Black people on Twitter are struggling to remember when the FBI was "honest"

Black people on Twitter are struggling to remember when the FBI was "honest"
Former FBI Director James Comey reacts during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, June 8.
Source: Alex Brandon/AP
Former FBI Director James Comey reacts during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, June 8.
Source: Alex Brandon/AP

Former FBI Director James Comey had glowing words for his old organization when he testified about President Donald Trump's meddling in the bureau's Russia investigation Thursday.

"The FBI is honest, the FBI is strong and the FBI is and always will be independent," Comey said to the members of Congress, media and observers assembled on Capitol Hill.

But for many black Americans, the history of the FBI is defined largely by its suppression of civil rights groups during the late-20th century. Black Twitter users wasted no time in pointing this out:

In the 1960s, the FBI famously initiated COINTELPRO, a years-long counterintelligence campaign aimed at discrediting and dismantling the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement and other civil rights organizations.

In 1964, FBI agents mailed an anonymous letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. written in the guise of a disgruntled black follower. The letter calls King "a complete fraud"; "a dissolute, abnormal moral imbecile"; and a "sexual psychotic," then urges King to kill himself.

"There is but one way out for you," the letter reads. "You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation."

Comey and the FBI have attained a sort of minor outlaw status among liberals recently, ever since Trump abruptly fired him in an apparent attempt to manipulate the outcome of an investigation into his campaign's connections with the Russian government.

But if the social media response is any indicator, many Americans know better. The FBI is an organization that has fought civil rights progress for black people, Natives, Muslims and others for decades. Not even Comey's mini-feud with Trump can erase that.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Zak Cheney Rice

Zak is a Senior Staff Writer at Mic.

MORE FROM

Man spends five months on Rikers Island without knowing his bail was $2

Now Aitabdel Salem is suing both the city and his Legal Aid lawyers.

FBI agent indicted in LaVoy Finicum shooting as police evade punishment for killing black people

Finicum was killed during the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Alton Sterling’s children sue Baton Rouge over shooting, alleging racism and excessive force

The Sterling family alleges that police officers sent racist text messages about people who protested the black man's shooting death.

3 Chicago officers charged with conspiracy in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald

The three Chicago police officers allegedly conspired to prevent an independent investigation and prosecution against Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Video shows officer threatening black man for jaywalking without an ID

The officer is not currently under investigation.

Black teens handcuffed for selling water on National Mall are now getting job offers

"I feel like it was a bad situation turned into a good situation."

Man spends five months on Rikers Island without knowing his bail was $2

Now Aitabdel Salem is suing both the city and his Legal Aid lawyers.

FBI agent indicted in LaVoy Finicum shooting as police evade punishment for killing black people

Finicum was killed during the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Alton Sterling’s children sue Baton Rouge over shooting, alleging racism and excessive force

The Sterling family alleges that police officers sent racist text messages about people who protested the black man's shooting death.

3 Chicago officers charged with conspiracy in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald

The three Chicago police officers allegedly conspired to prevent an independent investigation and prosecution against Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Video shows officer threatening black man for jaywalking without an ID

The officer is not currently under investigation.

Black teens handcuffed for selling water on National Mall are now getting job offers

"I feel like it was a bad situation turned into a good situation."