Third Prize: A Victory, a Loss, or a Draw?: Assessing the efficacy of the FBI’s COINTELPRO methods against the Black Panther Party in Chicago

Katelyn Stieva

Abstract


This article considers the ability of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to shape, limit, and control the behaviour of its intended targets. A single case study is used to understand how the Bureau implemented different counter-intelligence strategies in order to disrupt and discredit the activities of perceived “hostile” or “subversive” organizations. The organization selected for this study is the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, circa 1965-1973; this organization is analysed in concert with the methods of counter-intelligence and surveillance employed by the Bureau in in their Counter-intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). The results of this study suggest that while the Bureau was able to create an environment of fear and uncertainty surrounding the Black Panthers, thus resulting in some disruption of Panther activity, their ability to limit and control the behaviour of the Panthers was limited at best.  


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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.