Elderly Philadelphia couple admits to raiding FBI field office 40 years ago

J. Edgar Hoover
Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A new book published today details a 1960′s raid on the FBI’s office in Media, in Delaware County — and the aged participants, who were never caught, have revealed their identities.

John and Bonnie Raines, of Germantown, were interviewed by NBC about their March 8, 1971 raid, timed for the night of Joe Frazier’s Madison Square Garden boxing match with Muhammad Ali, when they figured security would be lax.

Locals Keith Forsyth, a cabbie trained as a lock pick, Bob Williamson, and the recently deceased William Davidon, a physics professor at Haverford, were also in on the raid.

After Forsyth got them in inside, the activists were able to walk out holding bags full of confidential documents.

The entire story is featured in “The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI,” by former Washington Post journalist Betty Medsger.

Medsger was one of the journalist who received photocopies of the stolen documents, which the Raines and their accomplices sent out to media organizations around the country.

The ensuing reports on FBI activities detailed in the 1,000 pages stolen made public for the first time FBI activities including surveillance of “Afro American bookstores,” investigating the “Negro militant movement” and pressuring known left-wing activists reportedly to dial up their paranoia, NBC reported.

In response, then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered an investigation that included over 200 agents who reviewed hundreds of suspects and reportedly combed Powelton Village, where numerous draft resisters were known to live.

“The break-in at the FBI offices in Media, Pennsylvania changed history,” wrote Frederick A. O. Schwarz, Jr., former Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee, in a blurb accompanying the book.

Medsger, of Johnstown, Pa., later tracked down the participants and convinced them to come forward for her book.

A forthcoming documentary also details the Media raid.


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