¡Sí Se Puede! Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight on César Chávez & the UFW
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FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-478197

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-478197
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The primary source document described below, which can be viewed by clicking the thumbnail at right, is part of a 1,434-page file on César Chávez and the farmworker movement compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) between 1965 and 1973. The FBI's surveillance of Chávez, which paralleled larger efforts to prove that protest groups of the civil rights era had been infiltrated by subversive influences, was unable to uncover any evidence of communism or corruption in the activities of Chávez and his followers.

The FBI's dossier on Chávez was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which contains provisions that allowed the FBI to withhold portions of the documents from public view. Indeed, many parts—and in some cases, entire pages—have been excised from the files. Nevertheless, the collection provides a compelling window into the efforts of the farmworker movement, as well as the values and methods of the FBI itself.

This file contains reports on various activities of the United Farm Workers (UFW) during 1973–1975, including a demonstration in observance of Attica Day at the John F. Kennedy federal building in Boston; a demonstration in connection with the Secretary of Agriculture's visit in Indianapolis; and a demonstration at the federal building in Phoenix.

In a document dated September 14, 1973, the FBI's field office in Boston reported on a demonstration at the JFK federal building, which the UFW co-sponsored with the Greater Boston Defense Organization against Racist and Political Repression. The purpose of the demonstration was to commemorate the 1971 Attica prison riot in New York, which largely stemmed from prisoners' unrest due to overcrowding and poor living conditions. The special agents who observed the event reported that the demonstration and subsequent rally were peaceful and that no arrests were made.

A teletype dated December 7, 1973, sent from the Indianapolis FBI to Washington, reported on a proposed demonstration in Indianapolis which was to coincide with a visit to the city by Earl L. Butz, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. While much of the text in the memos were redacted, the reports did note that the demonstrators, who carried signs and chanted UFW slogans, conducted themselves in a "peaceful and orderly" manner.

The final report, a teletype from the FBI's Phoenix office dated August 12, 1974, was sent in regards to a planned demonstration by the UFW at the federal building in Phoenix. The purpose of the demonstration was to protest an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) policy that issued green cards to Mexican laborers and thus undercut domestic farm workers' unionization efforts.

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