The Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] building in Washington should not carry J. Edgar Hoover’s name because of his “deplorable treatment of civil rights leaders,” according to a bill filed Thursday by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and others.
In a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Cohen asked current FBI director James Comey about the move. Cohen noted that Hoover tried to silence civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to out homosexuals working for the government. Cohen called Hoover’s efforts a “stain on our nation’s history and on the FBI.”
The bill was also sponsored by Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), John Conyers (D-MI), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Karen Bass (D-CA).
“The civil rights we enjoy today are in spite of J. Edgar Hoover, not because of him,” Cohen said in a statement. “Yet, his name adorns one of the most prominent buildings in our nation’s capital and one that houses one of the agencies of government responsible for justice.
“Given his well-documented abuses and prejudices towards African Americans, gays, and lesbians, I believe it is past time to remove his name from this place of honor.”
Comey keeps a copy of the FBI’s request to wiretap King on his desk, he told the committee members Thursday, as a reminder of the FBI’s capacity to do wrong. The request came during Hoover’s tenure as FBI director.