Late Black Panther Field Marshal & Weapons Expert Outed as FBI Informant

Richard Masato Aoki, who helped to arm and train the Black Panther Party was revealed to have been an informant for the FBI by the agent who recruited him, in a book released yesterday. Documents obtained by author Seth Rosenfeld as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit confirm that Aoki was part of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI’s COINTELPRO or Counter Intelligence Program. COINTELPRO was designed to disrupt and ultimately destroy radical, anti-war and civil rights movements. COINTELPRO methods involved the use of informants who would not only monitor and observe but also offer aid in the form of firearms, and explosives. They also spread rumors and gossip to divide and isolate targets. In some cases they even went so far as to poison or drug targets like Fred Hampton, who was drugged before being shot to death in his bed, by police.

Richard Aoki, who took his own life in 2009 following a bout of serious illness, was confronted with allegations that he had worked for the FBI. His response which was recorded seems a bit cagey and surprised. Aoki said that he thought or would say that it wasn’t true but then tempered that by saying that “people change. It is complex.” Former student activist and long-time close friend of Aoki’s Harvey Dong expressed shock at the revelation but did say that Aoki tended to “compartmentalize” his life. Upon his death he had neatly laid out both his Black Panther Party uniform and the U.S. Army one he wore before that.

Aoki was the only person of Asian decent to take a leadership role in the party. He along with his family and thousands of others of Japanese decent or origin were interned in concentration camps by the U.S. government during World War II. Former FBI agent Burney Threadgill Jr. said in a 2005 interview that he recruited Aoki out of high school in the late ’50’s to monitor communist organizations. He went onto say that “he was one of the best sources we had.” Aoki started informing on activities of the Communist Party, and went onto join and rise to leadership positions in a number of socialist organizations before becoming affiliated with the Black Panther Party.

In recent years both a feature-length documentary film, Aoki, and a 2012 biography, Samurai Among Panthers, have been released and portray Aoki as a legitimate and committed militant activist. It was Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seal who outlined Aoki’s pivotal role in providing arms for the party in his 1970 book Seize the Time:  “a Third World brother we knew, a Japanese radical cat. He had guns … .357 Magnums, 22’s, 9mm’s, what have you.”

This follows a pattern that stays true today. It is very often the person who offers to provide the firearms, explosives, expertise, or funds who is working for the police.

Unnamed Informants at the Source of West Coast Grand Jury Scare

Police believe that they have identified the individual on the right, thanks to tips from multiple informants, pictured in front of Nike Town on May first, 2012.

Recently released public documents are shedding light on the ongoing federal grand jury investigation that has been targeting anarchists from Washington State to Portland, Oregon. One of the targets of police investigators was supposedly identified “after two people who knew details about him called police on the May Day tip line,” according to the Seattle PI report on the documents. Allegedly those under investigation participated in the trashing of many corporate stores, banks and a federal courthouse in downtown Seattle on May Day. We expect that eventually the identities of these informants will be known, and they will receive the reception they deserve.

The National Lawyers Guild has offered support via their national hotline to those targeted as a result of grand jury investigations.

Portland Oregon Activists Vow Not to Talk to the Grand Jury!

[UPDATE: Since this post it has become clear that Leah-Lynn Plante cooperated with the grand jury. We are truly sorry to see things like this happen.]

We applaud Dennison Williams and Leah-Lynn Plante for their courage in refusing to talk to a grand jury investigating North-West anarchists. At least six individuals received subpoenas to the grand jury which is being held in Seattle. So far only Dennison and Leah are resisting publicly, but that doesn’t mean that the others are cooperating. Their courage, which could land them in jail for months has not gone unnoticed by those who support freedom.

  • Atlanta, GA – banner drop
  • Atlanta, GA – an attack on parking meters
  • NYC – a banner drop
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN – a solidarity demonstration
  • East St. Louis, IL – an attack on a courthouse
  • Oakland, CA – an attack on a police substation
  • Oakland, CA – an attack on 2 police vehicles and a police recruitment center
  • Kirkland, WA – an attack on a courthouse
  • San Francisco, CA – an attack on 9 police vehicles
  • Seattle, WA – a banner drop
  • Oakland, CA – a banner drop
  • San Francisco, CA – a banner drop
  • San Francisco Bay Area, CA – a beautiful statement of solidarity
  • East St. Louis, IL –  an attack on police vehicles
  • Bloomington, IN – a noise demonstration outside of a jail

More public support is expected to follow as there is a call-out for a week of solidarity during the days of August 24th to August 31st.