¡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 6 (Part 1)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 6 (Part 1)
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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 this series of memos from early January 1971, the FBI's field office in Pittsburgh reports on a demonstration sponsored by the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC) at the Pittsburgh federal building in response to the U.S. Army's purchase of boycotted lettuce for the consumption of military personnel.

According to a memo dated January 12, a confidential source stated that a demonstration comprising of approximately 15 individuals occurred on that date and that the protest was held at the federal building because the U.S. Army maintained offices there. The source relayed that the demonstration was carried out in a peaceful manner but also noted that among the participants was a member of the Communist Party of Western Pennsylvania.

A subsequent memo dated January 8 contains advance information on the January 12 demonstration. It also notes that the Pittsburgh police department was aware of the event and that the information was given to U.S. Army intelligence and the U.S. Secret Service, among other agencies.

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