Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 3 Num. 48

("Quid coniuratio est?")

The Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Mark Lane and Dick Gregory
Reviewed by Brian Francis Redman

"1. Why were only two police officers assigned to Dr. King on the evening of April 4, 1968?"

"2. Why was one of those officers, Redditt, removed so precipitously two hours before the murder?"

"3. Why were the only two black firemen [assigned to an adjacent fire station] removed from the scene of the murder the night before it occurred?"

"4. If Raoul did not provide Ray with funds as Ray claimed, where did Ray secure the many thousands of dollars that he expended from the time he escaped from the Missouri Penitentiary until his arrest in London?"

Once more, as in the JFK assassination, we have too many unanswered questions, questions that are ignored by those who ought to be answering them. Instead of answers, the public receives supercilious smiles and pats on the head from persons acting to be somehow better than us, we the people, of the United States.

Here's an interesting fact: our old buddy Rep. Henry Gonzalez, courageous fighter against the Federal Reserve yet timid as a mouse when it comes to Whitewater, "...had been in the Dallas motorcade on November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. Congressman Gonzalez had harbored doubts about the adequacy of the findings of the Warren Commission. Later he stated that he was also not satisfied with the official explanations of the deaths of Dr. King and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and the attempted assassination of Governor George Wallace." (It turns out that Wallace also "wasn't satisfied" as to the official explanation about the attempt made on his life. The Associated Press, ca. June 29, 1993, quoted Wallace as saying that he "doesn't believe the man who shot him was acting alone," and asking ol' Billy Jeff from Arkansas to reopen the federal investigation.)

A lot of questions. "Nine years have passed [ca. 1977] since the death of Dr. King. The American people have not been given the details about the pathological hatred that Hoover's FBI betrayed toward Dr. King. Neither have we been told why the black witnesses were officially stripped from the scene the night before the murder nor why the police officer in charge was removed on an implausible pretext just before the fatal shot was fired. The witness and security stripping was directed by a former high-ranking FBI official. Mystery surrounds the failure of the FBI to seek James Earl Ray until April 19th, fifteen days after the murder in spite of the presence of the fingerprints on the presumed murder rifle."

"The bullet taken from Dr. King's body was examined by an FBI agent whose conclusions raise more questions than they answer. The bullet has not yet been adequately tested. It may not have been fired from Ray's rifle."

"The cover-up of facts surrounding the murder, including the publication of news stories, false information leads to authors of books and magazine articles, and direct lobbying against a Congressional investigation by intelligence and spy organizations requires that we ask what it is that is so feared by so few. And ask as well how powerful the few must be to influence and control so much."

Here's another little tidbit which, by itself may not be overwhelming, but which when added to all the other little anomalies surrounding this case gives us the sum total of a flashing sign on a GoodYear blimp saying "...CONSPIRACY.... COVER-UP... CONSPIRACY... COVER-UP...":

Wayne Chastain, now a practicing lawyer in Memphis, was a reporter for the Memphis Press Scimitar, one of the two major daily newspapers at the time of the assassination of Dr. King.

After the police concluded that the shot had been fired from the bathroom window in the rooming house, Chastain came across an unpublished photograph in the newspaper's files. Taken by an Associated Press photographer from the bathroom window, it showed the Lorraine Motel balcony as the sniper would have seen it if the shot had been fired from there.

Chastain noted that the view was obscured by branches from trees growing on the embankment between the rooming house and the motel.

Later that day he discussed that oddity in the case with Kay Black, another reporter for the Memphis Press Scimitar. Chastain told me that although the picture was puzzling he paid little attention to it, "because at that time I believed the shot had come from that window. I believed that the police were right about that."

Chastain has continued to maintain a growing file on the case and has talked with many witnesses since. "Now I no longer believe the shot came from there. Now I think that picture and those trees take an added significance," he told me.

Later Kay Black received a telephone call from William B. Ingram, the former mayor of Memphis. Ingram had called to inform Black that the city was cutting down the trees on the embankment between the rooming house and the motel. She later told me, "Now, I hadn't been in the rooming house looking through that bathroom window but I do recall Wayne Chastain having said that he didn't see how someone could shoot through the trees to the motel. He said that he was puzzled how a clear shot could have been fired because he didn't see how you could see through the branches."

Ms. Black determined that the city of Memphis had arranged for the trees to be cut down and had ordered the city sanitation department to remove them. She said that Ingram had called her in the morning. She reported the information to her desk and that afternoon she visited the murder scene. "And those trees were down. The screen was gone. There was just no way any longer to know if that shot could have been possible."

Authorities investigating the assassination relied on two dubious witnesses, Mrs. Bessie Brewer and Charles Q. Stephens, to place James Earl Ray in the nearby rooming house between 3:00 and 3:10 p.m. Yet "Mrs. Brewer consistently refused to identify Ray" as the man to whom she had rented a room there. The other witness, Stephens, "did not make a positive identification of Ray." Furthermore, Stephens had "a severe drinking problem. Apparently he was drunk when the shot that killed Dr. King was fired." His wife told co-author Lane that "Charlie [Stephens] didn't see anything. He couldn't have. He was on the bed trying to sleep one off."

Stephens wife, Grace, was a third witness. But she was silenced. She heard the shot, then, as she recalls, "Right after the shot a man left the bathroom and went down the hall and down the steps to Main Street. I saw the man as he passed the door of my room. My guess of this man's age was in his fifties. This man was not quite as tall as I am. He was small-boned built." According to Grace Stephens, this man had "salt and pepper colored hair."

"At last the Memphis authorities apparently had uncovered a reliable witness. Yet when Ray was arrested her statement was inconvenient. Ray was taller than average and Mrs. Stephens had described a man approximately five feet, five inches tall. Ray was well-built and muscular and she described a small-boned man. Ray was in his thirties and she described a man twenty years older."

So how was she silenced? "Grace Stephens was illegally taken from her home by other Memphis authorities and placed in a mental institution... After Mrs. Stephens was illegally placed in the mental institution, the Memphis prosecutors removed her records from the hospital, according to her lawyer, C. M. Murphy."

"Murphy also charged that his client had no history of mental illness and that she was able to care for herself. He said that the Memphis prosecuting attorneys committed her to safeguard their case against Ray."

"In 1970, two years after Mrs. Stephens was committed, Murphy brought an action for her release. A reporter for the Washington Post who attended the hearing said that Mrs. Stephens, 'was heavily sedated' and that she 'stared blankly.' He reported as well that 'attorneys say that ordinarily she is bright, articulate, and reads a great deal and that she completed three years of college.'"

Grace Stephens was not released and "remains at the institution now [ca. 1977]."

"Mrs. Stephens has not recanted. When she was visited at the institution where she is confined she was asked if she remembers what she saw on April 4, 1968. She answered with a sad smile, 'Oh yes. I remember what I saw and who I saw run away. That's why I'm here, you know.'"

So we now near the federally-designated MLK HolyDay. As Dave Emory has sadly pointed out:

...when you allow a man to be murdered with impunity, when you allow a man to take a bullet, [when] you will not show any substantive interest in who did the killing -- when the people who did the killing are a matter of public record! (And we know who did it.) -- it's grotesque. I think it's really grotesque to name a holiday after somebody, celebrate a holiday after somebody, when you can't, when you won't, look into someone's murder.

It is like that line from I think it was T.S. Eliot: "And death walks, grinning, in the parade." The MLK HolyDay is that day when the federales display their trophy, Martin Luther King's head mounted on 24-hours in time. As Frederick Tupper Sausee writes in the afterword of Tennessee Waltz by James Earl Ray: "It is not King's life that they celebrate, but his death. King's death is their handiwork, and they display it proudly."

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Aperi os tuum muto, et causis omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt. Aperi os tuum, decerne quod justum est, et judica inopem et pauperem. -- Liber Proverbiorum XXXI: 8-9

Brian Francis Redman "The Big C"

Coming to you from Illinois -- "The Land of Skolnick"