Friday, April 04, 2008

Ed Brayton on the FBI and MLK

It was forty years ago today, that Martin Luther King was assassinated. Much has been and more will be written about the impact of Dr. King's legacy.

And we should remember MLK's contributions to society, but we must should also reflect on the unconscionable behavior of our Federal Government during that time.

Ed Brayton reminds us if this dark period in our history, and why we should remember it.

After King delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech in Washington in August 1963, the FBI began to focus enormous institutional attention on him. One FBI memo from just after that speech declared King the "most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country," while another called for a meeting of department heads to "explore how best to carry on our investigation [of King] to produce the desired results without embarrassment to the Bureau." Left unsaid is any legitimate reason why the FBI should be investigating King at all, a man clearly being surveilled solely because he advocated ideas the government didn't like.

One month after that famous speech, [Attorney General, Robert] Kennedy approved a request from Hoover to allow the FBI to break into King's home and place recording devices. There doesn't appear to be any concern at all for the legality of the operation; Kennedy's only concern was for the "delicacy of this particular matter" and he wanted to make sure that the agents didn't get caught planting the bugs. The chief law enforcement officer in the nation, sworn to uphold the constitution, had given permission to the FBI to flagrantly break the law and violate the constitution by bugging the home of a man who had broken no laws whatsoever, a man who had done nothing but engage in perfectly legal protest against laws that are universally viewed with disgust today.

Read the whole thing here.



Fannie said...

To the established ruling class, MLK was indeed the "most dangerous" man (of any race) in the country. We was opposed to the war, he wanted to lift up all of those living in poverty, and he sought equal rights. What is more threatening to the privileged ruling class than all of those things?

John said...

"What is more threatening to the privileged ruling class than all of those things?"

Indeed, just as in the struggle for LGBTI equality, the real issue is power.