Released documents detail FBI informant's role

Released documents detail FBI informant's role


MEMPHIS (AP) - Documents newly released by the FBI shed light on how a freelance news photographer passed photos and information about the civil rights movement to the agency.

The Commercial Appeal obtained FBI records through a lawsuit settlement and reported Ernest Withers sometimes photographed prominent people involved in the movement in what a historian calls a "vacuum cleaner approach" by the FBI.

A notation cited by the newspaper quotes an entry after an FBI agent debriefed Withers about a speech by James Bevel at LeMoyne-Owen College. Bevel was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s head of "direct action" and was in Memphis on that March 1968 day to organize a demonstration.

The FBI probe into the Southern Christian Leadership Conference began well before King's assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

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