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King's FBI File - Road to the Poor People's Campaign

There are many reports of threats against King's life in the FBI files. Historians say FBI policy was generally not to pass the information along to King. This April 25, 1967 teletype reports a bomb threat phoned in to the local paper in Kenosha, Wis.,the day before King spoke at a local school. A newspaper account of the event said four people picketed the speech without incident.

FEBERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
U. S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
COMMUNICATION SECTION
APR 25 1967
TELETYPE

FBI WASH DC


657PM URGENT 4/25/67 PJR
TO DIRECTOR (100-106670_
FROM MILWAUKEE (157-112) IP
MARTIN LUTHER King Jr. RM; BOMBING MATTERS - THREAT

[words redacted] KENOSHA EVENING NEWS, ADVISED TODAY THAT AT FOUR PM HE HAD RECEIVED AN ANONYMOUS PHONE CALL WHICH IN SUBSTANCE WAS AS FOLLOWS:

"I KNOW THAT YOU ARE AWARE THAT DOCTOR MARTIN LUTHER KING IS COMING TO KENOSHA THIS THURSDAY NIGHT. HE WILL NOT LEAVE HERE. WE ARE GOING TO BOMB THE PLACE." THE ANONYMOUS CALLER A MALE, ACCORDING TO [word redacted] STATED: THIS IS NO JOKE AND I JUST THOUGHT I'D TELL YOU."

THE UNKNOWN CALLER THEN HUNG UP.

THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN FURNISHED THE KENOSHA POLICE DEPARTMENT, SECRET SERVICE, AND THE MILITARY INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES.

SUBJECT TO APPEAR FOUR TWENTYSEVEN NEXT AT EIGHT PM AT ST. JOSEPHS HIGH SCHOOL, KENOSHA, WISCONSIN, UNDER SPONSORSHIP OF UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN AT KENOSHA. SPEECH REPORTEDLY TO BE ON CIVIL RIGHTS.

LHM FOLLOWS. UCAB NO FURTHER ACTION TAKEN.



This routine teletype shows the FBI's careful monitoring of King's travels.

FBI WASH DC

FBI ATLANTA
404 PM URGENT 4/28/97 MRB
TO DIRECTOR 100-106670 AND COLUMBIA
FROM ATLANTA 100-5586

MARTIN LUTHER King Jr., SM - C

ON AFTERNOON APRIL TWENTYEIGHT, SIXTYSEVEN, DORA E. MCDONALD, SECRETARY TO THE PRESIDENT SCLC, ATLANTA, TELEPHONICALLY VOLUNTEERED THE FOLLOWING INFO TO ATLANTA OFFICE: ON APRIL THIRTY, SIXTYSEVEN, SUBJECT PRESIDENT, SCLC, WILL LEAVE ATLANTA AT TWO FIFTYNINE PM ENROUTE GREENVILLE, S.C. HE WILL DEPART GREENVILLE SIX THIRTY PM, APRIL THIRTY, SIXTYSEVEN ENROUTE ATLANTA. TRAVEL VIA AIR BUT NO AIRLINE STATED. ON MAY TWO, SIXTYSEVEN, SUBJECT WILL BE AT NEW YORK CITY.
MCDONALD FURNISHED NO FURTHER DETAILS.



This August 23, 1967 teletype from the New Orleans FBI office reports an alleged contact with a Ku Klux Klan member who was plotting to kill King but had "sold out." The supposed killer was seeking $500 from the local NAACP.

FBI WASH DC
FBI NEW ORLS
926 PM URGENT 8-23-67 CDC
TO DIRECTOR AND ATLANTA
FROM NEW ORLEANS 157-9936

UNKNOWN SUBJECT, AKA [word redacted] THREAT TO KILL MARTIN LUTHER KING; [word redacted]- COMPLAINANT. RACIAL MATTER.

[Paragraph redacted] WAS INTERVIEWED REGARDING A PLOT TO KILL MARTIN LUTHER KING.

[Word redacted] ADVISED ON EIGHT TWENTYTHREE, SIXTYSEVEN, THAT SHE RECEIVED THE FIRST OF TEN PHONE CALLS [words redacted] AT THREE FIFTY FIVE PM ON EIGHTY TWENTYTWO SIXTYSEVEN, [words redacted] INDIVIDUAL IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS [word redacted] AND STATED THAT HE IS A MEMBER OF THE KKK. THE KLAN UNIT WAS NOT FURTHER IDENTIFIED. [Word redacted] WOLD [word redacted] THAT HE WAS CALLING FROM A PAY PHONE AT [sentence redacted] HE SAID THE ENTIRE

Page Two

Klan had a plot to kill Martin Luther King. The plan had been in formation for the past three months. [word redacted] stated he was the person who would actually kill King, but he would give no other details about the plot to [word redacted] over the telephone. [word redacted] said that he had "sold out" and that he had but two hours to live. He did not say what he meant by "sold out" or why he had but two hours to live.

[word redacted] wanted [word redacted] to contact an official of the NAACP in Shreveport and have this official meet him at [word redacted] where [word redacted] would relate the details of the alleged plot to kill King. [word redacted] stated that he wanted to talk to an NAACP official and have this official contact higher authorities in the NAACP. [word redacted] stated that if he were to call a high ranking official of the NAACP they would not beleive him but they would beleive an official from shreveport, who had gotten information personally from [word redacted].

Between five pm and five thirty pm on eight twenty two sixty seven, [words redacted] came into

End Page Two

PAGE THREE

THE OFFICE [sentence redacted] ALSO TALKED TO [word redacted] AND AGREED TO GO TO [word redacted] AND MEET [word redacted] STATED THAT [word redacted] NEVER MET [word redacted] BECAUSE [word redacted] CALLED [word redacted] ABOUT FIVE FORTYFIVE PM ON EIGHT TWENTYTWO SIXTYSEVEN AND TOLD HER THAT [word redacted] DID NOT MEET HIM. [word redacted] CALLED [word redacted] FOR THE LAST TIME AT FIVE FIFTY FIVE PM ON EIGHT TWENTYTWO SIXTYSEVEN AND TOLD HER THAT SHE SHOULD COME TO [word redacted] AND MEET HIM. [word redacted] DID NOT GO BECAUSE SHE COULD NOT FIND ANY ONE TO GO WITH HER.

[word redacted] STATED THAT HE WOULD EXPLAIN THE DETAILS OF THE PLOT TO KILL KING TO THE NAACP IN SHREVEPORT FOR FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. HE STATED THAT THIS MONEY WOULD BE USED TO GET HIS WIFE AND FAMILY OUT OF LOUISIANA BECAUSE HE WAS DOOMED IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT HE HAD ""SOLD OUT"". HE STATED THIS WAS THE ONLY READON HE WANTED THE FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. [word redacted] HAD NO FURTHER CONTACT WITH [word redacted] FOLLOWING THE LAST PHONE CALL

TO HER OFFICE AT FIVE FIFTY FIVE PM ON EIGHT TWENTYTWO SIXTYSEVEN.

[word redacted] ORIGINALY CONTACTED [word redacted]

END PAGE THREE

PAGE FOUR

[word redacted] WITH THE COMMUNITY RELATIONS SERVICE, U.S.D.J. LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS. [word redacted] CALLED THE LITTLE ROCK AND NEW ORLEANS DIVISIONS OF THE FBI ON EITHER TWENTYTWO SIXTYSEVEN AND STATED THAT [word redacted] HAD INFORMATION REGARDING A PLOT TO KILL MARTIN LUTHER KING. [word redacted] DID NOT IDENTIFY [word redacted] LOCATED EIGHT TWENTYTHREE SIXTY-SEVEN.

[word redacted] POLICE SHREVEPORT, LA., ADVISED OF THE ABOVE THIS DATE.

THERE IS NO [word redacted] IN THE KLAN IN SHREVEPORT. THERE IS BUT ONE KLAVERN OF THE UKA IN SHREVEPORT AND ALL MEMBERS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED BY THE FBI.

ATTEMPT TO IDENTIFY [word redacted] BEING MADE AT SHREVEPORT. LA.

LHM TO FOLLOW. AIR MAIL COPY TO LITTLE ROCK.



In 1967, as part of its counterintelligence program against civil rights and anti-war groups, the FBI established a Rabble Rouser Index. This is Martin Luther King's entry in the RRI.

ROBBLE ROUSER INDEX

NAME KING,MARTIN LUTHER,JR.
SEX male

ALIASES

RACE Negro

DATE & PLACE OF BIRTH
1/15/29 Atlanata, Georgia

NATIONALITY
United States

ORGANIZATION AFFILIATION
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

POSITION IN ORGANIZATION
President

DESCRIPTION

HEIGHT 5'7"
WEIGHT 170
HAIR black
EYES brown
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS neatly trimmed mustache

FBI # 169 213 C

OTHER IDENT # Atlanta Police Department 198979

RESIDENCE
234 Sunset Avenue,N.W.
Atlanta, Georgia

BUSINESS ADDRESS
334 Auburn Avenue, N.E.,
Atlanta, Georgia

SUCCINCT RESUME OF ACTIVITIES
Subject is established civil rights leader and has acquired national and international status. Professes to adhere to philosophy of non-violence but past actions have provoked civil disobedience. On 8/14/67 publicly committed SCLC to a program of massive civil disobedience. Has publicly denounced U.S. participation in war in Vietnam.

BU FILE # 100-106670
FIELD OFFICE # 100-5586
SUBMITTING OFFICE Atlanta



A February 29, 1968 memo suggests that President Lyndon Johnson would be interested in "the communist help" King is getting in preparing for the Poor People's Campaign in Washington. LBJ may not have believed King was a communist, but he was a voracious consumer of political intelligence and gossip. He also knew a man like Hoover was better to have as an ally than a foe. As King and Johnson's relationship deteriorated over Vietnam, the president signaled to the FBI that its campaign to discredit King could go on.

Date: 2/29/68
To : Mr. W. C. Sullivan
From : G. C. Moore.
Subject: Martin Luther King Jr.
Security Matter - communist

Purpose:
Attached for your approval for dissemination are copies of a communication containing plans of the advisors to Martin Luther King Jr., President, Southern Christians Leadership Conference (SCLC), pertaining to his massive civil disobedience campaign to be held in Washington, D.C., in April, 1968.

Background:
King in the past has publicly announced he will conduct a massive civil disobedience campaign he calls the “Washington Spring Project” in early April, 1968, to pressure congress into passing legislation favorable to the Negro.

Recent Developments:
[word redacted] advised recently that Stanley David Levinson and Clarence Jones, both advisors to King with subversive backgrounds, were in conference concerning King’s project. Jones informed Levinson that Harry Wachtel, another advisor of King’s with a subversive background, had drafted some material that King could use during the campaign calling for full employment, a guaranteed wage, and a guaranteed annual income. Also, the Reverend Fredrick Kirkpatrick, a New York coordinator for the project, had furnished Jones with material entitled “Declaration of Principle on the March in April. This pamphlet was being distributed by the Committee of National Negro Churchmen

Memorandum G. C. Moore to W. C. Sullivan
RE: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR

Levison told Jones that he had received an excellent response to a recent mailing. The solicitations were running ahead of last year with $15,000 being received in one day. Levison informed that the letter soliciting funds was carefully written explaining King's project and, because of the success, he was sending it to 250,000 more people.

Levison also told Jones that things are going well in the mobilization for the project and King informed him that people from Alabama and Mississippi are ""just raring to go.""

OBSERVATIONS:

[paragraph redacted]

[paragraph redacted]

It is felt that the President would be interested in receiving information showing the communist help King is receiving in his proposed ""Washington Spring Project.""

RECOMMENDATION:

That copies of the enclosures be forwarded to Mrs. Mildred Stegall at the White House; Mr. William Welsh, Administrative Assistant to the Vice President; Secretary of Agriculture Freeman; Secretary of Labor Wirtz; Secretary of Defense; Secret Service; the Attorney General; the Deputy Attorney General; Assistant Attorneys General Pollack, Yeagley, and Vinson; the Inter-Division Information Unit of the Department; and to the Departments of Army, Navy, and Air Force.

MARTIN LUTHER King Jr.

A fifth source advised on February 26, 1957, that he identified a photograph of Clarence Jones as a person whom he knew during late 1953, or early 1954, to be a member and in a position of leadership in the Labor Youth League.

The Labor Youth League has been designated pursuant to Executive Order 10450.

[paragraph redacted]



A March 19, 1968 teletype from Memphis reports on King's speech the night before at the Mason Temple. The church was one of the largest meeting places for African Americas in the South. The FBI counted the crowd at 9-12,000 people. [link to speech excerpt] The report describes King's speech as "a demagogic appeal to the baser emotions of [a] predominantly Negro audience."

TELETYPE

FBI WASH DC

FBI MEMPHIS
852AM URGENT 3-19-68 SAB
TO DIRECTOR AND JACKSON
FROM MEMPHIS 157-1092 2P

SANITATION WORKERS STRIKE, MEMPHIS, TENN.; RM. RACIAL MATTERS

REMYTEL TO DIRECTOR MARCH EIGHTEEN LAST.

[words redacted] ADVISED THAT MARTIN LUTHER King Jr., SPOKE AT SANITATION WORKERS STRIKE SUPPORT RALLY NIGHT OF MARCH EIGHTEEN AT MASON TEMPLE. ESTIMATED NINE TO TWELVE THOUSAND PEOPLE HEARD HIM. KING CALLED FOR ESCALATION OF STRIKE AND SUPPORT THEREOF. [word redacted] SAID HE MADE A DEMAGOGIC APPEAL TO THE BASER EMOTIONS OF PREDOMINANTLY NEGRO AUDIENCE. KING CALLED FOR ALL MEMPHIS NEGROES TO REFUSE TO WORK, TO STAY OUT OF SCHOOL FRIDAY, MARCH TWENTYTWO. HE CALLED FOR A MASS DOWNTOWN MARCH ON THAT DAY, PROMISING TO RETURN TO MEMPHIS TO PARTICIPATE THEREIN. HE SAID HE IS ON A TRIP THROUGH SOUTHERN STATES TO RECRUIT PERSONS FOR HIS ""POOR PEOPLES CAMP-IN"" IN WASHINGTON, D. C., TO BEGIN APRIL TWENTYTWO NEXT, CALLED FOR MEMPHIS STRIKE TO BE THE

END PAGE ONE.

PAGE TWO.
BEGINNING OF THE WASHINGTON MOVEMENT. [WORD REDACTED] SAID THAT JAMES BEVEL, RALPH ABERNATHY, AND ANDREW J. YOUNG, ALL OF SCLC STAFF, ARE WITH KING. KING AND PARTY SPENT NIGHT OF MARCH EIGHTEEN AT LORRAINE MOTEL, MEMPHIS. SAID THEY PLAN TO VISIT VARIOUS UNIDENTIFIED MISSISSIPPI COMMUNITIES MARCH NINETEEN TO RECRUIT FOR THEIR WASHINGTON, D.C., CAMP-IN. [WORD REDACTED] PREDICTS A MASS NEGRO MARCH ON CITY HALL AFTERNOON OF MARCH NINETEEN WHEN CITY COUNCIL MEETS.

Included in letter to White House and Attorney General. Date 3-20-68

CC- MR. SULLIVAN



This March 20, 1968 document reports on the "general racial situation" in Washington, DC in the weeks before the Poor People's Campaign. It uses Bureau informants and press reports to assess the potential for violence by black militants and rioting.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Washington, D.C. 20535
March 20, 1968

POSSIBLE RACIAL VIOLENCE
MAJOR URBAN AREAS
WASHINGTON, D.C.

This current document contains neither recommendations nor conclusions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The information set forth is based on the comments and views of the individuals mentioned herein. These pertained to the racial situation as it existed at the time the comments and views were expressed. The possibility exists that the racial situation in any particular area in Washington, D. C., may change suddenly. Due consideration must be given this fact.

II. GENERAL RACIAL SITUATION

The individuals familiar with conditions existing in the ghetto areas in Washington, D. C., have advised as follows:

The racial situation is very uncertain. People are apprehensive about Dr. Martin Luther King's "poor people's campaign" which he plans to bring to Washington, D. C. (WDC) in April, 1968. Some believe the demonstration will be beneficial and will show the underprivileged that efforts are being expended in their behalf. A riot could happen over some unexpected incident as has happened in other large cities. Stokely Carmichael urged a gathering of people in WDC, on March 17, 1968, to arm themselves and that every black man in the United States should get a gun. Some

POSSIBLE RACIAL VIOLENCE
MAJOR URBAN AREAS
WASHINGTON, D.C.

People in the WDC are not in sympathy with Dr. King's demonstration plans. WDC leaders are attempting to evaluate the potential of Dr. King's impact on WDC, in April. Howard University students began a sit-in at Howard University on March 19, 1968, protesting possible disciplinary actions against students involved in previous disruptive action on the campus.

III. Current Evaluation of Violence Potential

[paragraph redacted]

The racial situation in WDC appears to be very uncertain. Nobody knows what is going to happen in WDC and many people are scared. They are not sure what will happen when Dr. Martin Luther King's 'poor people's campaign' begins in April. Even though Dr. King has asked the militants to stay out of the activities, there is no assurance the request will be honored.

The March 11, 1968, issue of the "Newsweek" magazine, page 45 contained a paragraph captioned 'Washington'. It stated Washington has never been considered to be a major racial tinderbox as much of its Negro population works for the Federal government and is insulated by civil service security from the worst chills of black despair. It stated Washington was facing the summer with nervous uncertainty, and Dr. King was bringing 3000 demonstrators to Washington to begin a summer-long campaign of picketing and marching for jobs and income.

The March 12, 1968 issue of 'The Evening Star', a daily WDC newspaper, page B-1 reported that District Safety Director Patrick V. Murphy had said the Washington police hoped to train as many as 2,800 volunteers for emergency duty this summer in an enlarged 'Police Reserver

POSSIBLE RACIAL VIOLENCE
MAJOR URBAN AREAS
WASHINGTON, D. C.

[sentence redacted]

On March 17, 1968, Stokely Carmichael gave a talk at The Church of The Redeemer, 15th and Girard Streets, N. E., WRC at the invitation of the Fellowship Forum of the church. Among other things, Carmichael said the black people in the United States must connect with the 900 million black people of the "third world" to liberate themselves from the control of the white man. He described the "third world" as including the black people of Cuba, West Indies, Haiti, South America and Africa. He said the United States is planning genocide against the Negroes and for this reason Negroes should arm themselves. He said he did not mean a .22 caliber either. He advocated that every black man in the United States get a gun. He stated that if Negroes obtained and arsenal, relations between whites and blacks would be equal.

[words redacted] further stated as follows:

Carmichael said he realized many black people do not agree with his ideology and that there are many "Uncle Toms" in the community. Carmichael said his group proposes that if they develop information about a person "being that way", someone will talk to that person and attempt to change his mind and "if he does not change his ways, he will be considered a traitor to his community and all traitors die". Carmichael said black people should support the Arabs in any conflict between the Arabs and Israelis. He said the WDC Public School System is 93% Negro and the curriculum must be changed to be more relative to the Negro community.

The March 18, 1968, issue of "The Washington Post and Times Herald", newspaper on page B-3 reported that Stokely Carmichael had spoken to a racially mixed audience on March 17, 1968 at The Church of The Redeemer, WDC. Among Carmichael's comments to the group were "We are advocating simply that every black man in this country should get a gun. The only reason the honkie (white man) is able to rule is because he has a gun".

POSSIBLE RACIAL VIOLENCE
MAJOR URBAN AREAS
WASHINGTON, D. C.

The March 18, 1968 issue of "The Evening Star", a daily WDC newspaper on page B-3, reported that the District chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had voted to support the goals of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's "Poor People's Campaign".

[paragraph redacted]

It is believed there are some individuals in WDC who may be inclined toward the creation of racial trouble in WDC, but these are not likely to initiate any actions toward the starting of trouble. The feeling among many in the Northwest ghetto is that in order for the "poor people's campaign" to be successful, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will have to bring in outsiders for his reported "civil disobedience" in WDC. In the event large numbers of outsiders are brought in, their behavior will be very difficult to control. Therefore anything may happen.

[paragraph redacted]

In the Northeast area near the source's residence, there has been a lack of enthusiasm by the WDC citizens for Dr. King's "poor people's campaign". These people are not in sympathy with Dr. King's plans as they fail to see that any benefits may result from any demonstration involving civil disobedience.

[paragraph redacted]

The foremost concern of people in WDC is the unknown potential for racial trouble which could take place when Dr. Martin Luther King and his "poor people's campaign" begins in WDC in April 1968. Many leaders of organizations in WDC are attempting to evaluate the current and future potential of Dr. King's impact on the racial scene of WDC. These leaders are very concerned and are trying to determine what response WDC citizens may give Dr. King.

POSSIBLE RACIAL VIOLENCE
MAJOR URBAN AREAS
WASHINGTON, D.C.

[paragraph redacted]

On March 19, 1968 at about 1:30 PM about fifty to seventy-five students began a sit-in in the lobby of the Administration Building, at Howard University to protest possible disciplinary action against students who had participated in previous disruptive activity on the campus.

On March 19, 1968, [sentence redacted] advised that at about 4:45 PM, on March 19, 1968, approximately one hundred and fifty students were engaging in a sit-in in the Administration Building, Howard University and planned to remain all night. According to [sentence redacted], Stokely Carmichael appeared briefly at the building, but did not participate in the sit-in and then departed.

THEFTS OF GUNS AND AMMUNITION

[paragraph redacted]

The source has received at least 50 or more handguns of various types including automatic pistols, snub-nosed weapons and weapons with a long barrel, from an individual employed in WDC. The guns have been obtained from the Fall of 1967 to the present time. These were stolen guns.


Continue to Memphis.