Speaking to the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression recently, Angela Davis renewed her call to release black prisoners she says were convicted for their political beliefs, not because they were guilty. The event was a rally to welcome home fifty people from prison who had been wrongfully convicted.
Davis spoke about the need for international solidarity opposing institutionalized police violence against those engaged in political conduct around the world. Davis said, “Anti-Muslim racism, Islamophobia has to be understood as intersecting with and reinvigorating anti-Black, anti-Asian, anti-Latinos racism.”
Davis has her own history with oppression. A Communist leader, Davis was charged in August 1970 with supplying weaponry used in a fatal jailbreak attempt at the Marin County Courthouse in California. A fugitive for six months, while on the Ten Most Wanted list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Davis served eighteen months in pre-trial detention before she was acquitted in June 1972. The United Committee to Free Angela Davis grew into the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
The events in California that put Davis on the run were days before the August 17, 1970 bombing murder of Omaha Patrolman Larry Minard. The crime was pinned on the Black Panthers and Edward Poindexter and David Rice (later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa) were convicted in April 1971. Davis spoke of the Nebraska prisoners. “Mondo we Langa died. Ed Poindexter is still in prison.”
Over the long years that have passed, Davis has made regular pilgrimages to the Nebraska State Penitentiary to visit the Omaha Two, as Poindexter and Mondo were called before Mondo’s 2016 death at the prison infirmary of respiratory failure. Davis has repeatedly called for release saying the two men were framed during COINTELPRO counterintelligence operations.
“Leonard Pelteir, one of the longest held political prisoners, is still behind bars and we really need to bring Leonard home.” Peltier, a leader of the American Indian Movement, was convicted after a controversial trial for the murder of two FBI agents during a shootout at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Davis also spoke in behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, convicted for the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer. After years on Pennsylvania’s death row, Mumia is now in the regular inmate population, still serving a life sentence despite revelations of a flawed trial.
The last trip Davis made to Omaha was in 2016 to speak at a memorial service for Mondo. Davis noted that although Mondo suffered inhumane conditions he never lost his humanity.
The Omaha Two are the subject of my new book FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story which details FBI Director Hoover’s tactics to break the local Black Panthers and the manipulation of the murder trial.