*U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., an Illinois Black Panther Party co-founder, is calling for the FBI to release the secret files related to the murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in 1969.
“It is high time that the American people know about the odious and inhumane legacy of [Former FBI Director] J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO operation and its assault on our nation’s civil liberties,” he wrote in a statement, as reported by Revolt. “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.”
According to the report, Rep. Rush also fired off a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to “release unclassified and unredacted versions of any files or papers in the possession of the U.S. Department of Justice or the FBI pertaining to this assassination.”
“We believe that it is past time that our country fully knows and understands its dark past, and the release and study of this information is an important step on this journey,” he added in the letter.
If it’s voted into law, the bill would “require the public disclosure of COINTELPRO records, establish a COINTELPRO Records Collection… and establish the COINTELPRO Records Review Board.”
The legislation also seeks to remove FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the Washington D.C. FBI headquarters building. Hoover was the mastermind behind COINTELPRO, which was a “series of covert and illegal projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic American political organizations.”
“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,” Rush wrote in his statement. “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. What was the justification for the impact that it had on their lives?”
Rush added that “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 removed.