[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 FBIs 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 programs 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
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 didnt 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 wasnt
surprised he became a prime suspect. I didnt
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 killers 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 Mondos 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 60s and 70s 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
Hoovers 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 70s 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 didnt matter where the
dynamite was found or who found it. Last year the
Nebraska Supreme Court told Ed that it didnt 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.
about the Angola 3, why do you think their case is important?
MR: Any case coming out of the 1970s 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 Minards 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
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.
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