On April 4, 2012, the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. COPA held a day-long vigil at the new Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC. Several COPA members attended the event, and we got a brief visit from civil rights activist Dick Gregory. Here are some of the photos and the text of the flyer we handed out to over 700 people visiting.
Who Killed Dr. King?
Free the Files, Find the Truth
Do We Forget His Death to Remember His Life?
February 21, 1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Theater in Harlem. Just prior to his death he had met with Dr. King and discussed working together on the issues of poverty and war.
April 4, 1967 – Dr. King delivers an historic speech at the Riverside Church in New York City, expanding the issue of racial integration and civil rights to address three “pillars of oppression”, racism, poverty and militarism. He spoke out for the first time in public against the war in Vietnam and laid the groundwork for his call for a Poor People’s March. This put him squarely in the sights of the CIA, FBI and Army Intelligence as a dangerous militant. Both Malcolm X and Dr. King were targeted as “the threat of a Black Messiah” by these agencies.
April 4, 1968 – One year to the day later, Dr. King is slain by a single sniper’s bullet as he stands on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, in Memphis, TN. Dr. King’s driver, Earl “Cornbread” Carter and Chauncey Eskridge (attorney for King and the SCLC), looking up at Dr. King, heard the shot zing right past their right ears. Documentary filmmaker Joseph Laue, standing down the balcony, saw King lift up off the balcony and spin to his right. These reactions are the opposite of what a shot from the rooming house to King’s right and well above him could have caused. The police did not search or focus on the rooming house for well over an hour after the shot.
April 5, 1968 – The FBI, which did not immediately test to see if it had been fired on April 4th, conducted a ballistics test on the alleged murder rifle and results were inconclusive, meaning they could not say with certainty the fatal bullet was fired from the alleged murder rifle. Dr. Jerry Francisco, Memphis medical examiner, who performed the autopsy on King, did not even trace the death bullet’s path inside King’s body.
April 11-19, 1968 -Authorities announced they are looking for Eric Stavro Galt in connection with King’s murder. Galt, actually, is James Earl Ray, an escapee from the Missouri State Penitentiary.
June 8, 1968 – Ray is captured at London’s Heathrow Airport. Ray’s movements after the assassination suggest he had assistance from high-level, well-connected sources.
March 10, 1969 – Attorney Percy Foreman tells Ray he has not prepared a defense and threatens that Ray will get the electric chair unless he enters a guilty plea, Ray does and receives a 99-year sentence, immediately filing an appeal, wrongly paid for by Foreman.
March 31, 1969: Judge Preston Battle, who presided over Ray’s trial, dies from a heart attack, found inside his chambers with his head slumped down on a petition from Ray, dated March 13, 1969, asking for a new trial. Under Tennessee law Ray is “guaranteed” a new trial. Ray never receives his trial.
Critical books – Over the years, critical books appear on the case, demolishing the official story and flawed investigation. They include Frame Up by Harold Weissberg, Code Name Zorro by Mark Lane and Dick Gregory, and The Merkin Conspiracy and Who Killed MLK? by Phillip Melanson, PhD, Who Killed Martin Luther King? by James Earl Ray, Orders to Kill by Dr. William Pepper, Esq. and The COINTELPRO Papers – Ward Churchill.
1969 – 1997 – Ray consistently denies his guilt and files numerous appeals, usually with bad legal representation. Judge William Miller of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati convinces other judges to remand. On re-appeal, Miller dies strangely of heart attack just before decision and his vote against Ray is “recorded posthumously”.
1978 – The House Select Committee on Assassinations is created and conducts an investigation into both the JFK and King assassinations, While still blaming Ray, the HSCA concludes there was a “probable conspiracy,” and orders the Justice Department to reopen the investigation. The FBI and Justice Department stall.
1992 – Congress passes the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Act, and to date over 6.5 million classified pages are released, with a full and final release scheduled for 2017.
May 1997 – Dr. William Pepper, Esq., friend of Dr. King, reopens Ray’s appeal. Memphis Judge Joe Brown, a ballistics expert, tests the Remington and finds that the rifling marks on the test bullets do not conclusively match those on the bullet removed from Dr. King’s body. At this point, he is removed from the case by the Tennessee Court of Appeals in for alleged “bias”.
April 23, 1998 – Ray dies in Memorial Hospital, in Madison, TN, and his appeal is moot.
December 13, 1999 – The King family hires Dr. Pepper to conduct a civil suit against Loyd Jowers, a self-confessed criminal involved in planning the crime. The jury rules Ray innocent and indicts a governmental conspiracy.
Recent critical books – The 13th Juror – official civil trial transcript, An Act of State by Dr. William Pepper and A Memoir of Injustice – Tamara Carter and Jerry Ray.
2001 –Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney drafts a Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Records Act. A later version of the bill is drafted during the next Congress, with 66 co-sponsors and a Senate companion bill, but fails to move by 2007 when McKinney leaves office.
2009 – On January 15th, the birthday holiday for Dr. King, both Senator John Kerry and Congressman John Lewis, sponsors of the previous bills, announce intentions to reintroduce the same MLK Records Act, but to date have not done so.
2011 – The Clerk of the House is approached, who has power based on a letter from the previous Clerk in 1978, to release the HSCA files on Dr. King, action still pending.
The Coalition on Political Assassinations is a national network of medical, ballistics and forensic experts, academics and authors, and independent researchers formed in 1994. We call for a full release of government records and investigations and for an independent legal review of the evidence of conspiracy in these unsolved murders.
Join Us at Upcoming COPA events: June 10, 2012 – “And We Are All Mortal” American University, Washington, DC. Commemorates JFK speech calling to end the Cold War. November 22-25, 2012 – Annual conference of COPA in Dallas, TX. November 22-24, 2013, 50th Anniversary JFK assassination, COPA conference in Dallas, TX. November 22, 2013 – Occupy the Grassy Knoll for a Moment of Silence.