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The FBI’s abusive domestic surveillance is exposed and after years of keeping his identity as an informant secret, Bill Lawrence and Ernest must testify under oath about their relationship. How far will they go to protect each other and preserve Ernest’s legacy as a hero of the civil rights movement?
Dr. King returns to Memphis on April 3 to make good on his promise to lead a non-violent march. But first he has to get the militants on board. Ernest is relaying dozens of tips from inside every meeting and negotiation. Eye-witnesses share details of King’s final hours, and Ernest is instrumental in getting the most iconic and intimate images out to the world.
We begin the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last eight days alive. A sanitation workers' strike brings King to Memphis - but by this time, March 1968, the movement is splintered. A homegrown Black Power group called the Invaders wants more active resistance, a non-violent protest turns into a riot and Ernest, now a paid racial informant, provides the FBI with a front row seat to an unfolding disaster.
Ernest was an informant, but just how much damage did he actually cause? To what extent do the sins of the government fall on one man’s shoulders? Two people look over their FBI records and what Ernest revealed about them and arrive at very different conclusions.
The FBI launches a massive, illegal intelligence dragnet to gather information that could be used to disrupt, discredit and damage people and groups it deems a threat. A lot of people get caught up in providing information to the law enforcement, including Ernest. So what made him different?
Being on the front lines was dangerous - especially for a Black man with a camera. But Ernest puts himself at the center of the action. It’s easy to make friends with the Northern “agitators” pouring into West Tennessee and feed the FBI’s growing demand for their pictures.
Ernest’s relationship with the FBI blossoms in 1961 in Fayette County, Tennessee where Black sharecroppers are kicked off their land just for trying to vote. FBI Special Agent Bill Lawrence and Ernest show up to help, but end up seeing something more sinister in the works.
How did Ernest operate and why did he do it? Two daughters bring us as close as we can get to the minds of the men at the center of our story, Ernest and his handler FBI Special Agent Bill Lawrence.
The FBI has a license to lie and it takes a landmark lawsuit to force them to hand over a trove of secret records detailing Ernest’s years as an FBI informant.
Ernest Withers shot timeless photos covering the civil rights movement- Dr. King on that integrated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Emmett Till’s uncle pointing an accusing finger and striking garbage men in Memphis wearing I AM A MAN placards. His loyalty and dedication earned him the trust of movement leaders King, Young, Lawson. But what if that trust was misplaced - what if Ernest was leading a double life?
The story of Ernest C. Withers, an African-American journalist dubbed the "original civil rights photographer" --  who also happened to be an FBI informant. In this third season of Unfinished, co-produced with The E.W. Scripps Company, host and journalist Wesley Lowery (CBS News, Washington Post) brings listeners through a story of dual loyalties, hidden histories and one man caught in the middle. Lowery also provides new perspectives and insights on government overreach, and explores whether Withers was coerced and simply caught up in FBI surveillance during the Civil Rights Movement. New episodes start June 29
Hosts Ash Sanders and Sarah Ventre sit down with senior producer Abigail Keel to respond to listeners' questions & comments about Unfinished: Short Creek. This is a special premium bonus episode that has been unlocked for everyone to hear! Three more bonus episodes will be released over the next three weeks. To hear those, go to stitcher.com/premium and sign up with the code WITNESS for a free month of listening. You’ll get access to bonus episodes, plus every episode of Unfinished: Short Creek and other Witness Docs ad-free.
In the season finale, a few final scenes from Short Creek. After all that's happened here, we look at what healing might look like for the people of Short Creek.
Ex-believers see an opportunity for democracy and work to bring the first free and fair election to Short Creek.
As divisions deepen in Short Creek, the Department of Justice puts the two towns on trial for religious discrimination... forcing the community to change, one way or another.
Ex-believers return to Short Creek and face discrimination from FLDS who still control the towns. In an attempt to reclaim the community, ex-believers face off with former family members over land, and power.
Warren Jeffs continues to control Short Creek from prison. As families are torn apart and the faithful are divided according to their "righteousness," some of his most ardent believers hit their breaking point. But can they stay away from Short Creek for long?
Elissa Wall takes prophet Warren Jeffs to court, and his followers back in Short Creek are forced to reckon with his crimes—or not.
In order to understand Short Creek now, you have to understand how it came to be. A determined group of fundamentalists create a community in order to live their religion in peace...but the government has other ideas.
Warren Jeffs becomes prophet of the FLDS Church and kicks out his rivals. Others don’t like what's happening to their religion and make the challenging choice to leave.
Comments (35)

Mel Smith

I don't generally like this type of programming, but you guys had me hooked from the very first episode. I've completes the first two seasons and beginning the 3rd soon. the hosts are amazing to listen too and compelling. I'll be honest, the two women hosts sound so much alike I could not tell them apart. this wasn't a problem, I just found it interesting. they both presented the series so amazingly well it was like one narrator. you guys really do a great job. you made me interested in things I never cared about before. that's quality reporting. thank you for the program.

Aug 3rd
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Melissa

I hope Warren Jeffs is "Keeping Sweet" in prison. Hope he's not complaining while getting fucked in the ass.

Jul 29th
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Sérgio Lopes

unsubscribing due to spam

Jul 11th
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Lin

Wow this FLDS lady Norma has swallowed Jeffs propaganda hook line and sinker! Just because she believes her fellow believers are good people therefore her prophet must be too?! Yep, never ever has a spiritual leader abused his power and position...arrrggghhhh!! Maybe her policy of ignoring the "outside" world has contributed to her incredible ignorance? How else can she sit there saying that the court evidence was all doctored and faked. She uses the fact that abused children didn't testify as a reason not to believe anything else that came up in the trial?? I just can't ..... 🤪🤬🤯

Feb 3rd
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Lin

What a strong person Elissa(sp?) proved herself to be! The determination and fortitude she showed is incredible, facing both her former 'prophet' and her abuser in court would have been terrifying. How amazing she is, I hope her life now is joyous & her future is filled with wonderful beautiful days.

Feb 3rd
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Leila N

is there a way to get the bonus eps without stitcher premium? I've done the one month free about a year ago. But i dont have the money to afford premium right now.

Dec 11th
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Bryan Wimmer

This series was beautifully done and speaks not only to how this community is healing but how our country needs to approach healing g through love. thank you for your work here.

Nov 18th
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Janice Jackson

Wow. Just wow. What a powerful way to finish telling this story.

Nov 11th
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BC

This series was much more interesting than the Dateline episodes and it Short Creek. It's focused on the people and the rebuilding of the community and it's fascinating.

Oct 31st
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Dana Pellegrino

I can't even imagine being so brainwashed that I'd believe a pedophile is a prophet instead of a devil. Truly disgusting

Oct 29th
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Deidre

Thank you SO MUCH for this season. I binged it all, and had so many feelings.. There is still so much work to do, by all of us, and podcasts like this and the work you're doing are so important.

Oct 14th
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LadyMae

Good background history to the FLDS on this episode.

Oct 13th
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Suzanne Hubbard Gerken

This is a fabulous season of #Unfinished. I live in Salt Lake and there are several sects of Fundamental Mormons which practice polygamy. The women and children live in fear of their fathers going to prison if they speak of their home lives. Because of this fear, this leads to some of the husbands and fathers being abusive and it being unreported so their family has no recourse. As well, so many families are not financially supported by the husbands, which is great if that is what is the agreement between the husband and wife. However, because of the large number of children the women often are unable to work subsequently causing the families to need CHIP, EBT Card money, etc on which, in my opinion, must be very hard for them to survive with any feeling of security. I believe polygamy is an a extremely hard life for women (and men really). The indoctrination begins from birth. If one chooses to leave they lose not only their entire way of life as they know it but most often their family as well. It seems so simple for others to say, "Why don't they just leave the church?" There are many, many reasons I've personally been told of. Thank you to the hosts for for work. I can't believe you embedded! Was it you Ash?

Oct 13th
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Amber Robinson

So frustrating that she will protect the the act of child marriage. So many girls were married and forced into sex. 😡

Oct 8th
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BC

Oh, sure, I have to go to the most sinful places to "witness" this sin. sure, prophet.

Oct 7th
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LadyMae

this podcast brings little things to light that make me realize how much some ex-FLDS members changed after they left.

Oct 7th
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Tenielle styles

why arent you calling these people what they are??? PAEDOPHILES. absolutley disgusting religion

Oct 6th
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Meeister Sean

Man, people do some wild things to other people in the name of the Lord! Good podcast! This is interesting stuff.

Oct 1st
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Br0wnie

Having lived in Utah for a spell, and being non-Mormon I've sought a better understanding of the religion and culture. This explains so much and gives even greater understanding of FLDS religion, culture, lives, losses, & court cases.

Sep 14th
Reply (1)

John Buckner

I have wanted to visit the memorial ever since I first read about it and saw pictures. Now I will go this fall because it feels like a friend is there. I will put a flower in front of his plaque. I am glad his family found some peace at the memorial. I wish they could have also found justice. Thanks to the reporters who worked on this so long and tried their best.

Aug 31st
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