¡Sí Se Puede! Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight on César Chávez & the UFW
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FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 5 (Part 4)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 5 (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.

On January 25, 1969, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) field office in New York sent a communiqué to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., describing a protest staged in New York City against the U.S. Department of Defense for its purchase of grapes. The demonstration was part of the United Farm Workers' (UFW) national campaign to bring increased public attention to the farm workers' cause and to garner additional support for the Delano grape strike.

The FBI memo reported that the demonstration began that morning and was comprised of about 300 individuals, most of whom were high-school aged. Two speakers, one a representative of the UFW and the other from the Student Democratic Coalition of Long Island, criticized the Department of Defense for purchasing grapes during the boycott and President Richard Nixon for his support of the grape growers. The memo also noted that the demonstration resulted in no arrests.

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