¡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 10)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 5 (Part 10)
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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 FBI memos covers United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC)-organized demonstrations at Jewel Food Company in Chicago in September and October 1969. The demonstrations were part of the UFWOC's nationwide efforts to boycott California table grapes in order to gain union recognition from growers. Organizers targeted Jewel Food due to that company's continued purchase and sale of California table grapes.

In a memo dated September 8, 1969, the FBI's Chicago field office relayed information from a confidential source that UFWOC members had assembled a 30-car motorcade in downtown Chicago that proceeded to the offices of Jewel Food. There, civil rights activist Al Raby spoke to a group of about 80 demonstrators about the need to take stronger action against Jewel Food for the company's decision to resume selling California table grapes. Additional details about the event were relayed in a subsequent letterhead memorandum dated September 9.

A letterhead memorandum dated October 20 conveys information about another protest against Jewel Food in Chicago. According to a confidential source, a group of up to 175 protesters gathered at two Jewel Food stores on October 18. At the second store, located in the suburb of Evergreen Park, three protesters, William Masterson, William Chandler, and Larry Gibbs, were arrested by Chicago police after refusing to leave when they were told that the store was private property.

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