Coalition On Political Assassinations ACTION ALERT

Call White House Comment Line: (202) 456-1111 Call Justice Department : (202) 514-2000 E-mail: SUPPORT KING FAMILY CALL FOR NATIONAL COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE ASSASSINATION OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, ALLOW MEDICAL TRANSFER AND TRIAL FOR JAMES EARL RAY, AND RELEASE 600,000 PAGES OF SECRET GOVERNMENT FILES ON THE CASE Mrs. Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has asked for a meeting with President Clinton and for the formation of a national commission to investigate the murder of her husband, based on serious unanswered questions that remain as well as new evidence unearthed by the efforts of Dr. William Pepper, Esq, attorney for James Earl Ray. Mrs. King and Dr. King's son, Dexter King, met with Attorney General Janet Reno today to discuss these matters. Attorney General Reno issued a statement promising to pursue the new evidence revealed in the case. However, the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI have ignored, concealed and destroyed evidence in this case from its inception, when then-Attorney General Ramsely Clark announced that there was "no conspiracy" involved, prior to the capture of James Earl Ray. Another closed, internal investigation of these matters will not serve the interest of nearly 90% of the public who believe that there was a conspiracy in the case involving the U.S. government. An open investigation by a national commission, modeled on the South African Truth and Justice Commission, with immunity for those willing to come forward with the truth, has been requested by the family of the victim. COPA supports them in this call. We urge you to contact the White House to press the President to meet with the King family and to set up a fully independent commission that might restore public faith and get at the truth.--cont'd--


Mark Lane on Janet Reno and Martin Luther King

A Steamshovel Press Interview

In light of Attorney General Janet Reno's recent promise, at President Clinton's behest, to review the request by the family of Martin Luther King to create a federal commission to re-investigate King's assassination, Steamshovel presents here a previously unpublished part of an interview it conducted with Mark Lane, one-time lawyer for James Earl Ray. It contains interesting observations about both Reno and the King case. Steamshovel conducted the interview just after the conclusion of a mock trial on television that acquitted Ray of the murder. Lane: I have the greatest confidence in attorney general Janet Reno. I was involved in one professional encounter with her several years ago and I think that she showed herself to be a person of absolute integrity and commitment to the rule of law. I think she should appoint a special prosecutor to look into the Kennedy assassination and the King assassination. A special prosecutor, of course, has to have subpoena power. Call all the witnesses, look at all the evidence, present all of the relevant evidence to a grand jury. If that process were to begin today, before the year is over, those who killed President Kennedy and those who killed Dr. King could be indicted. But we can’t trust just a special prosecutor, although I have a lot of faith in Janet Reno and her concern in all of these matters… Steamshovel: Mark, let me ask you, what was your involvement with Reno? Did that have anything to do with the assassinations? Lane: No. My involvement with Janet Reno was this: Some years ago, I read that a man named James Richardson in Florida had been convicted of murdering his seven children in a town called Arcadia, Florida. I went down to Florida, criss-crossed the state and wrote a book about it called Arcadia. I demonstrated, I believe conclusively, that he was innocent and a woman named Bessie Reece, in fact, was the murderer. Nevertheless, James Richardson was on death row for more than five years and in prison for more than twenty one years. Eventually, I secured the entire prosecutor’s file. It showed, to my thinking and to any reasonable person who looked at it, that it was the anatomy of a frame-up. The prosecutors not only got the wrong man, but that they knew Richardson was innocent and they framed him. I took that to Governor Martinez, the Republican governor at that time of Florida, and said appoint a special prosecutor. He appointed Janet Reno and we went to court together. I did not know what her position would be. She studied it for several weeks. In court, I said that the state had suborned perjury, the state had used perjured testimony against Mr. Richardson and the state had suppressed exculpatory evidence and Richardson should walk out of prison after twenty one years in jail. I sat down, and she said, “I agree with Mr. Lane. He’s quite right,” she said, “The state did what it should not do.” She said, “Down in Miami we prosecute drug cases and sometimes we’re quite sure that we have someone and he’s guilty. Then a piece of evidence comes up and it can be very useful to the defense. We give it to the defense. We don’t even think about. It’s the law. And if we can’t obey the law, we can’t ask defendants to obey the law.” She did what I don’t know any other prosecutor would do and said the state is wrong and this man is innocent. James Richardson walked out of prison that day. Steamshovel: As you know, HBO acquitted James Earl Ray a few days ago. Did you see that and did any of your work come out in that? Lane: Well, I know the HBO so-called “trial.” I didn’t participate because I don’t believe that…I think there’s a good, important role for investigative journalists and I think that Steven Thompkins, who did this wonderful piece for the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, should be praised and should be given a Pulitzer Prize for that. I believe in investigative journalist report. I believe in trials also. I don’t believe that when you have a TV show you can call them trials. I’ve known Bill Pepper for many years, who was the so- called defense lawyer in that case, and he kept on telling me it was a trial. And I said, “What did Frank Holloman (director of police and fire department in Memphis at the time of King's murder) say when you questioned him?” And he said, “He didn’t want to come.” And I said, “Well, Bill, that’s what I mean. In a trial, you subpoena him. You don’t just find out who wants come.” And he said, “Well, the other testimony was important.” I said, “It wasn’t testimony. What could HBO do? Pull the cable on someone who lied on television and they can’t have HBO anymore? There is no penalty of perjury. That’s what makes it testimony. Nobody’s under oath. But I’ll tell you an interesting thing about that that he told me and that I don’t think has been broadcast widely at all. That is, when HBO…somebody was taking that seriously…when HBO brought the so-called “jurors” together and put them in hotel rooms, HBO discovered that FBI agents had moved into the hotel and were occupying the rooms next to the jurors. Real FBI agents! I’m not talking about Ephram Zimbalist, Jr. I’m not talking about fake FBI agents to go with a fake trial. These are real FBI agents who apparently going to bug the jurors’ room. Steamshovel: Spying on this HBO production... Lane: Yeah, on a TV show! And so HBO heard about that. They were alarmed and moved the jurors out to another area. Steamshovel Debris: The mock trial of James Earl Ray did have interesting legal dimensions. In 1978, an FBI informer named Oscar Patterson swore that representative of the House Select Committee on Assassinations instructed him to tell New York Times reporter Anthony Marro that Mark Lane was gay and had said that Raul--Jame Earl Ray's mysterious handler-- didn't exist, and also to spread some lies about his brother Jerry. Lane found out about it and confronted Patterson, who then agreed to arrange a meeting with Marro at a St. Louis hotel. Marro walked into a room full of reporters and news cameras, whereupon he fled--with Lane in pursuit, demanding that Marro listen to the truth. Lane returned and conducted a press conference about HSCA's use of Patterson. A St. Louis newsman named John Auble was there for the whole thing and filmed it. He offered to testify and bring the film to Ray's television trial in 1992, but the judge said it was immaterial to the assassination. In his book Orders To Kill, William Pepper argues, as he did before the mock court, that it showed conspiracy to frame Ray as the lone assassin.


COPA Conferees Confront Gerald Posner

During the MLK conference put on by the Coalition on Political Assassinations in Memphis in April, five attendees decided to load up in a van and drive ten minutes uptown to David Kidd's mall bookstore, where Gerald Posner was signing his new book on the King assassination. Posner previously had written a deceptive and poorly researched book on the JFK murder called Case Closed. He generally is regarded as a disinformationist, poor scholar, bad prosecutor wannabe or incompetent armchair psychologist. As he did with Oswald in the previous book, Posner bases his King book on a psychological evaluation of James Earl Ray, which he is not qualified to give, and dismisses evidence of conspiracy in King's murder as cynical attempts to exploit the tragedy.

John Judge and Dick Gregory at COPA conference in Memphis.

Ray's brother Jerry went to the signing and confronted Posner about inaccuracies, with a video camera on hand to record the exchange. The van load of COPA participants arrived shortly thereafter. One member of the group, Robin Palmer, walked up to Posner's table, thumped his hand on a copy of the book and declared, "This is a piece of shit!" and otherwise vented his anger to Posner, not violently but in a firm way and with a sense of humor. The crowd reacted as if air had been released from an over-inflated tire. Several people laughed. The suburban mall bookstore afternoon had been relieved of Posner's pomposity. It made management nervous, of course. Several clerks and assistant managers attempted to kick Palmer out of the store. Others tried to re-route the crowd back in line. "Do you have a book to sign? Please leave if you don't have a book to sign!" As Palmer continued to argue that people shouldn't sit there quietly while Posner reaped money from his phony book, one of Posner's supporters spoke up for his first amendment right. How well that right was protected--for Posner, if not for Palmer--was soon demostrated. Mall security cops came and physcially escorted Palmer out the door. Steamshovel editor Kenn Thomas joined him for more discussion about what was happening, but before long additional mall police came out and asked both to leave the entire mall. The COPA attendees had all arrived in Thomas' van, and so he was obligated to remain until all had returned. The mall cops were having none of that, though, and immediately called the Memphis police. It became a waiting game of who could make it first, the COPA gang to the van, or the real cops to the mall. Conference participant Dick Gregory had planned to go to the Posner signing, but was delayed. Had he been there, he no doubt would have taught the COPA crowd the best means of being comfortable in jail that night. As it stood, that crowd barely made it out in time. Gregory did show up, in time to see that indeed real cops had been called out to make an arrest for the crime of literary and historical criticism. The incident was a small one in an otherwise interesting and successful conference. The conference was highlighted by talks from Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown. Brown was removed from the attempt to grant James Earl Ray a new trial for "apparent bias" he developed as his investigation pointed more and more to conclusions of conspiracy. He addressed COPA attendees at the United Methodist Church on McLemore Street, where Martin Luther King gave his last press conference. Ray's lawyer William Pepper was not encouraging about Ray getting a new trial at this point, but COPA organizers, John Judge, Phil Melanson and Dick Russell among them, passed a resolution to support the King family's current request for a new investigation commission. Researcher Wallace Milam gave out a point-by-point refutation of Posner's appearance with Dan Rather on 48 Hours and said that he would provide a full analysis of Posner's King book on the web, as was done with Posner's previous book.