Richard Aoki, a Japanese American long thought to be a leader in the Black Panther movement, was also a long time FBI informant, according to documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Journalism and reported in CIR’s Reveal News.
According to reporter Seth Rosenfeld, who filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to get the documents, Aoki informed on his fellow Asian activists as well as Black Panther leaders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. He also gave the FBI information on the Third World Strike on the UC Berkeley campus
Aoki filed some 500 reports to the FBI between 1961 and 1971, some of its containing information readily available to anyone looking for it, and some of it was more private.
Friends of Aoki have previously defended him. The possibility of him being an FBI informant was first reported by Rosenfeld in 2012. Many of his friends and fellow activists said back then the FBI was trying to discredit Aoki’s legacy. Others said he may have started out as an FBI informant, but flipped and became dedicated to the cause.
The FBI did not comment on the latest findings.
Aoki shot himself in 2009 at the age of 70 following a long illness.
You can read much more about the information Aoki supplied the FBI, along with the comments made by Aoki himself about suspicions he might have been an informant in Reveal News.