Mondo mourned

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.

Mondo-we-Langa-by-Michael-Richardson-web-213x300, Mondo mourned, Abolition Now!
Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa – Photo: Michael Richardson

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.

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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-we-Langa-Ed-Poindexter-enter-Douglas-County-Courthouse-charged-with-murder-by-Nebraskans-for-Justice-300x199, Mondo mourned, Abolition Now!
Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter enter the Douglas County Courthouse charged with murder. – Photo: Nebraskans for Justice

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:

Michael Brown?

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

and before

Mondo-we-Langa-by-Jericho, Mondo mourned, Abolition Now!
Mondo and Ed are among the revered political prisoners featured by the Jericho Movement.

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

Trayvon’s darkness

and after a while

the pictures, the names,

the circumstances

run together

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

non-arrests, non-indictments,

non-true bills

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

our uncertain

our hesitant


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 This story first appeared in the Examiner.