Japanese FBI Agent Armed Black Panthers

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Japanese Independent Congregational Church 1927

Japanese Independent Congregational Church


Here is Aoki, a Japanese Veteran who lived in the ghetto of West Oakland in ‘Little Yokohama’. He befriended the Black Panthers, and armed them – as an FBI agent! This was an attempt to stop a group of black radicals from engaging in an Urban Renewal Project that was spreading to other major cities. Transforming neighborhoods into viable places that empowers its citizens – that raises them up from being Helpless Victims – was the core goal of the Panthers. With guns in their hands, they now looked like they were all about overthrowing local and national governments, which went well with the demented paranoia of J. Edgar Hoover, who saw thousands of American Citizens as the Enemy Within. Hoover was feathering his own nest, reinforcing his reason to exist – and get funding for his agency!

Hoover, and the neo-Confederate leaders of the Red States hated the War on Poverty and the Panther Breakfast for Children Program, because it was an INFUSION of  Federal Government Money into the hands of local back leaders, who would naturally create a Voting Rights Program – to go with! The CIA has used Food as a Weapon and means of indoctrination. So has the Christian Missionaries. The Panthers were Secular Socialists – even Communists – who were the godless, members of  ‘The Evil Collective Money Empire’ that vies for the Gargantuan Income Tax Pile.

Paul Ryan has a plan that is covertly addressing the issue raised in this article. Being a major Catholic Leader in the world, he is being nudged by Liberal Pope Francis to take care of the Poor. However, the Evangelical Small Government Nuts, are hell bent on eliminating all Federal Programs and rendering Washington IMPOTENT. This will drive the poor to their church basement where they will be fed army surplus food, and indoctrinated into the End Time Hysterics Program – that will drive them to their knees where they will surrender their souls to Emperor Jesus! These believers in ‘The Rapture’ believe Satan is in control of Food Stamps and uses it on hungry people as a recruiting weapon. Pope Francis is keeping a sharp eye on this poker game – that is now out of control due to the racist pronouncements of Trump Von Wall, who is going after Muslims and Catholic Latinos. Von Wall – hates the Poor!

World Leaders are not fooled! When Von Wall declared himself a Christian, and attended Evangelical Ho-downs, many were reminded of Hitler.


Here is how the South depicted the newly formed Republican Abolitionist party.



Many Black working mothers were gleefully sending their children to the breakfast programs because they had someone to babysit their kids, if just for a little while. Now that they were armed, and a shoot-out with the Oakland Cops looked likely, mothers would keep their children away. They also do not want them to grow up and pick up guns.

Now armed, police departments in several cities, picked fights with the Panthers. In this light, Richard Masato Aoki, helped alter American History by destroying the Black Panthers, and scuttling LBJ’s ‘War on Poverty’. This left Doctor Martin Luther King alone, and in the open. His Voter’s Rights Program, was hanging in the balance. King was the minister and prophet of a powerful black church. He was beset by secular radicals who wanted to control his religious base. Stokley Carmichael and Malcolm X were critical of King and his followers. With the appearance t of armed Black Panther on the courthouse steps in Oakland, it was time for The Black Swan song&dance.

“Turn out the lights, the party’s over!”

In this light, one has to ask why young white men were drafted, given arms, and sent to fight a Communist Urban Renewal Program in Vietnam.  The Military waged war on Civilian Populations. Johnson was forced to resign. The Panthers came close to being ‘The Solution’.  Oakland almost became their showcase, their model of success, where would come Civic Leaders from all over the world, especially South America.


Former Black Panther, Angela Davis,  is now being consulted about the racist rants of Donald Trump. She should avoid comments that say; “we have to do whatever is necessary.” because Covert Agents will look for a way to put a gun in her hand.

What is needed is ‘The Rebirth of the War on Poverty’. It looked like ‘The OCCUPY Movement’ might  lead this battle, but, they chose to champion the Homeless who are not citizens of any community that is experiencing poverty, and are in competition with with the Bohemian Creative Class who have long transformed ghettos into united communities that own a voice via The Muses. In the New War on Poverty, creative followers of the muses will be funded, rather than Activists, who tend to employ stealth and vie with one another for limited resources.  Using the homeless as human shields to achieve ones agenda, is counter productive, and empowers those who control the shield. Also, the homeless do not vote, which undermines Dr. King’s vision.

In 2006, I founded ‘The Bohemian Bank’ with Kenny and Marilyn Reed, and with another gentleman who will go un-named, because he was in it for the Free Ideas, that he secretly turned into profits – for just himself and his family!

My blog has been compiling the history of the Bohemians in order to show there is a long TRADITION of creative people creating dynamic communities with the help of Extended Families. There exist a profound synchronicity that became an art movement in the 40s and 50’s that I have traced to the Sawtelle that was recently renamed ‘Japantown’, The connection to ‘Little Yokohama’ will be explored, and tied to Joaquin Miller’s promotion and advancement of Japanese Poets who lived in ‘The Hights’.

For ten years I have been predicting ‘The Death of the Republican Party’ that has been conducting covert operations on U.S. Citizens. When they lost to Obama, they created the Fake & Armed Tea Party, and we saw white folks with guns across from the White House. Republican candidates and leaders have called Von Wall a fake. This is true, but, their problem is, he is being extremely OVERT about  – THEIR FALSENESS!

It’s time to turn the Dead Republican Party in the New War on Poverty! Who’s to stop us?

Jon Presco

Copyright 2016







Activists around the world have long turned to Angela Davis for scholarly guidance when discussing systems of oppression and power.

This week in New York, the radical feminist activist issued a rallying cry to Americans: to avoid a Donald Trump presidency, “we have to do whatever is necessary.”


In the film, Johnson (played by Tom Wilkinson) is portrayed as resisting King (played by David Oyelowo) on a voting rights push because the president wants to launch his War on Poverty. The film also shows, without directly implicating Johnson, some of J. Edgar Hoover’s devious efforts to scuttle King and the movement.


The man who gave the Black Panther Party some of its first firearms and weapons training – which preceded fatal shootouts with Oakland police in the turbulent 1960s – was an undercover FBI informer, according to a former bureau agent and an FBI report.

How The Black Panther Party Changed Hunger and Poverty Policy in AmericaCLICK TO TWEET

Under the leadership of Bobby Seale, a community organizer with experience working in Oakland’s government poverty program, the Black Panther Party created its Free Breakfast for Children Program in January of 1969 as one component of the Party’s many “survival programs” they were creating. The St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in West Oakland hosted the program, led by Father Earl A. Neil and coordinated by Parishoner Ruth Beckford-Smith, which allowed the church to serve as a place where young children could come to not only eat, but be mentored and, yes, learn that “power in a community begins with people who care.”

“As the Party’s community survival programs entered a planning stage that year, we began planning the Free Breakfast for School Children Program. Mrs. Beckford-Smith and I undertook the necessary research to facilitate the program’s opening. This included consulting with nutritionists to determine what a healthy breakfast menu should include, having the church parish hall and kitchen inspected by the health department and fire marshal to certify that we met the necessary health and safety codes

It was the first nationally organized breakfast program in the United States, either in the public or private sector”

—Father Earl A. Neill, Co-organizer of the first Black Panther Breakfast Program [source]

Only a couple of months later, the second Free Breakfast for Children Program opened at Sacred Heart Church in San Francisco and, before long, almost ten facilities were feeding 1,200 children of every cultural background from Northern California to Chicago to Des Moines, Iowa.

As leaders were constantly swapped in and out of the Party, so went Bobby Seale. When he left to do a prison bid in August ’69, David Hilliard took control and made the program his top priority, resulting in 23 cities picking up the program from Seattle to NYC by the end of November that same year. During the year that followed, the Party developed free health clinics, a Free Food Distribution Program, Free Shoe Program, Sickle Cell Anemia Research Foundation, free housing co-ops, Free Plumbing and Maintenance Program, legal aid, a Senior Escorts Program, and a Free Ambulance Program among others… but that breakfast program remained as the key program the party was known for.

Excerpted from How The Black Panther Party Changed Hunger and Poverty Policy in America | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

One of the Bay Area’s most prominent radical activists of the era, Richard Masato Aoki was known as a fierce militant who touted his street-fighting abilities. He was a member of several radical groups before joining and arming the Panthers, whose members received international notoriety for brandishing weapons during patrols of the Oakland police and a protest at the state Legislature.

Aoki went on to work for 25 years as a teacher, counselor and administrator at the Peralta Community College District, and after his suicide in 2009, he was revered as a fearless radical.

But unbeknownst to his fellow activists, Aoki had served as an FBI intelligence informant, covertly filing reports on a wide range of Bay Area political groups, according to the bureau agent who recruited him.

That agent, Burney Threadgill Jr., recalled that he approached Aoki in the late 1950s, about the time Aoki was graduating from Berkeley High School. He asked Aoki if he would join left-wing groups and report to the FBI.

“He was my informant. I developed him,” Threadgill said in an interview. “He was one of the best sources we had.”

The former agent said he asked Aoki how he felt about the Soviet Union, and the young man replied that he had no interest in communism.

“I said, ‘Well, why don’t you just go to some of the meetings and tell me who’s there and what they talked about?’ Very pleasant little guy. He always wore dark glasses,” Threadgill recalled.

Aoki’s work for the FBI, which has never been reported, was uncovered and verified during research for the book, “Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power.” The book, based on research spanning three decades, will be published tomorrow by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

In a tape-recorded interview for the book in 2007, two years before he committed suicide, Aoki was asked if he had been an FBI informant. Aoki’s first response was a long silence. He then replied, “ ‘Oh,’ is all I can say.”

Later during the same interview, Aoki contended the information wasn’t true.

Asked if this reporter was mistaken that Aoki had been an informant, Aoki said, “I think you are,” but added: “People change. It is complex. Layer upon layer.”

However, the FBI later released records about Aoki in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. A Nov. 16, 1967, intelligence report on the Black Panthers lists Aoki as an “informant” with the code number “T-2.”

An FBI spokesman declined to comment on Aoki, citing litigation seeking additional records about him under the Freedom of Information Act.

Since his death – Aoki shot himself at his Berkeley home after a long illness – his legend has grown. In a 2009 feature-length documentary film, “Aoki,” and a 2012 biography, “Samurai Among Panthers,” he is portrayed as a militant radical leader. Neither mentions that he had worked with the FBI.

Harvey Dong, who was a fellow activist and close friend, said last week that he had never heard that Aoki was an informant.

“It’s definitely something that is shocking to hear,” said Dong, who was the executor of Aoki’s estate. “I mean, that’s a big surprise to me.”

Dong recalled that Aoki tended to “compartmentalize” the different parts of his life. Before he shot himself, Dong said, Aoki had laid out in his apartment two neatly pressed uniforms: One was the black leather jacket, beret and dark trousers of the Black Panthers. The other was his U.S. Army regimental.

In Berkeley in the late 1960s, Aoki wore slicked-back hair, sported sunglasses even at night and spoke with a ghetto patois. His fierce demeanor intimidated even his fellow radicals, several of them have said.

“He had swagger up to the moon,” former Berkeley activist Victoria Wong recalled at his memorial.

From gangs to the military

Aoki was born in San Leandro in 1938, the first of two sons. He was 4 when his family was interned at Topaz, Utah, with thousands of other Japanese Americans during World War II.

After the war, Aoki grew up in West Oakland, in an area that had been known as Little Yokohama before becoming a low-income black community. He joined a gang and became a tough street fighter who as an adult would boast, “I was the baddest Oriental come out of West Oakland.”

He shoplifted, burgled homes and stole car parts for “the midnight auto supply business,” he told Berkeley’s KPFA radio in a 2006 interview. Oakland police repeatedly arrested him for “mostly petty-type stuff,” he said in the 2007 interview. Still, he graduated from Herbert Hoover Junior High School as co-valedictorian.

But the internment during World War II had shattered his family, Aoki had said. His father became a gangster and abandoned his family, and his mother won custody of her sons and moved them to Berkeley. Aoki did well academically at Berkeley High School and became president of the Stamp and Coin Club. However, he assaulted another student in the hallway and, as he recalled, “beat him half to death.”

Three days after graduating from high school in January 1957, Aoki reported for duty at Fort Ord, near Monterey. He had enlisted in the U.S. Army the prior year, at age 17. He acknowledged in the 2007 interview that he had “cut a deal” in which military authorities arranged for his criminal record to be sealed.

Aoki said he had hoped to become the army’s first Asian American general, but he served only about a year on active duty and seven more in the reserves before being honorably discharged as a sergeant.

Although he saw no combat, he became a firearms expert. “I got to play with all the toys I wanted to play with when I was growing up,” he told KPFA. “Pistols, rifles, machine guns, mortars, rocket launchers.”

Being in the reserves left Aoki a lot of free time, and he became deeply involved in left-wing political organizations at the behest of the FBI, retired FBI agent Threadgill said during a series of interviews before his death in 2005.

“The activities that he got involved in was because of us using him as an informant,” he said.

Threadgill recalled that he first approached Aoki after a bureau wiretap on the home phone of Saul and Billie Wachter, local members of the Communist Party, picked up Aoki talking to fellow Berkeley High classmate Doug Wachter.

At first, Aoki gathered information about the Communist Party, Threadgill said. But Aoki soon focused on the Socialist Workers Party and its youth affiliate, the Young Socialist Alliance, also targets of an intensive FBI domestic security investigation.

By spring 1962, Aoki had been elected to the Berkeley Young Socialist Alliance’s executive council, FBI records show. That December, he became a member of the Oakland-Berkeley branch of the Socialist Workers Party, where he served as the representative to Bay Area civil rights groups. He also was on the steering committee of the Committee to Uphold the Right to Travel.

In 1965, Aoki joined the Vietnam Day Committee, an influential anti-war group based in Berkeley, and worked on its international committee as liaison to foreign anti-war activists.

All along, Aoki met regularly with his FBI handler. Aoki also filed reports by phone, Threadgill said.

“I’d call him and say, ‘When do you want to get together?’ “ Threadgill recalled. “I’d say, ‘I’ll meet you on the street corner at so-and-so and so on.’ I would park a couple of blocks away and get out and go and sit down and talk to him.”

Arming the Black Panthers

Threadgill worked with Aoki through mid-1965, when he moved to another FBI office and turned Aoki over to a fellow agent. Aoki was well positioned to inform on a wide range of political activists.

Aoki attended Merritt College in Oakland, where he met Huey Newton, a pre-law student, and Bobby Seale, an engineering student, who were in a political group called the Soul Students Advisory Council.

In fall 1966, Aoki transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior in sociology. That October, Seale and Newton took a draft of their 10-point program for what would become the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense to Aoki’s Berkeley apartment and discussed it over drinks. The platform called for improved housing, education, full employment, the release of incarcerated black men, a halt to “the robbery by the capitalists of our black community” and an “immediate end to police brutality.”

Soon after, Aoki gave the Panthers some of their first guns. As Seale recalled in his memoir, “Seize the Time.”

“Late in November 1966, we went to a Third World brother we knew, a Japanese radical cat. He had guns … .357 Magnums, 22’s, 9mm’s, what have you. … We told him that if he was a real revolutionary he better go on and give them up to us because we needed them now to begin educating the people to wage a revolutionary struggle. So he gave us an M-1 and a 9mm.”

In early 1967, Aoki joined the Black Panther Party and gave them more guns, Seale wrote. Aoki also gave Panther recruits weapons training, he said in the 2007 interview.

“I had a little collection, and Bobby and Huey knew about it, and so when the party was formed, I decided to turn it over to the group,” Aoki said in the interview. “And so when you see the guys out there marching and everything, I’m somewhat responsible for the military slant to the organization’s public image.”

In early 1967, the Panthers displayed guns during their “community patrols” of Oakland police and also that May 2, when they visited the state Legislature to protest a bill.

Although carrying weapons was legal at the time, there is little doubt their presence contributed to fatal confrontations between the Panthers and the police.

On Oct. 28, 1967, Newton was in a shootout that wounded Oakland Officer Herbert Heanes and killed Officer John Frey. On April 6, 1968, Eldridge Cleaver and five other Panthers were involved in a firefight with Oakland police. Cleaver and two officers were wounded, and Panther Bobby Hutton was killed.

During the period Aoki was arming the Panthers, he also was informing for the FBI. The FBI report that lists him as informant T-2 says that in May 1967, he reported on the Panthers.

None of the released FBI reports mention that Aoki gave guns to the Panthers.

FBI’s reliance on informants

M. Wesley Swearingen, a retired FBI agent who has criticized unlawful bureau surveillance activities under the late Director J. Edgar Hoover, reviewed some of the FBI’s records. He concluded in a sworn declaration – filed in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records on Aoki – that Aoki had been an informant.

Swearingen served in the FBI from 1951 to 1977, and worked on a squad that investigated the Panthers.

“Someone like Aoki is perfect to be in a Black Panther Party, because I understand he is Japanese,” he said. “Hey, nobody is going to guess – he’s in the Black Panther Party; nobody is going to guess that he might be an informant.”

Swearingen also said the FBI certainly must have additional records concerning Aoki, including special informant files.

“Aoki wouldn’t even have to be a member of the party. If he just knew Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, if he went out to lunch with them every day, they would have a main file,” he said. “But to say they don’t have a main file is ludicrous.”

In the 1990s, testimony from Swearingen helped to vacate the murder conviction of Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, a Black Panther leader in Los Angeles. Evidence showed that the FBI and Los Angeles Police Department had failed to disclose that a key witness against Pratt was a longtime FBI informant named Julius C. Butler. Pratt later won a civil suit for wrongful imprisonment, with the City of Los Angeles paying Pratt $2.75 million and the FBI paying him $1.75 million.

During the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the FBI sought to disrupt and “neutralize” the Black Panthers under COINTELPRO, the bureau’s secret counterintelligence program to stifle dissent, according to reports by the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities.

As part of COINTELPRO, the committee found, the FBI used informants to gather intelligence leading to the weapons arrests of Panthers in Chicago, Detroit, San Diego and Washington. By the end of 1969, at least 28 Panthers had been killed in gunfights with police and many more arrested on weapons charges, according to news accounts.

Hoover declared in late 1968 that the Panthers, who by now had chapters across the nation, posed “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” He cited their radical philosophy and armed confrontations with police.

Although Aoki later would boast of his role with the Panthers, he was secretive about his relations with them at the time, explaining in the 2007 interview that he feared being expelled from UC Berkeley if his activities were known.

In early 1969, Aoki emerged as a leader of the Third World Liberation Front strike at UC Berkeley, which demanded more ethnic studies courses. He advocated violent tactics, according to interviews with him and Manuel Delgado, another strike leader.

Scores of students and police were injured during the three-month confrontation, which became the campus’s most violent strike to date. Gov. Ronald Reagan declared a state of emergency and sent the National Guard to quell the violence.

At a memorial service for Aoki at Wheeler Hall in May 2009, Seale, of the Black Panthers, and other activists hailed Aoki as a “fearless leader and servant of the people.” In a phone conversation last week, Seale expressed surprise at hearing that Aoki was an informant and declined to comment further.

Seth Rosenfeld was an investigative reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle and has won the George Polk Award and other journalism honors.

Also on Huff

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Japanese FBI Agent Armed Black Panthers

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    Ray West is a journalist, but offers no details of his stint as a Black Panther. Put up, or shut up!

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