Tag Archives: released

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.”

John Ford Released From Prison

Former state senator John Ford returned to Memphis on Monday, four years and four months after he left to serve a term in federal prison for bribery, reports the Commercial Appeal.
“He looked good. Good spirits. He looks to get his life back,” said his brother, Joe Ford.
“We’re glad he’s back. It’s been pretty hard on his family.”
Released from the Federal Correctional Institute in Yazoo City, Miss., Ford reported to a halfway house at 1629 Winchester, where he’s expected to remain for at least the next week. Ford’s 5-year sentence expires in February. Federal inmates often are released to a halfway house about six months prior to the expiration of their terms.
What comes next for Ford, 70, remains unclear. He could work for one of his relatives’ three funeral homes.
“If he asks, it won’t be a problem,” said Joe Ford, whose Joe Ford Funeral Home is across the street from the halfway house where his brother is staying.
James Williams, executive director of Dierson Charities, which runs the halfway house, declined comment.
Ford reported to prison on April 28, 2008 following his 2007 bribery conviction in Memphis.