Come Meet Us at the Left Forum

Come and meet scholars, activists and writers fighting to free the Omaha Two at this year’s Left Forum (March 14-16) to discuss the history of the case and the way forward toward liberation!

Panelists:

Dr. Tekla Ali Johnson (Salem College)

Tariq Al-Amin (Nebraskans for Justice)

Trish Kahle (International Socialist Organization)

Michael Richardson (Journalist)

Reynaldo Anderson (Harris-Stowe State University)

 

Reclaiming our Comrades: The Omaha Two

A local Chapter of the Black Panther Party formed in Omaha, Nebraska in 1967. By 1968 the Party’s left wing leadership, Ed Poindexter and David Rice (AKA Mondo we Langa) of the National Committee to Combat Fascism, marked out a zone of defense for the African American Community from the oppressive habits of the local police force and larger white community. The NCCF and Black Panther Party asserted their political presence in the segregated community of North Omaha and boldly condemned the racism and the corruption of the local and national government, issuing a call to arms to the proletariat. All but decimated three years later, scholars and activists offer a critical analysis of the conspiracy by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Intelligence Unit of the Omaha Police Department to repress and in prison the local Party’s leadership. Today, more than forty years later, Mondo and Ed are two of the longest held political prisoners in the United States.

Poem for Mondo

Capoeira * For Mondo
We watched you
Recoil
As we entered the lion’s den
A cobra
Poised…though snared
Educating the incoming
And waiting to be liberated by the people
–who seem to have forgotten
Feigning Sleep
I laughed out loud, anyhow
To show
I was not afraid
-in spite of your familiarity with my weakness-
Kazimba **
We come to battle
In open and in secret
The sights of their weapons
See flying feet of prey, but
Deftly our fighting style
Becomes sacred.
—Agbala 1-21-12
(* Afro Brazilian martial arts codified in dance/dance with defensive moves;** Nubian warrior’s fighting dance)

(c) Agbala 2011

“Is Anybody Listening?” by Ed Poindexter

Is Anybody Listening – by Ed Poindexter

In this seventeen page document, Ed Poindexter demonstrates that wrongful conviction notwithstanding, as first degree lifers, he and Mondo we Langa are being imprisoned in defiance of law and normal procedure. For a page-by-page description of document’s contents, please see the document description file below.

Document Description File

Support the Omaha Star! — An Appeal from Mondo and Ed’s Attorney, Timothy L. Ashford

This article by Timothy L. Ashford was first published on December 12, 2011.  Its permanent link is here.)

“You are too black to practice law so get out of my courtroom and don’t ever come  back, “ said the white Judge in a Chicago courtroom in 1898 to the new African American Kent Law School College Graduate Robert S. Abbot who bears a striking resemblance to comedian “Cedric the Entertainer.”

With those racist words, Attorney Abbott’s law career ended so he founded the Chicago Defender (Defender) on May 5, 1905, which he promoted as “The World’s Greatest Weekly.”

Starting out in a small kitchen in his landlord’s apartment, Abbott started with initial press runs of 300 copies and an initial investment of 25 cents.  Abbott soon became a millionaire because his Defender was the first African American newspaper to have a circulation of more than 100,000. The Defender, with two-thirds of the circulation outside of Chicago, had a higher circulation than the other three white Chicago area papers in the early 1900s.

Black Pullman Porters who rode the train distributed the Defender in the south because racist white newspaper distributors refused to circulate the paper. The Defender would beat the white daily papers to many important news stories of that day such as invasions of other countries or business news because most white people in power felt extremely comfortable discussing important matters in front of the black “help” such as maids and butlers (and, of course, it was believed the “help” would give the story to the Defender through the Black Pullman Porters).

IN THE EARLY 1900’S BLACKS WHO COULD NOT READ BOUGHT THE CHICAGO DEFENDER TO SUPPORT THE PAPER. The Klu Klux Klan threatened the Defender readers and attempted to confiscate the paper to stop circulation of the Defender throughout the nation.

Southern States passed laws against the distribution of the Defender. The Defender was read aloud in barbershops and churches and passed from person to person. It is estimated that more than 500,000 people read the  Defender each week. It was called the “Mouthpiece of 14 Million People” which was the population of blacks in the United States at that time.

The Defender started the Bud Billiken Day parade (based upon a character created by Abbott) in Chicago which is still one of Chicago’s favorite events to promote healthy values in children.

During World War I, the Defender declared May 15, 1917 the date of the “Great Northern Drive” and the “Great Migration.”  It used editorials, cartoons, and articles to convince  southern black readers to migrate to the North in record numbers to live a better life. Between 1915-1925, the Defender posted job listings and train schedules to facilitate the relocation of more than one and a half million southern blacks to migrate to the North with at least 110,000 relocating to Chicago between 1916-1918- which tripled the city’s black population.

The Defender covered the Red Summer Race Riots of 1919 by, among other things, publishing the exact number of whites and blacks killed in the riots. The Defender also campaigned for anti-lynching legislation.

Langston Hughes  and Walter White were Defender columnists.  Also, the early poems of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks were published in the Defender.

In 1948, editors at the Defender campaigned for President Harry S. Truman to integrate the Armed Services which was done shortly after their campaign.

In 1940, Abbott was the first president of the National Negro Publishers Association, which he founded, which is now the National Newspaper Publishers Association- an organization of approximately 200 African American publishers of newspapers across the country which includes this paper. African American newspapers, including the Omaha Star, in our country have a history of fighting for equality.

American race prejudice must be destroyed can describe the philosophy of both the Defender and this paper the Omaha Star.  In 1938, the torch was passed from the Defender to the late Mildred D. Brown  who founded The Omaha Star which has worked for equal rights for all Americans. Ms. Brown may be  the first African American woman (if not the only African American woman) to have founded a newspaper in the nation’s history.

The Omaha Star gives a voice to the voiceless. It allows a diversity of  editorial opinions such as articles by  former State Senator Ernie Chambers, a variety of local as well as national writers and this paper allowed me to recently write a 20 part series explaining the case of the Omaha Two Political prisoners Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen We Langa (hereinafter “Mondo”) and Ed Poindexter. No other newspaper would allow the writers in this paper to write and express the thoughts of this community.  Furthermore, for decades, the Omaha Star has provided jobs in this community.

If a company in Omaha does not advertise with the Omaha Star they do not SUPPORT you. If the companies do not support you, you should not support their business.

Some major companies in this city will not buy an advertisement with this paper but they will advertise in the white media. Those companies expect a lot of business from Blacks. Their philosophy is we are not going to advertise in the Omaha Star, which is the black weekly paper, but we want your black dollars.
If blacks who were threatened in the early 1900’s supported their paper, why can’t we support the Omaha Star? Now, in 2011 in Omaha, we have a paper which is invested in this community. Blacks in the civil rights movement in the 1960s supported other blacks. Blacks, who supported the Defender, in the early 1900s would not support a company today which did not support Blacks.

Since we now have a black president, the “integrated” Blacks in 2011in Omaha support companies which do not advertise in the Omaha Star, do not hire and promote Blacks, and do not support the Black community. Have we forgotten racism, the civil rights struggle and the economic disparity which currently exist in this city and nation? Supporting a black business such as the Omaha Star creates jobs in the black community.

Do not buy from a business that does not advertise in this paper. However, if you feel you must buy from a company who does not advertise in this paper, at least ask the management why don’t you advertise in the Omaha Star? After your purchase, please make a follow-up call, e-mail or write to that company to tell them to advertise in the Omaha Star.

Support those who support you- subscribe to the Omaha Star- give the Omaha Star as a gift- is stated repeatedly in this paper and I agree.

I practice what I preach. I own four Omaha Star subscriptions. Of course, only one paper comes to my office and the other three are sent to family members as a gift. I also advertise in the Omaha Star.

We can not afford to lose the Omaha Star because of a lack of economic support from this community.  By supporting the Omaha Star, we support our community. We must support the Omaha Star!

Have you signed the petition?

Mondo and Ed are incredibly excited about the new energy building to win them justice!

One of the ways we are working towards justice is through the use of an ONLINE PETITION.  Please sign it and share it with everyone you know.  Send it to any list servers you might be on.  Right now we are working on a PDF version of the petition so you can print copies to carry with you and fill with signatures before mailing them back to us.

Please SIGN THE PETITION!

In Solidarity!

Who are the Nebraska Two?

Contributers: Michael Richardson, Nebraskans for Justice, Tekla, Trish, and Tim 

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (aka then David Rice) are two former members of the Black Panther Party falsely imprisoned for a bombing that left one cop dead and several others injured. This case, known as the Omaha or Nebraska Two, is an example of the extent the U.S. government would go to undermine and destroy the Black liberation movement.

During the ‘60s, the FBI, under the control of J. Edgar Hoover declared a clandestine war on the Black Panthers and other “black nationalist” groups as part of an operation, known as COINTELPRO. A secret directive dated August 25, 1967 both authorized and mandated illegal harassment and targeting of domestic groups and U.S. citizens deemed a racial or political threat by Hoover. In Omaha, the war on the Panthers was directed at a chapter of the party called the Nebraska Committee to Combat Fascism headed by Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa.

The attack on the two activists was personally directed by Hoover and his inner circle at the top of the FBI command structure. Poindexter and we Langa had been targets of COINTELPRO for their leadership roles in the Black Panther affiliate and were disliked by most local police for their sharp criticism of the shooting death of 14 year-old Vivian Strong by police in the summer of 1969. Both men further inflamed police hostility by their repeated use of the word “pig” to describe police officers. On August 17, 1970, a call was made to the police reporting a woman screaming at a vacant house near 28th Street and Ohio Street. When the Omaha Police Department arrived they noticed a suitcase sitting in the front room of the house. As patrolman Larry Minard attempted to pick up the suitcase, a powerful blast killed the patrolman and injured seven other officers.

While uniform officers ran a dragnet arresting dozens of people in the hours and days following the bombing, the FBI to hatched a plot to convict Poindexter and we Langa rather than find Minard’s actual killers. Hoover, with the help of the chief of the Omaha PD, gave an order to make a case against the NCCF leaders. Hoover’s directive was recorded on a COINTELPRO memo issues the day of the bombing.

During the first two weeks proceeding the bombing, police arrested a young man named Duane Peak. Police managed to get Peak to admit to being involved in the incident. Peak was offered a deal and became the state’s chief witness against the two Panther leaders in exchange for a short sentence and his freedom. To keep the case from unraveling it was necessary for Peak to have been the caller as he claimed.

Authorities managed to record the voice of the man that lured the police to the location. The voice on the recording was clearly an older man and not that of a young boy. Both the FBI and the Omaha PD saw that the recording, if used as evidence, might work against them and decided not to use the tape until after the men had been convicted. During a hearing, Peak took the stand and recanted his story connecting Poindexter and we Langa to the incident. After a recess, Peak changed his story yet again and implicated the two men. Peak at the time was wearing glasses and when asked to remove them, he clearly had been beaten. We Langa’s attorney asked Peak if he was threatened during the recess and had discussed his confession during the break with anyone, Peak answered in the affirmative.

In addition to Peak’s testimony, the state offered three pieces of dynamite found in Rice’s home as evidence. The officers could not find Rice and Poindexter’s fingerprints on the dynamite, and there was no clear answer as to the exact location the dynamite was discovered in Rice’s house. Accusations have since been made, even by an ex-police officer Marvin McClarty, that the dynamite might have been planted.

Poindexter and we Langa were tried by a jury of eleven whites and one black person. Deliberations lasted four days before both men were found guilty. The judge sentenced both of them to life. The lone black juror later stated he accepted the guilt of the pair on the condition that the death sentence was not asked for.

The tape recording was successfully kept from the defense and the jury that convicted Poindexter and we Langa never got to hear the voice that made the fatal call. The original recording was destroyed several years after the trial and then in 1980 a reel-to-reel copy of the tape was found, quietly made by a dispatcher. In 2005, the reel-to-reel was discovered. One year later, the recording was submitted to modern vocal analysis. Expert Tom Owens determined the voice on the tape was not that of Duane Peak, a conclusion apparently also reached at the FBI Laboratory back in 1970 when the tape was withheld.

Peak served several years of juvenile detention and then gained his freedom. The unknown caller whose voice was captured on tape was never identified or brought to justice. Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa are serving life sentences at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary. Both men deny any involvement in Minard’s murder. Recent statements made by one of the officers who testified at the trail, Sgt. Pheffer has raised some issues regarding the case. It seems that a recent version of the events told by Sgt. Pfeffer strongly suggests he might have perjured himself. Not only has he recently contradicted his own 1971 testimony about whether he another officer had discovered the dynamite, but he now claims to have found bombmaking
material at we Langa’s house and the NCCF headquarters.

Shortly after the conviction, we Langa’s house mysteriously burned to the ground, eliminating any possibility of exploring the accuracy of police testimony about the dynamite.

In June 2008, Poindexter lost an appeal arguing that he should have been released by 1988 because other inmates sentenced to life for first-degree murder were granted sentence commutations and paroled from prison within 17 to 18 years. He also argued that a law was in place when he was sentenced that allowed him to be considered for parole “at any time.” The Nebraska Supreme Court sided with the Parole Boards refusal to consider Poindexter as a parole candidate. The Parole Board has taken the position that those convicted of first-degree murder are not eligible for parole because they won’t complete the minimum life sentence before the die.

In October 2008, Poindexter appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court to grant him a new trial. The key argument by Poindexter is that the authorities hid the tape recording allegedly made by Peak. The tape could have altered the decision made by the jury. The case had to be decided.

[From this pamphlet.]

 

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