¡Sí Se Puede! Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight on César Chávez & the UFW
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FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #44-60006 (Part 4)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #44-60006 (Part 4)
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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.

Between April 1974 and May 1976, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continued to exchange documents related to  Jerome Ducote, a man who attempted to sell stolen information from the offices of the United Farm Workers (UFW). Under the false name "Fred Schwartz," Ducote approached UFW legal counsel Jerry Cohen in March 1974 and asked him for $35,000 in exchange for UFW papers and information incriminating California growers in 16 robberies between 1966 and 1970. Cohen reported the incidents to the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, which opened an FBI investigation into possible violations of the UFW's rights under labor laws. After a report of the investigation was filed on April 19, 1974, the DOJ concluded that no federal violation had occurred.

Dated between May 17 to August 20, 1974, correspondences from the Civil Rights Division, the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Sacramento field office discussed the dissemination of an April 19 report on the Ducote case to "appropriate local law enforcement authorities" as they related to possible violations of California state law.

The FBI file also included an article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on December 12, 1975. In the article, UFW leader César Chávez and Cohen accused the FBI and other federal agencies of covering up the burglaries and failing to take action against the growers behind the break-ins.

A January 9, 1976, document stated that Rep. Don Edwards of California expressed interest in allegations that Ducote was an FBI informant and requested information on the FBI's relationship to Ducote.

A report dated January 20, 1976, and other subsequent documents, addressed allegations that Ducote had committed burglaries and stole information for the FBI. It summarized an FBI interview of Ducote on December 24, 1975, in which he stated that "he has never worked for the FBI in any capacity." Additionally, the document described affidavits by the FBI's San Francisco and Sacramento divisions that deny they received any stolen documents from Ducote or his associates.

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