Activist to address murder convictions
By: Martha Stoddard, Midlands News Service
LINCOLN -- Professor, prison reformer and activist Angela Davis will
speak Sept. 17 in Lincoln on behalf of a group trying to free two men
convicted in the killing of Omaha Police Officer Larry Minard.
Nebraskans for Justice members contend that Edward Poindexter and
David Rice, who now calls himself Mondo we Langa, were unjustly convicted.
Davis, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will
speak at the Malone Community Center, 2032 U St., at 7 p.m. Her
recent work focuses on social problems associated with incarceration
and the criminalization of those communities most affected by poverty
and racial discrimination.
Her most recent books are "Abolition Democracy'' and "Are Prisons
Obsolete?'' She is completing a book on "Prisons and American History.''
A new documentary, "Chicago 10,'' will be shown at 6 p.m. The film
uses archival footage and animation to tell the story of the anti-war
protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and
the subsequent trial of protest leaders.
The evening will include an update on legal efforts to free
Poindexter and we Langa. Poindexter's case is on appeal to the
Nebraska Supreme Court.
Angela Davis urges release of 'Omaha Two' convicted with COINTELPRO
dirty tricks in 1971 controversial trial
by Michael Richardson
August 30, 2008
University of California professor and internationally acclaimed
political prisoner advocate Angela Davis will make another trip to
Lincoln, Nebraska to meet with Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa who
are imprisoned in the state maximum security penitentiary.
Ed Poindexter, head of Omaha's unit of the Black Panthers called the
Nebraska Committee to Combat Fascism, and Mondo we Langa (formerly
David Rice) who served as the information officer of the 1970's group
are serving life sentences for the bombing murder of an Omaha
policeman. Both men deny their involvement in the death of patrolman
Davis, now a respected college professor and lecturer, was once a
fugitive in another Black Panther case and was on the Federal Bureau
of Investigation "Ten Most Wanted" list. Serving 18 months behind
bars before being acquitted of participation in a California
police-Panther shootout, Davis is sympathetic with targets of the
FBI's secret war on the Black Panthers called Operation COINTELPRO.
Davis was cleared of the charges against her in 1972, the year after
the Omaha Two were convicted of the August 1970 murder of
Minard. Unknown to the defense or public at the time of the Omaha
trial was that critical evidence was withheld as part of the
COINTELPRO conspiracy against Poindexter and Langa. Further, five
Omaha police officers gave false sworn testimony about the case but
the problems in their testimony did not emerge until years later.
J. Edgar Hoover, the powerful director of the FBI had secretly
established a clandestine COINTELPRO directorate headed by William
Sullivan to orchestrate dirty tricks to "disrupt" the Black
Panthers. Sullivan would later testify to a U.S. Senate committee
"no holds were barred" in the secret war on the Black
Panthers. Tactics included encouraging local police to make raids
and arrests of Panther leaders, anonymous mailings, unauthorized
entries, withholding of evidence, planting of evidence, and abuse of
The Omaha FBI office worked with Assistant Omaha Chief of Police
Glenn Gates to withhold the tape recording of the emergency call that
lured Minard to his death to keep the tape from the jury. Captain
Murdock Platner testified, falsely, to the U.S. House Committee on
Internal Security that Langa had supplied the dynamite used in the
bomb. Lt. James Perry's story to justify a search warrant was
rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Warren Urbom who said, "[I]t is
impossible for me credit his testimony." Sgt. Jack Swanson claimed
he found dynamite in Langa's basement only to be later contradicted
by Sgt. Robert Pheffer who bragged he was the one who found the
dynamite incredibly contradicting his own trial testimony in a 2007 hearing.
Pheffer's recently embellished version of events strongly suggests
perjury. Not only has he now contradicted his own 1971 testimony but
he is claiming to also have found bombmaking supplies (suitcases with
wires) at two locations, Langa's house and NCCF headquarters. The
only catch with Pheffer's suitcases is that they have disappeared
into thin air with no other witnesses to their discovery. In fact,
Pheffer's sworn allegations of finding the suitcases were never
reported by him in any police report, were not entered on the
inventory sheets of the searches, never submitted to the police
evidence locker, and appear in no crime scene photographs.
Davis has followed the Omaha Two case since the beginning. In 1975,
Davis made a trip to Lincoln to raise money for a legal defense fund
and also attended a post-conviction court hearing. In 1982, Davis
appeared at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and called freedom
for Poindexter and Langa as a "first priority" vowing, "We are going
to continue to fight until they are both free."
In a 2006 visit to the Nebraska State Penitentiary, Davis said,
"They've been in prison much too long and they should be
released. It makes me think about how much we are haunted by our own
Davis told the Lincoln Star, "It is important for people to
understand the way in which two men could basically be framed up and
kept in prison for 36 years even though they're innocent."
The bomb that killed Larry Minard was planted by 15 year-old Duane
Peak who confessed to the crime but was only sentenced to 33 months
of juvenile detention in exchange for his testimony that Poindexter
and Langa put him up to the crime and assisted with assembly of the
bomb. Peak, in turn, testified that the dynamite was supplied by 23
year-old Raleigh House, a suspected COINTELPRO informant, who only
spent one night in jail and was never formally charged for his role
in the crime.
The unknown caller who lured Minard into the lethal trap was never
identified after police dropped the search for the caller under
orders from Asst Chief Gates. A 2006 forensic analysis of the
emergency call tape revealed that Duane Peak was not the caller as he
has maintained leaving an unidentified accomplice on the loose while
Poindexter and Langa sit in prison.
Davis will speak to the Nebraskans for Justice on September 17, 2008
at the Malone Community Center in Lincoln. An update on the legal
status of the two prisoners will also be provided. Poindexter
currently has an appeal pending before the Nebraska Supreme Court
seeking a new trial over Pheffer's contradictory testimony and the
vocal analysis that undermines the prosecution case. A decision is
expected this fall.