December 16, 2023
From The Militant

LINCOLN, Neb. — Former Black Panther Party leader Ed Poindexter, who was framed up and imprisoned for 53 years, died Dec. 7 in a Nebraska prison at the age of 79. In the last few years, his family and supporters fought for his compassionate release, as he was suffering from advanced kidney disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Despite his condition, the state never approved his release. This is another indictment of the workings of the capitalist rulers’ prisons, part of their class-driven criminal “justice” system. This is not a secret to the millions of workers who have been incarcerated or have a relative, neighbor, co-worker or friend who was thrown behind bars.

Known as the “Omaha Two,” Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (formerly David Rice), became well known as organizers of protests against police brutality in the late 1960s, including the 1969 killing of 14-year-old Vivian Strong. For this, they were targeted by the Omaha police; agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; and by the FBI.

They were framed up in August 1970 on charges of killing an Omaha police officer, who had been lured into a home where a suitcase bomb exploded.

Supporters of Poindexter and we Langa had forced out into the open government documents showing how authorities were out to discredit and dismantle the Panthers’ political work. Witnesses placed the two Black rights fighters elsewhere at the time of the killing. Nonetheless, Poindexter and we Langa were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. We Langa died in 2016 after 45 years behind bars.

Poindexter had deserved a new trial because of the “credible reports of significant misconduct in the prosecution” of the case, Mindy Rush Chipman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, said after his death. “Ultimately, you cannot separate this case from the circumstances at the time which continue to this day, namely law enforcement agencies targeting people and groups calling for racial justice.”

From the day they were arrested in 1970, to the day they died, Poindexter and we Langa maintained their innocence. They were never broken by the prison system.