Adam’s Note: This is Chapter 7 in the series on NorthOmahaHistory.com called Framed: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO and the Omaha Two Story. It was written by Michael Richardson. Learn more here.
“…the imaginative attention necessary to produce effective results.”
—J. Edgar Hoover, December 10, 1969
Mondo was awakened by the telephone.
“I get a call and the call is from my house, they were already at my house, and needed to come right away. It was about three o’clock in the morning. I get there and there are representatives from Des Moines and Kansas City chapters. We met with them, I think it was the following day there was a press conference when the official announcement was made that we were not recognized by national headquarters due to inactivity or something like that.”1
The Kansas City Black Panthers issued a press release announcing the expulsion of Eddie Bolden and the suspension of the Omaha chapter. The release was from June Hilliard, assistant chief of staff in Oakland. “There is no longer an official chapter of the Black Panther Party in Omaha, Nebraska. Further, Eddie Bolden, so-called leader of the Party here, was expelled from the Party in March and was not to function in any capacity, in the name of the Black Panther Party.”
“Bolden was expelled for his counter-revolutionary activities and his working and assisting with government sponsored programs, which mislead the people moving them deeper into oppression and despair, and his reluctance to follow Party line and relate totally to serving the “needs” of the people.”2
Ed Poindexter had only been a member of the Black Panthers for several months when the announcement was made. Poindexter recalled that he was determined to go forward with the Black Panther Party despite the setback to the local chapter. “It was at this historic press conference where I met a small hardcore group of men, some of whom I knew from high school, who vowed to continue the struggle by re-organizing the Black Panther Party chapter under a different name.”3
Mondo announced the formation of a local United Front Against Fascism group to the Omaha news media and later explained the name. “We chose the name kind of based on the fact I had been to the United Front Against Fascism conference so we thought that would be appropriate to give ourselves that notice and it was cool with the Party.”4 Mondo held an organizing meeting at Kountze Park attended by ten people. The Omaha World-Herald described the gathering as a “newly formed Negro militant group.” Mondo announced the goal was “to decentralize all police forces and place them under community control.”
“The people in the community should have the power to hire and fire peace officers and decide policies for law enforcement.”5
Paul Young’s regular counterintelligence report to J. Edgar Hoover updated recent developments in Omaha and included the text of June Hilliard’s news release on Eddie Bolden’s expulsion from the Black Panthers. Mondo’s announcement about the United Front Against Fascism was Hoover’s introduction to Mondo.
“On 8/5/69 DAVID LEWIS ANDREW RICE [REDACTED] appeared on the 10:00 p.m. news on Omaha television stations and stated that a new party called ‘The United Front Against Fascism’ was being formed.”
“In view of the above, Omaha feels that concrete recommendations cannot be made at the present time regarding counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP.”6
Two weeks later, Young offered more details to Hoover about the suspension of the Omaha Black Panther chapter. Young also put Ed Poindexter in Hoover’s crosshairs.
“Although the BPP in Omaha is considered defunct by National Headquarters, it appears that this chapter at a future date will be reactivated possibly under the leadership of [Edward Poindexter] who, according to Kansas City, recently arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, to attend a BPP training school.”7
Pete O’Neal, leader of the Kansas City Black Panthers, remembered the visitors from Omaha. “When I recall the many visits both brothers made to Kansas City an image comes to mind of two strong young men, totally committed to our struggle, I recall their participating in our community programs and never flinching from the heavy workload that all the members of the Kansas City chapter were required to perform, they were involved in our political education classes and never hesitated to criticize where criticism was needed. Mondo and Poindexter were an inspiration to us all.”8
In September, Hoover sent a memorandum to Omaha and thirteen other FBI offices
requesting an explanation of what steps had been taken to exploit membership
weaknesses of the Black Panther Party. Hoover made it clear that he wanted results. “The participation of each office is expected and necessary in order that the BPP organization is thoroughly disrupted.”9
In October, the United Front Against Fascism announced the opening of the Vivian
Strong Liberation School. Ed Poindexter explained the intent of the school. “The purpose is to teach the children the true nature of this decadent society…they will be taught about revolutionary heroes such as Huey P. Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Malcolm X, Sitting Bull, Geronimo and others…they will also be taught who their enemies are such as Jim Crow, Richard Nixon, the pig (police) department and many others.”
“They will be taught what revolution means and how they can play a role in it.”10
Mondo had his own description of the school. “At the school, located in the house that was our chapter headquarters, we taught African children and youth and fed them. To put it another way, we fed their minds and their stomachs. We gave lessons on politics and history, spelling and so forth. We encouraged them to discuss topics, to express themselves, to become thinking sisters and brothers.”11
Hoover meanwhile lectured the Philadelphia FBI office about incorrect format for their counterintelligence proposals. Hoover listed the essential elements of a COINTELPRO proposal.
“The specific extremist nature of the target, whether a group or individual. Specific information regarding advocacy of violence, revolution or separatism should be included.”
“The counterintelligence action should be set out in detail; include what action is proposed and how it is to be accomplished. If sources are to be utilized, their reliability should be stated.”
“Explain how the counterintelligence action would tend to neutralize or disrupt the target.”
“Assurance should be given that the operation will not embarrass the Bureau.”12
In Nebraska, Mondo spoke to a dozen students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha at a forum sponsored by the Young Democrats. Mondo urged the students to gain a voice in deciding what courses are taught and how the university budget is spent. Mondo said a black studies program needs to be “relevant and honest.” Mondo said “the revolutionary movement in Omaha will grow stronger because the opposition is not very smart.”13
The United Front Against Fascism published the first issue of the newsletter Freedom By Any Means Necessary. Raleigh House, Deputy Minister of Finance, wrote the feature article explaining the group’s recent history and made a pledge. “Until Omaha is again granted a chapter by Panther national, black people can be assured that the United Front Against Fascism will serve the people of this community in every manner to bring about the self-determination and liberation of black people.”14
In November, Horace Mann Junior High School was bombed in Omaha, damaging
windows and a hallway. The crime remains unsolved.15
A week after the school bombing, a local coalition to work on racial problems collapsed over ideology. Mondo told a reporter that People for People had agreed to “work under black leadership” but backed off the pledge. Kay Stevens, a coalition organizer, said the joint effort fell apart because of “Marxist and Socialist comments.”
Mondo said the UFAF, “in support of black liberation, will accept the help of sincere white people.”
“But we will not tolerate white racist and paternalistic interference in black people’s affairs.”16
Paul Young reported to J. Edgar Hoover that the United Front Against Fascism group in Omaha was too small to warrant a counterintelligence recommendation. “The United Front Against Fascism (UFAF), which organization succeeded the BPP in Omaha, Nebraska, is composed of approximately one-half dozen members and continues to be inactive, although it recently published a newsletter.”17
However, Young recommended to Hoover that Mondo be placed on the Agitator Index, targeting him for counterintelligence actions because of his role as Deputy Minister of Information of the UFAF.18
In December, the Los Angeles FBI office sent a memorandum to Hoover that reported the FBI was providing information to local police. “The Los Angeles office is furnishing on a daily basis information to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office Intelligence Division and the Los Angeles Police Department Intelligence and Criminal Conspiracy Divisions concerning the activities of the black nationalist groups in the anticipation that such information might lead to the arrest of these militants.”19
In Chicago, FBI agent Roy Mitchell informed State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan’s special police unit that weapons had been moved into Black Panther leader Fred Hampton’s apartment.20
On December 4, 1969, in a FBI orchestrated pre-dawn raid by Hanrahan’s special squad, Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot to death. Fourteen handpicked policemen, armed with twenty-seven firearms including a Thompson submachine and shotguns, converged on Hampton’s apartment at 4:45 a.m. The police fired a barrage into the quiet apartment killing the two Panther leaders and wounding all of the other occupants.
Attorney Paul Wolf commented on a Los Angeles raid. “Four days after a similar raid on a Panther apartment in Chicago, forty men of the Special Weapons and Tactics squad, with more than a hundred regular police as backup, raided the Los Angeles Panther headquarters at 5:30 in the morning. The Panthers chose to defend themselves, and for four hours they fought off police, refusing to surrender until press and public were on the scene. Six of them were wounded. Thirteen were arrested. Miraculously, none of them were killed.”21
“The similarities between the Chicago and Los Angeles raids are undeniable, with a special local police unit closely linked to the FBI involved in both assaults, spurious warrants seeking “illegal weapons” utilized on both occasions, predawn timing of both raids to catch the Panthers asleep and a reliance on overwhelming police firepower to the exclusion of all other methods. Both raids occurred in the context of an ongoing and highly energetic anti-BPP COINTELPRO, and—as in the Hampton assassination—bullets were fired directly into Pratt’s bed. Unlike the Chicago leader, however, Pratt was sleeping on the floor, the result of spinal injuries sustained in Vietnam.”22
This is Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt (1947-2011). He was a decorated military veteran and a high-ranking member of the Black Panther Party in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Two days after the raid in Los Angeles, J. Edgar Hoover was unhappy with a lack of action in Omaha. Hoover sent a stern memorandum to Paul Young. “While the activities appear to be limited in the Omaha area, it does not necessarily follow that effective counterintelligence measures cannot be taken. As long as there are BPP activities, you should be giving consideration to that type of counterintelligence measure which would best disrupt existing activities. It would appear some type of counterintelligence aimed at disruption of the publication and distribution of their literature is in order. It is also assumed that of the eight to twelve members, one or two must surely be in a position of leadership. You should give consideration to counterintelligence measures directed against these leaders in an effort to weaken or destroy their positions. Bureau has noted you have not submitted any concrete counterintelligence proposals in recent months. Evaluate your approach to this program and insure that it is given the imaginative attention necessary to produce effective results. Handle promptly and submit your proposals to the Bureau for approval.”23
Young recommended to Hoover that Ed Poindexter be included on the Agitator Index, marking him for counterintelligence action. Poindexter’s role as Deputy Chairman of the UFAF and his being seen driving a car associated with the Black Panther Party, combined with Poindexter being spotted at the Kansas City Black Panther headquarters were Young’s reasons.24
The next day, Hoover replied to Young on his recommendation to place Mondo on the Agitator Index. “No information was furnished that the subject by his actions and/or speeches has a propensity for fomenting disorder of a racial and/or security nature; nor was any information furnished indicating he has attracted such attention as to be of significant interest relating to the overall civil disturbance picture.”
“However, you have advised the subject is currently a member and the Deputy Minister of Information of the United Front Against Fascism, a revolutionary organization which was formed after the Black Panther Party was disbanded in Omaha.”
“In view of this, it appears the subject should be considered for inclusion on the Security Index and you should promptly submit your recommendation.”25
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury, inspired by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division, was convened to investigate what the Omaha World-Herald called “a group of Negroes associated with the Black Panther Party, the United Front Against Fascism and other militant causes.”
Mondo, Ed Poindexter, Ed Brightman, Jr., Raleigh House, Eddie Bolden, and Ernie Chambers were all summoned to appear before the grand jury. Speculation was that a “Freedom School” operated by the UFAF was the subject of inquiry. House was identified as “a onetime Panther lieutenant in Omaha.”26
The six men all declined to testify before the grand jury ending the federal inquiry.27 Mondo later talked about the Vivian Strong Liberation School. “We didn’t have anything to hide about the school. Some people probably don’t like the idea of us calling the police “pigs” and so forth and talking bad about politicians, so be it.”28
Paul Young responded to J. Edgar Hoover’s demand for “imaginative” counterintelligence proposals from Omaha. “In response to referenced Bureau letter [12/10/69], the identities of the leadership of the UFAF are known to the Omaha office.
Omaha is presently giving consideration to some type of counter-intelligence activity aimed at disruption of the UFAF newsletter or its distribution and counter-intelligence measures directed against the leaders of this organization.”29
At year’s end, Hoover responded to Young’s recommendation of Ed Poindexter for inclusion on the Agitator Index. Young had not given Hoover sufficient reason to include Poindexter on the list. “In view of the fact that no information is reported which shows the subject possesses a propensity for fomenting violence, his name is not being included on the Agitator Index at this time. The subject’s membership in and his position as an officer of the United Front Against Fascism, the successor to the BPP in Omaha, could qualify him for inclusion on the Security Index.”30
At the national level, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a news release about police actions against the Black Panther Party. “The record of police actions across the country against the Black Panther Party forms a prima facie case for the conclusion that law enforcement officials are waging a drive against the black militant organization resulting in serious civil liberties violations.”31
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- Mondo, prison interview, December 31, 2007
- Paul Young to J. Edgar Hoover, August 11, 1969, Reel 3 Black Nationalist Hate Groups, microfilm, 1978. Eddie Bolden’s expulsion from the Black Panthers saved him from being targeted for committing Larry Minard’s murder.
- Edward Poindexter, unpublished autobiography, p. 27, undated
- Mondo, prison interview, December 31, 2007
- “Militants Seek Police Controls,” Omaha World-Herald, August 11, 1969
- FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 12, p. 162, August 11, 1969
- FBI Vault, Black Extremist, Sec. 12, p. 197 August 25, 1969
- Pete O’Neal, Letter to author, March 18, 2016
- FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 13, p. 165, September 12, 1969
- “Class to Begin In Liberation,” Omaha World-Herald, October 2, 1969
- Mondo, “The 47th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party Honors Our Political Prisoners,” p. 11, 2013.
- FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 13, p. 82 p. 172, October 2, 1969
- ”7 Speakers Show Up But Audience Is 12,” Omaha World-Herald, October 6, 1969. The author was the organizer of the poorly attended campus event and had invited Mondo to speak.
- Trial transcript, Exhibit 53, p. 1, October 24, 1969
- Duane Peak was a student at the school.
- “Race Relation Coalition Split On Statement,” Omaha World-Herald, November 9, 1969
- FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 14, p. 27, November 17, 1969
- Paul Young to J. Edgar Hoover memorandum, “DAVID LEWIS ANDREW RICE,” November 19, 1969
- Church Committee, Vol. III, p. 222, April 23, 1976
- Search and Destroy: A Report by the Commission of Inquiry into the Black Panthers and the Police, Ed. by Roy Wilkins and Ramsey Clark, p. 32, 1973
- COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story, Paul Wolf, p. 37, 2001
- COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story, Paul Wolf, p. 38, 2001
- J. Edgar Hoover to Paul Young memorandum, Dec. 10, 1969
- J. Edgar Hoover to Paul Young memorandum, “EDWARD ALLEN POINDEXTER,” unpublished, December 30, 1969
- J. Edgar Hoover to Paul Young memorandum, “DAVID LEWIS ANDREW RICE,” unpublished, December 11, 1969
- “U.S. Grand Jury Aims At Several Subjects,” Robert Hoig, Omaha World-Herald, p. 2, December 10, 1969
- “Five Black Militants Take 5th Amendment,” Omaha World-Herald, p. 2, December 12, 1969
- Mondo, prison interview, December 31, 2007
- Paul Young memorandum to J. Edgar Hoover, Dec. 15, 1969
- J. Edgar Hoover to Paul Young memorandum, “EDWARD ALLEN POINDEXTER, unpublished,” December 30, 1969
- The Black Panthers Speak, Ed. by Phillip Foner, p. 263, 1970