[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

    * By 
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 
Component Concepts
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 Hoover’s 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 Omaha’s Black Panther affiliate, the United 
Front Against Fascism.  The identity of Sledge’s 
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 Sledge’s informant.

James Moore, a retired ATF agent from Kansas 
City, was friends with both Thomas and 
Sledge.  Moore was hot after  Pete O’Neal, 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 it’s 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

Michael Richardson

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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