarters. 

“That movie has gotten a grand reception, and it showed the interactions between the Chicago police and the FBI in the murder of Fred Hampton,” Cohen said. “That was part of COINTELPRO, J. Edgar Hoover’s organized effort to make sure there was not a Black leader who would rise up for civil rights and better conditions in the Black community.”


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