COPA Action Alert

--continued-- In addition to this, the courts and prosecutors in Tennessee have been doing everything they can to block the wrongly-convicted James Earl Ray from the simple justice of a full rehearing and trial, which were denied him from the start. Ray, who is dying from liver disease, has been consistently refused a humane transfer to a hospital where an approved liver transplant might save his life, thus threatening his right to both trial and life. The Tennessee Court of Appeals has removed the appointed Judge Joe Brown, who was finally introducing and hearing hard ballistic evidence in this case, for "apparent bias". This outrageous interference in the process will lead to the appointment of another judge and delay the hearings even further. The likelihood of further ballistics testing or a rehearing are slim at this point. However, we feel we must continue ot insist on the right to a rehearing for Ray. Also, some 600,000 or more pages of government records and files relating to the surveillance and murder of Dr. King, and subsequent investigations into his death remain secret due to orders of Congress following their study of the case in 1976. These files must be fully released to the public, in the same manner that files concerning President John F. Kennedy's assassination were, either by releasing them in full without review, or by appointing an independent civilian review board to oversee that process. We call on Congress and the President to begin this release immediately. We have a special interest in the files of Army and other military intelligence agencies who surveilled Dr. King up to the day of his death in Memphis, but who deny they have records or photographs of this massive surveillance in the last two months of his life. COPA, a national coalition of researchers, held a regional meeting in Memphis, Tennessee from April 3-5 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. William Pepper, attorney for James Earl Ray and Rev. James Lawson, both former associates of Dr. King, held an event sponsored by COPA and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Witnesses to the assassination and events surrounding it, as well as to the thirty year cover-up in the case spoke to a large crowd in the Centenary United Methodist Church. Lawyers, investigators, fellow civil rights activists who knew Dr. King, and Judge Joe Brown, who has been wrongly removed from hearing Ray's appeal for a new trial, spoke at COPA events during the weekend. Rev. Mike Clark, who has worked extensively on this case, spoke out for the need to act now, while the case is visible to the American public. If we do not insist on a process that is both open and fair, we may never know the historical or moral truth behind Dr. King's assassination. Use every forum available to you this week and in the coming period to open discussion of these matters, on radio talk shows, in churches, at public events. Insist that people call or email the numbers above to have their views heard. Support the wishes of the family of Dr. King, and the legal rights of James Earl Ray. Demand that the government open this case and free the files for a public evaluation. COPA will be holding our national conference on the 35th anniversary of the JFK assassination at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas, Texas. Call us for additional information at (202) 310-1858. We are also seeking to arrange another regional meeting on the 30th anniversary of the RFK shooting, in Los Angeles, California from June 5-7 this year. Thank you for your support.