Man Who Armed Black Panthers Named As FBI Informant

A new investigative report from Seth Rosenfeld of the Center for Investigative Reporting has revealed that one of the most well-known radical activists of the 1960s, Richard Masato Aoki, an early member of the Black Panthers, was an FBI informant.

A new investigative report from Seth Rosenfeld of the Center for Investigative Reporting has revealed that one of the most well-known radical activists of the 1960s, Richard Masato Aoki, an early member of the Black Panthers, was an FBI informant.

Via:

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.

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 Capitol.

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.

Reportedly recruited as he was graduating from Berkeley High School, A Nov. 16, 1967, intelligence report on the Black Panthers lists Aoki as an "informant" with the code number "T-2."

"He was my informant. I developed him," FBI agent Burney Threadgill Jr. said in an interview. "He was one of the best sources we had."

About Diane Sweet

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Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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