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Midwest 22 included Minneapolis teenager Gary Hogan in ATF conspiracy case

Minneapolis Federal Building was bombed August 17, 1970
Minneapolis Federal Building was bombed August 17, 1970
Hennepin Public Library

The Midwest 22 bomb conspiracy investigation by Omaha agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division targeted a 16 year-old, Gary Hogan, who bombed Dayton’s, a downtown St. Paul department store. The disclosure of the Midwest 22 by a court researcher on April 14 revealed the largest single investigation against the Black Panthers by federal authorities. ATF agents sought to prosecute purported conspirators in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota for a series of unsolved Midwest bombings.

The release of Gary Hogan’s name, along with Black Panthers from Omaha, Des Moines, and Kansas City, brought forward new information on the ATF suspects. Hogan, who permanently injured a woman with a bomb on August 22, 1970, had planted a second, more powerful bomb, timed to blow up while responders were at the scene, but the deadly plan was foiled when the second bomb was found in a locker and defused.

Gary Hogan was a Black Panther want-to-be who was too young and had no local group to join. There was no organized Black Panther chapter in the Minneapolis area according the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The local FBI office kept director J. Edgar Hoover informed on any “Black Nationalist” activity in the Twin Cities and regularly updated Hoover on the status of the Black Panthers under the COINTELPRO operation. Because of rivalry between ATF and the FBI, the lack of a Black Panther chapter was information likely not shared with ATF as the agency turf fight was a barrier to communication.

While in juvenile detention, Gary Hogan changed his name to Kofi Yusef Owusa. Owusa aged out of a twenty-year sentence after three years behind bars and set about taking a new path in life. Owusa eventually was approved to join the Peace Corps and served two years and was a union organizer in South Africa in the 1990s.

The reformed bomber developed a career in Washington, D.C. and was an administrator with the National Black Caucus of Black Legislators. Kofi Owusa died on May 24, 2010, unaware that ATF sought to convict him of participation in a bombing conspiracy. U.S. Attorney Richard Dier declined to prosecute citing the “trend in the judiciary is away from major complex conspiracies.”

Five days before Hogan’s bomb exploded at the St. Paul department store, the old Federal Building in Minneapolis was bombed early in the morning of August 17, 1970. An hour earlier, in Omaha, a policeman, Larry Minard, Sr. was killed by an explosion. The Midwest bombings seemed linked to ATF investigators.

Two other men, not named as Midwest 22 conspirators, may have raised ATF suspicions about a multi-state conspiracy, Ronald Reed and James Lawson, Jr. Reed is now serving a life sentence for the May 22, 1970 ambush murder of a St. Paul policeman. Police said Reed also robbed an Omaha bank with two other men on October 20, 1970 to “expropriate” money for revolutionary activity. Lawson, who stayed for several months with the Black Panthers in Des Moines, was killed when he was blown to pieces while walking on a residential sidewalk in Minneapolis.

Ronald Reed was a classmate of Gary Hogan at St. Paul’s Central High School. Reed was a member of the Black United Front and sympathetic to the Black Panthers. When Reed was arrested he was found with plans to hijack an airplane to obtain the release of Gary Hogan and Angela Davis. Never charged with air piracy conspiracy, Reed was imprisoned for the Omaha bank robbery which he denied committing.

After completing his robbery sentence, Reed was convicted for the sniper killing of James Sackett, a policeman responding to a false emergency call. Reed is currently serving a life sentence in a Minnesota prison.

James Lawson, Jr. was killed instantly at 3:09 a.m. on Sept. 6, 1970, when he was ripped apart by a powerful blast that damaged houses in a four-block area in South Minneapolis. The bomb was estimated to be made from twenty pounds of plastic explosive. Lawson was identified by several of his teeth. Police said Lawson had lived at a Black Panther pad in Des Moines, Iowa from February to July before returning to Minnesota.

Sixteen year-old Gary Hogan would have had to know and conspire with Black Panthers in Omaha, Des Moines, or Kansas City to satisfy the ATF conspiracy theory. The recently disclosed ATF case progress record does not detail Hogan’s role in the alleged conspiracy. Presumably, under the ATF theory of the case, Hogan was following Black Panther orders when he placed the department store bomb making him a potential Midwest 22 defendant.

For further information see Midwest 22

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