The local community was well aware that the Klan was involved in the Birmingham Police Department, but, as you know, the FBI’s involvement in quashing civil rights activism at the local level did not come to light until the 1971 burglary of documents from the Media, Pennsylvania, FBI office resulted in the disclosure to the public of the purpose and operations of J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO.Mafundi stood up in resistance to the savagery of the attacks. His courage and leadership qualities became apparent. Retaliation against this resistance to the effort to shatter civil rights activity was quick: He was set up on a false robbery charge and convicted of a felony crime. He was a high school senior at the time.He turned his resistance into activism during that first prison term by organizing prisoners against attacking one another at the behest of the guards, establishing basic education and law classes for Black and white prisoners, and putting together a group called Inmates for Action. He remained an activist upon his release; he organized a defense committee for prisoners, support for their families, documentation of police brutalization of the community, corruption, graft – and presented the findings to the City Council and in public forums.
Southern Poverty Law Center
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