¡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 7)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 5 (Part 7)
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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.

In June and July 1969, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) field office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, sent a series of transmissions to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., describing marches and demonstrations staged throughout the city by the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC). Part of the campaign's grassroots efforts to bring increased public attention to the farm workers' cause, the goal of the Pittsburgh protests was to garner nationwide support for the Delano grape strike by encouraging more Americans to boycott table grapes and to secure union recognition for grape pickers.

In a communiqué dated June 4, 1969, the Pittsburgh field office passed along information from a redacted source regarding plans for a UFWOC-organized demonstration at a Kroger supermarket in the Bloomfield District on the afternoon of June 6 and the morning of June 7. According to the informant, "Use of acts of civil disobedience being considered to enforce demands that Kroger cooperate in grape boycott."

In a subsequent message dated June 7, 1969, the Pittsburgh office relayed additional information from an unnamed source on the nature of the protests. According to the source, a group led by UFWOC representative Albert Rojas gathered at the Kroger supermarket, handing out literature and carrying signs that encouraged customers to refrain from purchasing California grapes. The source also noted that the demonstration was "orderly and peaceful," and that the participants did not carry out acts of civil disobedience.

Another transmission from the Pittsburgh office dated June 12, 1969, advised of a march planned by the UFWOC to be held that day on the city's north side. Succeeding communiqués described plans for additional demonstrations at other Kroger supermarkets in the Pittsburgh area. A document dated June 20, 1969, mentioned the arrest of Rojas and his wife Elena for violating a city ordinance governing the use of loudspeakers.

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