What We Can Learn From the Files Themselves

Many people in the United States have a hard time understanding why so many political dissidents, labor organizers, immigrants, and activists in communities of color warn about government repression and the erosion of civil liberties. These are people who have good reason to worry--they are in groups that have been targeted repeatedly by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies for who they are, or what they believe, rather than anything they have done.

On these pages we are in the process of collecting stories of FBI abuses during the period of the illegal COINTELPRO operations (1956-1974). We do this to illustrate actual incidents targeting real people. Each story will be backed up with selected images of actual COINTELPRO documents.

We hope that this archival collection of COINTELPRO documents will assist in educating the public about the need to defend dissent and protect civil liberties for all. This collection is being unveiled to remind us that protests of government policies, such as those at the political conventions this summer in Denver and Minneapolis, are protected by the Bill of Rights, unless there are specific criminal acts for which specific individuals can be charged. Caging demonstrators, clearing streets with preventitive detention sweeps, and indiscriminate arrests violate the spirit and the letter of the Constitution of the United States.

Browse FBI COINTELPRO operations by state and city





See list of COINTELPRO documents in the archive of Political Research Associates - listed by program and then city or other location

Background Reading

Introduction to COINTELPRO by Noam Chomsky - Public Eye Magazine 1978

Overview of COINTELPRO by Mark Ryter - Public Eye Magazine 1978

The FBI and the Media

Hunt for Red Menace by Chip Berlet


Read the actual FBI COINTELPRO documents summarizing a campaign in Philadelphia in 1967 to target Black activists and "neutralize" dissent.

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A Joint Project with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (CLUM)

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