West Omaha with its tony new subdivisions and shining shopping centers is a world away from the remnants of the Near-Northside, Omaha’s “ghetto”, where weedy vacant lots are more common than houses. On North 24th Street the remains of a neighborhood still in the clasp of crime, fear, and poverty are evident. The new Omaha has forgotten Larry Minard and moved on, while the Near-Northside, Minard’s former beat, still remembers the fallen officer. But Minard is not remembered for his heroism, instead, he is remembered as another victim of Hoover’s COINTELPRO plot to destroy the Black Panthers.
Ever since the controversial April 1971 trial that convicted Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, now known as the Omaha Two, doubt about their guilt has openly surfaced in the Near-Northside. Just last weekend an event was held at the Malcolm X birthplace featuring the new film COINTELPRO 101 and a discussion about the Omaha Two as political prisoners. Meanwhile, new Omaha it seems, just doesn’t want to know of such things. Earlier this summer the Omaha City Council voted not to even hear a request to reopen the Minard murder investigation which was based on new information not available at trial about J. Edgar Hoover’s tampering.
J. Edgar Hoover conducted his own secret war on political activists he deemed subversive. The COINTELPRO operation lasted fourteen years, was nationwide in scope, and consumed vast amounts of FBI resources. Many of the COINTELPRO misdeeds were illegal had a lethal ferocity. Hoover hated no group as much as the Black Panthers and personally commanded the secret activities of his agents.
In Omaha, the FBI director was particularly upset at the lack of “imagination” against the Black Panthers and chided Special Agent-in-Charge Paul Young for a lack of results. Minard’s murder provided the FBI with a perfect scenario, pinning the crime on the Black Panther leadership. Young sprang into action the day of the bombing and proposed to Assistant Chief of Police Glen Gates that the FBI take custody of the incriminating 911 recording which captured the voice of a killer. Two days later, before Larry Minard was even buried, J. Edgar Hoover gave the order to FBI Crime Laboratory director Ivan Willard Conrad to not issue a report on the identity of the 911 caller. Hoover let the anonymous caller get away with murder to make a case against the Omaha Two.
The jury that convicted Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa never got to hear the crucial 911 tape or even know of its existence. The jury also never knew about the existence of COINTELPRO in Omaha and the jury was never informed of Hoover’s orders to get the Black Panther leadership off the streets.
Every August the anniversary of Larry Minard’s murder brings an unheard call from Omaha's Near-Northside for justice and the date brings annual sorrow and controversy.
For more information on the Omaha Two