Congressman Cohen Hosted Forum Featuring Ex-Black Panther Implicated for Torturing, Executing Suspected Police Informant


Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) hosted a forum featuring an ex-Black Panther member implicated for torturing and killing a suspected police informant, as well as speakers who praised imprisoned cop killers. The May 10 congressional forum focused on Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), an illegal and secret FBI program that surveilled, infiltrated, and disrupted political groups such as the Black Panther Party (BPP).

“The brunt of the program with its most outrageous abuses were reserved for people of color, particularly Black Americans. The Black Panther Party was literally in the FBI’s crosshairs,” asserted Cohen. “The United States was born of dissent, and alternative perspectives should be welcomed, not neutralized, and protests should be encouraged. We may disagree, but every American has the right and freedom to speak their mind, to petition their government, to protest to be engaged and active in civic life, and contribute their energy and efforts to pursue a more perfect union. The FBI attempted to snuff out minorities and minority viewpoints.”

The forum was inspired by the newly-released movie, “Judas and the Black Messiah.” The film dramatized how the FBI targeted and assassinated the Black Panther Party Leader Fred Hampton in 1969. Cohen called Hampton an “amazing individual” and a “legend.”

The implicated ex-member, Ericka Huggins, was praised by one of the hosts, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), as an exemplar of the leadership and strength of Black Panther Party women. In 1969, the same year as Hampton’s death, a 19-year-old named Anthony Rackley was suspected of being an FBI informant and tortured, interrogated, and murdered by the BPP chapter that Huggins was leading. An audio tape presented at trial relayed Huggins interrogating Rackley in the two days leading up to his murder. Huggins’ BPP chapter poured boiling water on Rackley and beat him with a stick repeatedly to coerce a confession.

The jury deadlocked 10 to 2 for Huggins’ acquittal.

Huggins discussed how she noticed police and FBI surveillance almost immediately after she’d joined the BPP. Cohen stepped out of the meeting as Huggins described her husband’s murder, and her arrest later that same day (not for Rackley’s murder). She didn’t mention the accusations against her concerning Rackley’s murder.

Hampton’s then-fiancee, Akua Nijeri, and son, Fred Hampton Jr., were also present. Also in attendance were Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, civil rights activist Nkechi Taifa, former FBI special agent and current Brennan Center for Justice member Mike German, and the Washington Post reporter that broke news of COINTELPRO, Betty Medsger.

The speakers praised cop killers serving life sentences, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, Mutulu Shakur, and H. Rap Brown.

The Tennessee Star requested comment from Cohen’s spokespersons about the decision to host these speakers. They didn’t respond by press time.

Other congressional leaders in attendance were Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) and Bobby Rush (IL-01). Rush co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, and is portrayed in the film discussed in the forum.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].






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5 Thoughts to “Congressman Cohen Hosted Forum Featuring Ex-Black Panther Implicated for Torturing, Executing Suspected Police Informant”

  1. Tim Price

    Cohen is a radical pandering to the Memphis Mafia. But he knows the right buttons to push. Why can Tennessee not simply expel Memphis and Nashville from the state? These two cities have done great harm to the good people of Tennessee than can ever be undone by a vote. Its sad because both cities used to be good places to go and spend money. But no more!

  2. No Agenda

    My primary concern is whether Stevie bought a new dress for the occasion.

  3. Truthy

    To cohens demonic thinking these people are heroic

  4. Roger Pankey

    If a group called the White Tigers was formed, and pulled the same atrocities on black leaders he would be as supportive? Maybe the KKK should be legalized and recognized as a lagetiment party using his standards.

  5. Some Dude

    Democrat Congressman Steve Cohen, of Tennessee, hosted a group whose speakers praised cop killers serving life sentences.

    ‘Nuff said.

    Democrat Congressman Steve Cohen is dangerous to the STABLE future of Tennessee. His capitulation towards whomever has the press’ ear, and narrative of the day, is narcissistic and self-serving. Democrat Congressman Steve Cohen is NOT serving Tennessee constituents; Cohen’s motivations and actions are in direct opposition to Tennessee’s people’s wants and needs.

    All across the country, Democrat cities and states are falling apart. We CANNOT allow Tennessee to follow them over that DEM cliff.