[Pnews] Will Nebraska Governor honor his oath of office and examine the case of Black Panther Ed Poindexter?
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 26 10:22:44 EST 2019
Will Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts honor his oath of office and
examine the case of Black Panther Edward Poindexter or will his death
penalty advocacy get in the way?
Michael Richardson - November 25, 2019
is a “law and order” governor who led a campaign to restore the death
penalty in Nebraska after the legislature outlawed capital punishment.
Ricketts can be depended upon to be unsympathetic to Edward Poindexter
an imprisoned Black Panther leader accused of murdering a policeman in a
bombing ambush. However, it lies within the power of Ricketts to order a
sentence commutation review to examine Poindexter’s case for wrongful
Poindexter and co-defendant David Rice
(later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa
were convicted for the August 17, 1970 murder of Omaha Patrolman Larry
at a 1971 trial marred by conflicting police testimony, perjured
testimony, planted evidence, and a withheld FBI Laboratory report. The
two men were leaders of the National Committee to Combat Fascism and
targets of the clandestine COINTELPRO
program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
J. Edgar Hoover, the controversial director of the FBI, waged a secret,
illegal counterintelligence operation against people and groups he
deemed dangerous. Hoover had demanded Special Agent in Charge Paul Young
get the two Panther leaders off Omaha streets. In December 1969, Hoover
complained about inaction by Young and ordered the SAC to get
“imaginative” and deliver results.
When the bombing happened in Omaha the FBI responded immediately and
steered the police investigation toward Poindexter and Rice. Young
arranged with Deputy Chief Glen Gates to dispose of the 911 recording
which captured the voice of an anonymous caller luring Minard to his
death. A recording was sent to the FBI Laboratory
along with a memorandum explaining no written report was to be issued on
the identity of the 911 caller. The jury that convicted the Omaha Two
never got to hear the voice of the anonymous caller, the principle piece
of evidence in the case.
The jury also considered dynamite evidence that four federal judges said
should have been excluded from the trial. U. S. District Court Judge
Warren Urbom ruled there should be “a new trial free from the tainted
evidence.” Three federal judges of the U. S. Eighth Circuit Court of
Appeals ruled the trial constituted a deprivation of “a basic
The case was returned to Nebraska courts to consider a new trial despite
Judge Urbom’s warning that such a move would be an exercise in futility.
Predictably, the Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed further appeals in the
case and ignored the federal admonition that a new trial was needed.
Supreme Court Justice William Brennan called the decision to send the
case back to Nebraska courts “profoundly disturbing.”
COINTELPRO was a sometimes lethal campaign against the Black Panther
Party. In Omaha, the plan was to use Nebraska’s electric chair
instead of the more traditional police pre-dawn raid where guns and
bullets were used. Prosecutor Donald Knowles sought the death penalty
against Poindexter and Rice. The jury that convicted the two men, after
three days of deliberation, ordered their lives spared and the pair were
sentenced to life without parole.
The unfair trial is the subject of my book F
J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO, & the Omaha Two story
/This spring I visited Ricketts’ office in the State Capitol and left a
copy of the book detailing the injustice of the case for the governor to
read. I also asked Ricketts by letter to examine the case. Ricketts
responded by acknowledging receipt of the book but ignored my request to
review the case. When asked by the /Omaha World-Herald
about the review request Ricketts had no comment.
Although Ricketts gave an oath to uphold the Nebraska Constitution and
its provisions for fair trials the case of Edward Poindexter, who
escaped the electric chair by order of the jury, presents the governor
with a major dilemma. If Ricketts does review Poindexter’s case and
finds the flawed conviction should be remedied with a commutation of
sentence he will be admitting his campaign to restore the death penalty
had a major flaw ignoring the dangers of wrongful conviction. Caught
between his oath of office and his advocacy of execution Ricketts is
reduced to silence.
My message to Pete Ricketts is simple. Take the high road and do the
right thing. Open a commutation inquiry into Ed Poindexter’s conviction.
Pursue justice because the Nebraska Supreme Court did not. Uphold your
oath of office.
/This article contains excerpts from/ FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover,
COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story,/in print edition at /Amazon
Portions of the book may be read free online at /NorthOmahaHistory.com
/The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library./
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