[Ppnews] Angela Davis Demands 'Omaha Two' Be Freed

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Sep 21 13:14:11 EDT 2008

September 20, 2008 at 09:54:48
Davis Demands 'Omaha Two' Be Freed


by <http://www.opednews.com/author/author3874.html>Michael Richardson

Angela Davis says 'Omaha Two' are victims of 'repressive authorities" 
in 1971 COINTELPRO case and should be freed

Angela Davis, noted University of California professor and political 
prisoner advocate, travelled to Lincoln, Nebraska to tell a crowd of 
300 justice, civil rights and peace advocates that the 'Omaha Two' 
were victims of "repressive authorities" and should be released from 
prison.  Davis was talking about Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa 
(formerly David Rice) who are serving life sentences in the 
maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary.

Poindexter and Langa were convicted in 1971 for the bombing murder of 
Omaha police officer Larry Minard after being implicated by the 15 
year-old confessed bomber, Duane Peak.  At the time, the two leaders 
of Omaha's Black Panther chapter, called the Nebraska Committee to 
Combat Fascism, were targets of a clandestine operation of the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation code-named COINTELPRO.

Years after the conviction of the two men when the secret FBI files 
of COINTELPRO became available by Freedom of Information requests it 
was discovered that even before the murdered policeman was buried, 
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had given the order to withhold evidence 
about the unknown caller who lured  Minard to his death.  Hoover 
wanted a case made against Poindexter and Langa regardless of what 
the crime laboratory reported.

Hoover's shocking command to suppress identification of Minard's 
killer was recorded by FBI Crime Laboratory chief Ivan Willard 
Conrad.   The Omaha FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge sent a memo to Conrad 
recommending an informal, unwritten lab report on the tape recording 
of the fatal call.  The Omaha Police wanted to identify the caller 
through vocal analysis of the tape but did not want to release 
results of the forensic examination to lawyers for Poindexter and 
Langa.  Conrad spoke with Hoover after getting the unusual request to 
withhold evidence.

The FBI Crime Lab chief scrawled on his copy of the Omaha memo that 
Hoover approved of the request to not prepare a formal laboratory 
report on the crucial tape recording.  "Dir advised telephonically & 
said OK to do."  Conrad then initialed and dated the memo entry just 
two days after the bombing.

Omaha Asst. Chief of Police Glen W. Gates later had another memo sent 
to Hoover by way of the Omaha FBI office asking that no use of the 
tape be made because it might be "prejudicial to the police murder 
trial" of Poindexter and Langa.  Peak claimed he made the call and 
placed the bomb under orders from Poindexter, however, the voice on 
the tape was not that of a 15 year-old but rather an older man thus 
leaving an unidentified accomplice on the loose and a gaping hole in 
the prosecution's case against the two Panther leaders.

Conrad followed Hoover's orders and kept quiet about the tape 
recording.  The defense was never provided the tape at trial and the 
jurors that convicted Poindexter and Langa never got to hear the 
voice of the actual killer.  Peak received a deal from prosecutors 
and got off with several years of juvenile detention while the two 
activists were sentenced to life in prison.  Both men deny any 
involvement in Minard's death.

Angela Davis is no stranger to COINTELPRO tactics against the Black 
Panthers and herself was once a fugitive on the FBI 'Ten Most Wanted' 
list.  Serving 18 months behind bars before being acquitted of 
participation in a California police-Panther shootout, Davis is 
sympathetic with targets of COINTELPRO prosecutions.  Davis was 
cleared of her case just the year after Poindexter and Langa were 
convicted and has followed the Nebraska case ever since.

In 1975, Davis made a trip to Lincoln to raise money for a legal 
defense fund and attended a post-conviction court hearing.  In 1982, 
she led a rally at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and declared, 
"We are going to continue to fight until they are both free."

Since 2000, Davis has made three trips to Nebraska to advocate for 
release of Poindexter and Langa and told the Lincoln Star during a 
2006 visit, "It is important for people to understand the way in 
which two men could basically be framed up and kept in prison for 36 
years even though they're innocent."

Davis more recently told an enthusiastic audience hosted by 
Nebraskans for Justice that "the revolution didn't come" and that 
activists ensnared by COINTELPRO remain imprisoned for crimes they 
did not commit.

"Our memories aren't as strong as those of the repressive authorities 
who still hold captive people of that era who fought to end racism, 
overthrow capitalism and to build a better world for all of us."

Poindexter has a new trial request pending before the Nebraska 
Supreme Court.  Oral argument in the case is scheduled for October 
but no date for a decision has been set.  Poindexter is seeking a new 
trial based on conflicting police testimony and withheld evidence.

Permission granted to reprint

Michael Richardson is a freelance writer based in Boston. Richardson 
writes about politics, election law, human nutrition, ethics, and 
music. Richardson is also a political consultant on ballot access.

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