[Pnews] During FRAMED book tour Robert Cecil declares the Omaha Two were really the Omaha Three

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jun 3 17:43:16 EDT 2019


  During FRAMED book tour Robert Cecil declares the Omaha Two were
  really the Omaha Three

Michael Richardson - June 3, 2019

Elmer Robert Cecil broke decades of silence during a book tour for 
/FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story/ 
and stepped forward to declare the Omaha Two were really the Omaha 
Three. The Omaha Two were Edward Poindexter 
and David Rice 
later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa 
who were convicted for the August 17, 1970 bombing murder of Patrolman 
Larry Minard 
The Omaha Two were leaders of the National Committee to Combat Fascism, 
a Black Panther affiliate group and denied any role in the crime.  The 
pair had been targeted by the clandestine COINTELPRO 
operation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Robert Cecil was a Black Panther member in Omaha during the group’s 
brief existence in the Midwestern city. In 1969, when the local chapter 
was dissolved by the national office in Oakland, California, Cecil 
joined up with the United Front Against Fascism, later renamed the 
National Committee to Combat Fascism.

Cecil had been a student activist at Technical High School and was quick 
to volunteer for assignments. Cecil gained notoriety in 1969 when the 
/Omaha World-Herald/ published a photo of him emerging from the police 
station toting a shotgun and wearing an ammo bandoleer. Cecil and others 
had been picked up for openly carrying firearms but released because it 
was then lawful to carry unconcealed weapons.

Cecil entered the police investigation of Minard’s death when a search 
was made of NCCF headquarters shortly after the bombing. Cecil was on 
duty at the office and answered the door. Police Captain Bruce Hartford 
described the encounter.

“I pulled the door open and forced the hook in the lock and after 
someone told me, he has a gun in his hand, he has a shotgun, and we went 

“I seen the shotgun in Cecil’s hand after I entered the inside and there 
were rifles, numerous shells laying around in the front room and 
bandoleers or canvas belts and we proceeded then into the basement.”

Hartford described using Cecil as a human shield. “Right ahead of me 
when I went in the basement….Well, I figured if it was booby trapped, 
and it gave all this appearance, that I would sure as hell take him with 

The shotgun had a shortened barrel which led to federal firearms charges 
against Cecil. At a book talk at the Great Plains Black History Museum 
in Omaha the long-silent Cecil came forward to tell part of his story. 
Cecil described being held by Hartford as the police searched the 

“The Omaha Two was really the Omaha Three. I got two years for a quarter 
inch. I served two years in a federal prison for a sawed off shotgun. 
The legal length of the barrel was eighteen inches. They said my gun was 
seventeen and three-quarters in length.”

Cecil also explained the newspaper photo of him carrying a shotgun 
outside the police station. A group of Black Panthers was stopped in 
traffic with a car full of legal weapons. “They took us downtown and 
after they held us a while they had to let us go, we were breaking no law.”

At a pretrial hearing in March 1971, Robert Cecil was called to testify 
about the search of NCCF headquarters. Cecil denied having a gun in his 
hands when Captain Hartford broke the lock on the front door. Cecil 
testified he was handcuffed before being used as a human shield.

Prosecutor Arthur O’Leary explained the police actions were because it 
was an emergency search. “What I am trying to get at, there were 
weapons, there were signs in the house indicating danger and so forth 
and the police were in a hurry to do what they had to do.”

O’Leary then questioned Cecil about the term “racist pig” but Cecil 
turned the taunt back. “But we used fascist pig. We don’t use racist pig.”

In April 1972, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld 
Cecil’s conviction for a sawed off shotgun seized during the raid of the 
headquarters in Omaha. However, the court was critical of police search 

“Hartford pulled the screen door open, breaking the lock, and the 
officers entered in a rush….The search, subsequent to the seizure of the 
gun and the defendant’s arrest, is not pertinent here and we say no more 
in that regard than that we disapprove of the manner in which it was 

Circuit Judge Heaney dissented, arguing that police lacked probable 
cause to arrest Cecil and provided more details of the search which used 
Cecil as a human shield. “I fail to understand why a temporary seizure 
of the defendant and the weapon would not have sufficiently protected 
the officers.”

“Instead, the police handcuffed the defendant and used him as a human 
shield to protect them as they searched the house, on the theory that if 
any occupants of the house fired on the police, Cecil would take the 
brunt of it.”

Robert Cecil was well known to the Intelligence Squad of the Omaha 
Police Department and made it onto detective Jack Swanson’s list of 39 
suspects in the case. Before his death in prison in March 2016, Mondo 
wrote that the testimony and evidence at trial could have led to charges 
against four other individuals besides himself and Ed Poindexter. Mondo 
said that Raleigh House, Donald Peak, Jr., Robert Cecil and Frank Peak 
could have all been charged. Duane Peak, the confessed bomber, testified 
that Raleigh House supplied the suitcase and dynamite to make the bomb. 
One of Donald Peak’s sisters identified the voice on the 911 tape, which 
lured Minard to his death, as Donald’s and put him and Duane with the 
suitcase together hours before the bombing. Frank Peak, a cousin of 
Duane and Donald, was purportedly at a planning session for the crime 
according to Duane. Cecil’s possible role came from reports of the crime 
laboratory at the Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Division in Washington.

According to Maynard Pro, the assistant chief of the ATF laboratory, 
dynamite particles were found in the trousers of Cecil. ATF chemist 
Kenneth Snow testified at trial that hand swabs from Cecil tested 
positive for dynamite. Cecil declines to discuss the dynamite evidence 
beyond a short statement.

“I’m sure it was part of the fabrication of their evidence if the other 
two were found not guilty. I told you I was the lucky one. They wanted 
us off the street, one way or another.”

“I still feel that it is not time to talk about what has happened to me. 
I do not talk about those days, I am reluctant as to how I was treated 
by both sides. Perhaps in the future.”

So how did dynamite traces show up on Cecil’s pants and hand swabs? 
Dynamite particles were also allegedly found in clothing of Poindexter 
and Mondo by the ATF lab. The clothing had been transported to 
Washington by ATF agent Thomas Sledge, along with three vials of 
dynamite particles, for testing. Sledge’s brother James, an Omaha 
policeman, had been injured in the bombing and Sledge is suspected of 
salting the clothing with dynamite particles. Sledge may have done the 
same with the hand swabs, cotton balls stored in a plastic bag. However, 
hand swabs from Poindexter and Mondo turned up negative for dynamite 
raising a question about Cecil’s swab test results.

Robert Cecil’s name emerged again in 1980 during post-trial proceedings. 
Attorney William Cunningham, representing Mondo, disclosed that the 
Omaha ATF office sought conspiracy charges against twenty-two black 
activists in four states for bombings in the 1970’s. United States 
Attorney Richard Dier refused to bring charges against the group, dubbed 
the Midwest 22, ending federal attempts to further imprison Cecil.

Robert Cecil’s reluctance to speak about his Black Panther days is 
understandable given the trouble that came his way. However, Cecil was a 
central figure in those turbulent days in Omaha and may have much to 
tell that has not been yet disclosed. Meanwhile, Ed Poindexter was 
recently denied a media interview 
at the state penitentiary without cause, unable to tell his story, a 
silence that speaks loudly about the Nebraska justice system.

/Excerpts from/ FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two 
/in print edition at/ Amazon 
/and in/ ebook 
/Portions of the book may be read free online at/ NorthOmahaHistory.com 
/The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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