Tag Archives: informant

Documents on FBI Informant’s Reporting on Martin Luther King Released

The National Archives and Records Administration has released 785 pages of documents related to Ernest Withers, a photographer and free lance newsman acting as an FBI informant on activities of Dr. Martin Luther King as part of a legal settlement between the FBI and The Commercial Appeal, which filed a lawsuit seeking the information.
The CA has a report on what’s said in the documents in Sunday’s newspaper that begins as follows:
James Bevel flashed a wide smile, looking more like a guest at a cocktail party than a suspected subversive whose picture was about to land in an FBI file.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s head of “direct action,” Bevel was in Memphis on this March 1968 afternoon to help organize a massive demonstration King planned. And when news photographer Ernest Withers began shooting pictures, as he routinely did at civil rights meetings throughout the South, Bevel grinned without a hint of concern.
Yet, unknown to Bevel and others at this gathering at LeMoyne-Owen College, Withers, a paid FBI informant, passed photos he snapped that day to an FBI agent, along with details he overheard. His report fueled deepening skepticism within an already hostile FBI as to whether King intended to keep his movement nonviolent.
“He (Bevel) gave a most virulent black power talk,” agent William H. Lawrence wrote after debriefing Withers. Reportedly saying whites will use economic pressure to “attempt to exterminate the Negroes in the United States in some form of genocide,” Bevel encouraged the group to read the black separatist newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, and “come into the black power movement.”

TBI Informant Defends Millington Mayor

The “confidential informant” who appeared to be the pivotal witness against Millington Mayor Richard Hodges lashed out Monday against a TBI investigation, saying Hodges is guilty only of gambling in friendly poker games at a local repair shop.
More from the Commercial Appeal account:
The witness, Transmission Doctors owner Marlin Roberts, said Hodges never used his office to solicit bribes or threaten him for money, crimes suggested in a TBI affidavit filed on Friday.
“I love Richard and he is family to me,” Roberts said. “I want Richard Hodges to be vindicated of all charges.”
As of Monday evening, Hodges had neither been charged nor indicted. But Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents laid out a case against him in an affidavit released Friday supporting search warrants for raids on July 27.
“There are truly two questions that you should be seeking the answers for,” Roberts told reporters beckoned to his shop. “Why, hours before I was to appear before the grand jury for questioning, would it be canceled? And why would the TBI ever release the information and whereabouts of a confidential informant?”

See also the Memphis Daily News, which ties the mayor’s difficulties into a ‘brief but volatile’ feud with the local police chief.
Soon after (Chief Ray) Douglas was appointed, Hodges talked openly of Douglas having to adapt to policing in a small town. To Hodges, that meant being less formal and less by the book.
One of the stories he told was of arguing with Douglas about whether a patrol car at a block party had to keep its engine running at all times. Hodges didn’t think so. But the argument ended with him ordering Douglas to have the officer leave the car sitting in the road with its engine and flashing lights turned off.