Others think that Smith [the man behind the curtain at CO] may have actually been working for COINTELPRO, the FBI’s domestic surveillance program, and that this explains why he never went to prison. Such speculation is not just paranoia: there have been other, well-documented instances of FBI provocateurs infiltrating Twin Cities activist groups, most notably longtime FBI-informant Michael Fitzpatrick (see: Chapter Nine). Whether Theo Smith was actually working for the government, or was simply a lone troublemaker, may never be known.
Plenary Panel Discussion of Racism Results in Conflict
During a request for feedback/critique of the conference, the plenary panel which addressed organizing in the South was criticized by a few people as "negative" and "depressing." Others felt these criticisms indicated intolerance and a desire to dismiss history. Some members saw this exchange as a reason to do more work around diversity and inclusion, especially at the national level.
“What tended to happen in those situations,” says Cox, “is that [the CO] would come, and they would take over, and then no one would shop there anymore. They would just go to a different store! I remember, they took over Powderhorn, which is this itty bitty little store! And the people who were volunteering there just said ‘OK’ –and they left. So there were CO cadre sitting at Powderhorn, and nobody came to shop!”
The end result was a series of failed businesses where once there had been a network of thriving community co-ops. In the case of Powderhorn, the CO simply shut it down.
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