[Ppnews] Part 5 - Why the 'Omaha Two' deserve a new trial
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Mar 6 10:15:01 EST 2009
Original Content at
March 6, 2009
Framed by the FBI: A dozen reasons the 'Omaha Two' deserve a new trial (5 of 6)
By Michael Richardson
Mondo we Langa
On August 17, 1970, an Omaha, Nebraska police officer, Larry Minard,
was murdered in an ambush bombing at a vacant house. Two men, Edward
Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice), are serving life
sentences at the Nebraska State Penitentiary for his killing. The
pair were leaders of Omaha's chapter of the Black Panther
Party. Most people assume justice was done in the case and little
effort has been made by the news media to dig into the hidden aspects
of the crime.
Poindexter has a new trial request pending before the Nebraska
Supreme Court and an examination of the record, much of it still
hidden by Federal Bureau of Investigation censors, reveals a dozen
reasons to question the outcome of the trial.
New Trial Reason Nine: Operation COINTELPRO's falsified documents
and secret directives
J. Edgar Hoover, the powerful director of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, had secretly established a massive, nationwide
clandestine operation code-named COINTELPRO to conduct "disruption"
activity against the Black Panthers and thousands of other
organizations and individuals. Hoover wanted to destroy the Black
Panthers and went after them with lethal ferocity.
The Omaha FBI office drew fire from Hoover on December 10, 1969, for
a lack of action against the local Panther chapter. Hoover ordered
in a COINTELPRO memo, "As long as there are BPP [Black Panther Party]
activities, you should be giving consideration to that type of
counterintelligence measure which would best disrupt existing activities."
Hoover wanted secret dirty tricks directed at the leaders of the
Panthers. "It is assumed that of the eight to twelve members, one or
two must certainly be in a position of leadership. You should give
consideration to counterintelligence measures directed against these
leaders in an effort to weaken or destroy their positions. Bureau
has noted that you have not submitted any concrete
counterintelligence proposals in recent months. Evaluate your
approach to this program and insure that it is given the imaginative
attention necessary to produce effective results. Handle promptly
and submit your proposals for approval."
The Omaha Special-Agent-in-Charge got the message and a series of
COINTELPRO actions were planned against Ed Poindexter and Mondo we
Langa. Mondo edited the local newsletter and distributed the Black
Panther newspaper. An FBI plan to ambush the Panthers on their way
from the airport with newspapers was developed. Contact was made
with United Airlines Air Freight to determine pick-up
schedules. Irregular delivery of the newspaper to Omaha frustrated
the FBI efforts to "disrupt" distribution of the paper.
Next, in March 1970, the Omaha FBI devised, and got Hoover's
approval, for a plan to discredit Poindexter with a bogus letter and
anonymous phone calls. The recipients of the FBI letters were Black
Realities, "a local Negro publication; Everyone Magazine, "a monthly
Negro publication published on Omaha's North Side"; and the Omaha
Star, "a weekly Negro newspaper." The letters and calls accused
Poindexter of falsely soliciting for bail money. Hoover reminded the
Omaha FBI office, "Take the usual security precautions to insure this
letter and mailing cannot be traced to the Bureau."
Another COINTELPRO proposal was made in Omaha on August 15th, two
days before Larry Minard's murder, targeting Poindexter. There was a
dispute within the Black Panther Party over the status of the Omaha
chapter and the Omaha World-Herald reported on the possible split in
an article quoting Poindexter. The Omaha FBI wanted to write another
bogus letter trying to drive a wedge in the Panthers and accused
Poindexter of cooperating with "Whiteys newspaper" in the ruse.
On August 17th, an unknown caller told police that a woman was
screaming in a vacant house. Eight officers responded but only seven
would leave the crime scene alive. Instead of a rape victim police
found a deadly suitcase bomb.
On August 19th, Hoover would order the FBI Crime Laboratory to not
issue a report on a voice analysis of Minard's killer's voice luring
police recorded by the 911 emergency call system. The search for
truth to the identity of the caller who set the fatal trap ended with
The new COINTELPRO plan was to convict Ed Poindexter and Mondo we
Langa for the bombing--even if that meant letting the killer who
actually made the phone call go free.
New Trial Reason Ten: A mystery, "questionable" adolescent federal informant
The Black Panthers in Omaha were under a concerted and coordinated
assault by law enforcement officials. An October 6, 1968, Federal
Bureau of Investigation COINTELPRO memo from the Omaha office to J.
Edgar Hoover told of local police efforts. "It should be noted that
the Omaha Police department has instigated an harassment campaign
against the BBP [Black Panther Party] members by stopping vehicles
registered to these individuals at every opportunity. This activity
has become of great concern to those members involved."
The Omaha FBI office was itself busy with a campaign of misdeeds
including a planned ambush, bogus letters and anonymous phone calls
against the Panther leadership. The U.S. Attorney, Richard A. Dier,
had put Mondo we Langa and others before a grand jury investigation
into Panther activities.
Not to be outdone, an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms, Thomas Sledge, requested a federal search warrant for the
Black Panther headquarters. The search never happened and the public
never knew about it until later--after Larry Minard's death. The
Omaha World-Herald belatedly dug out some of the details.
Sledge got his search warrant on July 20, 1970. As Sledge assembled
his ATF task force, he called upon U.S. Marshal Lloyd Grimm who, with
police and FBI agents, would stage an early morning raid the next
day. Grimm's involvement required a check-in with the Justice
Department in Washington, D.C. The call to Washington stopped the search.
Sledge claimed in his application for the search warrant that there
were ten boxes of machine guns of "Russian manufacture" and dynamite
at the headquarters. The dynamite was described as "15, more or
less, bundles of 12 sticks in a bundle wrapped with cord or
wire." The individual sticks were described as about 12 inches long,
an inch in diameter and brown.
Sledge's ATF supervisor, Dwight Thomas, approved use of Sledge's
adolescent informant but the choice of snitch was overruled by
Justice Department officials. Dier refused to answer questions
telling a reporter, "I'm sorry but I cannot discuss the matter." A
Justice Department spokesperson said the raid had been cancelled
because the search warrant was based on "questionable information."
Sledge claimed his adolescent informant had detailed knowledge of a
recent bombing at Component Concepts Corporation. Sledge also
claimed he spoke with a man who alleged selling machine guns to the Panthers.
A month later 15 year-old Duane Peak would confess to planting the
bomb that killed Larry Minard. Peak said he got the dynamite from
Raleigh House, a suspected informant that was never charged for his
role in the crime.
The police never solved the Component Concepts Corporation
bombing. Nor did they solve a similar bombing at Horace Mann Junior
High School. Horace Mann was Peak's school where he had discipline problems.
Could Duane Peak, at fifteen years of age, have been Sledge's
"questionable" adolescent informant overruled by the Justice Department?
Permission granted to reprint
Author's Bio: Michael Richardson is a freelance writer based in
Boston. Richardson writes about politics, law, nutrition, ethics, and
music. Richardson is also a political consultant.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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