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Three Omaha relatives listed as Midwest 22 defendants in ATF case

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Three members of the Peak family in Omaha, Nebraska were listed as potential defendants in a multi-state prosecution to be initiated by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division. The Peak trio were on a list of twenty-two alleged bomb conspirators, the Midwest 22, targeted for federal conspiracy charges over an unsolved series of bombings in the Midwest during the summer of 1970. An ATF case progress record note made public on April 21. 2014, told of the youngest Peak on ATF’s investigaton list, Duane Christopher Peak.

Duane Peak, fifteen years-old, gave authorities six different versions of the August 17, 1970 murder of an Omaha policeman. The first version was the most melodramatic and conspiratorial with Peak getting and leaving secret messages with a mystery woman giving orders. By the time of trial, the story had shifted to placing the blame on Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa in exchange for a deal, which Peak got on May 1, 1970 from prosecutors two weeks after the COINTELPRO-tainted trial ended.

The ATF case note said, “Plead guilty to 1st Degree Murder as a JUVENILE and sentenced to an unknown state reformatory until the age of 21. (Location secret for Peak’s protection)”

At the trial of the Omaha Two for the bombing murder of Larry Minard, Sr., Peak testified that his cousin, Frank Peak, Jr., let Duane and Ed Poindexter meet at Frank’s house to plan the bombing. Frank testified to the contrary that Duane had not been to his house with Poindexter.

Frank Peak, Jr. was also on the Midwest 22 list of prosecution targets. Frank had been a volunteer in the U.S. Navy and returned to Omaha in 1969 when his hitch in the service was over. Upon his return to Omaha he became acquainted with the Black Panthers and Peak joined the Omaha branch staying with the group as it evolved in the next several years. Frank Peak developed a reputation as a good organizer by Black Panthers in Des Moines and Kansas City with whom he parlayed. Frank was serving as Defence Captain for the Panther off-shoot, the National Committee for the Combat of Fascism, at the time of the Omaha bombing.

William Peak, another cousin, was the third Peak family member on the Midwest 22 list of defendants. William was well known on Omaha’s Near-North Side where photos of his bruised and swollen face circulated in a flyer after a beating he received during an encounter with Omaha police.

ATF agent Thomas Sledge filed an affidavit in U.S. District Court to obtain a federal search warrant that a twelve year-old informant, Mary Ellis Clark, told him she witnessed Frank and William Peak and several others assemble a bomb and place it in a car trunk. Although the Justice Department declared Sledge’s informant not credible and stopped the search, the allegation fed ATF suspicions about the men. Clark was the younger sister of Ed Poindexter’s girlfriend and lived near the NCCF headquarters.

When determined ATF agents pressed for a prosecution, United States Attorney Richard Dier said the “trend in the judiciary is away from major complex conspiracies.” None of the Midwest 22 alleged conspirators were ever prosecuted on federal charges other than Elmer Robert Cecil who was prosecuted for possession of a sawed-off shotgun.

For more information on the Minnesota connection

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