Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa—In Prison 40 Years, Part IX: COINTELPRO
By Timothy L. Ashford, Appeared in the Omaha Star, September 14, 2011
“Dir. advised telephonically & said Okay to do!” were the words written on a memo in 1971 after Ivan Willard Conrad’s discussion with the director of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover, who commanded the F.B.I. crime laboratory to not issue a formal report on their analysis of the identification of the 911 tape recording of the killer’s voice in the case of Ed Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen We Langa (hereinafter “Mondo”) formerly known as “David Rice.”
As a result of this short conversation, the F.B.I. withheld the 911 tape from the jury in defiance of a court order and both men-the Omaha Two- have been in jail for the last 40 years after they were wrongfully convicted on April 17, 1971 in the murder trial for the August 1970 bombing death of Omaha Police Officer Larry D. Minard, Sr. Both men deny any involvement in the crime.
The government believed the analysis of the emergency 911 call which lured Minard to his death would have revealed that 15 year-old Duane Peak, who had a high pitched voice, was not the same voice of the caller- a grown man with a deep bass voice. Voice expert Thomas Owen recently analyzed the 911 tape and concluded it was a high probability the voice was not Peak’s.
Years before the Omaha Two trial and in response to police brutality, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (“Panthers”) was formed in 1966 in Oakland by Bobby Seales and Huey Newton. By 1969, the Panthers had approximately 10,000 armed members who could assemble anywhere in this country within minutes. Although Malcolm X was assassinated in 1964, the Panthers based their organization on his defiant opposition to police brutality and injustice “By Any Means Necessary.”
The Panthers started the free breakfast program and neighborhood patrols. The official paper of the Panthers circulation was 250,000 and many who read the paper were young “freedom fighters.” In 1967, armed Panthers protested a ban on weapons by marching on the California State Capitol in Sacramento.
F.B.I. director Hoover subsequently created a clandestine covert government Counter Intelligence Program called Cointelpro which consisted of surveillance, infiltration, perjury and police harassment to kill and destroy the Panthers.
Hoover labeled the Panthers the “greatest threat to the internal security of this country” and Noam Chomsky wrote in 1973: “A top secret Special Report for the president in June 1970… describes the party as ‘the most active and dangerous black extremist group in the United States.’ Its ‘hard core members’ were estimated at 800, but ‘a recent poll indicates that approximately 25 percent of the black population has a great respect for the Black Panthers, including 43 percent of blacks under 21 years of age.” The white power structure feared a black leader would start a black revolution.
Chicago Panther leaders Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22, were shot to death on December 4, 1969 by the Chicago Police. Many in the Black community called it a “massacre” because the police fired more than 99 shots into the apartment but it appears only one shot, if that many, was returned in the early morning raid. The Chicago Tribune reported that “Months later, a federal investigation showed that only one shot was fired by the Panthers, although that number remained in dispute. In the two years before the raid, police and Panthers had engaged in eight gun battles nationally, in which three police officers and five Panthers died. Four of the shootouts, including one in which two police officers were killed, occurred in Chicago.”
Panther Geronimo Pratt was framed for the murder of Caroline Olsen in Santa Monica in 1970 although he was under surveillance by the F.B.I. in another city at the time of the murder of Olsen. His conviction was overturned in 1997 and he resided in Africa until his recent death.
In 1970, Mondo (Deputy Minister of Information) and Poindexter (Deputy Chairman) were the leaders of the Omaha Chapter of the National Committees to Combat Fascism (NCCF), an affiliate of the Panthers. Hoover sent a series of memos criticizing the Omaha F.B.I. for their inability to use counterintelligence measures to disrupt the Panthers and to target the leaders in Omaha.
Cointelpro targeted Mondo and Poindexter when Hoover ordered Special Agent in Charge Paul Young to propose to Assistant Chief of Police Glen Gates that Mondo and Poindexter should be framed for the murder of Minard as part of Cointelpro. The F.B.I. and the local police used the Minard death to frame Panthers Mondo and Poindexter in Omaha just as the F.B.I. used Cointelpro to kill Hampton and Clark in Illinois and to jail Pratt in California.