Edward Poindexter was born November 1, 1944 at the Logan Fontenelle housing project in Omaha, Nebraska. Living a segregated childhood, Ed rarely ventured outside of the Near-Northside. Poindexter volunteered for the Army within months of graduating from North High School where he was active on sports teams.
“I went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood and my next duty station was Frankfurt, Germany, and then I came back to the States and I re-enlisted….I went to another school at Fort Lee, Virginia. And from there to Fort Lewis, Washington, for a couple of months and then to Vietnam.” Ed became politically conscious while serving in Vietnam where he spent time in the stockade for fighting.
Ed received an honorable discharge from the Army, found a job, lost his wife, and moved, all in a short period of time as he made his transition to civilian life. “Following my discharge from the Army I took a job for a few months at the post office in Atlanta, Georgia. Gloria had agreed to join me later after I got settled in. It never happened, as she began accusing me of having affairs and spending my money on drugs. She was right and we separated. I was at a crossroads in my life.”
Ed’s sister mailed him an article on the Black Panther Party while he was in the Army and he was intrigued at the time. Suddenly events in his life provided Poindexter an opportunity to explore Black Panther activism in his hometown. “After hearing about a Black Panther Party chapter in Omaha, I decided it was time that I made my life count for something.”
“From the first Panther meeting I attended, I knew it was my calling to become a revolutionary black militant, because I never felt more of a sense of belonging or a sense of kinship with any real organization before. It’s difficult to explain, but I just knew I belonged.”
“I attended a Panther meeting…and instantly fell in love with the concept of the Black Revolutionary Marxist, socialism and everything associated with it.”
“One of the important lessons I learned during my work with the Black Panther Party was how to communicate with people and how to resolve problems in a creative, intelligent manner. I was proud of myself, as I’d come a long way from the days when I’d bust someone in the mouth first, then talk later.”
Despite Poindexter’s new communication skills he was a target of a harassment campaign by the Omaha Police Department and the clandestine COINTELPRO operation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Joining the competing police rivalry to get Poindexter off the streets was agent Thomas Sledge of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division. Convicted after a controversial trial that was marred with conflicting testimony, false testimony, withheld evidence, and planted evidence, Poindexter is serving a life without parole sentence for the August 17, 1970 murder of Omaha policeman Larry Minard.
Poindexter’s co-defendant, Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, then David Rice, was also sentenced to life without parole and died at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary in March 2016.
Ed Poindexter has never wavered in his steadfast denial of any guilt or role in the Minard murder and continues to maintain his innocence. “I was unjustly accused of a crime I did not commit.”
The story of Ed Poindexter, the flawed investigation, prosecution, and trial is now available in my new book, FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and in ebook format at Kindle. Portions of the book may also be read free online at NorthOmahaHistory.com.