Rep. Bobby Rush has introduced a bill that would uncover decades of classified government records. Rush's proposal demands that the U.S. Government unveil records pertaining to COINTELPRO and the surveillance of the Black Panther Party.
“COINTELPRO was spying on American citizens. Anyone who took a political position against the status quo, anyone who wanted to make America better was subject to being penalized, investigated — and in the case of my friend Fred Hampton, assassinated — by the official legal arm of the federal government," Rush stated.
Rush is not simply a lawmaker looking to hold the United States Government accountable for its past actions; he was a key member of the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout the 1960s, Rush worked with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and helped co-found the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. In these roles, Rush was constantly surveilled by members of law enforcement.
“As a victim of COINTELPRO, I want to know, with honesty, with clarity, and with no redactions, the full extent of the FBI’s nefarious operations. I want to know the breadth and depth of the conspiracy to assassinate Fred Hampton and how taxpayer dollars were spent on his assassination. I want to know why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a focus of the FBI, why Billie Holiday was a focus of the FBI — I want to know why so many young activists were harassed by the FBI," Rush explained.
Rush is not only seeking to have the government release files and records pertaining to its surveillance of civil rights leaders, but he is also looking to have J. Edgar Hoover's name from all FBI buildings. Hoover led the FBI during the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and other civil rights icons. Not to mention, COINTELPRO was launched under his guidance.
“It is high time that the American people know about the odious and inhumane legacy of J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO operation and its assault on our nation’s civil liberties. This exceptionally important legislation goes to the crux of power, law, and the pervasive counterintelligence program conducted against American citizens," Rush added.
“Finally, it is beyond time for J. Edgar Hoover, who has a clear legacy as the number one assailant on America’s constitutional guarantees for its citizens, to have his name is removed from the FBI headquarters."
Photo Credit: Getty Images