Coretta Scott King wanted secrets about her husband’s death exposed

4/6/2018, 12:17 p.m.
Efforts must be increased to break down the wall of secrecy surrounding the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

• Don Wilson, an FBI agent working in the Atlanta Bureau. He said that in searching Mr. Ray’s car several days after the assassination, he found pieces of a handwritten note with the name “Raul” on it, the same name of the man who had handed Mr. Jowers the rifle for safe-keeping after the assassination. Mr. Wilson, who is presently retired, also told me how the agents laughed and joked about the murder of Dr. King.

The assassination of Dr. King raises serious question about FBI involvement. After Dr. King questioned the FBI’s sincerity in investigating the murder of civil rights activists, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in a November 1965 press conference shot back with a war of words, condemning Dr. King as “the most notorious liar in the country,” as well as a communist.

Dr. King quickly became a target of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program, that had the stated mission to surveil, infiltrate, discredit and disrupt domestic groups that the FBI deemed subversive. This was the same high-profile FBI program that led to the dismantling and murder of several members of the Black Panthers.

One well-reported incident of COINTELPRO was a suicide letter and an audio tape the FBI secretly sent to the home of Dr. King on Nov. 3, 1964, shortly before he was to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. It accused him of committing indecent sexual acts and suggested that the only way Dr. King could save himself from national disgrace was to commit suicide. Mrs. King played the tape and said she heard people telling dirty jokes, but there was no reference to her husband.

A 1977 court order resulted in the King papers being sealed for 50 years. And despite several inquiries from various groups, the King files reportedly numbering about 700,000 pages are not scheduled to be opened until 2027. The sealing only increases fears that many pertinent records will be destroyed before that date, leaving many questions unanswered.

Old fears are being rekindled as several reports suggest that the FBI’s COINTELPRO is being reincarnated to monitor, surveil and contain so-called “black identity extremists.” This information using that label was obtained by Foreign Policy Magazine from an unofficial FBI report.

The document, according to the magazine, warns that “black identity extremists” pose a growing threat to law enforcement and that police attacks on African-Americans could spur “premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence” against the police. The August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., was the catalyst for widespread violence, the FBI report states, concluding that continued “alleged” police abuses have fueled more violence.

While the report didn’t specifically mention Black Lives Matter, it is difficult not to connect the dots. There are several Black Lives Matter activists who report being put under surveillance, which sounds like the tactics of CONINTELPRO created to neutralize the activities of black activists.

Mrs. King called for all files to be opened to finally lay out all the “facts pertinent to the truth of who killed my beloved Martin.” So far, her wish has been denied.

And like in so many denials, history could well be on the way to being repeated.