Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Human rights group calls for reopening of COINTELPRO cases

Feb. 6, 2011 by Michael Richardson

A U.S. Human Rights Network Working Group has issued a call to action to
end the incarceration of “COINTELPRO/Civil Rights era political activists
held in United States prisons, some more than 40 years.”

Operation COINTELPRO was a massive, secret, illegal attack on political
activists conducted in the 1960s and 1970s by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation. The illegal campaign of dirty tactics was ordered and
micro-managed by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

The U.S. Human Rights Network Political Prisoner/State Repression Working
Group based the call to action on recent draft recommendations from the
United Nations Human Rights Council to end the incarceration of political
prisoners in America.

Efia Nwangaza of the USHRN Working Group offered three actions to correct
past and continuing injustice:

1. “We call on President Obama to use his presidential powers to grant
clemency and commute the sentences to time served and release all
COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era political activists criminalized and held in
federal custody.”

2. “We call on President Obama to direct U.S. Attorney General Eric
Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice to review the convictions of all
COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era activists in federal or state custody to
identify and address civil and human rights violations perpetrated.”

3. “We call on the Obama administration to create a national Truth and
Reconciliation Commission for the release and compensation of all
COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era activists in federal or state custody.”

The call for action echoes that of Jericho, a national effort to address
the problem of political prisoners in the United States. One of Jericho’s
efforts to help political prisoners is an online petition.

Jericho’s appeal followed a call for a national Reconciliation Commission
on COINTELPRO cases from the Nebraskans For Justice. Formed to support
litigation for the Omaha Two, the Nebraskans For Justice began a postcard
campaign to the Attorney General last fall.

The Omaha Two are Edward Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (formerly David
Rice) who have been locked up since August 1970 when they were arrested
for the murder of an Omaha policeman.

Ed Poindexter was head of Nebraska’s chapter of the Black Panthers known
as the National Committee to Combat Fascism. Mondo we Langa was minister
of information of the group and published a local newsletter. Both men
had been targeted by the Omaha FBI office under orders of J. Edgar Hoover.

When Omaha police officer Larry Minard was killed in an ambush bombing
Hoover decided to pin the crime on Poindexter and Mondo and ordered the
FBI crime lab director to withhold evidence on the identity of the 911
caller that lured Minard to his death. Both men were convicted of the
killing in a COINTELPRO-tainted trial that included both withheld evidence
and also conflicting police testimony.

The Omaha Two remain imprisoned at the maximum-security Nebraska State
Penitentiary where they continue to maintain their innocence.

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