Prisoners Of Conscience Committee

Prisoners Of Conscience Committee
The Prisoners of Conscience Committee Founded by Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. during the nine years he spent in prison in the 1990's.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chuck D. Calls Out Jay-Z and Kanye West During Economic Hardship

"The Bushs', Buffetts', Braufmans', Rockefellers, and the rest of the ruling class will breed Boule and other bastard children of capitalism.   In order to force feed the American dream down the throats of its countless numbers of starving victims throughout its respective ghettos, fevalas, and barrios." -Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. (POCC/BPPC)

  • Hq Trak The game is to be sold not told a pimp chuuch!!!

  • Hq Trak lol

  • Hq Trak Who knows how to make money let's find that group of people and let's use our minds and make more

  • Hq Trak If we knew better we would all do better simple as that

  • Hq Trak knowledge is power but knowledge with out know how is a bunch of talking shit
  • TherealChairman Fred Jr ‎"Let us express the same sentiments for the Gringo and the negroe ,Sam and  Sambo, the colonialist and the neo colonialist,the Pimp and the madam."-Chairman Fred Jr.
    • TherealChairman Fred Jr At a certain stage hope can become a form of dope.-Chairman Fred H.A.M.pton Jr. (POCC/BPPC)

    • SuperNat Turner I guess your right

    • Hq Trak Fuck what another nigga do wit his money how can u make a Billion

    • Hq Trak You grocery shop u get food for u and your fam u don't consider the homless people

    • TherealChairman Fred Jr A better question, what must one do or what crimes must be commited in order to get a billion in this system? What would you do for a klondike bar?-Chairman Fred Jr.


Chuck D. Calls Out Jay-Z and Kanye West During Economic Hardship 

Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University sat down with Chuck D at a Measuring the Movement forum. He said that “Chuck D In a spin-off to the new song “Otis,” he engages in a lyrical assault like no other, highlighting the fact that it’s not cool for West and Jay-Z to brag about how much money they waste.”
Funk Flex

I met the rapper Chuck D at the Measuring the Movement forum, hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton. I sat next to Chuck for a good 30 minutes during the panel discussion and got to appreciate his humility and intelligence as it pertains to the plight of black people. What I also noticed was that Chuck stands a far cry away from his peers regarding whether or not they give a damn about the people who are buying their albums.
In a spin-off to the new song, “Otis,” written by Kanye West and Jay-Z, Chuck engages in a lyrical assault like no other, highlighting the fact that it’s not cool for West and Jay-Z to brag about how much money they waste when African Americans are in the middle of one of the most devastating periods in economic history. With 16 percent unemployment and the near complete decimation of black wealth, Chuck speaks directly to the public backlash toward artists who remain ignorant enough to believe that rapping about private jets and half-million dollar cars is preferable to discussing our collective plight. In fact, I’ll never forget when the artist Diddy gave his 16-year old son a half-million dollar car, and then turned around and gave a mere $10,000 to the entire country of Haiti.
Chuck also speaks on the prison industrial complex, which is something that neither Kanye nor Jay-Z seems to have noticed. I met another (nameless) artist who works with West on a regular basis. I asked him if Kanye is in tune with the social issues that plague the black community. To my disappointment, the artist simply said, “Kanye’s on some other sh*t.” I would hate to believe that the man who had the courage to speak up on behalf of the victims of Hurricane Katrina has turned himself into just another highly talented corporate monkey.
Hip-hop obviously needs to turn the corner. Using the guidance and inspiration from empowered and progressive artists like Chuck D, one would hope that the creative fire of hip-hop music can be harnessed for progressive change. The time is ripe for a major political movement: Economic times are worse than they’ve been in decades, the Internet allows people to come together like never before, and the disapproval rating of political leaders in Washington is at an all-time low. Chuck is onto something, and I hope that his speaking up against “The Throne” (Jay-Z and Kanye’s latest exercise in self-absorption) is the first of many steps toward giving our community the vision that it needs to create a better life.
Real hope and change lies in the streets, not on Capital Hill and not at Def Jam Records. All of us have to speak up, stand up and make our world into what it needs to be.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh, Rahmfather, where have you gone?

Oh, Rahmfather, where have you gone?For the G-8 and NATO summits in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants sweeping contract powers, with little if any legislative oversight.

December 18, 2011|John Kass
As Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel begins to ruthlessly amass new powers under the pretext that he needs more control to host the NATO and G-8 summits in May, I long for a simpler time.
A simpler time when I called him by an affectionate endearment.
"The Rahmfather."
Ah, yes, Rahmfather. It seems so quaint now. And by next spring, with Rahm's imperial powers growing, things might be so different, so loud, that we may wish for the quiet times of yore.
Because by May, with throngs of reporters in town covering throngs of protesters, we'll have made-for-TV shrieking, and Porta-Potties toppled, and the Chicago police sent forth to preserve order.
The mayor will have sweeping contract powers to take care of this one and that one because he feels like it, with little if any legislative oversight. And that befits a political system where "democracy" is largely symbolic, as it was in Albania for most of the last century.
So we'll have heads of state gathering in Chicago to nibble hors d'oeuvres with Rahm's business friends, and they'll make contacts and deals and more business. Taxpayers will pick up much of the cost. The suits will praise President Barack Obama's Chicago. And if history is our guide, then young protesters will be dragged away, their heads bouncing along the curbs.
Someone might remember that nobody wanted the summits except Rahm and his political friends. But the stubborn rememberers will be shouted down as selfish beasts who don't care about Chicago's future.
So I long for the uncomplicated days, picturing Rahm running the city, paternally, behind a large mahogany desk, in a mahogany-paneled room, perhaps with red plush seats and a gleaming table smelling faintly of lemon polish.
And two crystal bowls on the table, one of walnuts waiting to be cracked, the other of fresh fruit. And a line of guys eager to kiss Rahm's ring.
"Please, Rahmfather, may I please keep my bodyguards and just one Lincoln Town Car, maybe two?"
Or, "Thank you, Rahmfather, for erasing the 36th Ward, we didn't need those people anyway."
That was the courtly Rahm. The benevolent padrone. The cool Rahm. The guy who seemed to understand Chicago, or at least the 5th Congressional District, where the patronage armies came to elect him to Congress back in the day.
But there seems to be a new, imperial Rahm on the horizon:
Emperor Rahmulus.
Rahmulus wants more power over police, so that his police chief may immediately deputize members of other law enforcement agencies should Rahmulus decree. This means he might be able to deputize the Melrose Park cops — perhaps even the Melrose Park Fire Department — if he feels the need.
And he wants more control over contracts, transforming the already-neutered Chicago City Council from eunuchs to ghosts.
"I'm doing what is appropriate for a unique event with a unique attention to the city," Emanuel told reporters last week. "We'll do it to make sure we have an orderly process. This is not a big deal. This is a one-time event. … This is temporary and this is just for this conference."
Oh, sure. It's just temporary. The last guy who said new powers were only temporary was Emperor Palpatine from the "Star Wars" saga.
You may remember Palpatine as the leather-faced geezer with eyes of pure evil and that cool Grim Reaper robe, played with much icy cheeze by the actor Ian McDiarmid. But before the evil-eye phase, Palpatine was a smooth-cheeked head of state who asked for temporary powers to do what must be done.
Secretly, he encouraged the rebels, then used his new powers to forcefully squash the rebellion. When he was finished, he was the undisputed master of all he surveyed, given to insults like:
"Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand. Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side! You have paid the price for your lack of vision!"
In recent days, Emanuel has not opted to wear the dark robe. But what worries me is that if he keeps ordering up more powers for himself, he'll soon be wearing some kind of "Prisoner of Zenda" costume with much braid and a cape.
At a news conference the other day, Rahmulus told reporters that he was forced to "move with speed" in grabbing the powers because time is running out. He stood before them, good posture, voice level, gesturing, hands up, palms facing the floor, first left, then right, as if he were setting limits to his ambition.
"We have actually done a proper thing," Emanuel said. "We protect people's First Amendment rights, and also enforce the law. Which are both our responsibilities and both will be done accordingly. And so what we've done, for the G-8 and NATO, which is a one-time event, is to give the ability of the city, to host it."
There were too many imperial "we's" in that for me. And so I longed for the pre-Imperial Rahm, the guy I once knew, my Rahmfather, who once explained the real reason Chicago has to suffer through all the summitry.
"It's the president's hometown," Emanuel said, "and he's going to show the world his hometown."
Whether we like it or not.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Comments On Slave Z

Written by King Me , December 05, 2011
Comparing this to Rick Ross/BMF is more disrespectful than a former and unrepentant dope dealer referring to Fred Hampton and himself in the same line. These situations are nothing alike. Fred Hampton's assassination was a sacrifice to us all. We live way too comfy to think that any of us, no matter whether we are conservative or liberal, that he didn't die for us. Although few young ppl take the time to know his story, he is more important that Jay Z. His life and death rocked the world. Generated dialogue. Birthed activists. Put the spotlight on police brutality and government corruption. Jay could sell a trillion records and his life's accomplishments would be nothing in comparison - in part because he has and always will be a shallow son of a bitch, who sold dope, and then laundered dope money through hip-hop, then rapped about dope, then pretended it was all noble and necessary. If Fred Hampton was alive he'd slap the shit out of Jay. And guess what? Jr won't say it - but I guarantee you, he's slap the shit out of Jay too. And that former dope dealer that now keeps company with some of New York's worst capitalist monsters wouldn't do a gotdamn thing - 'cept call those cops. Illuminati uncle tom crack dealing punk.

Slave z
Written by bleu , December 06, 2011
If that is jay-z's way of acknowledging a real black leader, it was kinda done in poor taste. Honestly, the line is not a shot out to Mr. Hampton, i took it more as him talking about how great he is (as he normally does). Jay Z lives in a fake world, were he pops cristal(oops ace of spades) all day, and drive bentleys, and viewing other brothers as there enemies (or haters as he says). Mr Hampton lived in a very real world were black people were fighting just to be considered equal. Jay wants to be loved by white people(even more that blacks), Mr Hampton was fighting for a better life for black people and to bring black people together. So really, whatever comparison Jay Z was making, they are uncomparable. Jay Z in the mordern day house nigga. He stands for nothin.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fred Hampton Jr. Slams Jay-Z Over "Murder to Excellence" Lyrics (Open In New Window Here)

Fred Hampton Jr. Slams Jay-Z Over "Murder to Excellence" Lyrics

The son of the slain Black Panther leader is not a fan of Jay's reference to his father's death.

Posted: 12/06/2011 11:09 AM EST
Fred Hampton Jr. Slams Jay-Z BET Music Photos
Fred Hampton Jr., son of slain Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton, has a few choice words for Jay-Z. The political martyr's offspring has taken issue with Jay invoking his father's name on the Watch the Throne song "Murder to Excellence."

"I arrived on the day Fred Hampton died / Real n***as just multiply," he intones on the track, referencing his birth on December 4, 1969 — the same day Hampton was gunned down in his bedroom in a raid by Chicago police and the FBI.

At a screening of the new film The Black Power Mixtape: 1967–1975 at the University of Chicago, Hampton Jr. objected to Jay-Z's characterization of his father's death, which he took as a slight against history, according to the Ruby Hornet.

"Fred Hampton didn't die, he was assassinated," Hampton Jr. said. "Saying Fred Hampton died is like the school teacher telling students that Christopher Columbus discovered America."

Hampton Jr. then went on to refer to Jay-Z as "Slave-Z," reportedly inciting both scattered applause and shocked silence at the screening.

The rapper has yet to comment on the matter. Hampton Jr., 41, was born four weeks after his father's murder. is your #1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Heat Turns More Than Meat Black

It is interesting to say the least how quick cats can identify with Black people and our respective terms when the heat is on. In fact I've struggled with forces before when assessing the Black Power Movement of the 60's.  In which I've positioned that it shouldn't be romantically assessed or dealing with absolutes. With such blanket analysis' as that everyone came together with a collective consciousness in unisons or something of the sort. In fact, the reality is that people come to certain points in struggle through inspiration,aspiration,or desperation. James Brown had a whole totally different song planned prior to being INFLUENCED by the likes of then known H. Rap Brown (Imam Jamil Al-Amin) and other representatives of the Black Power movement of the 1960's. In which James Brown came out of the studio clamoring I'm Black and I'm Proud!. For there was a climate that did not permit for him to pull the stunt he pulled later down the road. As in the Rocky movie,wearing red,white,and blue drawers dancing to" living in America". Initially Michael Jackson said that it doesn't make a difference if you're Black or White.Then when the legal troubles hit, the tune switched to "They don't care about us".Actress Vanessa Williams when winning the Miss America pageant stated that race doesn't matter. Then when confronted with the "colorful" photos. She suddenly became a Sistah.  Sean "Puff Ball" Combs initially positioned that it's "All About The Benjamins". Then when the case in which he and Jennifer "J-Lo"Lopez came from up under. And the artist Shyne "strangely" was sent up state for. Sean Combs sang amongst other thangs that he now wants to do his interviews on BET,The Final Call,....LA Lakers State Spade Kobe Bryant quoted Dr.King ,when?.In some of the latest examples  of  heat heightening consciousness. In response to the NBA Lockout, Ron Artest and other Roman/American Gladiators are suddenly able to identify an Imperialist provided icon,Michael Jordan as a sellout. This sudden observation was not in response to this African-American Athlete coming into the coliseum on the west side of Chicago, Il.. Past the impoverished countless number of colonized youth who have been willing or victims of sending /being sent to the grave. In order to don shoes with the Jordan name. In which he hadn't given a second thought to. This sudden identification of such a caustic classification as a sellout came when he was viewed as crossing out his fellow colored ballplayers. Heat turns more than meat Black!. -Chairman Fred Jr. POCC/BPPC

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photographer Ernest Withers doubled as FBI informant to spy on civil rights movement

Photographer Ernest Withers doubled as FBI informant to spy on civil rights movement

By Marc Perrusquia
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Follow the in-text links in the story to original source documents obtained from the FBI and annotated by The Commercial Appeal.

At the top of the stairs he saw the blood, a large pool of it, splashed across the balcony like a grisly, abstract painting. Instinctively, Ernest Withers raised his camera. This wasn't just a murder. This was history.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood here a few hours earlier chatting with aides when a sniper squeezed off a shot from a hunting rifle.

Now, as night set over Memphis, Withers was on the story.

Slipping past a police barricade, the enterprising Beale Street newsman made his way to room 306 at the Lorraine Motel - King's room - and walked in. Ralph Abernathy and the others hardly blinked. After all, this was Ernest C. Withers. He'd marched with King, and sat in on some of the movement's sensitive strategy meetings.

A veteran freelancer for America's black press, Withers was known as "the original civil rights photographer," an insider who'd covered it all, from the Emmett Till murder that jump-started the movement in 1955 to the Little Rock school crisis, the integration of Ole Miss and, now, the 1968 sanitation strike that brought King to Memphis and his death.
As other journalists languished in the Lorraine courtyard, Withers' camera captured the scene:
Bernard Lee, tie undone, looking weary yet fiery.
Andrew Young raising his palm to keep order.
Ben Hooks and Harold Middlebrook gazing pensively as King's briefcase sits nearby, opened, as if awaiting his return.
The grief-stricken aides photographed by Withers on April 4, 1968, had no clue, but the man they invited in that night was an FBI informant - evidence of how far the agency went to spy on private citizens in Memphis during one of the nation's most volatile periods.
Withers shadowed King the day before his murder, snapping photos and telling agents about a meeting the civil rights leader had with suspected black militants.
He later divulged details gleaned at King's funeral in Atlanta, reporting that two Southern Christian Leadership Conference staffers blamed for an earlier Beale Street riot planned to return to Memphis "to resume . support of sanitation strike'' - to stir up more trouble, as the FBI saw it.
The April 10, 1968, report, which identifies Withers only by his confidential informant number - ME 338-R - is among numerous reports reviewed by The Commercial Appeal that reveal a covert, previously unknown side of the beloved photographer who died in 2007 at age 85.

Those reports portray Withers as a prolific informant who, from at least 1968 until 1970, passed on tips and photographs detailing an insider's view of politics, business and everyday life in Memphis' black community.

As a foot soldier in J. Edgar Hoover's domestic intelligence program, Withers helped the FBI gain a front-row seat to the civil rights and anti-war movements in Memphis.
Much of his undercover work helped the FBI break up the Invaders, a Black Panther-styled militant group that became popular in disaffected black Memphis in the late 1960s and was feared by city leaders.

Yet, Withers focused on mainstream Memphians as well.
Personal and professional details of Church of God in Christ Bishop G.E. Patterson (then a pastor with a popular radio show), real estate agent O.W. Pickett, politician O. Z. Evers and others plumped FBI files as the bureau ran a secret war on militancy.
When community leader Jerry Fanion took cigarettes to jailed Invaders, agents took note. Agents wrote reports when Catholic Father Charles Mahoney befriended an Invader, when car dealer John T. Fisher offered jobs to militants, when Rev. James Lawson planned a trip to Czechoslovakia and when a schoolteacher loaned his car to a suspected radical.
Each report has a common thread - Withers.

As a so-called racial informant - one who monitored race-related politics and "hate'' organizations - Withers fed agents a steady flow of information.
Records indicate he snapped and handed over photos of St. Patrick Catholic Church priests who supported the city's striking sanitation workers; he monitored political candidates, jotted down auto tag numbers for agents, and once turned over a picture of an employee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission said to be "one who will give aid and comfort to the black power groups." In an interview this year, that worker said she came within a hearing of losing her job.

"It's something you would expect in the most ruthless, totalitarian regimes, '' said D'Army Bailey, a retired Memphis judge and former activist who came under FBI scrutiny in the '60s. The spying touched a nerve in black America and created mistrust that many still struggle with 40 years later.

"Once that trust is shattered that doesn't go away, '' Bailey said.
In addition to spying on citizens, Hoover's FBI ran a covert operation, called COINTELPRO, a counterintelligence or "dirty tricks'' program that attempted to disrupt radical movements. It did this with tactics such as leaking embarrassing details to the news media, targeting individuals with radical views for prosecution or trying to get them fired from jobs. First launched in the 1950s to fight communism, by 1967 it was aimed at a range of civil rights leaders and organizations deemed to be threats to national security. Congressional inquiries later exposed it for widespread abuse of personal and political freedoms, including a fierce campaign against King.

Yet much of the detail of the FBI's domestic spying, including the inner workings of its informant network in Memphis, remain untold. Tracing Withers' steps through thousands of pages of federal records reveals substantial new details about the extent of the FBI's surveillance of private citizens.

In Withers, who ran a popular Beale Street photography studio frequented by the powerful and ordinary alike, the FBI found a super-informant, one who, according to an FBI report, proved "most conversant with all key activities in the Negro community.''
"He was the perfect source for them. He could go everywhere with a perfect, obvious professional purpose, '' said Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Garrow, who, along with retired Marquette University professor Athan Theoharis, reviewed the newspaper's findings .
Many political informants from the civil rights era were unwitting, unpaid dupes. Yet Withers, who was assigned a racial informant number and produced a large volume of confidential reports, fits the profile of a closely supervised, paid informant, experts say.

"It would be shocking to me that he wasn't paid, '' said Theoharis, author of the books "Spying on Americans" and "The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition".
"Once you get to this level if you're a criminal informant versus a source of information they're at a higher level. They're controlled. They're supervised, '' said Theoharis, who discerns a valuable lesson in the revelation of Withers' political spying.
"It speaks to the problem of secrecy. The government is able to do things in the shadows that are really questionable. That goes to the heart of our (democratic) society.''
It's uncertain what impact the revelation will have on Withers' legacy. The photographer was lionized in the final years of his life. Four books of his photography were published, exhibits of his work made international tours and a building on Beale Street was named for him. Congressman Steve Cohen proposed a yet-unfunded $396,000 earmark for a museum, set to open next month, to preserve Withers' archives.

Yet, even 40 years after the fact, the FBI still aggressively guards the secret of Withers' activities. The one record that would pinpoint the breadth and detail of his undercover work - his informant file - remains sealed. The Justice Department has twice rejected the newspaper's Freedom of Information requests to copy that file, and won't even acknowledge the file exists.

Responding to the newspaper's requests, the government instead released 369 pages related to a 1970s public corruption probe that targeted Withers - by then a state employee who was taking payoffs - carefully redacting references to informants - with one notable exception.
Censors overlooked a single reference to Withers' informant number. That number, in turn, unlocked the secret of the photographer's 1960s political spying when the newspaper located repeated references to the number in other FBI reports released under FOIA 30 years ago. Those reports - more than 7,000 pages comprising the FBI's files on the 1968 sanitation strike and a 1968-70 probe of the Invaders - at times pinpoint specific actions by Withers and in other instances show he was one of several informants contributing details.
Witness accounts and Withers' own photos provided further corroborating details.
"This is the first time I've heard of this in my life, '' said daughter Rosalind Withers, trustee of her father's photo collection, who said she wants to see documentation before commenting at length.

"My father's not here to defend himself. That is a very, very, strong, strong accusation. "
A son, Rome Withers, who runs his own Memphis photography business, said he, too, was unaware of his father's secret FBI work, but doesn't believe it diminishes his courageous work documenting the civil rights movement.

"He had been harassed, beaten, shot at. He was a victim'' who often faced hostile mobs and violent police forces. "At that time, when you are the only black on the scene, you're in an intimidating state.''
Andrew Young, now 78, said he isn't bothered that Withers secretly worked as an informant while snapping civil rights history.
"I always liked him because he was a good photographer. And he was always (around), " he said. Young viewed Withers as an important publicity tool because his work often appeared in Jet magazine and other high-profile publications. The movement was transparent and didn't have anything to hide anyway, he said.
"I don't think Dr. King would have minded him making a little money on the side.''

There was a time in 1968 and 1969 when Lance "Sweet Willie Wine'' Watson was considered the most dangerous man in Memphis. As "prime minister'' of the Invaders, a self-styled militant organization whose rhetoric included overthrowing the government, Watson frightened black and white Memphians alike. The FBI assembled a huge file on him.
Today, Watson, who goes by the name Suhkara Yahweh, is more conciliatory. He runs a community development organization in his impoverished South Memphis neighborhood and ministers to youths and the needy.
Still, he decorates his living room with mementos: A bumper sticker reading "Damn the Army, Join the Invaders''; a glass case containing a military-styled jacket with "Invaders'' emblazoned on the back; and a portrait of Ernest Withers displayed prominently over his fireplace.

"That's my daddy, '' Yahweh, 71, said one afternoon last winter, relating how Withers often gave him money and advice.
"If he was (an informant) I don't know anything about it ... He would call me his son. Right now, I'm still part of the family. I talked to Rome (son Andrew Jerome Withers) just the other day. I talked to (Ernest) on his death bed.''
It's a testament to the FBI's effectiveness that the dreaded "Willie Wine'' had no clue that Withers was constantly informing on him.
Wine was in Atlanta possibly to "con'' money out of the SCLC, reports indicate the informant told agents. He reported Wine's girlfriend was pregnant; that Wine was a thief. That Wine and his cohorts had cat-called voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer at a gathering at old Club Paradise.

As informant ME 338-R, Withers had plenty to tell the FBI in November 1968 when Willie Wine and others seized the administration building at LeMoyne-Owen College. What started as a dispute over student grievances escalated into rebellion when student leaders called in the Invaders and the local chapter of the radical anti-war group, Students for a Democratic Society.

Withers, who shot pictures of the crisis for Jet and was seen by newsmen going into Brown Lee Hall the night of the takeover, told FBI agents that Wine planned and directed the operation.
ME 338-R said the building was held "in a state of siege'' with school president Hollis Price inside, according to a Nov. 27, 1968, FBI report. Although local news accounts made no mention of weapons, the informant said occupants "definitely had a single-barrel 12-gauge shotgun, a rifle with a telescopic sight, a bayonet, at least one Derringer, and one pistol'' - details confirmed by another FBI source that night and Willie Wine 42 years later.
"I carried a .25-caliber pistol, '' the ex-militant recalled. The only time he used his gun that night was when another Invader rifled through an administrator's cabinet. "I pulled out my pistol. I said we're not here for that purpose, '' he said.
No charges were filed after officials at the private school chose not to prosecute.
Over time, however, the FBI would break the Invaders. Utilizing tips from Withers and other informants plus three undercover Memphis police officers who had infiltrated the group, authorities prosecuted as many as 34 Invaders on charges ranging from petty street crime to arson and the sniper wounding of a police officer.
Although one undercover cop was famously exposed, the Invaders seemed to have little clue about Withers, who often visited the group's headquarters on Vance and shot publicity photos for them.
"Ernest, he was a dear friend, " said Charles Cabbage, who founded the Invaders in 1967. Like Wine, Cabbage kept a memento on the wall, a picture Withers took in 1968 of Cabbage as a radical.
"Anytime he'd see us, he'd start snapping, " Cabbage recalled. Cabbage, interviewed last winter, four months before his death in June at age 66, said he'd come to wonder what Withers was really doing.
"C'mon man. We weren't that interesting. Why would he take our pictures constantly?"
As the FBI cast its net, it encountered a range of people whose beliefs and personal details landed in the bureau's spy files despite little more than a tangential connection to the Invaders.
An Aug. 7, 1969, report shows the FBI collected 14 photographs of Father Charles Mahoney of St. Patrick Catholic Church. Notations on the report, along with other corroborating details, indicate Withers shot the photos and handed them over to agents. The report quotes the informant as saying Mahoney "is a close friend'' of Invaders defense minister Melvin Smith and notes that Mahoney and two other priests allowed the Invaders to use church facilities.
"The FBI was off base on the civil rights thing, '' one of those priests, Charles Martin, said in a recent interview. An urban outreach ministry brought St. Patrick in regular contact with the Invaders. And when the priests there openly supported the sanitation strike, there was a backlash, Martin said.
"We were for the workers, the sanitation workers. And a lot of people in the town didn't like us for that.''

The Rev. James M. Lawson came into the FBI's focus in early 1968 during the height of the sanitation strike. It was Lawson, then pastor at Centenary Methodist, who invited Dr. King to Memphis, where he spoke in support of 1,100 sanitation workers who had walked off the job to protest low pay and horrid working conditions that led to the deaths of two men.
"If one black person is down, we are all down!'' King told 15,000 cheering people at Mason Temple the night of March 18, 1968.
Near the speaker's podium, the ubiquitous Withers snapped photos. Images he shot that night would stand as timeless icons of the strike alongside those he took of marching sanitation workers carrying "I Am A Man'' placards and National Guard troops policing Downtown streets.
But the stout photographer with a chatty personality and quick smile had another, nonpublic, appointment that day, a secret meeting in which the topic was his friend, Rev. Lawson.
Earlier that afternoon, Withers met with FBI agents Howell Lowe and William H. Lawrence, who ran the bureau's Memphis domestic surveillance program. A report summarizing the meeting indicates informant ME 338-R handed over a newsletter listing names and photographs of community leaders behind the strike - a virtual directory of strike-support organizers - and told agents who produced it.
"Informant pointed out that the paper is printed or laid out by Rev. Malcolm D. Blackburn ... pastor of Clayborn AME Temple ... The main editorial work therein is done by Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., '' the report said.
Withers had a lot to say about Lawson, a veteran civil rights leader and friend who marched during the strike alongside Withers' wife, Dorothy, and his daughter, Rosalind.
He portrayed Lawson as the type of left-leaning radical the government had come to fear - active in the anti-war movement, involved with the feared Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and someone who was planning a trip to the East Bloc nation of Czechoslovakia.
"I'm not surprised, '' Lawson, now 81, said this month when told of Withers' informant work. Lawson said "the police and FBI were very clever about entrapping'' blacks and making them informants.
"Any activity in the black community, Ernie was going to be around, '' Lawson said. "It was probably done innocently: 'You just tell us what's going on and what you see and you get paid for it.' ''
Lawson's was one of many biographies the informant would flesh out for agents.
Reports linked to Withers show he was a font of information for the FBI during the strike, handing over documents, providing details from strategy meetings, connecting dots between pastors and suspected militants .
The informant told agents on March 6 that young militants - Cabbage among them - passed out literature at a rally at Clayborn Temple with instructions for making Molotov cocktail firebombs. Mainstream leaders "did nothing'' to stop them, the report said.
On April 3, the day before King's murder, the informant passed on details about a high-level strategy session at the Lorraine between Cabbage and King, who begrudgingly decided to give the young militants a role in the strike.
Well into the summer, after the strike was settled, ME 338-R continued to report on its impact. That July 26, the informant gave FBI agents a financial report showing the strike-leadership group, Community on the Move for Equality, had spent $2,600 of $347,000 raised for striking workers to pay attorney's fees and expenses for members of the militant Black Organizing Project, an umbrella group encompassing the Invaders.
As Hoover cranked up his campaign against "black nationalist hate groups, '' anyone giving aid - money, jobs, political support - could fall into the crosshairs of COINTELPRO, the FBI's dirty tricks campaign.

The FBI had been spying on the civil rights movement for years, but in an August 1967 memo, backed by a more thorough order the following March, the bureau directed Memphis and other field offices to begin efforts to "to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize" a range of civil rights leaders and organizations, from the separatist Nation of Islam to King's moderate SCLC.
In May 1968 a similar initiative was launched against the so-called "New Left, '' targeting Vietnam War protesters and socialists, among others.

A U.S. Senate investigation in 1975 found widespread abuse in the program, which lacked statutory or executive approval. COINTELPRO techniques ranged from contacting an employer to get a target fired to mailing an anonymous letter to a spouse alleging infidelity, leaking humiliating information to the press, encouraging street warfare between violent groups and alerting state and local authorities to a target's criminal law violations.
Available records provide few details on specific COINTELPRO actions taken in Memphis. Yet, records indicate Withers fed agents plenty of raw material.
A schoolteacher loaned militant Cabbage his car, the informant said. Mary L. Campbell, a supposed black-power sympathizer, was running for the county Democratic Party's executive committee. Real estate agent O.W. Pickett, who'd brought food to the Invaders during the LeMoyne takeover, was thinking of running for Congress. Pastor Malcolm Blackburn and activist Baxton Bryant were trying to find jobs for the Invaders.

A May 13, 1968, report indicates Withers gave the FBI two photos of Rosetta Miller, a field worker for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, telling an agent she is "one who will give aid and comfort to the black power groups." Following up that fall, an agent typed a two-sentence report memorializing a rumor that Miller had recently married, noting the marriage broke up after just a week. The report was copied to Withers' informant file.
Interviewed this spring, Miller, who now lives in Nashville , said her job with the commission came into jeopardy in 1968 when supervisors questioned her about ties to radicals.
"I was never part of that crap, " she said.
Marquette's Theoharis, who worked with the Senate committee that exposed many of the FBI's abuses, said employment sabotage was a particularly insidious COINTELPRO tactic.
"Once, (the FBI) got someone dismissed as a Girl Scout leader. It was crazy, " he said.
Records reviewed by the newspaper offered few details of the secretive COINTELPRO initiative. Yet, frustrated by continuing support for the Invaders, the FBI clearly was considering such actions in May 1969 against the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
"All sources have been alerted to attempt to pinpoint any actual proof that employees of the AME Church are giving financial support to the Invaders, " said a May 8, 1969, report to headquarters in Washington.
"...If such proof is forthcoming separate communication will be written to the Bureau concerning any possible counterintelligence action which might be instituted with certain AME high church officials in this regard.''

Available files don't indicate how or when Withers first teamed with the FBI.
But it would have been hard for the bureau to have overlooked him.
Withers served as a city police officer, hired in 1948 along with eight other African Americans who composed MPD's first black recruit class. He didn't last long. He was fired in 1951 for taking kickbacks from a bootlegger.

By the early 1950s, Withers was making a name for himself on Beale Street, where he had operated since the mid-40s, chronicling the teeming night life and the everyday life of black Memphis. By night, he hung with bluesmen like B.B. King, Bobby "Blue'' Bland, Junior Parker and Rufus Thomas and, by day, he shot family portraits, weddings, church socials, political gatherings and sporting events, assembling one of the great Negro League baseball portfolios.
"He knew everybody," recalled Coby Smith, a political activist who founded the Invaders with Cabbage and who would come to form his own suspicions.

Across the street from Withers' studio, attorney H.T. Lockard ran a law office. When Lockard became president of the Memphis branch of the NAACP in 1955, a visitor started coming by - Bill Lawrence of the FBI.
In an interview for this story, Lockard, now a 90-year-old retired judge, spoke for the first time about his three-year association with Lawrence, a bespectacled G-man who came to Memphis in 1945 and ran the bureau's local domestic intelligence operations in the 1950s and '60s. In the '50s, as the Red scare was at its peak, the FBI kept close watch on the NAACP and other civil rights organizations believed susceptible to communist infiltration.
"Because of the nature of the work I was doing, there was a suspicious feeling that I was either a communist or a communist sympathizer, " Lockard said.
Like so many others recruited by the FBI, Lockard said agent Lawrence showed up uninvited and made regular unannounced visits to his law office with no evident purpose. "One stock question was how was I getting along, '' he said.

Over a period, the agent asked if a certain suspected communist had joined the local NAACP. Eventually, the man named by Lawrence applied for membership. Lockard said he declined to enroll him.
It's unclear if the FBI considered Lockard an informant. He said he was never paid. The FBI visits stopped in 1957, when Lockard left the NAACP helm, yet he said he developed "an amiable camaraderie'' with Lawrence that included exchanging Christmas cards for years after the agent retired in 1970. Lawrence died in 1990.
Around the time Lawrence began calling on Lockard, Withers began his long and remarkable career chronicling the civil rights movement.
In 1955, Withers covered the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American who was beaten, shot and tossed in a river in Money, Miss., for whistling at a white woman.
The injustice of the crime - the defendants, both white, were acquitted by an all-white jury yet later confessed in a paid magazine interview - built the foundation of Withers' fame. Defying a judge's order that banned picture-taking during the trial, Withers captured the moment Till's great-uncle Mose Wright stood up at the witness stand and pointed an accusing finger at the killers.

The Till case helped galvanize the movement, and Withers soon had a wide array of assignments covering civil rights.
As a freelancer for the Sengstacke family, publishers of the Chicago Defender and the Tri-State Defender in Memphis, Withers covered many of the seminal events of the era. He was beaten by police covering Medgar Evers' 1963 funeral and harassed in small-town Mississippi following the 1964 murders of three Freedom Summer activists in Neshoba County. He snapped pictures of King and Abernathy riding the first integrated bus in Montgomery in 1956 and photographed King in 1966 casually reclining in his room at the Lorraine where he would die two years later.
Trained in photography in the Army during World War II and equipped with a bulky twin reflex camera, Withers lacked technical skill yet managed to take profoundly powerful images, largely through his resourcefulness and unusual access.
Locally, Withers chronicled all the significant events, the Tent City voter registration drive in Fayette County, the desegregation of Memphis City Schools and the Downtown sit-ins of 1960.
It was around then that the FBI's Lawrence began showing up at the NAACP offices, recalls Maxine Smith, the organization's longtime executive director in Memphis.
"We thought it was for our protection. We had nothing to hide, '' Smith said. "Somewhere along the line we began to suspect'' differently, she said.
What Smith and others didn't know was that by 1963 the FBI had begun wiretapping King, initially because of the civil rights leader's ties to adviser Stanley Levison, a suspected communist. The FBI tapped King's phones, bugged his hotel rooms and, in one infamous episode, mailed surreptitious audio recordings including a taped sexual liaison to his Atlanta home along with a letter suggesting he commit suicide.

By 1967, as more-militant wings spun out of the movement, the FBI launched a "ghetto informant program'' recruiting "listening posts'' within the black community, many of them white shopkeepers and businessmen. Increasingly, headquarters pushed agents like Lawrence to develop information from black leaders.

"He used to come out here a whole lot, right here, '' Smith said in the living room of her South Parkway home. Smith told how Lawrence, a music lover, fostered a relationship through her late husband Vasco Smith's expansive jazz collection. When a 1981 book revealed the couple's relationship to the FBI, the Smiths sued - and lost. Still passionate about the issue, Smith argues she and her husband were never paid.

"Nobody has ever offered Vasco or me one penny. No one dare say that, '' she said.
Benjamin Hooks, the former national NAACP director, agreed with her assessment.
"I don't know if anyone is trying to say they were snitches. If that's what they're saying that is a lie, " Hooks said in January, 11 weeks before he died. "You couldn't stop the FBI from coming and talking to you. If you did, they'd make it up anyway. They were talking to Maxine and Vasco and Hooks all the time.''
When details of the FBI's domestic spy program later leaked in congressional hearings, officials said there were just five paid racial informants working in Memphis in 1968. Officials have never disclosed the identities of those informants; it's unknown if Withers was included in that group.
"I'd like to know who those devils are, " Smith said.

Perhaps the last man with firsthand knowledge of Withers' covert life, retired FBI agent Howell Lowe, opted to take his secrets to the grave.
"I won't have my name connected with this, " Lowe told a reporter last year, rejecting an interview for this story. He died Jan. 1 at age 83. Although Withers had died two years earlier, Lowe said he feared that discussing the photographer's informant work might harm his survivors.

"Some of the things we did were sleazy. We were fighting what we thought was the possibility of uprising in this country, '' Lowe said.
Lost, too, to history are Withers' motives . A federal source who first told a reporter about the photographer's secret life several years ago said Withers, who raised eight children and struggled financially, had a primary motive - money.
That same source said Withers' secret informant status came dangerously close to exposure in 1978 when Congress re-examined the FBI's investigation of King's assassination. At the time, revelations about COINTELPRO and the FBI's treatment of King caused many Americans to wonder if Hoover's hatred of the civil rights leader somehow morphed into an assassination plot. The U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations eventually found the FBI had nothing to do with the murder.
Yet, with the FBI's Memphis office on trial, Lowe's partner, agent Lawrence, testified before the committee on Nov. 21, 1978, speaking of a valued informant who "provided information on racial matters generally and the Invaders in particular." The informant, paid up to $200 a month, helped track King in the days before his murder.
Lawrence said he frequently gave his informant instructions ahead of time, giving him names and topics to look out for and conferring almost daily with him during the sanitation strike.
"I would call him if I had occasion to alert him to something, '' Lawrence testified. "Otherwise, I would hope that he would call me, which he frequently did. Then periodically we would meet in person under what we hoped were safe conditions to personally exchange information, go over descriptions, any photographs, things of that nature.''
Was Lawrence discussing Withers? The congressional record is unclear. Nonetheless, as an FBI informant with a symbol number and a large volume of assignments, Withers would have been handled in a similar fashion, experts said.
"These are individuals who are going to be directed and paid... They saw you as a valuable source and a continuing source, '' said Theoharis, the retired Marquette professor.
Researchers who study the government informant system say patriotism, desire to do police work, thrill-seeking and money often are motivating factors. Withers had served in the Army in World War II. In addition to serving briefly as a police officer, he ran successfully for Shelby County constable in 1974 and later was appointed a gun-carrying agent of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverages Commission.

Withers' legal troubles also can't be discounted as a possible motive. Withers would claim late in life he was set up in the 1951 kickback incident while working for MPD, yet his police personnel file contains transcripts that reveal admissions by Withers and detailed witness accounts supporting the allegations. He was fired but never charged criminally.
Years later, in 1979, he faced similar charges, this time in federal criminal court. Then-ABC agent Withers pleaded guilty to extorting kickbacks from a nightclub owner.
Regardless of his motives, the revelation of Withers' FBI work doesn't harm his memory for some who knew him.
"It does not alter who he was a person, '' said ex-Invader Coby Smith. "He did so many more things. That wasn't a fulltime thing to be an informant for them.''
Rev. Lawson agreed. "It won't tarnish his memory for his family and friends.''