Revelations that prominent radical activist Richard Aoki was an FBI informant have prompted angry denials among his supporters, but newly released records confirm Aoki was secretly providing information to agents during the period he gave the Black Panthers guns and firearms training.
The documents from Aoki’s FBI informant file – totaling 221 pages – were released after a court challenge under the Freedom of Information Act and show that Aoki was an informant from 1961 to 1977, with only brief interruptions. The records say that at various points, he provided information that was “unique” and of “extreme value.”
The records chronicle Aoki’s 16-year career as an informant during the time he was a student at Merritt College in Oakland and at UC Berkeley, participating in a series of radical groups, including the Black Panthers, the Asian American Political Alliance and the Third World Liberation Front, a 1969 protest for more ethnic studies that involved the most violent strike to date at UC Berkeley and led then-Gov. Ronald Reagan to declare a state of emergency.