OPINION: The 10-part podcast breaks down how the FBI allegedly sent an informant to disrupt the Black Lives Matter movement in Denver.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Black liberation has an enemy: the United States government. Our government is actively participating in dismantling our attempts to be free. The moment we stop accepting the status quo and demand more, they are at war with us. I know my Black history nerds are like yes, amen, preach, because they know about COINTELPRO where the FBI sought to disrupt and discredit the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and Dr. King among many others. The FBI’s spying on and infiltrating the Panthers was at the heart of the 2021 film “Judas and the Black Messiah.” The FBI once sent King a letter urging him to kill himself. Of course, the infiltrating and disrupting of Black liberation efforts are not just in the past. They continue to this day.
One of the challenges that Black Lives Matter has had over the years is that sometimes their rallies have turned violent. Now, I understand the value of property damage in an ongoing fight for freedom — sometimes all the system understands is damage to capitalism. However, violence at political rallies can open people up to arrest or debilitating injury, and it can delegitimize a movement in the eyes of the white majority. Back during the George Floyd era, it was common to hear white people say things like “I support their cause as long as they protest peacefully.” To them, the main question was the peacefulness of the protests not issues like Black people getting murdered by the police. But in many cases, to me, the violence at BLM rallies seemed strange. I know many BLM people. I wrote this report about my time with people in the BLM movement, and I know that even in private, they’re not inherently violent and more than that, they’re extremely thoughtful about political protest. They know that violence is not a viable long-term strategy. A study showed that BLM protests were overwhelmingly peaceful. But, violence occurred at some rallies. I have long wondered why. What was really going on?
In Minneapolis, during protests after the murder of George Floyd, someone smashed the windows of many businesses, creating the impression that Floyd supporters were attacking businesses — that they were “wilding.” Turns out they weren’t. There was a white supremacist walking around with an umbrella, smashing windows, in an effort to make Floyd supporters look bad. And he wasn’t alone. Much of the violence at BLM events may have been manufactured by agents of the U.S. government. Yes, the government has infiltrated and disrupted Black Lives Matter events just as they did during the civil rights and Black Power movements. And now there’s an amazing docuseries podcast that’s breaking it down.
The moment I heard about the “Alphabet Boys” podcast, I turned off whatever I was listening to — it might have been the “Midnight Miracle” or Malcolm Gladwell’s “Legends of Speed” or “The Draymond Green Show.” I love those shows but “Alphabet Boys” seemed urgently important. It’s a 10-episode journalistic investigation from Western Sound and iHeartPodcasts that breaks down how the FBI sent someone to undermine Black liberation efforts in Denver in 2020. This person was a violent convicted felon turned informant named Mickey who was allegedly paid tens of thousands of dollars to infiltrate the racial justice activist community in Denver.
When you’re a paid informant, you keep your job by continuing to feed information to the FBI or the police or whoever your handlers are. Sometimes informants purposely give the FBI information that’s incorrect. Sometimes informants encourage the people they’re following to commit crimes. On “Alphabet Boys,” we hear about how Mickey was urging people to do things that would really shake people up, like kidnapping the state’s attorney general or shooting up a courthouse. He would go to people who had not talked about committing crimes and tell them that they should go out and do these things. He would tell them that he could get weapons to carry out these things. He was setting them up to commit spectacular crimes that would have made national news and gotten people killed or sent away for decades, things that could have discredited or even destroyed the reputation of the entire BLM movement. He went into the movement and tried to destroy it. The government sent him to destroy BLM. You can be certain that he was not the only person trying to do that.
“Alphabet Boys” is an extremely important show that helps us see how our government continues to actively work against us as we fight for freedom. It’s deeply American to speak up and agitate for better living conditions. The history of America is all about people demanding more. But the story of Black Americans is about us demanding it and fighting for it and insisting on true justice and equality while our government is feverishly working to eliminate our leaders and squash our causes. The fight will continue, but we know part of our fight is a battle against our own government as we ask it to give us liberty and not death.
Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter. Look out for his upcoming podcast Being Black In the 80s.
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