¡Sí Se Puede! Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight on César Chávez & the UFW
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FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: Cross References File (Part 6)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: Cross References File (Part 6)
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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 series of documents cover a variety of protests and other activities related to the United Farm Workers (UFW) in Arizona and California between 1968 and 1974.

On August 17, 1974, the FBI's field office in Phoenix reported that 37 people associated with the UFW carried out a protest at the federal building in Phoenix. The demonstrators passed out leaflets criticizing the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for immigration policy allowing "aliens in the United States to work," thus undermining the strength of UFW-coordinated labor strikes on behalf of domestic workers. More than a month later, on September 25, 1974, the FBI's field office in Phoenix reported that more than two dozen members of the UFW were arrested by Yuma County police for unlawful assembly.

On May 24, 1968, the FBI's San Francisco office reported on a possible demonstration by the UFW during an appearance in that city by U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark at the National Conference of Social Workers.

In a memo dated September 15, 1973, the FBI in Sacramento reported that a UFW picketer near Franzia Brothers Vineyards in Ripon had been arrested on felony charges after throwing a rock through a driver's windshield; a non-union grape picker had also been arrested after hitting a UFW picketer with his vehicle.

The final document in this section, dated August 7, 1974, deals with a UFW demonstration and occupation of a U.S. federal building in Sacramento. According to a source, the demonstrators had gathered in support of a California assembly bill that would guarantee "free farm worker elections" and to protest against immigration policies "letting Mexican aliens into agricultural fields."

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