Yesterday, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Representatives Cohen, Titus and Bass introduced legislation to rename the FBI Headquarters and remove any reference to J. Edgar Hoover.
"It's long past time to rename the FBI Headquarters. J. Edgar Hoover was a racist, a bigot, and a homophobe. He abused his power and trampled the civil liberties of Dr. King, anti-war protesters, his political rivals, and too many others. He is no role model for any time, and certainly not this one. Congress must right this wrong and rename this building," said Rep. Connolly.
"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 support for un-Constitutional counterintelligence programs such as COINTELPRO, I believe it is past time to remove his name from this place of honor," said Rep. Cohen.
"As our nation faces a historical reckoning, we have an opportunity to right our wrongs and honor Americans who represent the democratic principles on which our union was founded. J Edgar Hoover used COINTELPRO to thwart the efforts of Black activists calling for equality in America. The program was ultimately designed to surveil, defame, and silence civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. Much worse, Hoover's own racist views impacted FBI operations and countless racially-motivated hate crimes were left unchecked under his leadership. Identifying a namesake that reflects the true values of the FBI is worth supporting now more than ever," said Rep. Bass.
The National Commission on Renaming the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Headquarters Building Act of 2020 would establish a commission to review the name of the FBI Headquarters and provide recommendations on the redesignation accordance with following criteria:
Reflecting the mission and values of the FBI; racial, ethnic, and gender diversity; and the values of the US constitution
Serving as an inspiration to FBI employees and US citizens
Honoring living persons when appropriate and in exceptional cases
The Commission would include 9 members with expertise in U.S. Government history or social justice issues:
2 appointed by POTUS in consultation with the Attorney General and FBI Director
2 appointed by Senate Majority Leader
1 appointed by Senate Minority Leader
2 appointed by Speaker of the House
1 appointed by House Minority Leader
In addition, the Commission shall submit a report on the results of the review and any recommendations related to the redesignation of the Hoover building within 180 days of enactment. The FBI director shall determine whether to redesignate the building in accordance with the commission's recommendations. If not, the Director must explain the reason for such determination in a report to Congress.
Full text of the legislation is available here.