And the longtime Philadelphia-based civil rights activist and professor John Raines has died at the age of 84. In 1971, he and a group of other activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. They stole every document they found, and then leaked many to the press, including details about FBI abuses and the then-secret counterintelligence program to infiltrate, monitor and disrupt social and political movements, nicknamed COINTELPRO. The burglars’ identities remained a secret until 2014, when Raines, his wife Bonnie and others came forward to take credit for the action. He spoke to Democracy Now! in 2014.
John Raines: “The problem was, J. Edgar Hoover was untouchable. He was a national icon. I mean, he had presidents who were afraid of him. The people that we elected to oversee J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI were either enamored of him or terrified of him. Nobody was holding him accountable. And that meant that somebody had to get objective evidence of what his FBI was doing. And that led us to the idea that Bill Davidon suggested to us: Let’s break into an FBI office, get their files and get what they’re doing in their own handwriting.”
John Raines died on Sunday at the age of 84. Click here to see the full interview.