[News] The FBI’s War On Democracy - the new film COINTELPRO 101

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sun Sep 19 10:51:16 EDT 2010


The FBI's War On Democracy
--Claude Marks discusses the new film COINTELPRO 101

By Angola 3 News

Claude Marks, Director of <http://freedomarchives.org/>The Freedom 
Archives, talks to Angola 3 News about the highly anticipated new 
documentary film, entitled 
<http://freedomarchives.org/Cointelpro.html>COINTELPRO 101, which is 
premiering on October 10, at the Mission Cultural Center of Latino 
Arts in San Francisco.

According to its website, the Freedom Archives contains over 8000 
hours of audio and video tapes. These recordings date from the 
late-60s to the mid-90s and chronicle the progressive history of the 
Bay Area, the United States, and international solidarity movements. 
The collection includes weekly news/ poetry/ music programs broadcast 
on several educational radio stations; in-depth interviews and 
reports on social and cultural issues; diverse activist voices; 
original and recorded music, poetry, original sound collages; and an 
extensive La Raza collection.

Freedom Archives has released other audio and video documentaries, 
including the recent video about the <http://www.freethesf8.org/>San 
Francisco Eight, entitled "Legacy of Torture." 
<http://freedomarchives.org/BPP/torture.html>Legacy of Torture can be 
viewed online, as well as the previous films 
<http://freedomarchives.org/3PP.html>Voices of Three Political 
Prisoners (featuring Nuh Washington, Jalil Muntaqim and David 
Gilbert), <http://freedomarchives.org/Charisse.html>Charisse Shumate: 
Fighting for Our Lives, and 
<http://freedomarchives.org/Mabel_Williams.html>Self Respect, Self 
Defense & Self Determination (featuring Mabel Williams and Kathleen 
Cleaver, introduced by Angela Davis).

Angola 3 News:         What can you tell us about your upcoming film 

Claude Marks:          We've been aware of the need to talk more 
about COINTELPRO since we made The Legacy of Torture, the video about 
the government torture of the Panthers in New Orleans in 1973 which 
later became the unjust basis for the San Francisco 8 Case.  In 
travelling with that film and organizing for the dropping of charges, 
we referred to COINTELPRO but often were talking to younger people in 
particular, who had not heard the term and had no historical frame of 
reference for that period of intense repression.

So we undertook to make this new film, knowing that no government 
agent or agency has ever been held accountable for the assassinations 
of leaders, the destruction of organizations, the imprisonment and 
political targeting of so many people - people who still remain 
prisoners of the wars against movements for liberation and 
self-determination within the US borders.

COINTELPRO 101 is not the first or only film on the subject, although 
there have not been many, but we hope it can help reinvigorate some 
organizing work, and reopen some thinking about the violence directed 
against progressive movements, this hidden history, and nature of the 
state and its agencies of repression.

A3N:   How was the film showing and related workshop at the US Social 
Forum received by the audience?

CM:    This was a good opportunity to infuse the very broad 
conversations at the Social Forum with a self-conscious discussion 
about the nature and continuity of government repression. From the 
European invasion & Middle Passage forward, we have always seen 
genocide. Prisons, COINTELPRO, Abu Ghraib - all represent the 
continuity of what any movements to change power relations are and 
will be up against.

A3N:   Your website states that the film's intended audiences are the 
generations that did not experience the social justice movements of 
the sixties and seventies. Given that COINTELPRO officially ended in 
the early 1970s, why is this story so important for the younger 
generation to know about?

CM:    Well, the mission of the Freedom Archives is to help educate 
people, and especially the rising new generations, as to the true 
nature of recent radical history.  The high point of struggle 
represented by the loosely used term 'the sixties' and the violent 
repression against it, contains essential lessons for every young 
person seeking a more just society. More generally, people should not 
be misled by the myth of democracy, the idea that the system can be 
made to work for us or that those in power will somehow reach a moral 
epiphany and give up anything of consequence without a fight.

We see this myth exposed today in many ways - mass imprisonment, the 
tearing up of families and communities - driven by racism - the 
criminalization of dissent so any act of resistance becomes by their 
definition an act of "terrorism."

This is a continuum that is unleashed upon the world's peoples as 
well as internally. Black, Brown, and Indigenous people are targeted. 
Muslims and South Asians are targeted. Women and queer folks are 
targeted. Prisoners are subjected to the worst inhumanities, and if 
they are ever released, what do they have they to look forward to?

The U.S. has by far the largest incarceration rate in the world - as 
they build more prisons, the schools deteriorate and the public 
education system lies in racist tatters.

A3N:   How do you think the US government's repression of the Left 
today differs from the COINTELPRO era?

CM:    In the 1970s, the public and some officials, faced with the 
exposure of the illegal acts of government and police agencies 
against dissent, feigned concerns about the loss of civil liberties, 
held hearings, and alleged that reforms would take place. But today, 
the acts of the FBI, police, and other agencies, once illegal, are 
now legitimate, legal - via the Patriot Act and other 
unconstitutional measures, all in the name of homeland security and 
defending the nation against "terrorism."

The playing field has changed. The government now openly conducts 
assassinations anywhere in the world, can declare people to be "enemy 
combatants" and imprison them indefinitely without charges; drone 
warfare permits mass civilian murders by so-called military experts 
thousands of miles away without risking US military casualties - it's 
a 'game' except to the thousands of victims.

Today the government claims the right to breach international human 
rights laws and conventions with no accountability. And the corporate 
media is so integrated into this strategy, that there is little room 
for 'legitimate' opposition to get a hearing. So it becomes incumbent 
upon us to organize and message independently and with few resources.

COINTELPRO 101 is made with mainly love and fumes, but we hope that 
it will be a useful tool to engage in dialogue and to help organize 
movements that challenge the mythology that dissent is a guaranteed 
right, that seek the release of political prisoners, that counter the 
miseducation of our youth with an understanding of the past so they 
can better shape the future.

A3N:   Knowing what we do about this repression in the past and 
present, how can activists today best defend ourselves? How should 
our organizing strategies be modified?

CM:    We must organize to show our outrage with more consistency and 
despite risks. There is an urgency to demand more of one another as 
well. Challenging the state is serious and will not succeed as a 
result of stroking egos or the pronouncements of self-declared 
leaders. It is hard work and requires a deep commitment and a passion 
for serving the people and rebuilding our communities. Our capacity 
must grow in realistic ways as there are no shortcuts, and the path 
includes defeats and sacrifice. This is one of the things that our 
political prisoners and the many martyrs can teach us.

A3N:   For our readers not close enough to San Francisco for the 
October 10 premiere, how will folks be able to watch the new film?

CM:    The film will begin to show in communities and on campuses 
this fall and winter. People can reach us to make arrangements. At 
some point we will also manufacture DVDs. We hope to have it 
available with subtitles in other languages as well. Also check the 
website as we have resources about COINTELPRO posted and will also 
add a teaching curriculum to accompany the film.

A3N:   How can folks best support your efforts?

CM:    We are very much a grassroots organization. We have no 
corporate or government funding. We are one voice among many, but we 
encourage people to support the work of independent media, including 
ourselves.  We welcome your questions and comments and greatly 
appreciate your support.

Also please use the audio and video documentaries that we've produced 
as educational materials and organizing tools. The actual Freedom 
Archives is searchable on line and is intended to preserve radical 
history and culture. So check us out!

A3N:   Any closing thoughts?

CM:    Years ago, as the movements grew and we worked in various 
political and media organizations, we were fond of quoting part of an 
1857 speech by Frederick Douglass, often using Ossie Davis's dramatic 
rendition of his famous words.  They sum up a lesson that is central 
to what I am saying, and is at the heart of COINTELPRO 101. Many of 
your readers are probably familiar with it, but its essence bears repeating:

"The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all 
concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest 
struggle. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who 
profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation - want crops 
without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and 
lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many 
waters. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it 
never will."

--Angola 3 News is a new project of the International Coalition to 
Free the Angola 3. Our website is 
<http://www.angola3news.com/>www.angola3news.com where we provide the 
latest news about the Angola 3. We are also creating our own media 
projects, which spotlight the issues central to the story of the 
Angola 3, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary 
confinement as torture, and more.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20100919/e25126bd/attachment.html>

More information about the News mailing list