15 June, 2010 — SF Examiner
Red Emma’s independent bookstore in Baltimore, Maryland recently had a book release event but without a book signing. Fifty people crowded into Red Emma’s to listen to the author they could not see talk about a secret government program, Operation COINTELPRO.
Marshall Eddie Conway, former Minister of Defense for the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panthers, is one of the longest imprisoned targets of Operation COINTELPRO. Jailed forty years for the 1970 murder of a Baltimore policeman. Conway called Red Emma’s bookstore in Baltimore from his cellblock to talk about his new book, The Greatest Threat.
Conway has been confined four decades since his arrest while at work at the Post Office. Conway was charged with the shooting death of a policeman on the basis of a photo identification by another policeman who allegedly saw Conway in the distance at the crime scene the night before his arrest.
No physical evidence linked Conway to the shooting and his primary accuser ended up being an informer cellmate who bought his own freedom by claiming Conway confessed to the crime. Conway has consistently maintained his innocence and objected to his cellmate fearing subsequent perjured testimony
The Greatest Threat details the heady days of revolutionary spirit and the rise of the Black Panthers that led to the subversion of justice by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, led a personal secret war against American political activists and targeted the Black Panthers as the most dangerous group in America. Hoover prodded field agents to ‘disrupt’ the Panthers and break the organization by attacking its leadership.
Hoover’s COINTELPRO campaign was national in scope and eventually became a major priority of the police agency–all in secret.
Conway’s controversial trial resembled a farce with Conway denied his own attorney and often not present in the courtroom. The court-appointed attorney, not of Conway’s choosing, only met with Conway for two brief meetings as part of trial preparation. Conway kept a defiant posture when he was in the courtroom and his fate was sealed with a life sentence.
Conway was able to speak with the Red Emma’s audience for the better part of an hour reflecting on his time in prison and answering questions. Several times the call-in lecture was interrupted and Conway had to call back in from the medium-security cellblock where he is imprisoned.
Proceeds from the sale of the book go to Conway’s legal defense fund.
To listen to Marshall Eddie Conway’s call-in click on link: http://www.redemmas.org/books/
Permission granted to reprint