Description/Abstract of your Event:
In 1877, following the Haymarket Massacre the Chicago police formed a “red squad” to investigate radical political groups. This trend soon continued nationwide and in the early 20th Century the Justice Department even opened up a Radical Division--headed by J. Edgar Hoover. As the Radical Division eventually became the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the FBI made it a central part of their mission to surveil, disrupt, and neutralize “radical and subversive” groups. Following the mass movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the political police were put on the defensive. The FBI, as well as many local police departments, claimed to have been reformed and insisted they would no longer investigate free speech, but crime. Yet, as soon as these “reforms” were implemented, the FBI, along with local law enforcement, began using counterterrorism authorities to investigate peace groups, racial justice groups, and economic justice groups--in other words the same old targets. This panel will trace the history of the FBI, as the political police, as well as look at how in spite of claims of “reform” the FBI continues to carry on the same political investigations just using different powers. It will also examine recent cases of spying by the FBI and local law enforcement.