Interview with Burke Marshall
QUESTION 22
INTERVIEWER:

IN THE CONTEXT OF ALL THIS SO WAS THERE A SOUTHERN MINDSET THAT WAS INFLUENCING THE FBI OR THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT?

Burke Marshall:

The FBI had a mindset, I don't know whether I'd call it a southern set, I would call it a Hoover mind set. And the Hoover mindset was anti-civil rights movement for reasons that may have been pure racism. That may have had other motives in it, I don't know. Mr. Hoover at that time was not showing good judgment about anything in my opinion. Uh, that is not however, the complete explanation for the reasons that the civil rights movement complained about the behavior of the Bureau. Wholly apart from Mr. Hoover's feelings about the civil rights movement, he had for a long time stuck to the notion that the Bureau was purely an investigative agency. The way it, the investigation, investigative agency worked in his highly bureaucratic mind was that something happened, that there was reason to believe that what happened violated a federal law, wasn't just wrong or unjust, or hurt somebody, but violated some federal law that you could name and that then somebody, some lawyer, in the Justice Department—Civil Rights Commission in this case—would write him a memo, addressed to Mr. Hoover, saying, "Please make a preliminary investigation," or another term, "please make a full investigation of the following matter." And then he would insist on knowing what federal law had been violated. So that just speaking very broadly, if somebody beat somebody up on the streets of Albany, that violates justice. It violates a city ordinance in Albany, it may violate the law of the state of Georgia. But it doesn't violate in, normally any federal law so that the FBI will say that it's none of their business. And it will say that it's none of their business, not only to investigate it afterwards, but that it's sort of doubly none of its business to interfere with what's going on at the time, since the Bureau, Bureau agents are not policemen, they're investigators, they're job is to produce evidence to go into court later and not to interfere. Now that's, that's the position. Of course he didn't hold to that position with say bank robberies so it's not coherent or co- consistent position. But as I understood it, that was his position throughout the period.