Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mumia on COINTELPRO Activists and Other Ordinary Heroes

by HEIDI BOGHOSIAN and JOHANNA FERNANDEZ

Mumia Abu-Jamal was one of hundreds of journalists who received in the mail a packet of covertly-copied COINTELPRO documents. They were sent by eight activists who broke into FBI offices in Media, Pennsylvania in 1971—and whose identities just became known last week. On WBAI’s “Law and Disorder,” on January 13, Mumia told us that he wasn’t sure if he received the papers because he was a radio reporter at the time, or whether the activists saw his name as a Black Panther Party member targeted for surveillance. The papers detailed names and activities of individuals he knew well for years, living and working closely together in communal spaces, who were FBI informants.

Mumia calls the Media activists the “linear ancestors of Edward Snowden.” In our radio conversation, we marveled at the fearlessness of ordinary people, like the eight of the heist, who, moved by their consciences, knowingly broke the law in the 1960s and 1970s for the betterment of society.

We asked Mumia, “Who are your ordinary heroes?” He was quick to point out that when we talk about Martin Luther King and Huey P. Newton we must ask: would their names be known to us without the everyday activists who joined movements to push them forward?  “For Martin’s case it was church women for the most part. Think about the Baptist Church—probably 70% of its population are women, and black women, those nameless black mothers, and grandmothers, sisters, and daughters—they made that movement possible, so they’re my heroes.” He also mentioned women like Frankye Malika Adams from the Brooklyn Chapter and Sister Love from the Philadelphia Chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP) who came out at great personal expense and built the BPP from the ground up. “We remember the names of the brothers, but how many of us remember the work and the sacrifice of the Sisters who got it done, who made it possible?” he asked.

A decade after receiving the papers, Mumia went on trial in Philadelphia for the killing of police officer Daniel Faulkner. The trial was politically charged because of his 1960s membership in the BPP and because the crime involved the alleged killing of a white police officer by a black man. At the time of his arrest, Mumia’s muckraking radio journalism on police brutality and corruption in City Hall, and his sympathetic reporting on the radical MOVE organization made him an obvious target of the state. Declassified memos revealed that the Philadelphia police, in consultation with the FBI, had for many years tried to peg a crime on Abu-Jamal. During the sentencing phase of his trial, an article he wrote for the Party newspaper denouncing the COINTELPRO-orchestrated murder of his colleague Fred Hampton was read out of context and used by the prosecutor to argue premeditation. This, along with other prosecutorial misconduct, resulted in a sentence of death.

To listen to the full interview, click here.

Heidi Boghosian is executive director of the National Lawyers Guild and a co-host of Law and Disorder.

Johanna Fernandez is a professor of history at Baruch College and a co-coordinator of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home.

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Andrew Sullivan
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Richard W. Behan
Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]