By John Potash/Rock Creek Free Press
In 1996, gunmen killed Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas. Despite his death at 25, Shakur remains the top-selling rap artist of all time. Tupac, the son of radical activists, was an extremely motivated radical activist leader. His huge influence through his music, coupled with his intention to work for radical change, made him an “enemy of the state”.
US Intelligence’s attacks on the Shakur family offer a window into their murderous programs targeting of Black leaders over the last four decades. Those targeted include not only Sixties leaders such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Huey Newton and Jimi Hendrix but also the more contemporary generation of less conventional leaders, such as activist-converted gangs and politically-linked rappers. This article is a summary of a book on this subject, The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders, which includes a thousand endnotes on its sources.
These are excerpts of The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders, the new film based on the book of the same title, now available on DVD. The subtitle of the book is U.S. Intelligence's Murderous Targeting of Tupac, MLK, Malcolm, Panthers, Hendrix, Marley, Rappers and Linked Ethnic Leftists. These leftists include Robert F. Kennedy, Judi Bari and Filiberto Ojedo Rios. It's based on 15 years of research and includes over 1,000 endnotes documenting it's sources. These sources are from personal interviews, government documents and mostly mainstream media. Fred Hampton, Jr. contributed an Afterword and Pam Africa wrote a Foreword to which Mumia Abu-Jamal contributed an essay.
US Intelligence’s Targeting of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The US Intelligence apparatus is comprised of over 15 agencies, including the CIA, NAS, Military Intelligence, and it also includes the FBI which oversees local police intelligence. Historians and social scientists such as Michael Parenti, Peter Dale Scott and many others, have documented the fact that these agencies work for the interests of the wealthiest American families and the multinational corporations they control. It is these elite families who contribute to politicians’ campaigns and have documented family links to US Intelligence leadership. The job of the intelligence agencies is to protect the status quo--to protect the wealth and power of the elite families they serve. These agencies had every reason to want to eliminate radical black leaders trying to change the system. Leaders such as Malcolm X, MLK and Tupac Shakur were a threat to the system.
Gunmen fatally shot Malcolm X as he gave a speech in New York on February 21, 1965. Malcolm’s security guard Eugene Roberts was the first to arrive at his body and confirm his death. Five years later, Roberts would reveal himself to be an undercover police intelligence agent when he testified in the trial of two Shakurs who led the New York Black Panthers.
Court records show that it was US military and Intelligence assets who assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Attorney William Pepper conducted a 20-year investigation of MLK’s assassination as attorney for the King family. His work culminated in two trials. The first, this one unofficial, proved that James Earl Ray did not kill Dr. King. The second, a civil trial in 1999, resulted in a judgement against one of the government intelligence co-conspirators and put into the public record proof of extensive government involvement in the assassination. The controlled media has never bothered to report the facts of the case.
In the trial, Pepper revealed that Military Intelligence Group undercover agent Marrell McCullough had infiltrated MLK’s inner circle. It was agent McCullough who immediately ran to MLK just after his shooting. McCullough had the assignment of checking MLK’s life signs to communicate to other intelligence agents whether his wounds were fatal, the same role that agent Eugene Roberts had fulfilled in the Malcolm X. assassination.
FBI Tactics Against Panthers Revealed; Continued as “Anti-Terrorism”
Tupac Shakur was born into a family of radical black activists. His father and uncles were all associates of Malcolm X in his Organization of Afro-American Unity. After Malcolm’s death the Shakurs continued their activism with the Black Panther Party. Unfortunately for them, undercover COINTELPRO agent Eugene Roberts followed them into the Panthers.
Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in 1966. They appointed Lumumba Shakur head of the Harlem Panthers. Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur joined the Harlem chapter and married Lumumba. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover described the Black Panthers as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” The Black Panthers were, for many years, the primary target of FBI COINTELPRO operations. Their “threatening” activities included free breakfast programs for poor kids and free health care programs.
In 1969, Eugene Roberts and other undercover agents framed the Shakurs and 19 other leading New York Panthers. The “New York Panther 21” decided to have Afeni first gain release on bail and then lead the Harlem Panthers as they awaited trial for over a year.
During the New York Panther 21 trial in 1971, activists raided a Pennsylvania FBI office and found documents on the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro) involving targeting left-wing radicals, particularly blacks. These documents revealed how the FBI had accomplished its goal to “neutralize” the Black Panthers through assassinations, harassment arrests, and other tactics. One FBI strategy involved pitting East Coast Panthers, such as Afeni Shakur, against West Coast Panthers that included Huey Newton. The media dubbed this the East versus West Panther War.
A month after her 1971 acquittal, Afeni gave birth to Tupac Amaru Shakur. Lumumba and Afeni had divorced by the time of their acquittal. She continued her activism and named Los Angeles Panther leader Geronimo Pratt as Tupac’s godfather.
Former intelligence agents such as the FBI’s M. Wesley Swearingen said his agency officially ended their Cointelpro program in 1971, but continued the same operations under different names. For example, they started “anti-terrorist” units that continued attacking the Black Panthers. In 1971, police attacked Bronx Panther co-leader Zayd Shakur and fellow Panther Assata Shakur. They went underground and helped start the Black Liberation Army. New Jersey police killed Zayd and wounded Assata in a controversial 1973 shoot-out.
In New York, the Revolutionary Armed Task Force (RATF), which included members of the Black Liberation Army, the Weather Underground and Puerto Rican Independence activists, reportedly robbed banks to underwrite healthcare in the Bronx. Police also charged the RATF with breaking Assata out of prison in 1979 and helping her gain political exile status in Cuba, where she resides today.
A new federal/state/local police amalgam in New York, the Joint Terrorist Task Force, used this case to arrest dozens of activists. They charged Mutulu with “conspiracy” related to the shooting/bank heist, not actual participation. In court, a judge reported that the FBI used Cointelpro tactics in their illegal surveillance of Mutulu for years, yet they still failed to present any physical evidence of his involvement in the bank truck incident. Nonetheless, using a witness given leniency for actually committing the bank heist, they convicted Mutulu in 1986.
FBI Focus on Tupac Shakur: Panther Leader
By the time Tupac turned 17, The New Afrikan Panthers elected him their youngest-ever national chairman. Black Panthers and Republic of New Afrika activists had founded the New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO). Their young adult New Afrikan Panthers attempted to replicate the Black Panthers with chapters in eight cities.
FBI agent Richard Held supervised the San Francisco FBI office in the Bay area where the Shakurs had moved. Agent Held had previously directed the Los Angeles Cointelpro team’s murders of Panthers and the frame-up of Geronimo Pratt in 1971. Agent Held then contributed to the cover-up of Huey Newton’s 1989 murder. In 1990, evidence presented in a multimillion-dollar government court settlement, shows that Agent Held’s FBI team planted a bomb under the car seat of Earth First! environmental leader Judi Bari, leaving her paralyzed.
Agent Held oversaw at least two attacks on Tupac Shakur in the San Francisco Bay area. Oakland police stopped Tupac for jaywalking within several days of his first MTV worldwide video release in 1991. Oakland police arrested him, beat his head against the pavement and choked him unconscious. Both police brutality tactics have caused other victims’ deaths. Tupac would later note, “I never had a record until I made a record.”
In 1992, the San Francisco Bay area’s Marin City invited Tupac to be an honorary guest at a music festival. At the event Tupac was attacked by unknown assailents who punched and then shot at the rap star. Police watched the incident and then arrested Tupac and his stepbrother but not the attackers. These and other details of the attack strongly suggest that the attack was one of Richard Held’s Cointelpro operations.
Tupac Used Thug Façade to Politicize Gangs; Atlanta Police & NYC Attacks
Insiders confirmed that Tupac Shakur projected a gangsta rap persona as part of a secret political plan. He wanted to appeal to gangs in order to politicize them. Tupac, Mutulu Shakur, former Black Panthers brokered peace truces between Bloods and Crips gang sects. They then turned them on to left-wing politics. Similar gang transformations started spreading nationwide. The FBI and police intelligence retaliated against this movement by arresting gang peace truce leaders.
Police increased their attacks on Tupac at this time using the same “harassment arrest” strategy that they used against his Black Panther family. Witnesses stated that “off-duty” Atlanta plainclothes police officers smashed Tupac’s car window and shot at him in October of 1993.
About two weeks after the shooting, a new “friend” of Tupac’s, Jacques Agnant (a.k.a. Haitian Jack, Nigel), introduced the rap star to a woman in a New York dance club. After having sex with them that night, the woman returned several nights later and accused Tupac and Agnant of rape.
Amongst much police foul play, an officer admitted that police erased the woman’s request for more sex on Tupac’s hotel answering machine. Then, Tupac’s lawyer obtained Agnant’s long rap sheet for major charges that were all dismissed—a sure sign that Agnant did police intelligence work. A long-time police lawyer represented Agnant in court to defend him in the sodomy case, further confirming that Agnant was a police agent.
The night before the jury deliberated Tupac’s case, an associate of Agnant’s called the rapper to a recording studio lobby where gunmen ambushed Tupac and put two bullets in his head as the entertainer lay face down on the ground. Tupac miraculously survived. A studio guard said he offered the police a security camera videotape of the shooting but they refused to take the tape. The gunmen remain at-large.
FBI’s East/West War and Police Front Group Targets Tupac, Biggie
The jury for the sexual assault trial acquitted Tupac of all the major charges, from forced sodomy to gun possession. They only found him guilty of touching Ayanna Jackson’s butt against her will. While police informant Agnant only received two misdemeanors, Tupac was given 4 years in jail.
Despite the minor nature of the charges, Tupac was sent to an upstate New York maximum-security prison. They apparently did this in order to utilize “Penal Coercion” on Tupac for the eleven months he remained in prison. (Amnesty International documented how prison officials used Penal Coercion techniques to damage the minds of political prisoners.) Officials used these coercion tactics to convince Tupac that his rapper friend Biggie Smalls orchestrated his shooting. This manufactured “feud,” spurred on by Cointelpro, escalated into the East versus West rap war in the same way the FBI had created the East/West Panther war in the 60s.
Desperate to leave prison, Tupac signed a contract with Death Row Records in 1995. Evidence supports that Death Row Records worked as a US Intelligence front company. High level Los Angeles police detective Russell Poole said that dozens of LA police officers worked at Death Row records as “covert agents.” Death Row instigated the East/West rap war, targeted political rappers and reportedly trafficked drugs. They also tried to end the Bloods/Crips peace truce.
In 1996, Tupac fired his lawyer who actually owned Death Row Records. Death Row Records then fired Tupac’s bodyguard, Kevin Hackie, an undercover FBI agent who apparently disobeyed FBI orders by trying to dissuade Tupac from taking the fateful trip to Las Vegas.
Gunmen fatally shot Tupac in Vegas. FBI Agent Hackie claims that the FBI watched the shooting. The FBI further had pictures of Biggie Smalls within minutes of his Los Angeles murder in 1997. Detective Poole, the lead investigator of Biggie Small’s murder, said his fellow officers at Death Row Records killed Biggie to make their murder of Tupac look like part of the East/West rapper war.
A Continuum of Targeting Activist Musicians: From Hendrix to Rappers
Such murderous targeting has a history and continues today. Jimi Hendrix began supporting the Panthers after MLK’s assassination. While the FBI had him under close surveillance, a “former” MI6 agent inserted himself as Hendrix’s manager and sabotaged his career. Within 48 hours of Hendrix firing his manager, the guitar legend was dead. Hendrix’s fiance stated that government foul play surrounded his death. She died mysteriously in 1996, just months after publishing this information.
In recent years, reports found that New York and Los Angeles police “rap” units trained police nationwide in FBI Counterintelligence Program (Cointelpro) tactics for attacking politically-linked rappers. Police foul play has been directed against popular rap artists as soon as they start getting involved in activism, including P-Diddy, Nas, Mos Def, Snoop Dogg, The Coup, Wu Tang Clan, Jay Z, Jam Master Jay and Eminem. The FBI also targeted other activist musicians, such as Rage Against the Machine and Spearhead. These injustices demand an independent investigation and response.
John Potash is author of The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders: US Intelligence’s Murderous Targeting of Tupac, MLK, Malcolm, Panthers, Hendrix, Marley Rappers & Linked Ethnic Leftists. Foreword by Pam Africa with Mumia Abu-Jamal. Afterword by Fred Hampton, Jr. www.fbiwarontupac.com copyright John Potash, 2009