50th anniversary of Media FBI burglary

7 Mar

Fifty years ago, activists raided the FBI office in Media, seizing thousands of documents on FBI spying and harassment of a wide range of activist movement. Now an official state historical marker marks the site where the citizens’ committee to investigate the FBI struck. As Inquirer columnist Will Bunch notes,

The suitcases of FBI files that the eight burglars, including the mastermind of the scheme, the late Haverford College professor William Davidon, made off with that night revealed stunning secrets about the lengths to which Hoover’s FBI not only spied upon, but sought to disrupt, legitimate dissent over the war as well as the movement for Black civil rights. The best-known discoveries exposed the existence of COINTELPRO, a massive, covert government operation to harass activists on the left, and efforts to surveil and harass the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., including the notorious 1964 letter in which a top FBI official sent MLK a tape of sexual liaison with an anonymous suggestion that he kill himself.

Could there be a better time to read Betty Medsger’s compelling book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret F.B.I.? We’re putting copies in our window to mark the occasion. It reads like a thriller, and it documents the criminality of an agency that continues to violate civil liberties to this day.

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