Last updated 08/20/2012 at 1:34 p.m. PDT
Man who armed Black Panthers was FBI informant, records show
Research leads to FBI records showing radical activist was also an informant
By SETH ROSENFELD, CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING on August 20, 2012 – 12:00 a.m. PDT
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The man who gave the Black Panther Party some of its first firearms and weapons training – which preceded fatal shootouts with Oakland police in the turbulent 1960s – was an undercover FBI informer, according to a former bureau agent and an FBI report.
One of the Bay Area’s most prominent radical activists of the era, Richard Masato Aoki was known as a fierce militant who touted his street-fighting abilities. He was a member of several radical groups before joining and arming the Panthers, whose members received international notoriety for brandishing weapons during patrols of the Oakland police and a protest at the state Legislature.
Aoki went on to work for 25 years as a teacher, counselor and administrator at the Peralta Community College District, and after his suicide in 2009, he was revered as a fearless radical.