Volume 1—IV Imposters: Law Enforcement Infiltration, Criminality, and Youth Counter-Counterinsurgency in Isla Vista and UC Santa Barbara, 1967-1974

Ted Giardello
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FBI agents active in Isla Vista posing for a photo in the Los Angeles FBI office under portraits of Attorney General John Mitchell, Richard Nixon, and J. Edgar Hoover, c1970

Law enforcement repression of the 1960s student generation has been thoroughly documented. Nevertheless, the history of infiltrators and informants continues to be uncovered decades after the fact.  Whereas police brutality and wrongful imprisonment have delegitimized law enforcement in the eyes of many, the infiltration of FBI and police operatives and informants in social and political movements has been less noticeable and documented. The history of law enforcement repression through overt violence, surveillance, infiltration, and outright sabotage among youth activists in Isla Vista and surrounding areas of the California Central Coast remains understudied and poorly understood. Based on extensive archival study and oral historiography, this study examines how local, county, and state police agencies, in addition to the FBI, coordinated efforts against members of several groups including various leftists parties and formations. This study recovers and assesses this sordid and politically important history in Isla Vista in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with particular emphasis on the multiracial collectives containing both students and non-students. 

With the Bank of America in Isla Vista having been burned to the ground—following the brutalization and infiltration of emphatically peaceful political activists, as well as the purging of left-wing faculty from the university—in a moment of student rebellion in February, the year 1970 quickly became shaped by a period of state violence and occupation perpetrated by the Los Angeles Police Department, the National Guard, and the FBI, in addition to local and other nearby law enforcement. As a result of draconian police actions, even previously politically disengaged members of the overcrowded "youth ghetto" and low-income housing center of Isla Vista became drawn into a consciousness of rebellion. This book-length project returns to primary sources in area and national archives to fill in the untold story of the racist, proto-fascist, anti-communist, anti-populist, and anti-poor pogroms visited upon the small local community of Isla Vista in a foundational moment in US national, hemispheric, and world history.