Bastards of the Party: a ­documentary about why gangs emerged in L.A.

The Counter Intelligence Programs of the FBI, or COINTELPRO for short, infiltrated, spread rumors about, and assassinated members of political movements in the United States from the 1940s until the official ending of the FBI program when activists made public these illegal operations. Under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, who had been the nation's longest-living spook, began his career of targeting people for their political beliefs to be deported starting in 1924.

While COINTELPRO targeted the New Left, the anti-Vietman war movement, feminist and gay rights organizations, Chicanx, and immigrant's rights organizations for disruption and destruction, it was the Black Power movement, specifically, the Black Panther Party, that received the brunt of state-sanctioned and extralegal violence. The specific targeting of Black Panther Party members and the Black community left a generation of people and communities economically, socially, and politically devastated. A whole generation of leaders was taken out.

Bastards of the Party, released in 2005, but shot in 1996, re-tells the story of life in South Central Los Angeles in the aftermath of the US government's war on the Black Panther Party and how this state-sanctioned violence was related to the emergence of gangs.

Cle Shaheed Sloan is the director and main narrator. A former gang member, the story follows Sloan's questions about Los Angeles history, racial segregation, white supremacist violence, and the urgent necessity for community self-defense to understand the emergence of the CRIPs and the BLOODs.

In this review from 2005 in Variety, Ronnie Scheib writes,

"Sloan fashions a sobering decade-by-decade chronicle of discrimination and repression, drawing freely from contemporaneous accounts in the California Eagle, newsreels, FBI memoranda and Los Angeles historian Mike Davis' "City of Quartz." Pic attributes the formation of the first black gangs to self-defense against racist white gangs like the Spookhunters and analyzes the systematic targeting of the black community during the reign of police chief William Parker. Sloan's account becomes richer in eyewitness testimonials and archival documentation in its discussion of the '60s, when many black gangs became associated with political causes."

I also appreciate the documentary because it features the brilliant writer and scholar, the late Mike Davis. Davis, a MacArthur Genius grant winner, was the author of numerous books, including City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles, that Sloan happened upon and read while incarcerated. Here is a link to Mike Davis's obituary in The Nation.

Vimeo has a version of the documentary. You can check out the trailer here. Here is a link to the soundtrack.

The Freedom Archives, based in San Francisco, produced COINTELPRO 101, available here. The Documentary 1971 "reveals the stories of the burglars who broke into a small FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, took every file, and shared them with the public." This is how we know about COINTELPRO to begin with.