Last week, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture hosted a conversation titled “Understanding Policing and Surveillance in America” for their Conversations in Black Freedom Studies series. Moderated by Dr. Jeanne Theoharis and Dr. Robyn C. Spencer, UNC Press author of Nixon’s War At Home: The FBI, Leftist Guerrillas, and the Origins of Counterterrorism Daniel S. Chard spoke with authors Victoria Law, Marisol LeBrón and Stuart Schrader. Transforming the nature, role, and function of policing has emerged as an urgent demand by a new generation of activists. This panel traces the history that got us here. These four authors will consider the global impact and historical roots of policing and surveillance in the US.
During the presidency of Richard Nixon, homegrown leftist guerrilla groups like the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army carried out hundreds of attacks in the United States. The FBI had a long history of infiltrating activist groups, but this type of clandestine action posed a unique challenge. Drawing on thousands of pages of declassified FBI documents, Daniel S. Chard shows how America’s war with domestic guerillas prompted a host of new policing measures as the FBI revived illegal spy techniques previously used against communists in the name of fighting terrorism.
Daniel S. Chard is visiting assistant professor of history at Western Washington University.