UPDATE 9/26/12: “Connecting The Past And The Present: Harvey Dong’s Insights On The Allegations Against Richard Aoki,” by Tala Khanmalek, Racialicious, 9/26/12. Speaks to Rosenfeld’s “sloppy academic research,” “bad analysis,” and “conservative summation” of protest movements of the ’60s and ’70s.
UPDATE 9/11/12: “Richard Aoki : Oakland town hall discussion defends controversial activist’s legacy (Review),” by Eric Arnold, Oakland Local, 9/11/12. Great write-up of important gathering, featuring Aoki biographer Diane Fujino, and former Black Panthers Tarika Lewis (first female panther), Emory Douglas (Minister of Culture), and co-founder Bobby Seale, at EastSide Cultural Center.
UPDATE 9/10/12: “Distorting the legacy of Richard Aoki,” by Ward Churchill, Kathleen Cleaver, and Natsu Taylor Saito, San Francisco Bayview, 9/9/12.
UPDATE 9/1/12: “Scholars Challenge Author’s Assertion That 1960s Activist Worked for FBI,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 8/31/12. Also, I attended a presentation by Prof. Harvey Dong at UC Berkeley this week, who showed how Rosenfeld’s “evidence” is inconclusive at best and likely doubtful, and questioned Rosenfeld’s motive.
UPDATED 8/24/12: KPFA’s Apex Express with scholar, activist and close friend of Aoki’s, Harvey Dong
and SF BayView: Fred Ho refutes the claim that Richard Aoki was an FBI informant
UPDATED 8/23/12: Democracy Now! hosts Fujino, Rosenfeld
While many were shocked by Seth Rosenfeld’s damning allegation that activist Richard Aoki was an FBI informant, the evidence appears to be far from conclusive, and a growing number of voices are calling it into question.
Here are a few:
- “Don’t Believe the Hype.“ On KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio, Davey D hosted a conversation with Emory Douglas, former minister of culture of the Black Panther Party, and Billy X. Jennings, archived at KPFA.org until Sept. 4. (~24 min.), 8/21/12.
- Oakland Local: Snitch Jacketing 2.0?, Carlos A. Rivera-Jones, 8/20/12.
- Colorlines: Historian Calls for More Evidence, Jamilah King, 8/21/12.
- Said Historian Scott Kurashige’s Initial Thoughts: “Rosenfeld has not provided any evidence that Aoki was actively working to undermine the Panthers on behalf of the FBI.”
- Statement by Aoki documentarians, Mike Cheng and Ben Wang, 8/21/12. “However, as the discourse and investigation of these claims commence, we feel it is important to remind people that the burden of proof must fall on those that make the accusation… Accusing anyone of being an informant is extremely inflammatory and any allegations must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated for evidence…. After reviewing Rosenfeld’s article, video, and book, there is no solid evidence presented that Richard was as an FBI informant.” (more)
“What’s my motive?” Seth Rosenfeld timed his damning, inflammatory yet inconclusive allegation with the release of his new book.
What strikes us as particularly questionable is Rosenfeld’s ethics in deliberately choosing to time his public allegation with the day his new book went on sale, knowing full well both the inflammatory nature of the allegation and the lack of conclusive evidence about the role Aoki actually played.
Diane Fujino, academic and author of Aoki’s recently published biography, Samurai among Panthers, responded in the San Francisco Chronicle, 8/22/12. Excerpts below:
“As a scholar, I insist on seeing evidence before concluding any “truth.” But as I read Rosenfeld’s work and cross-checked sources from my biography on Aoki, I realized Rosenfeld had not met the burden of proof. He made definitive conclusions based on inconclusive evidence…
“I also questioned Rosenfeld’s motives. Rosenfeld’s piece, published the day before the release of his own book, gained him widespread media and public attention that surely will augment sales…
“So why did Rosenfeld magnify Aoki when his book focuses more on Mario Savio, Clark Kerrand the Free Speech Movement? What responsibility does an author have to provide evidence beyond reasonable doubt before broadcasting disparaging accusations? Rosenfeld’s article, video and book raise many questions, but fail to meet the burden of proof.” Read more