1971 documents some of America’s original whistleblowers.

1971 documents some of America’s original whistleblowers.

FBI abuse exposed in 1971

7 p.m. in the theatre at North Island College, Courtenay.

On March 8, World Community marks the 45th anniversary of a dramatic event that helped shape history.

The award-winning film produced by Laura Poitras, 1971, will screen at 7 p.m. in the theatre at North Island College,  Courtenay.

Whistleblowers  from Watergate to WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed secrets that exposed government wrongdoing. But long before these events, one group of citizens risked everything when they uncovered illegal government spying programs.

The FBI was unaccountable and untouchable until March 8, 1971, when a group of ordinary people who called themselves The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, broke into a small FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, took every file, and shared them with the American public.

After the break-in, the group sent the files to the Washington Post, which published them and shed light on the FBI’s widespread abuse of power, involving intimidation of law-abiding citizens including peace activists and feminists. This helped lead to the country’s first congressional investigation of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The activist-burglars then disappeared into anonymity for 40 years. Until now. Never caught, these citizens reveal themselves  and share their story in the documentary. Using a mix of dramatic re-enactments and candid interviews with all involved, this 80-minute film is a real-life thriller.

“This is a cautionary tale that shows what can happen under laws such as C-51, when agencies like CSIS do not have proper oversight,” said  programmer Janet Fairbanks.

Admission is by donation. Everyone is welcome.

FMI: 250-337-5412


Comox Valley Record