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The Midwest 22 included Omaha Two in ATF conspiracy case

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Twenty-two alleged conspirators from four Midwestern states conspired to bomb public and other buildings in the summer of 1970 said agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division in Omaha, Nebraska. The ATF effort to prosecute the Midwest 22 was turned down by United States Attorney Richard Dier according to an ATF case progress note disclosed on April 14 by a court researcher who found the long-hidden document buried in a file.

The Midwest 22 members were from Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota. Most of the alleged conspirators were Black Panthers and suspected of an unsolved series of bombings in the Midwest.

The two most prominent members of the Midwest 22 are Edward Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) who are themselves known as the Omaha Two. The two men were leaders of Omaha’s Black Panther affiliate chapter, the National Committee to Combat Fascism. The pair had already been targeted by the rival Federal Bureau of Investigation for counterintelligence action under the clandestine COINTELPRO operation and were convicted in April 1971 for the bombing murder of an Omaha policeman.

Ed Poindexter was chairman of the NCCF chapter and was the victim of two bogus letters circulated against him by Omaha FBI agents before his arrest for the murder of Patrolman Larry Minard, Sr. One false FBI letter, personally approved by J. Edgar Hoover, was sent to black-owned news outlets accusing Poindexter of fraudulently accepting donations for bail money. The second FBI letter, around the time of Minard’s killing, was to Black Panther headquarters in Oakland, California and accused Poindexter of cooperating with “Whitey’s newspaper”, the Omaha World-Herald.

Mondo we Langa was the Minister of Information and published the NCCF newsletter as well as coordinating sales of The Black Panther newspaper. In the months leading up to Mondo’s arrest in the Minard case, the FBI carefully planned an ambush on the route to NCCF headquarters from Eppley Airport where the Panther newspapers arrived from California. Because of changes in the shipping schedule the FBI was never able to “disrupt” the distribution of the newspaper despite their plans.

Ed Poindexter was accused of constructing the bomb and giving orders on its placement to a juvenile member of the group. Poindexter also allegedly had dynamite particles in a shirt pocket. The NCCF leader denied any role in Minard’s murder and said he was unaware of how dynamite particles were found in his shirt by an ATF chemist. Poindexter was actually arrested twice in the case, about a week apart. Following his initial arrest on suspicion of murder, Poindexter was released for lack of evidence while wearing only his underwear. ATF agent Thomas Sledge and Omaha Deputy Chief of Police Glen Gates hand-carried Poindexter’s clothing to Washington, D.C. for analysis where the particles were purportedly found.

Mondo we Langa was accused of storing the bomb and other dynamite at his house. According to ATF chemist Kenneth Snow, Mondo’s pants pockets also had dynamite particles. However, the dynamite particles examined by Snow were added to Mondo’s clothing after he surrendered. As soon as Mondo arrived at the County Jail he was stripped and checked for dynamite with a hand-swab test. An Omaha World-Herald photo taken as Mondo waited for an elevator to the jail showed the Panther with his hands, which tested clean, deep in the pockets where the dynamite particles were supposedly found.

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa remain in the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary where they continue to deny any role in a bombing conspiracy, either in the case of Minard’s death, or other explosions blamed on the Midwest 22 by ATF agents.

For further information see Midwest 22

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