There is no case in American history that more clearly details the pain that African Americans feel when it comes to racism than the case of Eddie Poindexter and the late David Rice, aka Mondo We Lange. Then in their early 20’s, the boys were arrested and convicted in the bombing death of Omaha Police Officer Larry Minard, a husband and father of five. Throughout their ordeal, they have proclaimed their innocence and exhausted every legal remedy at their disposal. Not surprising, the Minard family remains steadfastly opposed to anyone attempting to release their father’s murderers.
To consider this case, you need to first put yourself in the context of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. This was a time of genuine fear and anger in the African American community and for just cause. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, three men that embodied the dreams of racial justice of many, were murdered in cold blood. There was a long list of atrocities committed right here in Omaha, and honestly, offenses so horrific in both scale and prevalence that recent events seem tame by comparison. These were times that compelled many Black men, like Rice and Poindexter to take up arms against their own country, and looking back on it through honest eyes, many of us would have done exactly the same thing.
There is also a good case to be made that the boys were genuinely innocent. There were so many dubious issues at play there is more than a reasonable doubt that they actually committed the crime. I won’t cover all of issues here, but you should look into Michael Richardson’s 2016 book, Framed: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two to get a solid sense of what happened. Any reasonable person who looks at the trial of these two men objectively would have to acknowledge there was something terribly wrong with the process.
But my thoughts on this are not focused on their guilt or their innocence, or to debate systemic racism in America. My only concern is to seek real justice for Eddie Poindexter. He has served for almost a half century for something he would likely not even be convicted for today. He is a veteran of the war in Vietnam. He has been a model prisoner, completed a master’s degree and the Nebraska Parole Board has recommended his release.
George Floyd’s death recently riveted America for no reason more compelling than it was unnecessary. Many white people, maybe for the first time in their lives, began to understand the challenges Black people face in dealing with racism every day. They felt the anguish. They felt the anger, and they felt the compulsion to do something about it. And they still do.
Unfortunately, so much of the debate on racism today has been co-opted for political reasons that it is quickly becoming just another talking point. But given the new awareness that has been catapulted into our American consciousness, we have an opportunity to right a wrong of our past that was created by genuine racism. We have an opportunity to say, given the circumstances, you have served for too long. We have an opportunity to do something that is real and has the potential of lessening the pain in the Black community. We have an opportunity of eliminating one of the most poignant symbols of racism in America. And if none of that is good enough, here is an opportunity to simply say, we’re sorry this happened to you, Eddie.
So, let us not stamp our feet, call Republicans names or deface monuments. In other words, let us not waste this opportunity on politics, but let us do right by Eddie Poindexter. Call, email or write the governor’s office today, right now. Tell him this is an opportunity to demonstrate that Nebraskans are a good and noble people, and that we care about justice, even if it has been too long coming.
Photo courtesy of youtube.com
Office of Governor Pete Ricketts:
P.O. Box 94848 – Lincoln, NE 68509-4848