by Mumia Abu-Jamal
He was born David Rice and, in his youth, he joined an offshoot of the Black Panther Party, a decision that would change his life’s trajectory. For, when he and another young man, Edward Poindexter, joined the National Committee to Combat Fascism (NCCF), they walked into the crosshairs of the state.
The two men became enmeshed in a COINTELPRO scheme to remove them from the streets of Lincoln, Nebraska. Rice and Ed were charged with the August 1970 killing of an Omaha cop, who picked up a briefcase loaded with dynamite.
According to the group, Nebraskans for Justice, another man, Christopher Peak, was the state’s only suspect in the bombing. But shortly thereafter, after first exonerating Rice and Poindexter, Peak would become the state’s chief witness against them.
In April 1971, both men were convicted and given life terms; such flimsy evidence would be a factor in Amnesty International’s naming the two Panthers as prisoners of conscience.
On Sunday we learned that Rice, who changed his name to Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, died a long, lonely death in his prison cell, after 45 years in a cage.
Mondo and Ed were members of the National Committee to Combat Fascism but, in truth, they were Panthers. For that is certainly how the state treated them.
Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter were servants of the people, dedicated to their freedom and dignity. Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter were soldiers for the people, dedicated to their defense and security.
Mondo we Langa is no more – neither is David Rice – and yet, Mondo will be remembered for many, many long years for his service.
Mondo, after many, many years in a cage, now joins his ancestors.
© Copyright 2016 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Keep updated at www.freemumia.com. His new book is “Writing on the Wall,” edited by Joanna Hernandez. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit www.prisonradio.org. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews. Send our brotha some love and light: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.
The last poem of Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa
by Michael Richardson
Political prisoner Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (former David Rice) died March 11 at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary. Mondo suffered from respiratory failure after 45 long years in prison for a crime he denied, the murder of an Omaha policeman.
Mondo had been targeted, along with fellow inmate Edward Poindexter, by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division because of affiliation with the Black Panther Party. Convicted after a controversial trial in 1971 that was marred by withheld evidence by the FBI, tampered evidence by ATF and conflicting police testimony, the men became known as the Omaha Two.
Mondo stayed engaged in the outside world, commenting on current events with essays and poetry. Two weeks before his death, Mondo mailed out a poem entitled “When It Gets to This Point” about shootings of unarmed Black men around the country. Mondo’s last poem follows:
I had never heard of him
had never heard of anything he’d done
before the news of his death came
whoever he might have become
whatever he might have achieved
had he lived longer
not been riddled lifeless by
bullets from Darren Wilson’s gun
and crumpled on the pavement of a Ferguson street
for more than four hours in
the heat of that August day
I’d never known of Trayvon Martin
had known nothing of who he was
until I learned of his demise
and cause of death
a bullet to the chest
George Zimmerman, the shooter
a badge-less, pretend police
with a pistol
and fear of the darkness
and after a while
the pictures, the names,
like so much colored laundry in the wash
that bleeds on whites
was it Eric Garner or Tamir Rice
who was 12 but seen as 20
Hulk Hogan or The Hulk
with demonic eyes it was said
who shrank the cop in Ferguson
into a 5-year-old who
had to shoot
and John Crawford the third
in a Wal-mart store aisle
an air rifle in his hands he’d picked up
from the shelf
and held in the open
in an open-carry state
was it John or someone else
killed supposedly by mistake
in a dark stairwell
I know Akai Gurley fell
I hadn’t heard of him before
nor of Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell
prior to their killings
which of these two took slugs in the greater number
I don’t recall
my memory is too encumbered
with the names
of so many before and since
the frequent news reports of
and duplicitous presentations by “experts in the field”
the consultants put out front
to explain away
that which is so often plain as day
to coax and convince us that we’re the ones
who can’t see straight and
can’t hear clearly
who are the ones replacing facts with spin
to mislead and mystify
as the beatings and the chokings and shootings
of our boys and men
by these wrong arms of the law
proceed in orderly fashion
before the sometimes sad
sometimes angry faces of
Michael Richardson has written extensively about the FBI’s Operation COINTELPRO and is working on a book about the Omaha Two, imprisoned in the last COINTELPRO conviction in 1971. His entire series of stories on the Omaha Two is available in the Examiner at http://www.examiner.com/omaha-two-story-in-national. This story first appeared in the Examiner.