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Racism treaty committee calls on Obama administration to explain black prisoners

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa are the Omaha Two
Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa are the Omaha Two
Michael Richardson

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued its “Concluding Observations” on Aug. 29 over United States progress to end racism. The report, prepared for the United Nations, requests the American government to account for COINTELPRO prisoners who remain incarcerated.

In a nod to diplomacy, reference to the COINTELPRO counterintelligence program was dropped from the report to the United Nations, however, the problem of prisoners was addressed. “The Committee requests the State party to provide, in its next periodic report, detailed information on…the current status of political activists from the Civil Rights era who reportedly continue to be incarcerated."

The Jericho Movement, which filed a complaint with the Committee, has said that nineteen Black Panthers remain in prison following unfair trials. A shadow report to the Committee from the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination contained a priority list of prisoners whose cases needed urgent attention which named among others the Omaha Two, Edward Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice).

“Many of today's political prisoners were incarcerated as a direct result of COINTELPRO's activities, namely, they were targeted because of their political beliefs and/or actions,” said the shadow report. “Unlike those convicted and sentenced for similar crimes, political prisoners were given much harsher sentences and subsequently routinely denied parole.”

“Another victory, a more sturdy building block!” emphasized Efia Nwangaza who submitted the shadow report on a failure of the United States government to address COINTELPRO abuses. Nwangaza thanked New York Jericho Movement activist “Anne Lamb for her indispensable support, without which this landmark achievement would not have been possible.”

“Among other things, the USA must provide information regarding incarcerated COINTELPRO/Civil Rights era political activists, political prisoners, to the UN Human Rights Council,” said Nwangaza. Thus far Barack Obama has been silent on the plight of victims of COINTELPRO during his presidency.

The Omaha Two were Black Panther leaders targeted by Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover. After the Aug. 17, 1970 killing of a policeman by a bomb ambush, Hoover directed FBI agents to put the crime on Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa. Hoover ordered the withholding of a FBI Laboratory report on the identity of the anonymous caller who lured Patrolman Larry Minard, Sr. to his death to make a case against the two Panther leaders.

Although the Omaha Two and other COINTELPRO cases are state prosecutions, the Obama administration is now being asked to explain what it has done to correct the abuses under J. Edgar Hoover. The Jericho Movement has urged a presidential review of all cases involving those imprisoned as a result of COINTELPRO.

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa remain imprisoned at the Nebraska State Penitentiary serving life sentences. Both men continue to deny any role in the crime.

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