- Category: Race & Liberation
- Created on Monday, 21 January 2008 12:49
- Written by Mike Ely
by Mike Ely Last year, on January 15, the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., I was in Memphis for the first time and went with friends and comrades to the Lorraine Motel after a commemorative march through town. A long line of people stretched out of the building, now a museum to Dr. King and the historic struggle against Jim Crow segregation. It wound down the block and out into the parking lot -- filled with families who had come together, groups of high school youth, and somber veterans of the civil rights days. The memories of loss, rage and hope from those days long ago, in 1968, are still vivid and passed on.
This article digs into the controversies and facts surrounding King's assassination.
* * * * *
On April 24, 1998, 30 years after the killing of Dr. King, the accused assassin James Earl Ray died in a prison hospital in Nashville. The official story is that Ray was a loner who shot King in Memphis on April 4, 1968 and escaped out of the country. And after Ray's death the national media insisted, once again, that there is "no evidence" of any high-level conspiracy. In fact, there are many reasons to believe that Dr. King was killed by an organized conspiracy and that powerful forces within the ruling class were involved.
James Earl Ray was a small-time, white racist, stickup man. In April 1968 he had been on the run for a year, after escaping from a Missouri penitentiary. Yet the authorities claim that Ray stalked King methodically from one city to another and arranged to have plastic surgery in Los Angeles. They expect people to believe that Ray simply shot King at the Lorraine Motel, and then climbed in his distinctive white Mustang and drove out of Memphis--even though King was under close federal surveillance. Ray traveled from Memphis to Atlanta, to Canada, to England, to Portugal, back to England and then was arrested on June 8 on his way to the white racist African state of Rhodesia--traveling with two false Canadian passports, registered under different names. And yet people are told this was done without accomplices, financial help or a larger organization.
Facts from Memphis
Gerald Posner recently wrote a book, Killing the Dream, intended to debunk "conspiracy theories" around King's death. However, this book is useful because of what it can't deny: According to Posner 12 or 14 government agents were packed into a firehouse on the day King was shot at the Lorraine Motel--less than 150 feet away from both King and the assassin. FBI agents and military intelligence agents were watching every move of King's group, and were assisted by Black Memphis cops who could identify figures of the local Black community. Two Black firemen were transferred from that firehouse--so they could not alert King about these secret government activities.
When the assassination happened, the Memphis police did not set up roadblocks on the avenues leading out of town (as they ordinarily do in such cases). They did not even issue an "all-points bulletin" for surrounding areas until long after the assassin escaped.
Posner also reports that the first person to reach Dr. King after the shooting was an undercover Memphis police officer, Marrell McCollough. This is similar to the way an undercover New York cop was the first person to reach Malcolm X after he was assassinated. Posner reports that McCollough subsequently went to work for the CIA.
Within minutes of the assassination, someone reported over a CB radio that a white Mustang was driving through north Memphis shooting at people. Meanwhile Ray drove out of town to the south. Police claim that this CB call was a teenage prank. But many people believe it was an accomplice helping Ray escape.
Ray always denied he shot King and claimed he was hired for a gun-running operation by a man called Raoul. According to Ray, this Raoul promised to get him out of the country but then set him up as a fall guy. These claims were never explored in a public trial. Ray was pressured into pleading guilty. Judge Battle, who presided over that hearing, later said he too doubted that Ray acted alone.
The FBI and the Struggle within the Ruling Class