[Ppnews] Omaha Two story: (Part 11) - ATF agents compete with FBI to arrest Black Panthers
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sat Mar 26 16:10:30 EDT 2011
As bombs rocked Omaha, Nebraska in the summer of
1970 the FBI competed with ATF to arrest the Black Panthers for the bombings:
ATF agents compete with FBI in summer 1970 to arrest Black Panthers in Omaha
Richardson, COINTELPRO Examiner
* March 26th, 2011 2:49 pm ET
Omaha Two story: July 2, 1970
A loud blast shattered the quiet of the North
Omaha neighborhood as a bomb exploded outside
Components Concepts Corporation on 24th
Street. The business was a subcontractor for the
Defense Department and was rocked by the bombing on July 2, 1970.
Assistant Chief of Police Glen Gates told
reporters that it was the same type of bomb that
damaged a police substation on
11th, three weeks earlier.
The Omaha World-Herald reported: A report on a
chemical analysis by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation Laboratory showed the black-owned
was damaged by dynamite
detonated by a battery-operated device, Gates said.
The account continues, Gates earlier said he
thought the dynamite used in the second blast was
different from that used in the first. Dwight
Thomas, head of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Division in Omaha, had maintained that the
dynamite in both explosions was the same.
Thomas wanted to get ahead of the FBI and
assigned two ATF agents, Tom Sledge and Dick
Curd, to the case. There was intense rivalry,
both nationally and locally, between the two
federal law enforcement agencies. ATF had been
given jurisdiction over explosions in the 1968
Gun Control Act and was working very hard to
build a name for itself cracking the wave of bombings sweeping America.
Edgar Hoovers FBI responded defensively to the
ATF zeal which saw it both as turf competition
and a problem for the ongoing
operation. Hoover was already at war with the
bombers, whoever they were, through a massive,
clandestine counter-intelligence operation code-named COINTELPRO.
As a result of the agency rivalry, the rule of
thumb was whoever got to the scene of a crime
first got the case. However, in Omaha, because
of a local law enforcement task force called
with which both ATF and FBI participated, both
agencies competed and did not defer or cooperate.
On or about July 16, 1970, ATF Agent Sledge
questioned an adolescent about the headquarters
of Omahas Black Panther affiliate, the United
Front Against Fascism. The identity of Sledges
informant has never been
Poindexter, chairman of the chapter, says that
there were only two adolescents that frequented
the Panther headquarters. A 12 year-old girl who
lived nearby or a 15 year-old, Duane Peak, who
wanted to join the group, is most likely Sledges informant.
James Moore, a retired ATF agent from Kansas
City, was friends with both Thomas and
Sledge. Moore was hot after Pete ONeal, head
of the Kansas City Black Panthers, on a gun
charge and kept up regular contact with Omaha.
Moore, in his book Very Special Agents, picks up
the story: Sledge gathered enough corroboration
to obtain a search warrant. Assistant U.S.
Attorney J. William Gallup, United States
Attorney Richard Dier and a federal judge
agreed. Sledge summoned ATF agents, Omaha
police, and U.S. marshals to plan a raid.
While Sledge briefed the task force, Richard Dier
made a courtesy call to the Omaha FBI office to
inquire if the agency had any information on the
interior layout of the Panther headquarters.
Young had been
to task several times by J. Edgar Hoover for his
inactivity under COINTELPRO against the Black
Panthers and realized that his career was
finished in the autocratic FBI if he let the ATF
get ahead of the Bureau and bring down the local
Panthers. Neither Young nor Thomas had any
actual knowledge of any explosives at the
headquarters, but both men were willing to assume there was some there.
Young sprang into action and soon Dier got a call
from the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.
cancelling the planned raid. Moore wrote that
Dier was told about the search warrant, The FBI
informs us its based on questionable evidence.
The book continues, While the task force cooled
its heals in the federal building, FBI agents
went door-to-door in the Panthers neighborhood
asking everyone whether there were weapons or
explosives in the inside the headquarters.
Moore wrote: Dier registered strong protests
with Justice. FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Paul
Young told him, Our key informant assured us
there were no weapons in that building.
William Gallup was so angry at his superiors in
the Justice Department for listening to the FBI
he resigned his position as a federal
prosecutor. Gallup told the Omaha newspaper, I
got sick of Washington trying to run our legal business in Omaha.
Thomas Sledge, whose young brother James was an
Omaha patrolman, alleged he had reason to believe
ten cases of machine guns and dynamite were at
the headquarters based on his adolescent
informer, purportedly the 12 year-old girl.
Ed Poindexter scoffs at the idea and denies ever
having any explosives or machine guns. Besides,
Poindexter points out, the headquarters would be
a poor choice as a hiding place for anything.
Ed Poindexter and
we Langa, then David Rice, are now known as the
Omaha Two and are serving life sentences for the
murder of an Omaha police officer. Both men deny any role in the crime
To view all of the Omaha Two story articles click
Permission granted to reprint
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews