[Pnews] The Omaha Two inspired activist artists Ben Jones and Emory Douglas to create iconographic images of Nebraska’s political prisoners

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 13 12:01:41 EST 2020


  The Omaha Two inspired activist artists Ben Jones and Emory Douglas to
  create iconographic images of Nebraska’s political prisoners

Michael Richardson - February 13, 2020
Screenshot (253)Ben Jones painted Edward Poindexter and Emory Douglas 
portrayed Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, two Black Panther leaders 
sentenced to life in prison. (credits: Ben Jones/Emory Douglas)

Ben Jones, a Chicago artist, has recently completed a portrait of Edward 
an inmate of the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Emory Douglas, former 
Black Panther Minister of Culture, created a poster of Wopashitwe Mondo 
Eyen we Langa 
(former David Rice) in 2016 for Mondo’s memorial service. Mondo, who 
died in March 2016 serving a life without parole sentence, and 
Poindexter were leaders of Omaha’s Black Panthers in 1970 when they were 
arrested for a policeman’s murder.

The two men were targets of a clandestine, and illegal, operation of the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation code-named COINTELPRO 
<https://thereader.com/news/the-fbi-and-omahas-black-panthers>. The men 
were framed for the August 17, 1970 murder of Patrolman Larry Minard 
killed in an ambush bombing. J. Edgar Hoover, the infamous FBI director 
personally oversaw the manipulation of the murder investigation and 
ordered the FBI Laboratory to withhold a report on the identity of an 
anonymous 911 caller who lured Minard to his death. The pair were 
convicted in April 1971 after a controversial trial marred by 
conflicting police testimony, perjured testimony, withheld evidence, and 
planted evidence.

Jones says his upbringing in the Midwest led to his activism for the two 
prisoners. “When I was eighteen, I was incarcerated for three weeks in 
Lincoln, Nebraska. I do not recall the charges beyond the crime of being 
young and black in America, but I vividly remember how it felt.”

“Staring out the window, I knew that two blocks down the road was the 
Nebraska State Penitentiary….I knew that Mondo we Langa and Ed 
Poindexter were incarcerated for a crime they did not commit. I thought 
about how I had driven by them without any conception of what they were 
going through….They were persecuted by COINTELPRO for trying to help 

Screenshot (257)Edward Poindexter and David Rice (Wopashitewe Mondo Eyen 
we Langa) were Black Panther leaders in Omaha and frequently harassed by 
police.  (credits: Omaha Police Department)

“Thinking about the victims of COINTELPRO, one begins to wonder whether 
the Panthers underestimated the degree of sadism with which the state 
would seek to obliterate the Black Power movement.”

“The sickening idea that the Panthers were punished for trying to help 
black people never left me. After I got out, I tried to get we Langa and 
Poindexter out. I organized fundraisers and benefit shows. I painted an 
eighty by five foot banner that read “FREE MONDO & ED” and was sprawled 
out at the state capitol.”

Ben Jones took his message of freedom for the Omaha Two to the Nebraska 
State Capitol steps.  (credit: Mary Kennedy)

“Much of the reach of their story comes by way of we Langa’s writings 
and art….One of his collages became the frontispiece of his 2008 book 
/The Black Panther is an African Cat: Poems of Exploration and Testimony.”/

Emery Douglas was cartoonist for the /Black Panther/ newspaper and over 
the years has become recognized as the leading artist of the Black Power 
movement. Although Douglas and Mondo never met the pair were comrades in 
struggle and after Mondo died in prison Douglas made a painting for 
Mondo’s memorial service. Douglas put red stripes over Mondo’s face to 
symbolize both prison bars and the American flag.

Ed Poindexter remains confined at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, 
approaching his fiftieth year of imprisonment. Both Nebraska Governor 
Pete Ricketts and Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine refuse requests to 
reopen the investigation 
into Minard’s murder despite documented evidence that J. Edgar Hoover 
tampered with the investigation and trial. Meanwhile, from his tiny cell 
in Lincoln at the maximum-security prison, Ed Poindexter continues to 
proclaim his innocence.

/For further information on the Omaha Two see/ FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, 
COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story 
print edition at /Amazon 
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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