Before & After the FBI Break-in: Activism, a Media Tradition

Contributed by Robert M. Smith.

The historic impact of the Media FBI office break in is undeniable. No less, however, has been the generation-after-generation impact of activism in and born of the town of Media.

Vint Deming, long a face of anti-Vietnam War activism in Media, is shown being arrested in April 1972, with members of the Street Messenger Community Project

For the past half-century, Media, PA, has come to be remembered as the small town outside of Philadelphia where, on March 8, 1971, anti-Vietnam war activists, calling themselves “the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI,” broke into a small field office of the FBI and removed suitcases full of files about people and organizations working for justice, against racism and
white supremacy, and for peace in Vietnam.

The files were mailed to persons to whom the files pertained,
to members of the U.S. Senate, and to the press. They laid bare
the purpose of the Bureau’s unconstitutional, illegal, and vicious
COINTELPRO program, and its all-powerful director, J. Edgar Hoover: to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, or otherwise neutralize” by threat and even murder—as in the case of the Black Panther Party—those the FBI deemed subversive.
The groups included anti-Vietnam War organizers, leaders of the civil rights movement (including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and Black Power movement,
as well as feminist, Native American, environmental, animal rights groups, and a variety of organizations that were part of the New Left.

In the aftermath of the exposure of COINTELPRO, the FBI unleashed its wrath against anti-war activists throughout the region and, in Media, against the Street Messenger Community Project and its friends operating out of the Media Fellowship House (

September 1, 2021, an historical marker for the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI is being unveiled in Media, the county seat of Delaware County, in front of the County Court Apartment Building where both the FBI office and, just a few feet away, the Media Selective Service (military draft) Board office were located.

Let this historical marking in Media uplift the enduring spirit of activism for justice and peace. We embrace each other in memory, support, and our continuing commitment to justice and peace and saving the earth.

Robert M. Smith is Co-Founder, coordinator, Street Messenger Community Project (1969-1975); Staff, Brandywine War Tax Resistance Alternative Fund (1972-1976); Co-founder, 1976, Organizer/Staff, Brandywine Peace Community (now in its 45th year); and Co-founder of the Peace Center of Delaware County, at Springfield Friends Meetinghouse (1987-present).