[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 
Hoover's order.

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.

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San Francisco, CA 94110

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