THE CIA MAKES SCIENCE FICTION UNEXCITING
#1 The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. $1
This is the first in a series of zines about the involvement of the CIA and FBI in domestic affairs and assassinations. I feel like a lot of these facts are constantly glossed over and forgotten as the books about these subjects go out of print. I want to preserve these facts and present them to my zinewriting and reading peers. Before I began writing I attempted to find some other zines on similar topics and they were virtually nonexistent. There were a few zines and magazines that looked at the issues at hand but the general mood was "Look at what these crazy, wacko conspiracy theorists believe! How ridiculous."
I want to portray the facts as they are known and in an objective manner. Despite all of these documents and data there is a lot that is unknown because evidence was destroyed or classified in FBI and CIA files to rot for 50 years when people wouldn't be interested anymore. I'm asking you not to take my facts and speculations for granted. I want you to draw your own conclusions and to do your own homework. Sometimes a little investigation yields a fairly obvious conclusion. There is a lot of mystery remaining in these cases, mostly due to the government agencies that are classifying the files pertaining to them. I'm attempting to present facts whenever possible and speculate as little as possible. Some of the books that I read tried to turn speculations into fact and then base other facts on those speculations. That sort of logic will quickly get you labeled as a "conspiracy theorist" with all of the worst connotations.
My only bias is that I am not presenting all angles. I am simply showing the known involvement of the CIA and FBI in the assassination of Martin Luther King and their resulting coverup of the investigation and truth. If someone was inclined there could be 800+ pages of writing on each of these cases due to the vast amounts of information pertaining to each of the people involved. I am showing the involvement of government organizations that, by their own definition, should not be assisting in an assassination attempt on a public figure, much less operating domestically to begin with.
On a side note, the phrase "conspiracy theory" is often used to marginalize people who investigate these types of cases and pursue leads presented to them by any means other than the corporate media. It is easy to dismiss this evidence and facts when you don't want to really look at the full picture. Often times speculation is necessary when analyzing cases like John Kennedy and Martin Luther King because so much evidence has been destroyed and files pertaining to the case are classified. Please be open minded.
My only real. hope is that this won't read like a college term paper..
Additional copies of this booklet are available for $1 + 1 stamp individually or at 60 cents each for 6 or more. Cover artwork by Sarah Oleksyk. Additional art by Keith Rosson.
PO Box 14332
Portland, OR 972930332
Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Leader
I'd say that everyone is familiar with Martin Luther King to some degree but there are some important details to understand in order to discern why the FBI and CIA would be so interested in undermining and discrediting his every move (and then later offering substantial assistance in at least covering up his murder).
King Was a powerful leader and speaker for a formerly unfocused, yet large group of Americans. He spoke charismatically and articulated things that his followers had only previously understood without words. As he saw it, his struggles to unite and gain equality for the repressed African American population was intrinsically linked to opposing the Vietnam war and the class struggles of all Americans. He organized peaceful marches to gain labor recognition for underprivileged workers. His nonviolent stance was dangerously effective in helping the image and intentions of his movement.
In the end one of the great mistakes that cost him his life was opposing the war in Vietnam. He referred to America as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." comparing American practices in Vietnam to practices of Nazi Germans in World War 11. His critics said that he should focus on one issue (organizing the sanitation workers of Memphis) when in his mind it was the same issue. He saw the relationship between "...the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism.". It is theorized that King's stance on the war might also have been a result of him losing power with the more radical factions of the black power# movement.
King was also rumored to be running in the '68 Presidential election but he denied it.
The FBI, J. Edgar Hoover in particular, had a pathological, malicious hate for King. King had demonstrated his ability to instigate massive direct action campaigns and his supposed Presidential candidacy would appeal to people who were opposed to the war. To Hoover, opposing the war was evidence that King was a communist. Why else would he oppose the war?
COINTELPRO is an acronym for the FBI's domestic "counterintelligence programs" to neutralize political dissidents. Although the FBI has always used covert operations, the formal activities of 19561971 were broadly targeted against radical political figures such as Martin Luther King and his followers. Its goals are to discredit and undermine activist groups working domestically in the US. Since they believed their aims to be so righteous they would really stop at nothing to accomplish their goals including blackmail, threatening families, and politically lynching people with the media.
The FBI had been wiretapping King for years and planting paid informants inside his organization to gather information. They referred to him as "Zorro", the Spanish word for fox or "The Fake Messiah". In 1968 the FBI increased the surveillance even further as President Johnson feared that King would drive him out of the White House. Bugs were planted at "all present and future addresses" of King under approval from Robert Kennedy. The justification was that he was perceived to be a communist or acting under communist influence. These allegations have never had any supporting evidence.
Hoover interpreted the permission to mean that anywhere King stayed or spent extensive amounts of time could be bugged, such as hotel rooms, friends' houses, families' houses, and more. No substantial evidence was ever produced as a result of this or in support of this justification. King spoke out about how the FBI wasn't doing its job to protect him and other blacks in the south. The FBI took that comment personally and a full scale espionage war was on. In the end the wiretaps broke the privacy rights of 5,0006,000 people.
Cartha DeLoach was the head of COINTELPRO in 1968. At one point FBI agents including Cartha were trying to get in touch with King to meet with him. His office was particularly busy at this time and their calls were not returned. Being ignored tarnished the FBI's image of King even more than being berated and criticized. Cartha talked about "removing" King and called him "the fake messiah".
One of Hoover's favorite methods was blackmail and the best way for a group of conservative old white religious men to embarrass or discredit someone was with charges of sexual promiscuity or adultery. Often times bugged tapes were doctored or improved to make a stronger blackmail case. It got to the point where they would blackmail King and then send him anonymous letters trying to persuade him to commit suicide. Other letters to his wife included "improved" tapes of King in supposed sexual situations with other women and then they attempted to persuade her to leave him.
COINTELPRO operatives discredited King by infiltrating black movements and turning marches and protests violent. On King's visit to Memphis on March 28, on a march in support of the sanitation strike, the march was turned violent by undercover police and FBI agents posing as members of a militant group called "The Invaders". The police did nothing to stop the violence and property destruction until the march came through at which point they violently attacked the protesters.
James Earl Ray
Ray was a small time criminal who escaped from prison in 1967. Most of his career was spent committing petty crimes like robbing illegal gambling rings and prostitution circles. Each time that he attacked a legitimate establishment he was caught. He was not a murderer he was not even a very successful thief. It is not even known that he ever killed anyone or even fired a gun. It seemed that by 1968 he was attempting to get away from crime after his prison break in '67 and to eventually leave the United States for good. Ray was allegedly performing gun running operations for a man that he referred to as "Raoul" at this time. A man he met through hanging out in sailor bars and making it very clear that he was in some sort of legal trouble and seeking money and some new identification. "Raoul" had promised to fulfill those needs. Ray claims that it was Raoul who caused him to to purchase the rifle (claimed to be the murder weapon) and to be in Memphis on April 4, 1968. He was eventually convicted of killing Martin Luther King Jr. without a trial. He later wrote an autobiography entitled "Who Killed Martin Luther King Jr?" while in prison (see last page).
One of the more entertaining facts to me about Ray is that after he escaped from prison he went to LA and took dance lessons from 12/5 until 2/12. He also attended bartending school from January 19th until he graduated on March 2. This is interesting because I believe it demonstrates the fact that he was not a career criminal and was trying to break these habits. He was also not the "lone nut" that the media portrayed him as.
On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King Jr was planning to lead a demonstration for striking African American sanitation workers in Memphis, TN. He was staying in the Lorraine Motel on Mulberry St. in one of the city's seedier neighborhoods. His previous visit on March 28 had erupted in violence and looting, an image that he was not proud of and served to tarnish his image of nonviolent revolution. In the end a child was killed by the police and 60 more were injured. He was hoping to show Memphis the effectiveness of nonviolence. At the moment in question, he was about to enjoy a prime rib and soul food dinner with Samuel B. Kyles.
Slightly before 6 PM King walked out onto the balcony of his hotel room to greet several persons who stood below. He was on the second floor overlooking the motel's courtyard. At 6:01 as King stood alone on the balcony, a single shot from a high powered rifle tore into the right side of King's face, forcing him backward.
An aide came forward and pointed at where he had thought the shot came from, Brewer's Boarding House across the courtyard. It was later suspected, for unrelated reasons, that this aide was an FBI infiltrator. This moment yields us the popular picture of everyone pointing out the window.
Rev. Ralph Abernathy rushed out from the hotel room to King's side. He attempted to speak with him calmly:
"This is Ralph. This is Ralph. Don't be afraid."
But King was already unconscious; splayed across an ever-widening pool of his own blood. Andrew Young rushed up from the parking lot next to check King's pulse but really knew it was already over. Five minutes later he was speeding in an ambulance to St. Joseph's hospital. He was pronounced dead at 7:05.
Ray claimed to be in Memphis on a gunrunning mission for a man he knew as "Raoul". He had been instructed by the same man to purchase the pale yellow Mustang that he was driving in Memphis that day. He purchased a 30.06 Remington Gamesmaster rifle in Birmingham, AL at Raoul's request "to show to potential clients". He had originally bought a less powerful de but had exchanged it at Raoul's urging.
He checked into the "New Rebel Motel" on April 3 but moved to Brewer's Boarding House on the 4th again at Raoul's urging. When he parked the car on the 4th he noted that there was a very similar looking White Mustang parked ahead of it. After checking into the room Ray was sent to run errands and when he returned about 5:00 Raoul asked him to leave again so he could meet alone with clients, suggesting that Ray go to a movie. Ray didn't know what to do and eventually went to fix the spare tire he had discovered was flat. On his way back to Brewer's he found the area full of policeman so he immediately fled the city being a wanted criminal on illegal business. While he was driving he heard on the radio that King had been shot and that the police were looking for a white man in a white Mustang. He realized how much this description sounded like myself and headed for Atlanta where he had left some belongings on his last visit. He abandoned the car in an Atlanta parking lot and took a bus to Detroit. From there he took a train to Toronto hoping that he'd find a way to leave North America for good. He researched newspapers in the Toronto area and applied for a passport under the name Ramon George Sneyd. On May 6 Ray flew to London. He attempted to join a renegade army unit that would send him to Nigeria. As he boarded a plane to Brussells he was arrested as an international suspect in the murder of Martin Luther King Jr and was extradited to the US for conspiracy charges.
Raoul was a person that Ray referred to repeatedly in relation to his life from '6768. Since Raoul's identity has never been confirmed to be any existing person it was always treated as a questionable part of the story. The investigation committee did research Raoul but determined that he didn't exist. Most of this reasoning stemmed from a lack of any witnesses who had seen them together at their alleged 1215 meetings. There were however witnesses who had heard James Earl Ray talking about getting money or meeting with his brother. The committee dismissed Raoul as Ray's way to protect his brother(s) but it could also mean that "brother" was his euphemism for Raoul, which was the explanation from Rays' brothers.
Another unanswered question is why would Ray return the rifle for a more powerful one, if not by Raoul's suggestion? He used the excuse that since the rifle was for deer hunting that his "brother' needed a more powerful rifle because he was hunting in Michigan where the game was bigger. This is important because it shows that Ray wasn't sure what type of rifle was needed. In his autobiography he seems to be rather unfamiliar with rifles at all and Ray also mentions that Raoul was quite vague in the type of hunting rifle that he was looking for in this case.
There was a particularly "Raoul" like character who appeared later. His name was Jules Ricco Kimble and he went by "Roland" or "Rollie" and was operating out of the right neighborhood at the right time to have met Ray as he claims. Kimble was discovered by a newspaper reporter who was combing the area for such a person. He eventually tracked down Kimble's girlfriend and discovered that Rollie kept a trunk full of guns and carried a police band radio. She was frequently asked to translate police broadcasts. He often called the US from her apartment and she had kept the bills hoping to collect from him someday.
To add more interest to this person, police investigators following Kimble lost track of him on July 18th; the same day that Ray claims to have met up with Raoul. Kimble was also in New Orleans at the same time that Ray claims to have received another payment from him. It is also in his FBI file that he had met with Grand Dragons of the Klu Klux Klan on July 18,1967 and his wife had seen guns and explosives in the trunk of his car that day
In 1989, Jules Kimble, while serving a double life sentence, was interviewed by BBC reporters. He readily told them that he knew Ray and had been involved in the conspiracy to kill King; he also added that he had told this to the FBI investigation committee. He said that Ray didn't pull the trigger and was only a patsy. Kimble said he was familiar with the assassination scenario and implicated an element of US intelligence headquartered in a southern city. Kimble said his job was to navigate Ray from Atlanta to Montreal in '67 to meet with a CIA identities specialist. When this was investigated with an ex-agent of the CIA he affirmed that the identities specialist had been in Toronto at that time and seemed quite surprised that someone had known that. The specialist's name was Raoul Miora! It does pose the question: When Ray refers to "Raoul" is talking about Kimble or Miora? Is it a composite of the two characters or is Raoul an alias for Kimble?
It is not at all exceptional or notable that Ray used aliases. Nearly every petty criminal uses aliases from time to time to protect their identity. The notable things however are the incredible coincidences surrounding Ray's aliases. Eric Starvo Galt, Ramon George Sneyd, Paul Bridgeman, and John Willard were all Toronto residents from the same neighborhood living in a small radius of a few miles. None of them knew each other. They were all of the approximately same height, weight, hair color (dark), and appeared to be the same age as Ray A few of the men even had scars on their faces like Ray. Ray also had plastic surgery on his nose in 1967 making him look even more like Eric Galt than previously. He changed his hairstyle to further resemble several of these men. How did he assemble documents on these people? Ray had never been to Toronto. All of his previous aliases had been people he had known from prison, an old neighborhood, or his brothers' friends. When probed about how he obtained these aliases Ray changes his story frequently and acts as if he can't recall the details. The committee let this issue drop referring to them as "uncredible" and "almost" unbelievable coincidences.
If not Raoul, then who funded Ray in '67'68? This is a major focus of several investigators of the case because it is one fact that has remained unanswered and Ray's explanation is currently the only plausible one. Martin Waldron is one investigator who described it as Ray's "trail of free spending". The FBI has tried to claim that Ray robbed the Alton Bank in Alton, I IL (where he grew up) but sources show that he was living in Toronto at that time.
Ray has quoted the specific dates, places, and amounts that he was paid by Raoul along with the services performed and the denominations of the bills. This certainly adds some credibility to his story.
When Ray was living in Toronto just after the murder he was visited by a "fat man" delivering an envelope. He paid his rent the same day and purchased a plane ticket to England. Of course people immediately questioned if this was a coconspirator in the case. The man went to the police shortly afterwards saying that he had just been a stranger delivering a lost letter. To add further intrigue, Ray was horribly paranoid at this point, rarely leaving his room. When the envelope was delivered he came forward eagerly when he could have requested to have it brought to him. It seems that Ray had run out of money prior to this because he neglected to purchase his plane ticket for 6 days after it was available hardly the behavior of a fugitive in a hurry. When confronted, the man was very edgy and refused to testify for the FBI, fearing for his life. He cited reasons for his fear like people being killed who were witnesses in the Kennedy assassination.
The Police's Story
The police's explanation for the story and how Ray is involved is as follows:
The Ray arrived in Memphis the day before the shooting. He originally checked into the New Rebel Motel but moved the next day to Brewer's Boarding House using the alias John Willard. Ray rejected a room that had no view of the Lorraine Motel in favor of one that did. The furniture was rearranged; most likely for the reason of watching King from a window perch. Ray had a newly purchased pair of binoculars.
Another resident of Brewer's, William Anschutz, claimed that the he found the bathroom occupied several times in the hours before the shooting. Another resident, Charles Stephens told William that the new tenant, Mr. Willard (Ray) was using the bathroom. After the shot was fired, both Stephens and Anschutz claimed they ran into the hallway and saw a man running from the bathroom with a bundle. It is speculated that Ray fired the fatal shot from a situated spot in the bathtub.
A package was found by police in the doorway of Canipe's; an amusement company next door to Brewer's Boarding House on Main St. It contained a 30.06 Remington Gamesmaster rifle that was boxed, binoculars, ammunition, Schlitz beer, some food, and a portable prison radio (with Ray's numbers on it). Witnesses who say the man who dropped the bundle said that he was neat and clean and wearing a dark suit. Other witnesses had claimed that Ray looked neat and clean compared to the locals and was wearing a dark brown suit that day.
The same witnesses saw a white Mustang pull away from the curb leaving skid marks. Ray describes his own car as "a very pale yellow".
An abandoned car was found that was registered to Eric S. Galt matching a description of a 'White" Mustang that was seen fleeing the scene of the crime. Two witnesses claimed to have seen a dark man fleeing from Brewer's Boarding House carrying a package who appeared calm.
Fingerprints on the rifle and scope were later matched to be Ray's. The serial number on the rifle matched it to the one that Ray had bought in Birmingham, Alabama. Ray was the suspect for the crime and the popular opinion was that he acted alone.
Questionable Parts of the Police's Story
Just because Ray's prints were on the rifle doesn't mean that that he ever fired it, let alone the fatal shot. As far as we know, Ray had never fired a gun or killed anyone prior to this day.
Why would he trust himself to be able to fire a single fatal shot from a rifle that he wasn't even accustomed to using? Remember, Ray was not a murderer, he was a small time thief turned into a gun runner.
The origin of the shot was never called into question or scrutinized either. It was simply assumed that because the police wanted to believe the shot came from the bathroom window of Brewer's that that assumption was not able to be questioned. When it was questioned peoples' testimonies were dismissed.
Another important question is why would Ray take precious time to box the rifle (as if it had never been used) and wrap it in a bedspread with all of his belongings? Why would he dump it on the sidewalk instead of in the Mustang, just a few feet away?
The bundle is a very critical part of the evidence for the police to link the crime to Ray. The FBI and inspection committee speculated that Ray might have dropped the bundle in a panic after seeing police officers at the scene. They never investigated the angle that the dropped bundle might be a plant designed to implicate Ray. The witnesses' observations don't support the FBI's assumptions. All of the witnesses claim that the dark suited man who dropped the bundle was not fleeing in a panic, rather walking casually and appeared to have deliberately discarded the bundle at that spot. He even detoured from his trip to the car to drop the bundle in that location. Canipe, the owner of the business, was one of the witnesses and he described the man to be "chunky" and "dark skinned", which Ray is neither.
Later writers who analyzed the situation speculated that Ray wanted to be able to take credit for the crime later and left the bundle as his calling card. This sounds well in theory but is rather inconsistent with the rest of Ray's activities and behaviors. He was trying to establish a new identity outside of North America without drawing attention to the fact that he was an escaped criminal.
A Gunman in the bushes?
The police and FBI completely ignore the testimony of anyone who insists that the shooter wasn't Ray or that the shot originated from anywhere other than the bathroom window at Brewer's.
Solomon Jones said that he saw a man with something white on his face and something under his arm flee from the bushes in the courtyard after the shot was fired. Harold Carter affirmed a similar statement and was seated just in front of the bushes at the time. He saw a man with a high necked white sweater and a rifle or shotgun flee the scene. In both cases the police intimidated these men to the point where they were afraid to repeat these accounts.
There was a broadcast on the police radio describing a car chase that never took place. It said the cars (including a white Mustang) were headed northeast while Ray headed South.
"6:36 60 at Jackman and Hollywood. Mobile unit. East on Summers from Highland exceeding speed limit. Blue '66 Pontiac going over 75 mph. 3 white males in blue Pontiac. North on Jackson.
At 6:48 "White Mustang is shooting at Pontiac. Austin Peay. Approaching the road going into naval base."
At no time was there ever an adequate explanation for this broadcast. Police Chief Holloman said it was a teenager involved in a prank. He seemed troubled by further probe questions.
"I don't recall if we ever found out who it was .
Other unexplained Mustang references occurred at 6:10, 6:12, 6:35, 6:48, and 6:53
One explanation that might help to explain these reports was the fact that there were two white mustangs at the crime scene. FBI interviews and press reports at the time confirmed this. Ray always described his car as "pale yellow" but every witness describes both Mustangs as white. One Mustang was parked almost directly in front of Jim's Grill and the other was parked a few car lengths south, closer to Canipe's.
Four witnesses established that the car in front of Jim's was there from about 3:55 till 5:20. The car in front of Canipe's was spotted at about 4:30 and again after 5:00. Witnesses said they noticed a white, dark haired man sifting behind the wheel until a little before 5:20.
One car left the area before six. Two men walking past the comer of Main and Vance remembered seeing a Mustang pass directly in front of them between 5:15 and 5:30. The second Mustang screeched away minutes after the bundle was dropped.
Based on what we know of Ray's movements and what he alleges his movements were it's pretty safe to say that the car in front of Jim's Grill was his.
He checked into Brewer's at 3:30 and bought binoculars at 4:00.
It seems far less likely that the Mustang in of Canipe's belonged to Ray. For one thing it was not spotted until between 4:30 and 4:45. If Ray was the
assassin why would he wait in the parked car for 30-45 minutes when he could be inside setting up the kill? Based on what we know it seems that the man who dropped the bundle in front of Canipe's also drove away in the Mustang that was parked in front of Canipe's.
The simple fact that two cars of the same make, model, and color in the immediate vicinity of crime scene arouses suspicion. The closeness of the timelines continues to arouse that same suspicion. Also the fact that the car in front of Jim's left the area between 5 and 5:30 adds credibility to Ray's story that he left the area at Raoul's urging between 5 and 6.
Two dark suits
Ray was well-dressed compared to most people in the neighborhood. On April 4th and 5th there was a second well dressed man also wearing a dark suit in neighborhood. The investigation committee chose to ignore this fact also.
The owner of Jim's Grill had called the police on April 5th because of a man wearing a dark suit who was acting peculiar while he was eating breakfast. Everyone else was very disturbed and stressed by the shooting while this man remained calm. He had also been eating dinner in Jim's Grill the previous afternoon at about 4 PM. Ray claimed to have seen this man as well on April 4th and also described him as acting strange. The police questioned him on April 5th and he claimed that he had hitchhiked all night on April 3 to arrive early in the morning on the 4th and to be staying at Helen Wynne's, another rooming house in the immediate area. He was released without being fingerprinted because he "didn't fit the available description" when in reality he did. He had blue eyes and brown hair and was neat and dean dressing in a dark suit. Even this man's wife later admitted that there was a "resemblance" between the two men. He claims that he was at the rooming house from 2 until 5:30 when he went to make phone calls, but this is inconsistent with several people's testimonies who saw him eating dinner at Jim Grill at 4 PM. He later claimed that he was having dinner in a restaurant while King was shot (which occurred at 6 PM). Did he have dinner twice in two hours?
He claimed that he had come to Memphis as part of his plan to get to California. Again his story has gaping holes because two days earlier he had been in Little Rock which is several hundred miles closer to where he was going. He claims that he came to Memphis looking for someone who needs a car delivered to California. He changed his story later on to say that he had come to Memphis to "sell some things". He didn't mention going to California this time.
The FBI only helped to contribute people's interest in this man by deleting sections of their own documents on him. Most of the deletions aren't data of personal nature to protect him, rather things pertaining to the scene of the crime and his military record.
The Aftermath and Investigation
In 1974 Russell Byers, a St Louis underworld figure told an FBI informant that he had been offered $50,000 to kill King. He claimed that in '66 or '67 a drug dealer named John Kaufman asked him if he was interested in making a huge sum of money The same evening they went to the home of John Sutherland, a wealthy patent attorney and right winger. Sutherland was wearing the full dress of a Confederate colonel's uniform and was surrounded by Civil War memorabilia. He offered $50,000 for Byers to kill King or have him killed. Byers said that he would think it over and it was eventually forgotten. To his knowledge nothing was developed from that meeting.
It was established that Ray could have possibly found out about the offer from a friend of Kaufman's, Hugh Maxey, the prison doctor at the Missouri State Prison. Ray also served time with John Paul Spika, Byer's brother in law. Spika was later pressured to say that he told Ray about the offer. He was later mysteriously killed. Ray's sister owned the Grape Vine Tavern, a bar in St. Louis where underworld types hung out to make contacts. Ray's brother John was the manager. It is theorized that Ray could have discovered the offer there due to the fact the George Wallace headquarters was across the street and Sutherland was a huge supporter. There is no firm evidence that any of this actually developed. While trying to establish a motive, the committee researching these details seems to be suggesting conspiracy as well.
The prosecution was able to put Ray at the scene of the crime but failed to prove that he was the shooter. Having his finger prints on the rifle and scope does not prove that he shot the rifle. The 30.06 bullet was never linked to his rifle. It was said that it was possible" it was fired from that rifle but it was also possible it was fired from any number of other, similar rifles that were in Memphis that day. In a legal setting guilt and conviction work on a system of no "reasonable doubt." Since the facts were never brought into question it was easy for the prosecution to walk all over Ray as his lawyer, Percy Foreman failed to represent him at all; neglecting to challenge or object to any statements made against him.
Another unanswered question is how would Ray know that Brewer's was connected to the adjacent building containing the bathroom where the shot supposedly originated? It was not visible from the street and he had not been inside the upstairs of Brewer's until the day of the shooting,
Many questions remain about the trajectory of the bullet involved because the scenario was never established. For some reason. the investigators were never too interested in determining the position that King was in when he was shot. This Would normally be important to determine the angle that the bullet traveled and thus find its source. Of course this is coming from the same investigators who did everything they could to quiet witnesses who said that the shot came from anywhere but the bathroom window.
In addition, Ray had always been a very poor shot and he knew that. Why would he trust himself on the chances of one bullet at such a distance with so much obscuring his view?
At the evidentiary hearing for Ray, a former FBI ballistics expert said that not even the most skilled gunman could not have successfully pulled off the shot in the manner suggested by the prosecution. According to the expert, to effectively achieve such a shot, the butt of the rifle would have had to stick six inches into the wall. The prosecution claimed that Ray had contorted himself into a position around the bathtub in order to make the shot, for someone without rifle skills like Ray, this just sounds ridiculous.
The bullet recovered from King was never adequately tested and all that was established was that it was "possible" it was fired from the rifle in question. This certainly doesn't sound like a case of "beyond reasonable doubt".
After his extradition from Britain for charges of conspiracy, Ray was confined for eight months in a brightly lit cell. The lights and guards were present 24 hours a day. Closed-circuit cameras and multiple microphones constantly monitored his every move.
Under these extreme conditions, with his physical and mental state deteriorating, Ray's attorney, Arthur Hanes, continually pressured him to plead guilty. Ray had claimed he was a patsy in a larger conspiracy from the beginning and continued to insist on a trial.
Simultaneously, William Bradford Huie was paying Hanes for information for a book he was writing on James Earl Ray. Huie offered the money to pay for the trial. Unfortunately, Huie leaked far too much to the press and the prosecution would get a great sampling of what Ray was planning. A guilty plea supported Huie's best interest as well as it would give his book maximum value as the information would all be new to its readers. Huie went as far as writing lies that the public accepted as truth in order to market his book. He wrote that the palm prints found in the bathroom and room #5 belonged to Ray which they didn't. The police never revealed who these prints did belong to.
James Earl Ray's brother Jerry advised him to dump Hanes and contact Percy Foreman, a prominent criminal defense lawyer known for being aggressive. Ray was hesitant but other lawyers were turning down the case,
Foreman eventually took his case with an even more adamant stance about Ray pleading guilty than Hanes. Despite his promise not to contact any authors until after the trial, Foreman also entered into a contract with Huie; forging Ray's name. Ray continually insisted on a trial. Foreman manipulated Ray by threatening that he couldn't guarantee his best efforts as defense counsel. Foreman hadn't even researched the case or interviewed Ray for any reason other than selling information to Huie. He had been paid $165,000 to defend Ray and now he was just looking for an easy guilty plea.
Ray feared the judge wouldn't allow new counsel so close to the trial date. Instead of letting Foreman throw the trial if he pled innocent, Ray pled guilty as an act of desperation, also as a result of his living environment at the time. Three days later Ray appealed the case.
The process of appeals has been equally stacked against Ray from the start. While Judge Preston W Battle was reviewing Ray's request for an appeal he died mysteriously of a heart attack in his office. Federal Judge William E. Miller also died of a mysterious heart attack while at the courthouse reviewing Ray's request for a trial. Both of these judges appeared to be giving Ray a fair chance at a trial. Creepy.
During the trial Forman objected to no questions from the prosecution, not even ones that were leading or improper. He performed no cross examination of witnesses.
The FBI's Involvement
At the scene of the crime, the FBI didn't radio in that King had been shot until 30 minutes after the shooting. This gave the shooter(s) the valuable time that was needed to escape. There was no explanation as to why they waited this long.
Days before the assassination the FBI had prepared a speech for Senator Robert Byrd to deliver to the Senate condemning King's actions. It even alluded to King as a communist (probably only allusions due to a lack of evidence). The FBI had further plans to create it's own "black messiah" to replace King.
After King's assassination the FBI continued surveillance of King's family and followers for another year. Next they secretly moved to publish a book telling the side of the story that they wanted portrayed as well as publishing newspaper stories undermining the King family. Life Magazine published a story about Ray as the "lone nut assassin" containing a considerable amount of lies about his childhood life and family. They went as far as putting a picture of his grade school class on the cover. To further obscure the truth the photo was centered on what appeared to be "the mean kid" of the class while Ray was almost completely unable to be seen in the photo behind someone else's head. The attempt to promote Ray as the "lone nut assassin" was later confirmed to be part of the FBI agenda by one of their own FBI documents.
The same intelligence detail of the FBI who had harassed, threatened, and tried to convince King to kill himself were the same ones assigned to investigate his murder. It was a joke; a travesty of justice. The will to seek the truth and find the right answers was nonexistent. How could this effort have been taken seriously?
"The feeling against King was so strong that if the FBI had had advance information of an assassination plot against King and no one else knew about it they would sit on it." said Arthur Murtaugh, a former agent. He also doesn't believe the crime was ever investigated. The FBI issued a statement in less than 24 hours that no conspiracy was involved, yet they had extradited Ray from England on charges of conspiracy. How can they be so certain so quickly; before any investigation is done? Maybe it's the fact that they don't really care about the truth to begin with.
One particular FBI supervisor was elated when he found out King had been shot and-then later literally jumping for joy when King was pronounced dead. "Coincidentally' he was also assigned on the detail to investigate the assassination.
It took the FBI and local authorities 14 days to discover that Eric Starvo Gait was actually James Earl Ray despite the fact that Ray's prison radio (bearing his inmate numbers) was left at the scene which would identify him immediately with any inspection. Galt was the name that Ray had used
when identifying himself to Raoul.
Another curious character is a government informer named Randolph Erwin Rosenson who was known as "Randy Rosen". Most of the FBI files pertaining to him are completely classified but the remaining portions show that he paralleled Ray's movements in 196768 including Ray's trip to Birmingham where the rifle purchase occurred; the rifle which was the supposed murder weapon.
On King's previous visits to Memphis he stayed in the Holiday Inn, which is a primarily white owned and patronized hotel. One of the main agendas of the demonstration was a boycott of downtown white businesses. Cartha DeLoach, the head of Cointelpro, was involved in a campaign to embarrass King because of his decision to stay in the Holiday Inn, instead of a black owned and patronized hotel like the Lorraine. Several articles were published that effectively labeled him as a hypocrite and it is theorized that as a result he stayed in the (much more vulnerable) Lorraine Motel for his next visit unknowingly assisting his own murder.
Another interesting aspect of the situation is the story of a local reporter in Memphis. After reviewing photographs of the scene he discovered that there was not a clear view from the supposed bathroom window to the balcony of the Lorraine, where the shot supposedly originated from; in fact it was completely obscured by branches from 10-12' foot oak and willow trees in the courtyard. This would have completed impaired the vision of anyone trying to make an already difficult shot. Just as this revelation was being discovered the city made a decision to cut down the trees. No further investigation of this aspect of the case has been pursued.
Later, it became questionable whether or not the FBI's investigation was credible when the Senate was debunking the reports from the Warren Commission. It discovered that the FBI had destroyed evidence, suborned perjury, and committed perjury in order to protect the killer(s) of John Kennedy. This posed the question of whether or not any FBI investigation was credible.
Frank Holloman was the chief of police and chief of the fire department in Memphis in 1968. He had been a former FBI agent for 25 years working in many of the local offices that monitored King in Atlanta, Memphis, and Jackson, Mississippi. He even bugged King in Memphis when the sanitation strike was developing. He was a close, personal friend of J. Edgar Hoover. In the hours before the assassination he pulled all African American police and firemen from the scene of the crime and positioned them elsewhere with no logic and little explanation.
Floyd Newsum was a fire fighter at Station 2 during April of 1968. He was an avid King follower. The day of the assassination he was moved out of the area to Station 31. This type of reassignment is typical if one station is overstaffed while another is short staffed. However in this case it was quite the opposite. Newsum's relocation made the equipment at station 2 inoperable due to them being a person short to operate it. He was an extra, unnecessary man at Station 31. The official reason that was Newsum was moved was that they were protecting
him. The question is protecting him for what?
"There is no way that they could have thought that they were doing me a favor, protecting me, or making me more comfortable by transferring me. I am sure that I was not moved because of considerations of my safety."
If Newsum had been outside during the shooting he would have seen the killer flee and would only be a few yards behind them.
Wallace was another African American that was positioned at Station 2 that day. He was moved to Station 33. Station 2 has a clear view of the Lorraine motel and was used as a post for police and FBI to monitor King.
Ed Redditt was the brains behind the Memphis police department's security detail on King. On the day of the murder his security detail was reduced from ten people down to two. When King arrived his people asked not to be shadowed by security and the chief was very eager to dismiss the security entirely. (It was common for King and his followers to have distrust for the police and their work after the way that they had been treated in the past.) Redditt insisted on keeping a two man security team after he was told to go home the first time.
Two hours before the shooting Ed Redditt got sent back to HQ. He was then told that there was a contract on his life and he was immediately sent to stay at a hotel. The heads of every law enforcement operation in the region were present for this meeting. Supposedly a secret service officer flew to Memphis to share the information. If this was such a grave threat then why did he fly instead of just telephoning the information? Redditt resisted the order because his mother-in-law was very sick and he did not want to move her. His thinking was that he would be well enough protected at his post in the firehouse. He was eventually forced to go home and was told that there was "nothing to discuss". Other officers were sent home with him under the guise that they were present to guard him.
Once they arrived at his home it became apparent that the officers were truly there to watch him, not to protect him. They insisted on being at his side at all time. They all sat in the car out of his house as martin was shot. He was afraid to go inside because he thought the presence of the other officers would disturb his mother in law. He also did not believe that his mother in law had a radio inside the house but in fact, she did. They raced inside when they heard that King had been shot. His mother in law was screaming. The next day she died of grief screaming "Dr. King Dr. King Dr. King, God take me instead of Dr. King." The secret service knew nothing of a threat against Redditt. Redditt's partner, Richmond, remained on the scene and (it(] not carry out any part of their plan to protect King. One of them was to go to the street and scout out the it area watching for people fleeing while the other radioed to the mobile unit. Instead Richmond did nothing and refuses to talk about it.
Charles Stephens was the star witness of the prosecution. He had claimed to see Ray fleeing from the scene of to crime and later could not identify Ray He was bribed with $30,000 by the FBI to say that he saw Ray fleeing the scene, and he still couldn't seem to got his story straight. Before Stephens had received Die bribe he gave 3 descriptions that didn't fit Ray at all and said he did not get a good look at the man. The photos that he saw of Ray were before he had received plastic surgery on his nose. Stephens had supposedly identified Ray from seeing his profile. The surgery significantly changed his appearance from this I perspective.
James McGraw a cab driver, came to pick up Mr. Stephens approximately 3 minutes before the shooting and said that he was so drunk that he was unable to stand, Eventually, after getting frustrated he left Mr. Stephens lying on the bed and left the building. He said that he also noticed that there were two white Mustangs parked it in front of Brewer's.
Lloyd Jowers also, agreed that Mr. Stephens was noticeably drunk on April 4 and had been unable to pay his rent.
Grace Stephens was Charles' wife. She had been in the room with him during the shooting and claims that Stephen never saw the shooter flee and was not able to leave the bed. She also says that he was not wearing his glasses at the time and is virtually blind without them. She said that she was the only one who had seen the person fleeing from the bathroom and that it was not Ray. She, unlike her husband, had not been drinking that day. She stuck by her story despite police and FBI intimidation and was later committed to a mental institution for 20 years with no history of mental disorders. The doctors said she did not belong there and that her condition from worsening from living there. She was the only resident not granted visitors and was later only released after pressure from independent people investigating the case. Despite 20 years and a fair share of intimidation tactics her story has never changed. Mr. Stephens eventually recanted his entire story. Their friends said they were afraid to testify after seeing what happened to them.
A nearby service station manager told one of the investigators for Ray's defense team that he saw Ray several blocks from Brewer's at the time of the shooting. This man was stabbed soon after he started talking to the defense team.
Was the CIA involved?
The CIA always did a good job of giving the image that they had little interest in King. They kept a very small domestic file on his activities and received information mostly from the FBI. This illusion was destroyed when an agent revealed that the CIA was keeping their true files on King in the highly classified "Western Hemisphere desk" where it filed its anti-Castro operations. This type of secrecy alleges that those documents were politically sensitive if not illegal. Then again, that's nothing new for the CIA. Documents released under Freedom of Information also later revealed that the CIA was passing information on King to the FBI.
Like the FBI, the CIA was probably interested in King because of the supposed connection between "black power movements" and communists. As a result they infiltrated many groups and took photographs and well as monitoring militancy in black youths.
Of course there is a huge difference between surveillance and murder but there are implications for that as well and the fact that surveillance on King was so heavy offers us a motive. Kimble implicates the CIA in his statements saying they had 7 operatives among which there were 2 snipers with rifles identical to Ray's. The operatives obtained police uniforms and 2 of them hid in the bushes (one of which could have been the person seen fleeing wearing a high necked white sweater and carrying a rifle). If the primary shot failed, the other acted as a backup. The rifles were deposited behind the boarding house and obtained by other operatives who resembled police officers.
Kimble's credibility is of course, in question but most of his stories check out and align themselves perfectly with other facts that we've established. The CIA identities specialist that Kimble had talked about was in fact in Toronto at the same time as Ray and there are currently no other plausible explanations as to where Ray's unbelievable aliases came from.
The term conspiracy really only means that two or more people were working together towards a common goal. All of the evidence suggests that even if Ray was somehow peripherally involved then he did not or could not have acted alone. Of course this whole concept was downplayed by the police, the FBI, and the investigation committee. In reality we'd need to have much more information than is available to the general public at this point in time.
It seemed that the plan was to establish that Eric Galt was the guilty party. Many documents turned up in his name (but not the name on the register at Brewer's or the rifle purchase) and the other aliases would serve to implicate him since they were all his Toronto neighbors. Galt, unlike Ray, was an excellent marksman who traveled with guns in his car and had worked with US secret military projects at a Carbide plant. He'd also traveled to Birmingham (where the rifle was purchased) and Memphis. Luckily, for Galt's sake the authorities found Ray first.
How do we solve the case?
In order to truly solve the case we'd need an independent, impartial group of truth seekers who could access classified FBI and CIA files without any deletions. Phil Melanson recommends a special prosecutor.
They could further investigate what people had seen in the bushes and obtain the footprint analysis that has never been made public. Unidentified prints in the bundle and in the boarding house should be inspected and compared to all persons including Kimble. Kimble's relationship to the CIA should be probed and unclassified. Memphis police officers on the scene should be identified and questioned about the movement of the tactical units and the death threats against Reddit. Raoul Miora should be interviewed. The second "dark suit" should be questioned under oath about the gaps in his story.
To me it seems that there are far too many holes in the case to sleep comfortably at night. For one thing, if the CIA, FBI, and Cointelpro exist to protect the safety and best interests of the American people then why are there so many classified documents and so much deleted information? Shouldn't these organizations be accountable to us, the American public? The CIA still has no accountability whatsoever and despite being declared unconstitutional, Cointelpro still exists today.
In recent years, King's son Dexter met with Ray to express the fact that Coretta (Martin's widow) and their family believed that he is innocent. In December 1999 Janet Reno awarded a settlement of $100 to the King family for a "wrongful death" and determined that there was a conspiracy to kill King including agencies of his own government. A disturbing fact is that only two reporters showed up to the press conference to discuss this development and the news coverage of it was ridiculously minimal. It was an incredibly courageous and unprecedented move to prosecute groups like the CIA and FBI.
Who masterminded and laid the groundwork for the assassination? We may never know. Some people want to readily jump to conclusions but as we've seen above those who are most outspoken have been FBI agents working within an organization to discredit the movement. Dexter blames army intelligence, the FBI, the CIA, and Lyndon Johnson for having some involvement.
It seems to me that Ray serves as the ideal patsy and is powerless fighting against organizations as powerful as these. I personally believe that Ray and other people know more than they are willing to talk about for fear of something much greater than themselves. It's downright frightening just how plausible it is for US intelligence agencies to have carried out a killing and then a cover it up. I believe a new investigation is essential to the future freedoms of this country.
Page 6 (Raoul) Another particularly fishy character was a gun runner operating out of Houston at tie time. He sold guns stolen from a military base through the Marcello crime syndicate. The guns were obtained by a black cps military unit who split the Raul to fund their activities. This Raul was located living in suburban New York throughout the 80s and 90s with his family. A photo of him was obtained and a Oft spread was shown to various people who had known him or worked with him in the past including Ray. Every one of them correctly and immediately identified the photo of Raul. Liter Raul's daughter confirmed the identify of her father on tape, connecting it to the photo. She looked at the photo, commented that it was of her father, unknowing that marry other people had identified that man as being involved in the assassination and present at the scene of the crime. The daughter also talked about how their family was being "protected" by federal government- quite strange service for a man with supposedly no ties for the government who was now a retired auto worker. Other people who identified the photo included Glenda Grabow (Raul's former mistress and gun running assistant), Loyd Jowers (owner of Jim's Grill, claimed Raul had meetings organizing tie killing inside the grill with him present), Betti and Bobbi Spates (waitresses at the grill, and others. His identity was further confirmed when he had a recent phone conversation with Glenda for 6 minutes. He called her "Olinda" since he had never been able to pronounce her name property. How often have you had a 6 minute phone conversation with a stranger? The FBI and investigation committee ignored these facts.
Pages 8-9 (Questionable Parts) It turned out later that James' rifle was never sighted. That is, the rifle did not fire on mark. When tested it fired 4 inches to the left and 3 inches below target which caused it to fail an accuracy test. The investigation committee changed these numbers to be less substantial and then glossed over any significance. Realty, with that kind of imperfection it could mean the difference between hitting and missing a target especially a vital area like the head where King was shot. The death slug also did not match tie rest of f the bullet located in tie bundle.
Page 10 (The Bundle) Canoe also testified that the bundle (containing the rifle) was dropped 10 minutes before the shot was fired!
Page 14 (FBI Involvement) The public works director testified that he was woken up on the morning after the assassination and ordered to cut tie brush to the ground immediately and to trim back all of the trees. This is died tampering of the crime scene evidence and is quite illegal. No further Investigation of this aspect of the case has been pursued. King was originally located in a different room at the Lorraine and was moved the day Wm his murder. The final room he was put in, #306 was in a much more vulnerable location than his previously secluded mm on the second floor. When employees of the hotel was questioned about the reasoning behind this move they reacted with fear and ignorance. The Investigation committee dismissed these aspects saying that Martin had always stayed in the Lorraine motel in mm 306 when in really he had never spent the night Mere before. Why was the milk present? Information and testimonies marry years later indicate the presence of at least 10 military personnel at the scene of the aim for no apparent reason. Several witnesses came forward to testily under the protection of being anonymous. Two of them were members of a military sniper team, Alpha 184. It was an 8 man unit deployed to Memphis. From their testimony they were still a bit uncertain as to what actually happened. They had two pairs of men situated in vantage positions targeting King. The plan was to shoot him in the body cavity once they received the order. They were supposedly present to stifle the situation in Die event of a riot and to kill King and Andrew Young to diffuse the situation. It sounds highly questionable that would calm a riot; it sounds more We a tactical s hot taking advantage of the situation. The team had their scopes trained on King when he was shot and both thought that the other had "jumped the gun and fired the shot before receiving the order. Their commander referred to their mission as a failure and refused to talk about it later. They later found out that the shot was carried out by a civilian by second hand sources. They said the teams went through desensitizing training before it day being taught that King was a threat to democracy and an enemy to the United States. JD Hill was a member of this team. He was extensively trained to assassinate someone in Memphis on April 4, 1968. He was under the impression that the target was going to be Arab. He was a top ranking special forces officer who was later mysterious killed by his wife by a large caliber pistol. Is it realistic that a man with the skills and training of James Bond would be able to be easily murdered by his wife, a novice shooter with a small frame, barely over 100 pounds? In addition to the snow learn there was an mm photography unit on top of Fire Station #2. They gained access to the roof from the head of the station and look photos of both King being shot and the shooter lowering the rifle in the bushes. All of these events are denied by their commanders and the official files.
Page 17 (Witnesses) John McFerren, an employee of Liberto Produce, heard his boss, Frank Liberto, on n the phone an hour before the shot saying "I told you not to call me here. Shod the son of a bitch when he comes on the balcony." and that the person could collect $5,000 payment from Liberto's brother in New Orleans. When Frank Holloman and the FBI investigated they said it was unrelated to the King assassination "if McFerren had heard it at all." Why would a witness cam forward with that story if he hadn't heard it? Frank Hold, a truck unloader, heard Liberto say "King is a trouble maker and should be killed. If he is killed he will cause no more trouble." James McGraw said that he noticed that there were two white Mustangs parked in front of Brewer's and MM the bathroom door was wide Win just minutes before the shot was fired. William Reed and Ray Hendrix observed Ray's Mustang at length and then minutes later watched Ray dive by just before the shot. They noted that Ray had Alabama plates while the other Mustang had Arkansas plates. Their testimony was stricken from the investigation. Paul "Buddy" was a taxi driver present at the time of the shot. He saw a man flee from the crime scene, scale down a wall, and enter a Memphis police cruiser. He reported what he saw to the police and was mysteriously killed later that night. His employment history was stricken from the cab company's files. Betty Spates, a waitress at Jim's Grill claimed she saw her boss, Loyd Jowers run in from the back door carrying a rifle immediately after the shot was fired. She said that his knees were soggy and muddy like he had been lying in the grass. The next morning Jowers told Bobbi, her sister, that he had found a rifle behind the grill & was going to turn it in to the police. James McGraw collaborated her story, saying that Jowers had shown him the rifle behind the counter the next morning. If the rifle had been "out bad( as he indicated, why hadn't the police found it? All of these witnesses were ignored, threatened, and discredited. After McGraw died his longtime room mate told James' story under oath but with a new ending- McGraw had thrown the rifle in the Mississippi River at Jowers' instruction.
Page 19 (Conclusion) The best story that I can conclude from my research is get Loyd Jowers (declared 30% responsible in the 1999 civil suit) was approached by Frank Liberto to be a middle man for delivering money and a package as a way of repaying an old debt Jowers was privy to meetings in Jim Grill where he watched men he knew to be poke officers with Raul. One of which was Earl Clark, a well known police sharp shooter. Jowers received a produce crate full of cash to be delivered to Raul. He also waited in the brush with the shooter and then retreated into the back door of the grill WM the murder weapon (when Betti Spates saw him) while the shooter fled to an MPD cruiser Poke were kept at bay and all witnesses were successfully threatened or killed. Cooperation was granted from nearly all branches of government and the Marcelo crime syndicate. He disposed of the rifle shortly afterwards where it rests buried in the sift of the Mississippi River. If you don't have the rest of 'THE CIA MAKES SCIENCE FICTION UNEXCITING" send $1 +1 stamp to PO Box 14332 Portland, OR 97293
Sources / Recommended Reading:
For a more detailed account of what happened along with more supporting facts check out these fine books. I believe all of these books are out of print so they are a bit hard to obtain but if you can locate them they are the best sources I know for more information.
Melanson, Philip Who Killed Martin Luther King? (Odonian Press, Berkeley, 1993)
Ray, James Earl Who Killed Martin Luther King? (National Press Books, Bethesda, 1992)
Lane, Mark and Gregory, Dick Murder in Memphis: The FBI and the Assassination of Martin Luther King. (Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, 1993)
Weisburg, Harold Martin Luther King: The Assassination Graf, New York, 1971)
Supplemental Footnotes Addition Page:
Page 6 (Ray's Aliases)- I believe Ray received the Gall alias someone he thought was helping him. As a result he changed his story to avoid implicating this person. a result of using Galt's name as his primary alias Ray was "unknowingly protected" by the INS while in the United States and Canada in 1967-68. Galt was a top-ranking military man with maximum security clearance. If Ray was stopped routinely for a petty crime or traffic stop he would be let go when the cops looked at his file. He had classified information and would look too important to be hassled by traffic and street cops.