Congressman Cohen and Colleagues Introduce Bill to Strip the Name of J. Edgar Hoover from FBI Headquarters in Washington

February 26, 2021
Press Release
Notorious bigot and anti-Civil Rights zealot should not be honored

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), joined by Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr. (GA-04), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Gwen Moore (WI-04), André Carson (IN-07), Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10), and Karen Bass (CA-37), today introduced a bill to remove the name of former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover from the FBI Headquarters Building in downtown Washington, D.C.

Hoover, who served as FBI director from 1924 to 1972, was a notorious bigot who sought to disrupt the Civil Rights Movement, attack Black and anti-war activists, and out LGBTQ federal employees. Under his leadership, the FBI engaged in a variety of practices of questionable legality. He may be best remembered for his campaign to discredit Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through the use of wiretaps and other tools. He is also implicated in the deaths of Fred Hampton and Malcolm X.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

“I am pleased to see the outpouring of support for this long overdue righting of an egregious wrong. J. Edgar Hoover doesn’t deserve the honor and recognition of having the nation’s premiere law enforcement agency headquarters named for him. The civil rights we enjoy today are in spite of J. Edgar Hoover, not because of him.  Yet his name adorns one of the most prominent buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s capital and one that houses an agency of government responsible for assuring justice. Given his well-documented abuses and prejudices, including his efforts to silence Dr. King and his support for un-Constitutional counterintelligence programs such as COINTELPRO, I believe it is past time to remove his name from this place of honor.”

Congresswoman Lee made the following statement:

“J. Edgar Hoover’s legacy will always include his violent racism and well-documented civil rights abuses. Hoover used his influence at the FBI to surveil and attack civil rights and anti-war leaders and activists and his political rivals, including many leaders and members of the Black Panther Party. From my days as an early activist in Oakland, I was a first-hand witness to, and a target of, Hoover’s illegal COINTELPRO operations against Black civil rights activists and leaders. It’s past time that we remove his name from the FBI building. I’m pleased to be partnering with Representative Cohen on this effort to end the memorialization of a man whose abuses of power and history of racism often times ended in violence. His legacy warrants no recognition.”

Congressman Rush made the following statement:

“Removing J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI building is not only important for the FBI’s legacy, but for the United States’ legacy.  Hoover was a megalomaniac who violated Constitutional rights and statutory protections and engaged in spying on Americans, particularly those involved in the Civil Rights Movement.  Most egregiously, however, under Hoover’s direction, the FBI was directly involved in the state-sanctioned assassination of my friend and Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton.  For all these reasons, he does not deserve a place of honor in our history, and his name should be stripped from the building that now bears it.”

The bill is also cosponsored by the following members: Representatives Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-8), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09)