Before Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning, or Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency whistleblowing, there was a break-in that set the stage for it all. A group of fed up anti-war activists headed for a FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania – and what they uncovered changed everything.
The group of eight people chose the FBI office in Media because the security was nonexistent. They cased the office and even infiltrated it undercover to gather intel. Their hope was to expose the terrible activities they knew the FBI was up to – and they did just that.
After breaking in and stealing files, they got away safe, not knowing what their impact would be – but what they gave to reporters changed the world.
They had uncovered J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO program, which was responsible for the monitoring, deaths, and torment of some of Black America’s most legendary freedom fighters.
The FBI turned police, telephone operators, activists, and more into informants. This break-in helped lead to a greater understanding of how widespread state violence and surveillance actually were – and still are.
COINTELPRO was just one of many things these activists uncovered. They were never caught – though they eventually came forward. They also showed that breaking the law can serve purposes in the fight against white supremacy. After all, the law has inflicted, and still does inflict, some of the worst harms Black America has ever known.