Omaha Two story: April 3, 1970
Ed Poindexter headed the Omaha chapter of the Black Panthers called the United Front Against Fascism in February 1970. One night at a party, after too much drinking, Poindexter’s girlfriend overdosed on something and had to be taken to the emergency room. By Poindexter’s own account, he rode along and there was a wild scene at the Douglas County Hospital that ended with Ed being clubbed by Omaha police before he passed out.
Poindexter says when he came to the next morning he found himself in the drunk tank at the Omaha City Jail where he was later released. While Poindexter was locked up some of his friends sought to raise bail money in case it was needed.
The Omaha office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation learned of the escapade and decided the incident could be turned into a counter-intelligence action against Poindexter. Paul Young, the Special Agent-in-Charge had been under pressure from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to take some sort of action against the leadership of the Black Panthers under the clandestine COINTELPRO operation.
Young proposed an anonymous letter to be sent to various publications in the black community accusing Poindexter of fraud in an effort to discredit him. On April 3, 1970, J. Edgar Hoover gave his personal approval to the plan.
Hoover wrote to Young: “Provided you have developed no information indicating [Edward Poindexter] was incarcerated in February,1970, and the Identification Division has no arrest record for [Poindexter] during this pertinent time period, you are authorized to prepare a typewritten letter on plain bond paper as enclosed….Take the usual security precautions to insure this letter and mailing cannot be traced to the Bureau.”
Hoover continued: “You are also authorized to discreetly make anonymous phone calls to the publishers of “Black Realities,” “Everyone Magazine,” and the “Omaha Star,”….The context of the anonymous calls should relate to [Poindexter] receiving bail money under false pretenses as you have previously described. Use discretion in making these calls to insure they cannot be traced to the Bureau.”
The anonymous letter approved by J. Edgar Hoover was written by the FBI pretending to be a disenchanted Black Panther supporter. The text of the anonymous letter, with typos to supposedly make it appear more authentic, was:
“I wish to report a violation against the people by the leader of the United Front Against Fascism in Omaha, Nebrask a. [Ed Poindexter] claimed he was put in jail by the Pigs on Feb. 11th and he got donations from the people to get him out of jail. I gave two bucks. Last week while in the Pig Department I overheard a Pig Laughing and telling another Pig (Black) how the Black Panther cheif [Poindexter] screwed the people on the North side. The Pig said [Poindexter] was not in jail and he snowed the people getting donations for bail money. If that’s the kind of leaders you want in the panthers I don’t want to join. Power to the Pigs if thats how you treat us fellow brothers and sister. Right On.”
The bogus letter was signed, “Former supporter of the BPP.”
On May 5, 1970, quarry dynamite was stolen from Quick Supply Co. in Des Moines, Iowa. According to testimony by Omaha Police Captain Murdock Platner before the U.S. House Committee on Internal Security, “There were probably ten cases of this dynamite that was stolen from Des Moines and brought to the Omaha area.”
A week later on May 13th, the Des Moines Police Station was bombed causing $250,000 damages.
In Washington, D.C. the U.S. House Committee on Internal Security was holding hearings on the Black Panthers in Seattle, Washington.
At the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation the COINTELPRO directorate reviewed daily reports from field offices and filtered messages for FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The two men who took it upon themselves to be in charge of the flow of information were head of Domestic Intelligence, William C. Sullivan, and head of Racial Intelligence, George C. Moore.
On May 14, 1970, Moore sent Sullivan a COINTELPRO memo discussing “excellent results” from a year of active counter-intelligence operations. Moore revealed the split in the Black Panthers between Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton was instigated by bogus information fed by the FBI to the Panthers.
Moore also discussed a number of media operations where FBI propaganda was published as news reports. The memorandum began with its conclusion, “This is to recommend that the Counterintelligence Program against black extremists be continued.”
On May 22, 1970, the Ames, Iowa Police Station was bombed.
Suddenly, the heartland of America was under attack, or so it seemed, and now the FBI actually had some criminal activity to pursue.
On June 11, 1970, the North Omaha Police sub-station was bombed.
The bombing of the sub-station was likely the central topic of the next meeting of a greater-Omaha law enforcement task force called Domino. The Treasury Department’s Division of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms also was competing with the FBI to crack the case. Something had to be done.
Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, then David Rice, are now known as the Omaha Two and thought their only problems with police came from hostile Omaha officers. The two Black Panther leaders had no idea they were the focus of attention all the way to the nation’s capital.
To view all the Omaha Two story articles click HERE
Permission granted to reprint