"For a quarter of a century, Bill Pepper conducted an independent investigation of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. He opened his files to our family, encouraged us to speak with the witnesses, and represented our family in the civil trial against the conspirators. The jury affirmed his findings, providing our family with a long-sought sense of closure and peace, which had been denied by official disinformation and cover-ups. Now the findings of his exhaustive investigation and additional revelations from the trial are presented in the pages of this important book. We recommend it highly to everyone who seeks the truth about Dr. King's assassination."
-- Coretta Scott King
Dexter King shakes hands with James Earl Ray in his prison, the family fought unsuccessfully for Ray to have a trial and then, after Ray's death, sued the federal, state and local governments in Memphis and won.
"Dr Pepper, a trusted associate of my father in the anti-war movement and a dedicated follower of his teaching, has conducted exhaustive research and shed new light on all of the critical questions including the extent of the involvement of government intelligence agencies, military units and organized crime in the assassination, the motives behind it, and the individuals who ordered and participated in it."
– Dexter King
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.
An Act of State:
the execution of Martin Luther King, Jr.
by William Pepper
William Pepper was a young journalist, just back from Vietnam, when he first met Martin Luther King Jr. His photographs and first-hand accounts of the war prompted King’s unflinching commitment to oppose it. On 15 April 1967 Pepper proposed an alternative to the re-election of Lyndon Johnson to a cheering New York crowd. Dr. Benjamin Spock was to be King’s running mate highlighting an anti-poverty and antiwar agenda. A year later Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. The movement for social and economic change in the US has never been substantially, successfully revived.
Doubts raised from an initial ten-year investigation and hours of interrogations of James Earl Ray prompted Pepper to take up his case. The King family, persuaded by the growing evidence, joined his struggle in 1996. At the 1999 trial seventy witnesses under oath set out the details of the conspiracy and the jury took an hour to find for the King family. It was ruled that a wide-ranging conspiracy existed and that government agents were involved. The story was effectively buried.
An Act of State lays out, in detail, the facts of the case as it evolved. These tell a tragic story of King’s powerful and significant radicalism, government plans for his execution that involved the military and the FBI, media cover-ups, and the corporate forces that were already claiming their hold on the nation’s polity.
"One juror, David Morthy, said after the trial, 'We all thought it was a cut-and-fried case with the evidence that Mr. Pepper brought to us … everyone from the CIA, military involvement, and Jowers was involved.'" - New York Times
"After the American University address, John Kennedy and Nikita Krushchev began to act like competitors in peace. They were both turning. However, Kennedy's rejection of Cold War politics was considered treasonous by forces in his own government. In that context, which Kennedy knew well, the American University address was a profile in courage with lethal consequences. President Kennedy's June 10, 1963 call for an end to the Cold War, five and one-half months before his assassination, anticipates Dr. King's courage in his April 4, 1967, Riverside Church address calling for an end to the Vietnam War, exactly one year before his assassination. Each of those transforming speeches was a prophetic statement provoking the reward a prophet traditionally receives. John Kennedy's American University address was to his death in Dallas as Martin Luther King's Riverside Church address was to his death in Memphis."
-- James Douglass, "JFK and the Unspeakable: why he died and why it matters"
An Act of State:
the execution of Martin Luther King, Jr.
by William Pepper
William Pepper was a young journalist, just back from Vietnam, when he first met Martin Luther King Jr. His photographs and first-hand accounts of the war prompted King's unflinching commitment to oppose it ....
On April 4 1968, Martin Luther King was in Memphis supporting a workers' strike. By nightfall, army snipers were in position, military officers were on a nearby roof with cameras, and Lloyd Jowers had been paid to remove the gun after the fatal shot was fired. When the dust had settled, King had been hit and a clean-up operation was set in motion-James Earl Ray was framed, the crime scene was destroyed, and witnesses were killed. William Pepper, attorney and friend of King, has conducted a thirty-year investigation into his assassination. In 1999, Loyd Jowers and other co-conspirators were brought to trial in a civil action suit on behalf of the King family. Seventy witnesses set out the details of a conspiracy that involved J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, Richard Helms and the CIA, the military, Memphis police, and organized crime. The jury took an hour to find for the King family. In An Act of State, you finally have the truth before you-how the US government shut down a movement for social change by stopping its leader dead in his tracks.
"In 1977 the family of Martin Luther King engaged an attorney and friend, Dr. William Pepper, to investigate a suspicion they had. They no longer believed that James Earl Ray was the killer. For their peace of mind, for an accurate record of history, and out of a sense of justice they conducted a two decade long investigation. The evidence they uncovered was put before a jury in Memphis, TN, in November 1999. 70 witnesses testified under oath, 4,000 pages of transcripts described that evidence, much of it new. It took the jury 59 minutes to come back with their decision that exonerated James Earl Ray, who had already died in prison. The jury found that Lloyd Jowers, owner of Jim's Grill, had participated in a conspiracy to kill King. The evidence showed that the conspiracy included J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, Richard Helms and the CIA, the military, the Memphis police department, and organized crime."
for further reading:
From the May-June, 1997 issue of Probe Magazine (Vol. 4 No. 4)
Martin Luther King's Son Says:
James Earl Ray Didn't Kill MLK!
By Lisa Pease
From the July-August, 1997 issue (Vol. 4 No. 5) Probe Magazine
Dexter King Continues His Long March
By Jim DiEugenio
William Pepper on MLK Conspiracy Trial
MLK's Murder: Confessions of Conspiracy
www.cointel.org (FBI persecution of Dr. King - the FBI sent King a letter urging him to commit suicide shortly before he was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize)
King son aims to get Hoover's name off the FBI building
Monday, January 19, 2004
On this, the day of the celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday, a little on the conspiracy behind his death:
1. For a good summary of what happened, I recommend the article "The Martin Luther King Conspiracy Exposed in Memphis" by Jim Douglass. Note that the FBI and the Pentagon show up yet again as key conspirators, just as they do in the assassination of JFK and the events of September 11.
2. For an outstanding book on the subject and one of the best books ever written on a conspiracy, and an inspiring example of what one man can do to research the facts behind a conspiracy if the government refuses to, see the "Murkin Conspiracy", by Philip H. Melanson. One of the most striking aspects of the case is how two-bit hick hoodlum James Earl Ray, who had never been to Toronto, was able to use the stolen identities of three residents of Toronto who didn't know each other and whose identities were perfectly suited to his purposes. The sophisticated use of stolen identities is a calling card of all these conspiracies.
3. As far as I know, both Marrell McCollough and Ray's handler 'Raoul', whose real name may or may not be Jules Ricco Kimble (an amazing man in his own right), are still alive and could be available to testify in a court of law, if anybody cared enough to require them to do so.
It has been noted by many that the Powers That Be didn't really mind the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King's role in it. In fact, they may have wanted to see blacks more fully integrated into the American economy, both as consumers and producers. He was assassinated only when he started to criticize the Vietnam War, the military-industrial complex parasites, and institutionalized basis of poverty. His assassination means that not much has changed in the United States.
J. Edgar Hoover vs. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Book Exposes FBI's Targeting of the Civil Rights Leader
Today marks the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. At the time, his every move was being tracked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We speak with journalist Tim Weiner, author of "Enemies: A History of the FBI," about the fanatical zeal with which the agency pursued the civil rights leader and peace activist. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover saw King as a Communist. He ordered agents to wiretap and spy on his hotel rooms and his private home. Weiner describes how the FBI also pushed newspapers to publish sordid details about King's relations with women other than his wife just before he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Comment: For the uninformed listener or reader of the Democracy Now website, this story seems to be another great expose of official abuse. The harassment of Dr. King by the FBI is mentioned and J. Edgar Hoover is said to be an enemy of civil rights. However, there was no hint that the harassment included the assassination, as detailed in the King family's lawsuit against the government. To their credit, Democracy Now did have a story that covered the 1999 jury verdict but that story has disappeared down the Orwellian "memory hole," without subsequent reminders. There is no link on today's DN webpage to their 1999 story about a jury agreeing with the King family that the government killed MLK. Instead, one of the "experts" cited during today's coverage is Gerald Posner, who has made a career of denying official involvement in the murders of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King. It is sad to see Democracy Now take essentially the same position today as CBS (See BS?), ABC, Washington Post and Fox News, even if they wrap the core of the story with some modest critique of the FBI and its long dead director (Hoover) to make it more palatable. It is a classic example of a "limited hang out" -- unveiling part of the truth (the FBI harassed MLK) in a way that keeps the full truth covered up (the government killed King).
December 13, 1999
Jury Rules King Assassination a Conspiracy
It would be nice for Democracy Now to remind its viewers and readers about this story by including a link every time MLK's legacy is discussed. Perhaps they could do some shows about why most liberal / progressive / leftist groups and media do not discuss the political impact of the assassinations of the 1960s -- JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, RFK, etc.
Democracy Now!'s anniversary show gets close to the truth, but not close enough:
April 04, 2008
Democracy Now! Special: Martin Luther King’s Life and Legacy 40 Years After His Assassination
AMY GOODMAN: Were you ever satisfied with who was put behind bars, with James Earl Ray being the killer?
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Oh, no. James Earl Ray was a pawn in the bigger game. He perhaps pulled the trigger [note: it's more likely he was merely a patsy who didn't pull the trigger], but he didn’t have the money, the motivation nor the transportation to get from here to London on the way to Rhodesia at that time. He had great assistance. To get from downtown Memphis, an alias, out of the city, out of the country, he had lots of support. Our government had been convinced Dr. King was the enemy of the state. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, had said as much, that Dr. King, if you’re going to arrest a hundred men in emergency, that he would be one of them. He called Dr. King a damn liar, when he said that Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney, the two Jews and black who were killed, that the FBI was not working hard to find the killers. Hoover said he was a damn liar. He saw Dr. King as an enemy. He was a fierce right-winger. He tried to embarrass him. He tried to hurt him. The Johnson forces, who were all with him—it’s a march for public accommodations—they felt defense about him being against the war. So he had enemies in high places. And yet, somehow it was painful for him, but he would not retreat.
DR. VINCENT HARDING: Martin always understood that race and class were intricately involved in the life of this country. He also understood that the issues of poverty were issues that affected not only black people, but all kinds of other people, including white people. And he knew that if there were to be, as he hoped there would be, an opportunity for the building of this country into its best possible development, then somehow the issue of poverty had to be addressed, and because he was a person of both words and actions, he knew that poverty could not really be addressed unless the poor themselves took action to challenge a country that would not take action on their behalf.
And so, Martin was, towards the end of his life, you may remember, by the last years of his life, he was saying that America had to deal with three—what he called triple evils: the evil of racism, the evil of materialism and the evils of militarism. And he saw those three very much connected to each other. And by organizing the poor, he saw that—especially organizing across racial lines, he saw that as addressing those evils in a way that had to be done by somebody. And he was in a position by 1968 to probably be the only person who could have called those groups of people together and said, “Let us make a common ground to create a new America.” That was his hope. That was what he was working for when he was killed. He was among the poor and calling upon the country to look and see the condition of the poor in order that we might see the possibilities of a new America.
AMY GOODMAN: April 4th is not only the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King in 1968, but the anniversary of the speech he gave at Riverside Church here in New York, April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was killed. Do you think there’s a connection?
DR. VINCENT HARDING: Amy, I have long felt, and I continue to feel, that it is impossible to understand Martin’s assassination by only understanding a white segregationist man who killed Martin by himself. I am deeply convinced that Martin’s two actions—one, of trying to organize the poor to challenge this government in Washington, D.C. in the Poor People’s Campaign; and Martin’s determination not just to speak out against the Vietnam, but to speak out against the entire imperialist and militarist direction of the country—all of that has to be understood when we try to understand Martin’s assassination. So, yes, I see a connection.
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about Dr. King’s evolution in being willing to speak out publicly around the war in Vietnam. How much risk was he taking?
DR. VINCENT HARDING: Let’s talk about a risk that he was very aware of from the outset. And he would put it in these terms: he was at great risk of damaging his own soul and spirit if he did not speak out against what he knew was terrible. King was, in the deepest part of his being, a pastor, caring for those who were beaten up, caring for those who were in need, and, in the great traditional ways of the Christian faith, caring for the most outcast and those who were considered poor and needy. King was always attuned to that. Had he not spoken on behalf of what the war was doing to those people in this country and overseas, he would not have been able to live with himself.
AMY GOODMAN: Charles Cabbage, you were driving away from the Lorraine Motel when Dr. King was killed.
CHARLES CABBAGE: Yes. That’s the understanding that I have of it. But, you know, like, nobody really thought that they would assassinate Dr. King, a man that stood for nonviolence. The man was a minister. You understand, his whole being was one of peace and harmony. So when the shot broke out, we were loading up our car. And there’s another long story that goes with that, but I am going to try to skip to the part that you probably want to deal with. And you know, when we were getting ready to pull off, I heard the shot. Well, we all, you know, like, hit the floor for cover. No other shots came. So I just jumped up and raised up and looked around, then pulled off.
By the time I left from the hotel and got to my home, you know, my mother come running out of the house, you know, I mean, crying and everything. And she said, “Dr. King got shot.” Well, see, her reaction was one of tears and sadness and sorrow. Mine was, how long is it going to get them to get here, because, you know, the way that I could see that COINTELPRO was operating here inside of Memphis itself, now that I have done a little research and looked back, was that they wanted to create as much disruption as they could. And they did a pretty good job of it.
AMY GOODMAN: Many questions still remain over who was behind Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. In 1969, James Earl Ray pleaded guilty but soon recanted and claimed he was innocent. Many of King’s relatives and closest friends suspect government involvement.
Last year, I spoke to Jerry Williams, a retired Memphis police detective. At the time of King’s death, Williams was one of the only African American detectives in the Memphis Police Department. I interviewed Jerry Williams outside the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Memphis.
JERRY WILLIAMS: My name is Jerry Williams. I’m a retired Memphis policeman. During the time of Dr. King’s assassination, I was working the homicide bureau in the Memphis Police Department. And on two previous occasions when Dr. King would come to Memphis, I was assigned to head his security team. But the last time he came, there were no black officers assigned for that security.
www.cointel.org - excellent reference site about the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), including declassified and liberated documents. Includes the FBI's letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. urging him to commit suicide, sent just before he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize
your tax dollars at work
the FBI's psychological warfare effort against Martin Luther King (1964)
Nobody's Perfect in their research:
From Peter Dale Scott's Road to 9/11, Page 285:
Most of what Pepper writes about army surveillance of King is documented and corroborated (cf. Steve Tompkins, "Army Feared King, Secretly Watched Him. Spying On Blacks Started 75 Years Ago," Memphis Commercial Appeal, March 21, 1993 [http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/1993/mar/21/army-feared-king-secretly-watched-him/]). Unfortunately, Pepper also transmitted the claim made to him that the 20th Special Forces Group had a sniper team in Memphis on April 4, 1968, to ensure that King was murdered. I believe from my own research that the sniper team story was disinformation from high sources in order to discredit Pepper. In particular, an alleged authorizing cable, citing Operation Garden Plot, is to a trained reader a self-revealing forgery.
Remember what happened to William Pepper? He believed some Ayers-like informants on the MLK case and made a central case against a former military man whom Pepper believed (and wrote) was then dead. So on national TV, what happened? The "dead" guy walked out onto the stage. His living didn't negate all of Pepper's work in reality. But in the popular mind? Pepper was the guy who had 'gotten it wrong' on TV. I fear strongly the same will happen to those who pursue this line of inquiry.
last updated: 2013-11-16
JFKMOON.org by Mark Robinowitz, who was born the day after JFK's last speech to the UN