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The Persecution of Rakem Balogun Proves This Is Still J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI

The Bureau of Investigation was founded in 1908 by a man named Charles Joseph Bonaparte, the great nephew of Napoleon. It remained a relatively marginal slice of the US Department of Justice until an ambitious sociopath named J. Edgar Hoover rode a Red Scare panic to the top of the law enforcement food chain and used blackmail and illegal wiretapping to exponentially expand its size, scope and power under its new name, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Hoover ruled over America with an iron fist for nearly five decades as the head of the FBI. He bullied, blackmailed and crushed anyone who stood in between him and his insatiable drive to acquire more power, eventually forming the frequently Constitution-violating Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) in the 1950s.

COINTELPRO was used to infiltrate and undermine any activist groups Hoover personally disliked under the pretense of protecting the nation from violence, targeting everyone from feminist groups to antiwar activists.

Hoover, who once called Martin Luther King, Jr. “the most notorious liar in the country” and kept files on him in which he’d scribble hateful comments, reserved a particular disdain for black activist groups. A 1967 FBI document titled “Black Nationalist-Hate Groups” explicitly establishing a new counterintelligence program designed to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist, hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder.”

These aggressive campaigns against black activist groups, particularly those which supported the Second Amendment rights of black Americans, led to the FBI’s assassination of Black Panther Party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Crime scene evidence and FBI documents showed the killings which occurred during the predawn raid to have been premeditated, and in part motivated by the fact that Hampton had been running (of all things) a Black Panther Breakfast for Children program which FBI leadership wanted destroyed. A $1.85 million settlement was eventually paid out by the city of Chicago, Cook County and the federal government, but nobody from the Bureau ever went to prison for the premeditated assassination of dissident US citizens.

This is just one of many unforgivable evils that the FBI was guilty of inflicting upon the American people under Hoover’s rule. Others include the attempt to blackmail Martin Luther King, Jr. into committing suicide.

But after J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972, the FBI he’d built from the ground up and inflated to immense power and influence wasn’t scrapped. It wasn’t rolled back to the size it was before Hoover arrived. It remained exactly as it was, because the US power establishment had every intention of carrying on Hoover’s work.

And indeed, that is exactly what has happened. There is an abundance of evidence that these COINTELPRO tactics continue to this day, decades after COINTELPRO was ostensibly dissolved, and black rights activist groups are still to this day being surveilled, infiltrated and targeted by the FBI.

In October of last year, Foreign Policy obtained an FBI Intelligence Assessment titled “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers.” A few days later, a man named Rakem Balogun made a Youtube video giving his thoughts on this new “Black Identity Extremism” scaremongering.

“The United States, you know after September 11 they passed the Patriot Act and the Patriot Act allows the federal government to violate the privacy of anybody that might be a potential terrorist. With this ‘Black Identity Extremists,’ they will be able to label black empowerment groups as potential terrorists.”

“They are finding ways to criminalize you,” Balogun adds later in the video. “They are finding ways to demonize you. And they are finding ways to, most importantly, neutralize you. The future is going to be definitely interesting, how this is going to play out. We’ve seen it happen with the Panthers, we’ve seen it happen with Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, so we understand how far this system will go to push this agenda and to keep us subservient.”

Two months later, as he describes in a new interview with The Guardian, Rakem Balogun became the first American to be arrested and prosecuted as a “Black Identity Extremist.” It was a predawn raid. The FBI had been surveilling him for years.

They tried to get him to plead guilty (97% of federal convictions come via plea deal, not trial), but he refused, fought, and won. Balogun was held without bail for five months on a bogus firearm charge that the judge ended up throwing out. He lost his car, his home, his job, and the experience of his newborn daughter’s early infancy. Now free and trying to get his legs back underneath him after an ordeal he should never have been put through, Balogun has a GoFundMe that an organization he is affiliated with has confirmed is his.

Obviously a firearms offense wouldn’t make someone a “Black Identity Extremist,” even if it were true; that was just a charge the FBI threw at him while digging for reasons to charge him as a terrorist. Do you want to know what their reason was for prosecuting Balogun as a “Black Identity Extremist”? He had made some angry Facebook posts about police following the brutal deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. His entire arrest and prosecution arose from legally exercising the First and Second Amendment rights granted to him by the US Constitution.

At a time when the same Americans who claim to support the civil rights of minorities are championing US intelligence agencies and elevating former FBI Directors like Robert Mueller and James Comey to deified rock star celebrities, it is good to remember that the FBI has always been a depraved Orwellian institution that targets the nation’s most disempowered groups for oppression, and that J. Edgar Hoover’s legacy lives on uninterrupted. Robert Mueller and James Comey are no friends of the American people, and neither is the FBI.

To learn more about the FBI’s persecution of Rakem Balogun, check out his interview with The Guardian here and his video interview with BlackNews102 here.