[Ppnews] COINTELPRO and the Omaha Two

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 19 21:09:46 EDT 2010


COINTELPRO and the Omaha Two

--An Interview with Michael Richardson
By Angola 3 News

In 2007, veteran journalist Michael Richardson 
began writing a series of articles for 
OpEdNews.com about Ed Poindexter and Mondo we 
Langa, who are two Black Panther political 
prisoners known as the Omaha Two. Richardson 
argues that they were framed for the 1970 murder 
of a policeman as part of the FBI’s notorious 
counterintelligence program, dubbed “COINTELPRO.” 
This top-secret and illegal operation was a dirty 
war on the entire US Left, including the civil 
rights & Black liberation movements.

Illustrating this program’s intent, a March 3, 
1968 COINTELPRO memo discussed the need to stop 
"the beginning of a true black revolution," and 
to "prevent the rise of a 'messiah' who could 
unify, and electrify, the militant black 
nationalist movement
 Through counterintelligence 
it should be possible to pinpoint potential 
troublemakers and neutralize them." Another 
stated goal was "to prevent the long-range growth 
of militant black nationalist organizations, 
especially among youth. Specific tactics to 
prevent these groups from converting young people 
must be developed." One specific tactical 
approach was expressed in an April 3, 1968 
communiqué arguing that "The Negro youth and 
moderates must be made to understand that if they 
succumb to revolutionary teaching, they will be dead revolutionaries."

In terms of scale, the FBI's war of repression 
against the Black liberation movement of the 
1960s and 1970s was greatest against the Black 
Panthers. Many Panthers, like Chicago leader Fred 
Hampton, were assassinated outright, while others 
were framed for murders they did not commit. A 
few of these Panthers, like Geronimo Ji Jaga and 
Dhoruba Bin Wahad, had their convictions 
overturned and were released, but many of the 
COINTELPRO survivors remain in prison today.

In addressing why the Panthers were targeted so 
intensely by COINTELPRO, Noam Chomsky wrote in 
1973: "A top secret Special Report for the 
president in June 1970 gives some insight into 
the motivations for the actions undertaken by the 
government to destroy the Black Panther Party. 
The report describes the party as 'the most 
active and dangerous black extremist group in the 
United States.' Its 'hard core members' were 
estimated at 800, but 'a recent poll indicates 
that approximately 25 percent of the black 
population has a great respect for the BPP, 
including 43 percent of blacks under 21 years of 
age.' On the basis of such estimates of the 
potential of the party, the repressive apparatus 
of the state proceeded against it to ensure that 
it did not succeed in organizing as a substantial social or political force."

Michael Richardson is now working on a book about 
the Omaha Two and an archive of his definitive 
OpEdNews.com series about the case is available 
This year, he began a new series of articles at 
Examiner.com, exploring the broader history of 
COINTELPRO, along with a continued focus on the 
Omaha Two, viewable <http://www.examiner.com/x-47718-COINTELPRO-Examiner>here.


Ed Poindexter today.

(Photo by Michael Richardson)


Mondo we Langa today.

(Photo by Michael Richardson)

Angola 3 News: Please tell us about who the Omaha Two are.

Michael Richardson: Ed Poindexter and Mondo we 
Langa (formerly David Rice) were two leaders of 
the Black Panther affiliate chapter in Omaha, 
Nebraska and targets of the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation under Operation COINTELPRO. Both 
men are serving life sentences at the Nebraska 
State Penitentiary for the 1970 bombing murder of 
an Omaha policeman and have been imprisoned forty 
years. The former Panther leaders have come to be known as the Omaha Two.

A3N: As a journalist at the time, how did you 
first react to news of their arrests?

MR: I didn’t know Poindexter, but Mondo, then 
called David, was a friend of mine I met at Omaha 
City Council meetings. I knew Mondo was the 
sharpest critic of Omaha police around and that 
he was constantly being harassed, so I wasn’t 
surprised he became a prime suspect. I didn’t 
think he did it though and I followed the case in 
the news and attended part of his trial the next 
year. I never got to speak to Mondo after his 
arrest and I moved from Nebraska within a year of his trial.

My first published article was a report on the 
trial that appeared in the Omaha Star, but it 
only reported the surface story as the true facts of the case remained hidden.

Over the years I have wondered if Mondo was 
guilty, as there seemed to be so much evidence of 
his involvement. Finally, after over 35 years of 
doubt I began corresponding with Mondo and 
started research on the case. I reviewed portions 
of the voluminous court file, interviewed people 
familiar with the case including the two current 
attorneys, read old newspaper accounts, studied 
formerly secret COINTELPRO files, and visited 
with both men at the prison where they are held.

I am now convinced Ed Poindexter and Mondo we 
Langa did not get a fair trial and were framed by 
overzealous police and prosecutors who ended up 
letting the real killers get away to put the Panther leaders in jail.

A3N: Can you briefly explain the charges against 
the Omaha Two, and what evidence was used to convict them?

MR: On August 17, 1970, an anonymous 911 caller 
reported a woman screaming at a vacant house. 
Police arrived to an ambush instead, in which 29 
year-old Officer Larry Minard was killed. A 
recording of the killer’s voice was sent to the 
FBI crime laboratory for analysis but before 
Minard was even buried, FBI director J. Edgar 
Hoover had ordered the crime lab to withhold a report on the tape.

A 15 year-old, Duane Peak, was soon charged with 
the murder and after six different versions of 
the crime, he implicated Ed and Mondo in exchange for his own freedom.

Dynamite was allegedly found in Mondo’s basement 
only to have two different detectives both claim 
they were each the one that found the explosives.

The 911 tape was withheld from the jury. The 
conflicting police dynamite testimony was also 
unknown to the jury, as was the deal that allowed 
Peak his freedom. The jury was never informed 
that the defendants were COINTELPRO targets.

After five days of deliberation, the jury 
convicted Ed and Mondo of murder but spared their 
lives from the electric chair. The two men have been in prison ever since.

A3N: Can you please explain what COINTELPRO was? 
How do the Omaha 2 fit into the story of COINTELPRO?

MR: Operation COINTELRO was a vast, illegal 
campaign by the FBI in the 60’s and 70’s to 
“disrupt” domestic political activity that J. 
Edgar Hoover deemed dangerous. The clandestine 
program was national in scope, targeted thousands 
of individuals and groups and broke a number of 
laws dwarfing Watergate in magnitude.

The Black Panthers were the primary target of 
Hoover’s law enforcement conspiracy. Ed 
Poindexter and Mondo we Langa had been COINTELPRO 
targets for at least a year prior to their 
arrests. Hoover had sent several memos to the 
Omaha FBI office complaining about a lack of 
results and urged the Omaha agents to be 
“imaginative” with counterintelligence actions.

Poindexter had been the subject of a secret FBI 
smear campaign with forged letters and anonymous 
phone calls while Mondo was targeted for an 
ambush while distributing Black Panther 
newspapers. It was the death of Minard, however, 
that gave the FBI an opportunity to put the Omaha Two behind bars.

At the time of the trial, the jury had no idea 
that COINTELPRO manipulation of evidence had 
occurred. The secret program was officially 
disbanded a week after the trial ended making Ed 
and Mondo the last COINTELPRO victims.

The COINTELPRO withholding of evidence did not 
surface until years later following Freedom of 
Information requests for COINTELPRO documents.

A3N: Have all the COINTELPRO documents been released?

MR: No. Key documents identifying informants and 
providing evidentiary details have been 
destroyed, withheld, or remain heavily redacted.

In the mid 70’s when the Church Committee of the 
U.S. Senate investigated COINTELPRO, much of the 
Omaha case remained hidden and so the full story 
of the FBI duplicity in Omaha remains unknown and 
will likely never be fully disclosed.

Five different members of the Omaha Police 
Department ended up making perjured or false 
statements about the case in court proceedings, 
to the media, and in congressional testimony.

No official or agent of the FBI ever was publicly 
disciplined for the COINTELPRO misconduct in the Omaha case.

A3N: What are the Omaha Two doing today to 
challenge the convictions and imprisonment?

MR: Both Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa have 
habeas corpus petitions pending in the 8th 
Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and petitions for 
hearings pending in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska.

Both appeals address the conflicting police 
testimony on dynamite and new scientific testing 
of the 911 tape that establishes Duane Peak did 
not make the deadly phone call as he had claimed.

Poindexter asked the Nebraska courts for review 
and in 2008 was told by the Douglas County 
District Court that it didn’t matter where the 
dynamite was found or who found it. Last year the 
Nebraska Supreme Court told Ed that it didn’t matter who made the 911 call.

A3N: How has the mainstream media done with reporting on the Omaha Two?

MR: Poorly. The national media has largely 
ignored the case and the regional media has 
failed to explore the COINTELPRO aspect of the 
prosecution. Almost all Nebraska media accounts 
of the Omaha Two contain factual errors of some 
sort and glaring omissions of relevant facts. 
Anyone relying on the mainstream media about this 
COINTELPRO case is sadly both misinformed and under-informed.

Racism and the stigma against the Black Panthers 
is partially to blame, while COINTELPRO media 
manipulation was another factor in early 
reporting on the case. Why the media continues to 
ignore this important case today is a mystery to me.

A3N: What upcoming articles are you working on?

MR: Now that internet newspaper Examiner.com has 
named me the COINTELPRO Examiner, the opportunity 
to report on the Omaha Two is part of my beat. I 
intend on revisiting, in serial form, the long 
convoluted history of the case as well as report on current developments.

My research on the FBI and COINTELPRO has led me 
to understand that Ed and Mondo are not alone and 
that each COINTELPRO conviction needs a fresh new 
look. COINTELPRO was the largest, most systematic 
attack on our legal system in U.S. history. It is 
our responsibility today to carefully review the 
cases of remaining COINTELPRO targets because of 
the strong possibility of tampering with evidence.

A3N: Having 
about the Angola 3, why do you think their case is important?

MR: Any case coming out of the 1970’s involving 
the Black Panthers is important because of the 
COINTELPRO abuses. The Angola 3 case is somewhat 
different than others since its genesis is inside 
a Louisiana prison. It may have not been 
technically a J.-Edgar-Hoover-authorized 
COINTELPRO prosecution but some of the trial 
tactics, including deals with informers, are the same.

The severity of the punishment, decades in 
solitary confinement, calls out for review and is itself an injustice.

A3N: Any closing thoughts?

MR: Larry Minard, the father of five young 
children, was buried on what would have been his 
30th birthday. He was a police officer responding 
to the call of a woman screaming. Larry Minard’s killers walk free today.

The named supplier of the dynamite, a suspected 
police informant, was never charged with the 
crime and only spent one night in jail.

The anonymous 911 caller was not properly 
identified and has never been charged in the case.

Duane Peak, the confessed bomber, was released 
after less then 3 years in juvenile detention.

J. Edgar Hoover let the killer of Larry Minard, 
the 911 caller, go free to make a case against the Omaha Two.

Justice has not been done in Nebraska.

--Angola 3 News is a new project of the 
International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Our 
website is 
where we provide the latest news about the Angola 
3. We are also creating our own media projects, 
which spotlight the issues central to the story 
of the Angola 3, like racism, repression, 
prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, and more.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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