Book Says Activist Who Armed Black Panthers Was an FBI Informant
The man who helped arm and provide weapons training in the Bay Area to the radical group the Black Panthers was an FBI informant.
That's according to research by Seth Rosenfeld, a contributor for the Center for Investigative Reporting, who details his findings in an online article and in a new book on the FBI's war against student radicals.
Rosenfeld says evidence of Aoki's involvement came from FBI internal documents and interviews with former FBI agents.
In an interview with KQED's Cy Musiker, Rosenfeld was asked if Aoki or the FBI bears some responsibility for the shooting deaths of police officers and Panthers in a number of confrontations.
"I think it's incumbent on the FBI to provide a full accounting," Rosenfeld said, "about what its relationship was with Richard Aoki and what it knew if anything about his providing arms to the Panthers.
Rosenfeld says he interviewed Aoki in 2007, and he denied being an informant. But Aoki added, "People change. It is complex. Layer upon layer."
Aoki committed suicide in 2009, after a long illness.
Rosenfeld writes that former Panthers and other activists praised Aoki after his death as a “fearless leader and servant of the people.” Former Panther Bobby Seale was surprised, Rosenfeld writes, to hear that Aoki was an informant, but declined to comment further.