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Tag: civil rights

J. Edgar Hover Ordered Bureau to Hide That Witnesses to Malcolm X’s Assassination Were FBI Informants

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover at his desk. Photo: FBI

By Steve Neavling

FBI informants witnessed Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination and were told not to reveal their work with the bureau when talking with police and prosecutors, according to a prosecutor. 

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance made the disclosure on Thursday when asking a judge to throw out the convictions of two of the three men convicted in the civil rights murder, The New York Times reports.

“We now have reports revealing that on orders from director J. Edgar Hoover himself, the F.B.I. ordered multiple witnesses not to tell police or prosecutors that they were in fact F.B.I. informants,” Vance said in court.

Based on the prosecutor’s motion to vacate the convictions, Judge Ellen Biben exonerated Muhammad A. Aziz, 83, and Khalil Islam, who died in 2009. Thomas Hagan, who also was convicted in the murder, confessed to the killing during his trial but was adamant that the two other men were not involved. His conviction stands. 

The only men who said they witnessed Aziz and Islam participate in the killing were FBI informants, Vance said. The bureau never revealed that information to the defense.  

A nearly two-year investigation by prosecutors and the Innocence Project found that FBI documents also showed that a description of the assassins did not match Aziz or Islam.

“In short, it is unknown whether the identification procedures used in this case were properly conducted,” the motion to vacate stated, ABC News reports.

In a letter to the bureau’s office in New York one year before the assassination, Hoover asked agents to “do something about Malcolm X,” according to previously disclosed documents. 

2 Men Found Guilty in Malcolm X Killing to Be Exonerated Because FBI, Police Withheld Evidence

Malcolm X. Photo: Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

Two of three men convicted in the 1965 killing of civil rights leader Malcolm X are expected to be exonerated after authorities said the FBI and police had withheld evidence in the case, The New York Times first reported.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said a 22-month investigation revealed that law enforcement withheld evidence in the trial of Muhammad A. Aziz, 83, and Khalil Islam, who died in 2009. Both men have maintained their innocence from the beginning. 

“This points to the truth that law enforcement over history has often failed to live up to its responsibilities,” Mr. Vance said. “These men did not get the justice that they deserved.”

Thomas Hagan, who also was convicted in the murder, confessed to the killing during his trial but was adamant that the two other men were not involved. His conviction stands. 

Malcolm X was delivering a speech when he was fatally shot at New York’s Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965. 

Senate Confirms Kristen Clarke As First Black Woman to Lead DOJ’s Civil Rights Division

Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney for the the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Photo: Twitter

By Steve Neavling

Kristen Clarke on Tuesday became the first Black woman to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, overcoming strong opposition from Republicans.

The Senate voted 51-48 to confirm Clarke, a longtime civil rights attorney and Justice Department veteran. Sen. Susan Collins was the lone Republican to vote for Clarke’s confirmation. 

As assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, Clarke will play a prominent role in cracking down on police brutality and enforcing voting rights laws and federal discrimination laws.

Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, received her law degree from Columbia University. She later prosecuted civil rights cases for the Justice Department before running the New York State Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau. In 2016, she became president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. 

Clarke often criticized President Trump’s administration for failing to enforce civil rights laws. 

Republicans opposed Clarke, saying she was too political and previously supported defunding the police.

Malcolm X’s Family Uncovers Letter Alleging FBI, NYPD Conspired in His Assassination

By Steve Neavling

The family of Malcolm X have made public a letter they say shows the New York Police Department and FBI conspired to assassinate the civil rights leader in 1965. 

The letter, written in January 2011 by Raymond A. Wood, a now-dead NYPD officer who was on duty when Malcom X was killed and said that he had “participated in actions in hindsight were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own black people,” The Washington Post reports.

In the letter, Woods states that his supervisors compelled him to coax two members of Malcolm X’s security team into committing crimes that led to their arrests just days before the shooting. As a result, the members of the security team were unable to provide security at a ballroom where Malcolm X had been killed. He says the arrest was part of a coordinated attempt between NYPD and the FBI to have Malcolm X killed, according to the letter. 

“Under the direction of my handlers, I was told to encourage leaders and members of the civil rights groups to commit felonious acts,” Wood’s letter stated.

Woods said the NYPD hired him to infiltrate civil rights groups “to find evidence of criminal activity so the F.B.I. could discredit and arrest its leader.”

After threatening to resign, Woods said his supervisor pledged to charge him with crimes he didn’t commit. 

The release of the letter coincides with the 56th anniversary of the assassination. 

Asked about the letter, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “I have not seen that letter.”

“If you want to provide it to us, I’m happy to have the right person look into it after the briefing.”

New Documentary MLK/FBI Explores Surveillance of Civil Rights Icon

MLK/FBI movie poster.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A new documentary explores the FBI’s relentless surveillance and harassment of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

The Sam Pollard documentary relies on recently declassified files, interviews and archival imagery of the civil rights movement.

“We felt it was important to really look at how King was looked at from the perspective of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, that they considered him a very dangerous man,” Pollard tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They were going at him by any means necessary to destroy him. At the same time, we wanted to convey King’s trajectory as we see the FBI is really digging into him, wiretapping, bugging his hotel rooms, and finding out that he was not a monogamous man.”

Pollard, who is known for editing Spike Lee films, said he sees a parallel between the civil rights movement a half century ago and the Black Lives Matter movement today.

The documentary will make its world premiere at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.

Justice Department Opens Investigation into Police Shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the police shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin on Sunday.

A Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back, leaving him partially paralyzed and sparking days of unrest.

The FBI will lead the investigation, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the DOJ said in a statement.

Blake, 29, was shot as he leaned into his car following an interaction with police at the scene. Police said they tried to use a Taser, but it was unsuccessful.

Police were called to the scene to investigate a reported domestic disturbance.

A knife was found in Blake’s car, but it’s unclear whether he was trying to reach for it when he was shot.

Wayne G. Davis, One of the FBI’s First Black Agents, Dies at Age 81

Wayne G. Davis

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Wayne G. Davis, a 25-year veteran of the FBI who served as special agent in charge of the Detroit, Indianapolis and Philadelphia field offices, died earlier this month.

Davis was 81.

Davis began his career with the bureau in 1963 after becoming one of the first African Americans to graduate from the FBI Academy. His first assignments were in Detroit, Newark and Washington, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

After leading the Indianapolis office for two years, Davis became the first Black person to serve as special agent in charge of the Detroit office in 1981.

In 1985, Davis was appointed to head the Philadelphia office.

“Wayne’s promotions to special agent in charge of the Detroit and Philadelphia offices made him one of the highest-ranking Black agents in a well-earned position of authority in the FBI,” Jerri Williams, who served as Davis’ media specialist in Philadelphia, wrote in a tribute. “Considering the times we are living in today, with tensions between the Black community and law enforcement, Wayne Davis’ life and career is something we can all celebrate.”

Davis was born in New York City, where he attended public school before earning a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Connecticut in 1960.

He is survived by his wife, Lois, and his daughters Adrienne and Cheryl, two grandchildren, and a brother.

Federal Officers in Unmarked Vans Are Seizing Protesters in Portland without Explanation

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal officers in camouflage and unmarked minivans are detaining protesters in Portland without the approval of local and state officials.

Videos posted on social media show federal officers grabbing protesters off the street without explanation and driving off with them in unmarked vehicles.

Since early July, officers with U.S. Marshals, Federal Protective Service, Customs and Border Protection, and Homeland Security Investigations have been in Portland, ostensibly to protect federal buildings.

But federal officers “are also detaining people on Portland streets who aren’t near federal property, nor is it clear that all of the people being arrested have engaged in criminal activity,” Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

Civil rights attorneys question the tactics, saying the federal officers appear to be violating protesters’ rights to due process.

“It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay,” attorney Juan Chavez, director of the civil rights project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, says, calling the arrests “terrifying.”

“You have laws regarding probable cause that can lead to arrests,” he says. “It sounds more like abduction. It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he was not happy with the presence of federal law enforcement.

“We’re aware that they’re here. We wish they weren’t,” Wheeler tweeted Thursday evening. “We haven’t been invited to meet with them, and if we were, we would decline.”

On Saturday night, a protester was seriously injured when a federal agent fired a crowd-control weapon at him outside the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was in Portland on Thursday and criticized the mayor and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.

“Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city,” Wolf said in a news release. “Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.”

Wolf released a list of property crimes involving federal buildings.

“This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law. DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them. Again, I reiterate the Department’s offer to assist local and state leaders to bring an end to the violence perpetuated by anarchists,” Wolf said.

Wheeler said the federal officers are escalating tensions by using “life-threatening tactics,” accusing President Trump and Wheeler of “weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence.”