2007, veteran journalist Michael Richardson began writing
a series of articles for OpEdNews.com about Ed Poindexter
and Mondo we Langa, who are two Black Panther political
prisoners known as the Omaha Two. Richardson argues that
they were framed for the 1970 murder of a policeman as part
of the FBI’s notorious counterintelligence program, dubbed
“COINTELPRO.” This top-secret and illegal operation was
a dirty war on the entire US Left, including the civil rights
& Black liberation movements.
this program’s intent, a March 3, 1968 COINTELPRO memo discussed
the need to stop "the beginning of a true black revolution,"
and to "prevent the rise of a 'messiah' who could unify,
and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement…
Through counterintelligence it should be possible to pinpoint
potential troublemakers and neutralize them." Another
stated goal was "to prevent the long-range growth of
militant black nationalist organizations, especially among
youth. Specific tactics to prevent these groups from converting
young people must be developed." One specific tactical
approach was expressed in an April 3, 1968 communiqué arguing
that "The Negro youth and moderates must be made to
understand that if they succumb to revolutionary teaching,
they will be dead revolutionaries."
terms of scale, the FBI's war of repression against the
Black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s was greatest
against the Black Panthers. Many Panthers, like Chicago
leader Fred Hampton, were assassinated outright, while others
were framed for murders they did not commit. A few of these
Panthers, like Geronimo Ji Jaga and Dhoruba Bin Wahad, had
their convictions overturned and were released, but many
of the COINTELPRO survivors remain in prison today.
addressing why the Panthers were targeted so intensely by
COINTELPRO, Noam Chomsky wrote in 1973: "A top secret
Special Report for the president in June 1970 gives some
insight into the motivations for the actions undertaken
by the government to destroy the Black Panther Party. The
report 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 BPP, including 43 percent of blacks
under 21 years of age.' On the basis of such estimates of
the potential of the party, the repressive apparatus of
the state proceeded against it to ensure that it did not
succeed in organizing as a substantial social or political
Richardson is now working on a book about the Omaha Two
and an archive of his definitive OpEdNews.com series about
the case is available here.
This year, he began a new series of articles at Examiner.com,
exploring the broader history of COINTELPRO, along with
a continued focus on the Omaha Two, viewable here.
3 News: Please tell us about who the Omaha Two
Richardson: Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (formerly David
Rice) were two leaders of the Black Panther affiliate chapter
in Omaha, Nebraska and targets of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation under Operation COINTELPRO. Both men are serving
life sentences at the Nebraska State Penitentiary for the
1970 bombing murder of an Omaha policeman and have been
imprisoned forty years. The former Panther leaders have
come to be known as the Omaha Two.
A3N: As a journalist at the time, how did you first
react to news of their arrests?
MR: I didn’t know Poindexter, but Mondo, then called
David, was a friend of mine I met at Omaha City Council
meetings. I knew Mondo was the sharpest critic of Omaha
police around and that he was constantly being harassed,
so I wasn’t surprised he became a prime suspect. I didn’t
think he did it though and I followed the case in the news
and attended part of his trial the next year. I never got
to speak to Mondo after his arrest and I moved from Nebraska
within a year of his trial.
first published article was a report on the trial that appeared
in the Omaha Star, but it only reported the surface story
as the true facts of the case remained hidden.
the years I have wondered if Mondo was guilty, as there
seemed to be so much evidence of his involvement. Finally,
after over 35 years of doubt I began corresponding with
Mondo and started research on the case. I reviewed portions
of the voluminous court file, interviewed people familiar
with the case including the two current attorneys, read
old newspaper accounts, studied formerly secret COINTELPRO
files, and visited with both men at the prison where they
am now convinced Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa did not
get a fair trial and were framed by overzealous police and
prosecutors who ended up letting the real killers get away
to put the Panther leaders in jail.
A3N: Can you briefly explain the charges against the
Omaha Two, and what evidence was used to convict them?
MR: On August 17, 1970, an anonymous 911 caller reported
a woman screaming at a vacant house. Police arrived to an
ambush instead, in which 29 year-old Officer Larry Minard
was killed. A recording of the killer’s voice was sent to
the FBI crime laboratory for analysis but before Minard
was even buried, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had ordered
the crime lab to withhold a report on the tape.
15 year-old, Duane Peak, was soon charged with the murder
and after six different versions of the crime, he implicated
Ed and Mondo in exchange for his own freedom.
was allegedly found in Mondo’s basement only to have two
different detectives both claim they were each the one that
found the explosives.
911 tape was withheld from the jury. The conflicting police
dynamite testimony was also unknown to the jury, as was
the deal that allowed Peak his freedom. The jury was never
informed that the defendants were COINTELPRO targets.
five days of deliberation, the jury convicted Ed and Mondo
of murder but spared their lives from the electric chair.
The two men have been in prison ever since.
A3N: Can you please explain what COINTELPRO was? How
do the Omaha 2 fit into the story of COINTELPRO?
MR: Operation COINTELPRO was a vast, illegal campaign
by the FBI in the 60’s and 70’s to “disrupt” domestic political
activity that J. Edgar Hoover deemed dangerous. The clandestine
program was national in scope, targeted thousands of individuals
and groups and broke a number of laws dwarfing Watergate
Black Panthers were the primary target of Hoover’s law enforcement
conspiracy. Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa had been COINTELPRO
targets for at least a year prior to their arrests. Hoover
had sent several memos to the Omaha FBI office complaining
about a lack of results and urged the Omaha agents to be
“imaginative” with counterintelligence actions.
had been the subject of a secret FBI smear campaign with
forged letters and anonymous phone calls while Mondo was
targeted for an ambush while distributing Black Panther
newspapers. It was the death of Minard, however, that gave
the FBI an opportunity to put the Omaha Two behind bars.
the time of the trial, the jury had no idea that COINTELPRO
manipulation of evidence had occurred. The secret program
was officially disbanded a week after the trial ended making
Ed and Mondo the last COINTELPRO victims.
COINTELPRO withholding of evidence did not surface until
years later following Freedom of Information requests for
A3N: Have all the COINTELPRO documents been released?
MR: No. Key documents identifying informants and providing
evidentiary details have been destroyed, withheld, or remain
the mid 70’s when the Church Committee of the U.S. Senate
investigated COINTELPRO, much of the Omaha case remained
hidden and so the full story of the FBI duplicity in Omaha
remains unknown and will likely never be fully disclosed.
different members of the Omaha Police Department ended up
making perjured or false statements about the case in court
proceedings, to the media, and in congressional testimony.
official or agent of the FBI ever was publicly disciplined
for the COINTELPRO misconduct in the Omaha case.
A3N: What are the Omaha Two doing today to challenge
the convictions and imprisonment?
MR: Both Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa have habeas
corpus petitions pending in the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of
Appeals and petitions for hearings pending in the U.S. District
Court of Nebraska.
appeals address the conflicting police testimony on dynamite
and new scientific testing of the 911 tape that establishes
Duane Peak did not make the deadly phone call as he had
asked the Nebraska courts for review and in 2008 was told
by the Douglas County District Court that it didn’t matter
where the dynamite was found or who found it. Last year
the Nebraska Supreme Court told Ed that it didn’t matter
who made the 911 call.
A3N: How has the mainstream media done with reporting
on the Omaha Two?
MR: Poorly. The national media has largely ignored
the case and the regional media has failed to explore the
COINTELPRO aspect of the prosecution. Almost all Nebraska
media accounts of the Omaha Two contain factual errors of
some sort and glaring omissions of relevant facts. Anyone
relying on the mainstream media about this COINTELPRO case
is sadly both misinformed and under-informed.
and the stigma against the Black Panthers is partially to
blame, while COINTELPRO media manipulation was another factor
in early reporting on the case. Why the media continues
to ignore this important case today is a mystery to me.
A3N: What upcoming articles are you working on?
MR: Now that internet newspaper Examiner.com has named
me the COINTELPRO Examiner, the opportunity to report on
the Omaha Two is part of my beat. I intend on revisiting,
in serial form, the long convoluted history of the case
as well as report on current developments.
research on the FBI and COINTELPRO has led me to understand
that Ed and Mondo are not alone and that each COINTELPRO
conviction needs a fresh new look. COINTELPRO was the largest,
most systematic attack on our legal system in U.S. history.
It is our responsibility today to carefully review the cases
of remaining COINTELPRO targets because of the strong possibility
of tampering with evidence.
A3N: Having written
about the Angola 3, why do you think their case is important?
MR: Any case coming out of the 1970’s involving the
Black Panthers is important because of the COINTELPRO abuses.
The Angola 3 case is somewhat different than others since
its genesis is inside a Louisiana prison. It may have not
been technically a J.-Edgar-Hoover-authorized COINTELPRO
prosecution but some of the trial tactics, including deals
with informers, are the same.
severity of the punishment, decades in solitary confinement,
calls out for review and is itself an injustice.
A3N: Any closing thoughts?
MR: Larry Minard, the father of five young children,
was buried on what would have been his 30th birthday. He
was a police officer responding to the call of a woman screaming.
Larry Minard’s killers walk free today.
named supplier of the dynamite, a suspected police informant,
was never charged with the crime and only spent one night
anonymous 911 caller was not properly identified and has
never been charged in the case.
Peak, the confessed bomber, was released after less then
3 years in juvenile detention.
Edgar Hoover let the killer of Larry Minard, the 911 caller,
go free to make a case against the Omaha Two.
has not been done in Nebraska.
--Angola 3 News is a new project of the International
Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Our website is www.angola3news.com
where we provide the latest news about the Angola 3. We
are also creating our own media projects, which spotlight
the issues central to the story of the Angola 3, like racism,
repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement
as torture, and more. Click here
to contact Angola 3 News.