Interview with Jerris Leonard
QUESTION 8
LOUIS MASSIAH:

OK, there, there are FBI memos from that time that talk about a genuine fear of Black hate groups. And, ah, was that a fear that was also in the Justice Department at that time, a, a fear of, of Black organizations, what were called Black extremist groups?

JERRIS LEONARD:

Ah, no, I, I have, ah, ah, as far as the leadership in the Justice Department during Attorney General Mitchell's tenure, I can assure you there wasn't any fear that the nation was going to be overrun by Black militants. On the other hand, I think it's important to recognize that the FBI has a kind of a schizophrenic character to it. One of its important obligations is to be concerned about radical, militant, violent organizations that might be controlled by outside forces. Ah, there was at least some evidence that the Black Panthers were getting assistance, financial assistance from elements outside the United States. That, melded with the violent nature of some of the Panthers themselves, I think caused the, the FBI to possibly overstate the case. Ah, I can assure you that nobody at the top of the Justice Department was concerned that the Black Panthers were going to take over the United States, however.