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Lee Lew Lee on Richard Aoki

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I once heard Dick Gregory say...

"Thousand points of light? Shit. That's not power. Now when the Sun
rises in the morning and knocks darkness clear out the sky... Now...
That's Power!"

Richard Aoki has always been held in the highest esteem by everyone--and
I mean by every last comrade who knew him--and that should be good
enough for everyone.

For me, there are two ways to look at this allegation made by Seth

Either, Richard used his knowledge of the system to game the system and
fucked up an old and dead FBI agent who was trying to settle an old
final score from back in the day. (Maybe he was the ONE guy who
successfully double-crossed the agent?)?

Or it was an attempt to smear his name in the 60s that lay dormant as a
document time bomb, only to be misunderstood 44 years later.

Wes Swearingen, who was cited, is (I feel) a well-intentioned man of
conscience, whose honest testimony freed Geronimo Pratt.

From what I read in this flurry of accusations by the Rosenfeld, though,
Swearingen may have been merely analyzing the specific documents given
to him to see if the Bureau actually produced them. Period.

Frankly, if they had any specific context that is now long gone,
especially if the other agent mentioned in the story said he had not
seen Aoki since '65, and we are presuming this is many years later.

We must remember that people were 'bad jacketed' all the time back in
the day and these documents may have been from a result to do the same
back in say 1968-9.

Regarding his weapons, I have no clue... and think that is perhaps way
over blown. However, I do know that he was the one that brought the Red
Book into the Party, and no matter what one may feel about that, it
absolutely changed the course of the struggle. That is history, and
certainly led to many things, pro and con, that will be debated for many
years to come. Again, put this into historical context. Remember, this
was 1968. That was an early period in the BPP.

I say that because 20/20 hindsight can be a terrible thing when taken
completely out of context. I cannot personally accept anything said
about anyone "back in the day" unless it is verifiably documented. Not
hearsay from a man who was an enemy of the movement and is dead today.
People must remember to check the SOURCE.

Personally, I never heard anything bad from anyone in the party in the
day about the comrade and was shocked to hear these allegations. To my
point of view, if he was dirty, people would have been suspicious back
in the day, as we always said that 'actions are the criterion of truth'

Remember it WAS 43-44 years ago and the brother is not now here to speak
for himself or defend himself, so this is manifestly unfair... and I
imagine that this was written by someone who never was in the real
struggle back then.

We will all find out in the next life who was for real and who was a
fake... if you believe that this life was not by accident... then the
final judge(s) will be a lot more powerful than we are. That is for sure.

There was Field Marshal Aoki, my brother Guy Kurose in Seattle and
myself as the only 3 bona fide Asian members in the BPP, and we all came
out of the Asian American movement.

Bro. Richard, I only met once in the late 90s and I felt he was a fine
brother when I met him, and now he is gone. I did not even know that he
had passed until this came up yesterday.

Guy Kurose I first met in '69 and we were life long friends when he died
of cancer in 2002. Guy worked with the gang youth until his dying
breath. I will always be happy and honored to know him

I went blind with the tumor and aneurysm in 2003 and had my 2 corrective
brain surgeries on the first day of the Iraq war.

Guess I am the only one left of the 3 of us, and that is a very heavy
feeling, today. There were so many who gave their lives so that the most
basic things could be done for the human rights of all poor and
oppressed people nationwide.

We must always think about how to help the poor and oppressed and fight
prejudice, and the shit-stem of apartheid... no matter what our position
in life. That is our obligation.

Every society, so called civilization, is only as good as the condition
of it's poorest people and deepest attempts to eradicate poverty,
exploitation and massive suffering.

I am sure that Brother Richard Aoki demonstrably and sincerely dedicated
the vast majority of his life and his every living thought to achieve
the overcoming of racism, poverty and inequality, without giving up.

Those who fought and died in the 50s- 60s for US human rights were not
Gods and having been there does not make us Gods. Those who died were
usually motivated by love as the reason for risking their lives to fight
for the simplest things that today this entire nation takes for granted.

If we look at the balance of a person's life and it was lived totally
without duplicity, we must take that person for their word. I think
Richard was indeed, exactly who he claimed to be, who is exactly what
people back in the day of the struggle also knew him to be: a dedicated,
brilliant revolutionary.

If people were proven liars and grand standing opportunists 'back in the
day'... Then they would now be remembered as such by the survivors who
worked with them in the field back in the day.

That final judgement is certainly not the place of authors who were
never there in the 60s U.S. human rights struggle, never shed blood,
sweat nor hard bitter, excruciatingly painful tears for all the fallen
comrades, tears that often flowed yesterday... and we often try to
forget today.

August 21, 2012 Lee Lew-lee (Harlem Chapter of the Black Panther Party,
known in 1969 as Comrade Tsing), and director of the documentary film

Was Bay Area Radical, Black Panther Arms Supplier Richard Aoki an Informant for the FBI?

Break the Chains News -

Aug. 23, 2012 Democracy Now

Explosive new allegations have emerged that the man who gave the Black Panther Party some of its first firearms and weapons training was an undercover FBI informant in California. Richard Aoki, who died in 2009, was an early member of the Panthers and the only Asian American to have a formal position in the group. The claim that Aoki informed on his colleagues is based on statements made by a former bureau agent and an FBI report obtained by investigative journalist Seth Rosenfeld, author of the new book, "Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power." But Aoki’s friends and colleagues, as well as scholars, have challenged the book’s findings. We speak to Rosenfeld, an award-winning journalist and author of the article, "Man Who Armed Black Panthers was FBI Informant, Records Show," published by the Center for Investigative Reporting, and to Diana Fujino, Aoki’s biographer and a professor and chair of the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. [includes rush transcript]
Guests:Seth Rosenfeld, author of the new book, Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals,and Reagan’s Rise to Power. Rosenfeld was an award-winning a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle for almost 25 years.Diane Fujino, professor and chair of the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her most recent book is Samurai Among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life.

Where's the evidence Aoki was FBI informant?

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 Diane C. Fujino Wednesday, August 22, 2012 SF Gate.comSeth Rosenfeld's dramatic announcement that Richard Aoki was an FBI informant provoked an enormous response from Chronicle readers. Could it be true? Or was this a "snitch-jacketing," a classic FBI tactic used to cast suspicion on a legitimate activist by spreading rumors and manufacturing evidence?

As a scholar, I insist on seeing evidence before concluding any "truth." But as I read Rosenfeld's work and cross-checked sources from my biography on Aoki, I realized Rosenfeld had not met the burden of proof. He made definitive conclusions based on inconclusive evidence.

If Aoki was an informant, when was he informing? How did he help the FBI disrupt political movements? What were his motivations?

I also questioned Rosenfeld's motives. Rosenfeld's piece, published the day before the release of his own book, gained him widespread media and public attention that surely will augment sales.
Rosenfeld offers four pieces of evidence against Aoki.

First, Rosenfeld cites only one FBI document, a Nov. 16, 1967, report. It states: "A supplementary T symbol (SF T-2) was designated for" - but the name was deleted. Following the now-blank space was the name Richard Matsui Aoki in parenthesis, and then the phrase "for the limited purpose of describing his connections with the organization and characterizing [Aoki]."

In the FBI pages released to me, only brief background material on Aoki is linked to T-2. Moreover, T symbols are used to refer to informants or technical sources of information (microphones, wiretaps). So was Aoki the informer or the one being observed?

Second, FBI agent Burney Threadgill Jr. said he recruited Aoki in the late 1950s, but we have no substantial evidence other than Rosenfeld's reports, and Threadgill has since died.

Third, FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen's statement, as quoted by Rosenfeld, is hardly compelling: "Someone like Aoki is perfect to be in a Black Panther Party, because I understand he is Japanese. Hey, nobody is going to guess - he's in the Black Panther Party; nobody is going to guess that he might be an informant." But more logically, Aoki's racial difference made him stand out and aroused suspicion. Are we asked to simply trust authority figures?

Fourth, Aoki's remarks, as seen in the video, are open to multiple interpretations, and Aoki denies the allegation. Anyone familiar with Aoki knows that he spoke with wit, humor, allusion and caution. Where's the conclusive evidence?

FBI reports notoriously get things wrong, unintentionally (misinformation, typos) and intentionally ("snitch-jacketing"). The FBI in its Cointelpro program created false letters and cartoons to foment conflict between the Black Panthers and another black nationalist organization, resulting in the 1969 murders of two Panthers at UCLA.

I have an FBI report, dated July 30, 1971, 105-189989-38, stating that Aoki had been "invited to become Minister of Defense of the Red Guard" and served as "the liaison link between the Red Guard and the Black Panther Party." But this seems wrong, based on archival documents and my interviews with Aoki and Red Guard leader Alex Hing.

Simply put, because of the FBI's political motives, FBI reports must be carefully cross-checked with non-FBI sources. But the entirety of Rosenfeld's evidence relies on FBI sources.

I was surprised that Aoki became the centerpiece of the chapter in Rosenfeld's book on the 1969 Third World strike. While Aoki was an important activist, he was largely unknown. Aoki and others agree that the Third World strike promoted collective leadership. They believed, as did African American civil rights activist Ella Baker, that the charismatic leadership model encouraged hero worship, reinforced individualism and narcissism, and diminished ordinary people's belief in their own power to effect change. Rosenfeld elevates Aoki to "one of the Bay Area's most prominent radical activists of the era," a point that amplifies the drama of his own discovery.

Rosenfeld is particularly critical of activists' use of violence without placing this violence in a larger context. He implies that Aoki's guns, given to the Black Panther Party, triggered the police's, FBI's and government's backlash. Yet he ignores the police brutality that inspired the Black Panther's police patrols, and the violence of racism and poverty that inspired the Panther's free breakfast programs. Instead, Aoki used the symbolic power of violence to stop the greater violence of the government's failing to actively counter poverty and institutionalized racism at home and in imposing war in Vietnam.

In my book on Aoki, I write that instead of being the trigger, Aoki acted as the "safety on the gun." He was careful to teach gun safety. Neither the Panthers nor Aoki expected to win a military battle with the government. Firing the gun wasn't their intended goal. Instead, Aoki used the symbolic power of violence to stop the greater violence of the state.

So why did Rosenfeld magnify Aoki when his book focuses more on Mario Savio, Clark Kerr and the Free Speech Movement? What responsibility does an author have to provide evidence beyond reasonable doubt before broadcasting disparaging accusations? Rosenfeld's article, video and book raise many questions, but fail to meet the burden of proof.

Diane C. Fujino is a professor and chair of Asian American studies at UC Santa Barbara and author of "Samurai Among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life" (University of Minnesota Press, April 2012).
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/Where-s-the-evidence-Aoki-was-FBI-informant-3808396.php#ixzz25CARsfjM

8/31: Rumba Con Salsa/Salsa Benefit Concert

Break the Chains News -

The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign





6:30pm-7:30pm: Reception with Former Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Luis Rosa Perez
Videos and Slides (Campaign to free Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez
Rivera and of Tito Kayak's Kayaking Journey through the Carribbean for Oscar.
Presentation of Oscar's Book "Between Torture and Resistance"

Wine and Appetizers will be served!

7:45pm-8pm: Free Salsa Dance Lesson/Must purchase Concert Ticket to attend

Proceeds to cover expenses and donation towards translation of the Book "Between
Torture and Resistance" by Oscar Lopez Rivera

Statement Regarding Allegations that Richard Aoki Was An FBI Informant by Mike Cheng & Ben Wang

Break the Chains News -

Aug. 21, 2012 aokifilm.com

A recent article (published at CIROnline.org) and book (entitled Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise To Power), both authored by Seth Rosenfeld, contain a serious allegation that Richard Aoki acted as an FBI informant throughout his involvement in several revolutionary movements for social justice.  If these allegations are proven to be true, we do not condone these actions in any shape or form.  However, as the discourse and investigation of these claims commence, we feel it is important to remind people that the burden of proof must fall on those that make the accusation.  “No investigation, no right to judge” is a common Movement saying that bears repeating in these circumstances.  Accusing anyone of being an informant is extremely inflammatory and any allegations must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated for evidence.   For those familiar with the history of COINTELPRO and tactics employed by the FBI falsely hanging snitchjackets on prominent contributors to the Movement to create internal dissent and conflict, the burden of proof must lie with the individual or group making the claim.  After reviewing Rosenfeld’s article, video, and book, there is no solid evidence presented that Richard was a FBI informant.Rosenfeld’s conclusion that Richard was an FBI informant is based on the following:
  • He claims Richard made “suggestive statements” during an interview he granted Rosenfeld in 2007.  However, the audio Rosenfeld has provided of the interview reveals that Richard clearly denied any allegation that he was an FBI informant.
  • An interview with former FBI agent Burney Threadgill in which he claims he recruited and trained Richard to be an informant.  Threadgill passed away in 2005 and does not appear to have offered any additional proof beyond his own word, which contradicts Richard’s.
  • An FBI document that connects Richard with a supplementary T symbol (SF T-2). This document does not explain what this designation meant except for the unclear statement, “the limited purpose of describing his connections with the organization and characterizing him.” Furthermore, all names under the Informants column on the page with the SF T-2 designation have been redacted.  In fact, all names on this page have been redacted except for Richard’s, which calls for further information and clarification as to the actual identity of SF T-2.  Since the identify of SF T-2 is unknown, it is possible that the SF T-2 informant was assigned to inform on Richard, explaining why Richard’s name is listed on this document and why SF T-2 was “designated (assigned) for…Aoki.”  The FBI files released by Rosenfeld do not reveal any documentation that Aoki actually provided information to the FBI.
  • The testimony of former FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen that Richard fits the profile of an informant.  While Swearingen has been consistently outspoken and critical of the FBI’s counter surveillance tactics, he admits he does not have any actual connection to Richard.
Armed with no proof, it is unacceptable for Rosenfeld to discredit Richard’s integrity based on the unsubstantiated word of a deceased FBI agent and a document with redacted and vague information.  Many individuals and media outlets have immediately accepted the claims of an author who is aggressively promoting his book without properly examining the evidence for themselves.  Instead of automatically trusting questionable government sources and Rosenfeld’s sensationalist journalism, we must scrutinize what Rosenfeld states as fact.  We urge Richard’s former comrades, friends, associates, the 600 plus mourners who packed Wheeler Auditorium to attend his memorial service, and anyone concerned with government infiltration of social justice movements to get involved.  We must conduct our own research and publicly share our findings to determine the truth of the matter.  Characterized by many as a man of great principle, consistency, and integrity, Richard wouldn’t have it any other way.


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