Amnesty International investigator speaks out on Nebraska prison media ban against Ed Poindexter

banned interview
Michael Richardson interviewing Edward Poindexter at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in 2016. Such a recorded interview is now banned by prison officials. (credit: Mary Loan)

Edward Poindexter, Nebraska’s most controversial prisoner, and one of the state’s longest imprisoned at forty-eight years and counting, was denied a news media interview in May during a book tour to Nebraska for FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story. FRAMED documents Poindexter’s claim of innocence. Poindexter is a former Black Panther leader targeted by a clandestine operation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and convicted for a 1970 murder of an Omaha policeman.

The restrictions on news media visits with the ban on recording equipment and requirement to be on an inmate’s personal visiting list of friends and family is a setback to prisoner access to the community. The media ban overturns a longstanding free press tradition in Nebraska that permitted news organizations access to prisoners. The ban now not only limits prisoners, but also censors the public from an independent view inside the prisons.

Claus Walischewski, from Breman, Germany has sent a message to Scott Frakes, the Director of the Nebraska Department of Correction Services, following the media ban imposed on Edward Poindexter last month. Walischewski, a longtime Amnesty International official, led a two-year investigation of Poindexter’s case in the early 1980s, which led him to declare Poindexter and the late Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (former David Rice) were political prisoners. Walischewski is unhappy with the media interview ban which bars reporters from filming or recording Poindexter.

“I am a member of Amnesty International and have been involved with the cases of Edward Poindexter and the late Mondo we Langa for a long time. Amnesty has always had doubts about the sentence against those two and Amnesty has written on many occasions listing the facts that cast doubt on the verdict and pointing to the fact that the two had been targets of the COINTELPRO directed against prominent Afro-American and other minority group leaders. That is why Amnesty has had the demand “retrial or release” for the two prisoners.”

“After serving 49 years…Edward Poindexter deserves more attention and it would be humane as well as honorable if the American system of justice could correct a possible wrong.” Walischewski wants Frakes to know that Poindexter has an international audience.

On April 7, 1980, Group 489, a working group of Amnesty International headed by Walischewski issued a report on the Omaha Two with a stark conclusion. “They became victim of a frame-up by the police and the FBI and of the racial and political biases in court.”

“David Rice and Ed Poindexter are political prisoners. They were sentenced for a crime they didn’t commit because of their radical political beliefs. The legal system was misused and they were unjustly convicted.”

 

Excerpts from FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at NorthOmahaHistory.com. The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library.

Author: richardsonreports

Author of FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two Story.

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