Film and Discussion
Saturday, June 18, 2011
The Brecht Forum, 451 West Street
(between Bank & Bethune Streets, Manhattan)
4 to 6 pm
We have tight time constraints, so we WILL be starting sharply on time!
Former Political Prisoners
Shaba Om, Laura Whitehorn, Francisco Torres
Beginning in the 1950s with a focus on the Puerto Rican independence movement and continuing through the 1960s and into the 1970s when much of its focus had shifted to the Black Liberation, Chicano Liberation and American Indian Movements, COINTELPRO racked up a number of assassinations, false imprisonments and ruined lives. No government official was ever punished for actions taken under the program’s auspices. The film by Freedom Archives details this history through the artful use of still photos and moving images of the period covered. Films of police attacks and protests; still photos of revolutionary leaders and police murders graphically remind the viewer of Washington’s willingness to do whatever it takes to maintain its control. Organizers who began their political activity during the time of Cointelpro discuss the effect the program had on them and the organizations and individuals they worked with. Indeed, several of the interviewees were themselves targets and spent years in prison (some under false accusations, as in the case of Geronimo ji-Jaga Pratt) or on the run.
Former Black Panther member Kathleen Cleaver states toward the end of the film that Cointelpro represented the efforts of a political police force making the decision as to what is allowed politically and what is not. Anything outside the parameters set by this force was fair game. Nothing that was done by government officials or private groups and individuals acting on the government’s behalf was perceived as wrong or illegal. As Attorney Bob Boyle makes clear in his final statement in the film, Cointelpro is alive and well. The only difference now is that most of what was illegal for the government to do during Cointelpro’s official existence is now legal. The PATRIOT Act and other laws associated with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security have insured this.
Cointelpro 101 is a well made and appealing primer on the history of the US police state. Produced, written and directed by individuals who have themselves been the target of tactics documented in the film, it has an authenticity and immediacy that pulls the viewer in. Although too short to cover the history in as full detail as some may desire, the film’s intelligence and conscientious presentation of the historical narrative makes it a film that the student, the citizen and the activist can all appreciate.
Light Refreshments will be Served!
NYC Jericho Movement, Malcolm X Commemoration Ctte, NYC Chapter of the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee, ProLibertad, NYC Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
For more information: www.jerichony.org • firstname.lastname@example.org • 718-325-4407