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Twenty-two Black Panthers targeted in ATF bomb conspiracy case

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Twenty-two Black Panthers in three Midwestern states, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri, were the targets of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division for an alleged 1970 bombing conspiracy. The conspiracy investigation of the so-called Midwest 22, previously unreported, has been a carefully kept secret until the disclosure of an ATF case progress closure report to Examiner.com on April 14, 2014. The ATF report was provided by a court researcher who discovered the progress record buried in a file. The document comes from ATF case Nebr-955(T-II) and was copied to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

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ATF was in competition with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for control of bombing cases in the summer of 1970. The rival federal agencies were embroiled in an ultimately longstanding turf fight for jurisdiction over bombing cases. The Midwest had been hit with a series of unsolved bombings in several states in the summer and ATF agents in Omaha, Nebraska blamed the Black Panthers for the explosions.

Black Panthers in Omaha, Des Moines, and Kansas City, were ATF targets for prosecution. Nine of the Panthers were from Omaha; Elmer Robert Cecil, Melvin Collins, Calvin Drake, Raleigh B. House, Duane Peak, Frank Peak, Jr., William L. Peak, Edward A. Poindexter, and Mondo we Langa (then David Rice).

Ed Poindexter was Chairman of the Omaha affiliate chapter. Mondo we Langa was the Minister of Information. Raleigh House was the Minister of Finance, and Frank Peak, Jr. was Minister of Defense.

Kansas City Black Panther members under investigation were Phillip Crayton, Phillip Deffenbaugh, Felix O’Neal, Phillip Ortega, and Thomas Robinson. The Kansas City Black Panthers were a supervisory chapter to the Omaha Panthers.

Charles Knox and Archie Simmons were from the Des Moines Black Panther chapter as were Edward C. Smith, Mary Ann Smith and Steve A. Green. Charles Knox was Minister of Education and Edward Smith was Minister of Defense. Green was responsible for distribution of The Black Panther newspaper.

Gary Hogan and Michael Smith were juveniles and their location is uncertain. The role of the two juveniles in the purported Black Panther conspiracy is unknown.

One other ATF target of unknown location was Antone Jenkins. Sources familiar with Black Panthers in Omaha, Des Moines, and Kansas City do not recognize the name.

The most infamous name on the list is Duane C. Peak, a fifteen year-old killer from Omaha. Peak planted a bomb that killed Omaha policeman Larry Minard, Sr. on August 17, 1970. Peak managed to escape not only the ATF conspiracy charge but also the Nebraska murder charge by making a deal to be declared a juvenile delinquent and avoid a prison sentence. Peak got his deal by implicating two others on the ATF list, Edward Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, in the killing.

Mondo and Poindexter, now called the Omaha Two, were the leaders of Omaha’s Black Panther affiliate National Committee to Combat Fascism and targets themselves of COINTELPRO. J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI directed a massive clandestine counterintelligence operation codenamed COINTELPRO. Hoover had ordered Omaha Special Agent-in-Charge Paul Young to get the pair off the streets.

When Larry Minard was killed Paul Young set about making a case against the NCCF leaders. Hoover ordered the withholding of a FBI Laboratory report on the identity of the anonymous 911 caller who lured Minard to his death in order to place the blame on the Omaha Two who were convicted of the crime.

In the ATF case progress record the bomb conspiracy investigation was closed January 26, 1972. U.S. Attorney, Richard Dier, declined to prosecute the alleged conspirators. Dier explained a “trend in the judiciary is away from major complex conspiracies.”

The Midwest 22 prosecution would have been the largest case against the Black Panthers ever brought. The Panther 21 trial in New York that ended in acquittal holds the record as the most number of defendants in a single case during the COINTELPRO era.

For further information see Mondo we Langa files appeal

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