To: James Polk – CNN
CC: Soledad O’Brien and others.
In your article on the MLK assassination (see below the line) you make a number of statements of fact to disprove a number of conspiracy theories. I appreciate your journalistic approach and your, as well as CNN’s, effort to once again try to prove that James Earl Ray was the killer, but, you made some mistakes. Being the winner of a Pulitzer Prize you owe it to yourself and to history to straighten this mess out with a new ‘Black in America’ CNN Special on the MLK Assassination that shows the truth.
You have been quoted as saying or writing the following; “Ray stole a typewriter and went to jail in Los Angeles, California; he botched a taxicab robbery in Chicago, Illinois, and served two years; he was caught with stolen postal money orders and went to federal prison for three years, then was nabbed in a grocery holdup in St. Louis, Missouri. That time, Ray was sentenced to 20 years as a habitual criminal.”
Mr. Polk, please think about this. Is this the kind of man who could spend several months, single handedly, while being sought after as an escaped convict, travel throughout this country and internationally (Canada and Mexico), methodically, slowly and surely track down the high profile Nobel Peace Prize Winner and hero of the Civil Rights Movement the Reverend and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then when finding him on April 4, 1968, shoot and kill him with one sure and certain pull of the trigger; he would then (again by himself) elude the entire Memphis Police Department (made easier earlier that day by the pullback of 4 tactical police units from the Lorraine Motel area-ordered by their Commander, Memphis Police Department Inspector Sam Evans) and most able Federal Bureau of Investigation directed by the infallible J. Edgar Hoover to escape to Canada and on to Europe.
Oh yes, this really makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it. This master criminal with superhuman powers that was sitting outside in his car when he was also locked in the bathroom upstairs in the rooming house – oh yes, he’s an evil spiderman too, he quickly scaled the building, climbed through the bathroom window, shot MLK and then swung on his spiderweb blocks away to the service station where his double was at the time of the shooting.
Your assumption that all of King’s closest aides were interviewed by police and none of them saw anyone in the bushes.
My answer: This is a mistake no journalist should make, not even an intern for any news company or organization. In a March 31, 2008 Time Magazine special news feature by Madison Gray, 4 of Martin Luther King Jr’s closest aides; Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, James Bevel and Samuel (Billy) Kyles are quoted as saying, “although they witnessed everything that happened, no authority from the Memphis Police, the Tennessee State Police or the FBI have ever asked them a single question.” So you see if these 4 were not questioned by the ‘investigators’ in the so-called investigation of the assassination then clearly that investigation was a fraud.
The investigators were only allowed to gather the evidence and information that would set up James Earl Ray and only James Earl Ray. Those who did see the man come from the bushes were not questioned about it when it would have made a difference in the prosecution of the real killers. The psychological trauma of that day and the lack of an honest effort by authorities to find the real killers left many of MLK’s aides and supporters suffering from a complete breakdown and manifested later as a kind of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The immediate effect was the phenomenon brought out by the riots in almost every major city and manifested in a lack of trust in our legal system. Many have died since in despair, depression and some in serious legal trouble because of the toll the event took on the reality of their world.
When they saw an innocent man go to prison for the crime many lost faith and confidence in the American judicial system as a whole. Once in that place it’s not a big step to that place where being a law abiding citizen loses it’s importance for the damaged and weary Civil Rights warrior.
Read the article with statements by Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, James Bevel and Samuel (Billy) Kyles at the following H E R E or at the web address:
There were bushes as well as heavy brush piled up so that anyone in them would have been hidden and even if they had been looking for someone there they would not have seen the person(s) until or unless he or she came out of them and showed themselves. That is what happened. What appeared to be a man (seconds after the shot) came out and jumped to the street below, ran to the corner and got into a waiting police car which then sped away.
When I investigated the assassination in 1977 I confirmed this with many who had talked to Solomon Jones as well as James Bevel who told me that several others saw it and talked about the fleeing assailant for years. (Solomon also said that he looked immediately after he heard the shot and saw what looked like smoke from the firing of the rifle hanging in the air near the man.)
All the African Americans in the area when King was killed were not questioned by the police and some would have said very little anyway, they were scared. Their supreme leader had just been shot down like a dog for teaching and preaching the truth so it seemed to them that telling the truth would get one killed.
It is interesting to me how you left out the crime committed by the city of Memphis, Tennessee in their overnight destruction of the crime scene. By morning the backyard had been cleared and tops of the trees had been cut.
2. SECOND GUN
My answer: Lloyd Jowers was part of the conspiracy so you think he’s going to tell anyone the truth about it minutes after it happened.
You either know nothing about criminals or criminal behavior or, you may be somewhat intellectually impaired but then again you may be misleading the American people in the effort to continue the cover-up.
We all know that there had to be a second gun because the gun purchased by James Earl Ray and then left on the sidewalk immediately after the killing was not the murder weapon. A great deal of time and money has been spent trying to link the bullet taken out of MLK to that gun and each attempt has failed. Experts I spoke with in 1977 went so far as to tell me that even the first test proved that the bullet didn’t come from James’ gun. Simply put it could not have been the murder weapon.
The little fact that the murder weapon has not been established, even today, is something you and CNN have failed to deal with honestly in your recent MLK Specials. The last time the gun was tested, as a result of an order by Judge Joe Brown, it was fired a total of 18 times and still no match. How stupid do you think the American people are? Eventually common sense is going to stick it’s head up and you and your cronies will be seen as the misinformed simpletons (or much worse-conspirators in the cover-up) that you are.
3. SPIES AND PHOTO
My answer: In this one you really do incriminate yourself. The fact that the intelligence group went to the top of the firehouse 2 days before is a smoking gun for the conspiracy. At that time Martin Luther King Jr. was booked into another hotel and had made no plans to be at the Lorraine. Somebody knew he would be forced to cancel and take up residence in the Lorraine.
If you’ll read the book, ‘The 13th Juror’ or listen to the audio book, ‘Truth Crushed to Earth’ you’ll learn more about the assassination than you may want to know. Still, once you do that it will help you to not make the same mistakes again. You can also read The 13th Juror the Official Transcript of MLK Assassination Conspiracy Trial-Book . It’s over 700 pages of sworn testimony that will help you get your facts straight next time.
My answer: Even the CIA has released documents proving they were at work, illegally, here in the US during the 60’s. Merrill (Marrell) McCollough being on the scene and the first one to MLK after he was shot down is too much of a coincidence to pass off as, well, he didn’t work for the CIA ‘yet’. I understand you don’t know the methods and techniques of covert operatives who operate in this country but think about it. Out of the hundreds of people who were in the area and near MLK when the shot was fired, just by chance, ‘protected asset and future CIA Security Officer’ ran to Martin as he was at death’s door. COME ON!!!
Furthermore CIA contract employee Gerald Patrick Hemming was quoted in an FBI memo before the MLK assassination that he had been approached about being part of the team to kill King. He later wondered why the government never charged him with the assassination or with being involved in it after they began prosecution of him on other charges. Also remember that Gerald Patrick Hemming and others of his ilk; E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis, have been implicated in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Even if official findings are to be accepted as is, the killings were similar in method and execution; a sniper with a scoped rifle firing from a window in a building overlooking the target. E. Howard Hunt provided a deathbed confession to his son admitting the CIA’s involvement. During his lifetime he went to court to try and disprove that he was in Dallas on the day of JFK’s murder but was unsuccessful. He could not, in a court of law, prove he wasn’t in Dallas on November 22, 1963. This was the day that Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson became President of the United States of America and would remain President for the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy.
My Answer: Let’s go back to knowing something about criminals and criminal behavior. People who are used by other criminals (just like the ‘need to know’ policy in the military) to become a fall guy are left in the dark about the powerful forces behind the scenes making the operation work. Without that power to manipulate people and the Memphis Police and Fire Departments, this assassination and cover-up could not have happened. It happens that (and conveniently so) Frank Holloman was the Director of both the Memphis Police and the Fire Department. He also was a former FBI man and friend of J. Edgar Hoover. Criminal acts are sometimes committed by officials within our government system too. With Raul as with the entire assassination operation there is no simple black and white goodguy/badguy perspective. Many of the police and even FBI agents who were involved had no idea they were being used to help kill MLK and then help the killers cover their roles up.
Raoul would not have even been the legal name of the ‘handler’ who first approached Ray in a bar in Canada. Years later, James Earl Ray would confide in me (and to the HSCA -but they never followed up on it) that, ‘There were several of these Raoul types.’. What he would ultimately confess to is that he met with more than one of them at another Jim’s Bar earlier on April 4, 1968. Still because of a great fear that he would be killed, almost immediately if he said too much, he demurred on those things that he knew would have brought his life to a quick end.
The artist’s sketch of the man who came out of the bathroom after the shot was heard looks more like CIA Master Spy E. Howard Hunt than James Earl Ray. The State’s most important witness of the fact that James Earl Ray was supposedly the one leaving the bathroom, Charles Quitman Stevens, told a CBS news reporter that James Earl Ray was not the man he identified for the FBI as the man he saw in the hallway (having just left the bathroom) after the shot was heard. His live-in girlfriend at the time agreed. She landed in the hospital and spent many years locked away due to ‘mental illness’ because of her staunch denial that the man was James Earl Ray.
UPDATED: April 12, 2010 2:15 PM
Eastern Daylight Time USA
By James Polk
MEMPHIS, Tennessee (CNN) — Even the FBI thought at first there must have been a conspiracy behind the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
One of many conspiracy theories revolves around the man kneeling over the body in this photo.
The name Harvey Lowmeyer was on the sales receipt for the high-powered .30-06 rifle left at the murder scene, John Willard rented the room across the street from King’s motel, Eric Galt drove the white Mustang out of Memphis that night.
Then fingerprints showed all three names were aliases for the same man: James Earl Ray, a small-time criminal and Missouri prison escapee.
But 40 years later, conspiracy theories still thrive. A look at five of them:
Conspiracy theory: The man in the bushes
Solomon Jones, the volunteer driver for King on his Memphis visits, told police that night he ran into the street after the shot was fired and saw a man running away in the brush opposite the motel.
“I could see a person in the thicket on the west side of Mulberry with his back to me, looked like he had a hood over his head,” said Jones, now dead.
His account became the starting point for many of the conspiracy scenarios that followed.
All of King’s closest aides interviewed by police said they saw no one in those bushes, which were directly below the second-floor rooming house where Ray was registered.
Among those witnesses: former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, attorney Chauncey Eskridge, the Rev. Bernard Lee, and local minister Samuel “Billy” Kyles, who was the closest person to King on the balcony when he was killed. All looked and saw no one in the brush across the way.
U.S. Justice Department investigators later decided what Jones probably saw were nearby police officers rushing toward the scene.
Conspiracy theory: The second gun
Loyd Jowers owned Jim’s Grill, a bar located directly below the section of the rooming house where Ray was staying. Years later, Jowers would say a man came in the back door of his bar — from those bushes — and gave him a rifle to hide. He changed his story at least twice as to who that man was.
Ray’s last lawyer, William Pepper, filed a civil lawsuit against Jowers on behalf of Dexter King, the civil rights leader’s son, and in 1998 won a jury’s verdict that there was indeed a conspiracy involving Jowers, but not Ray.
Jowers originally told police he “saw nothing unusual” that night. Police locked everyone inside the bar for three hours. No one could come or go. None of Jowers’ customers said they saw anything out of the ordinary.
None of the prosecution’s evidence was presented in the civil trial. Jowers, who has since died, did not take the stand. The only time he testified under oath, in an earlier case, he denied the story about a second gunman with a second rifle.
In fact, at one point, in a phone call to Memphis investigators, Jowers was tape-recorded saying, “There was no second rifle.”
Conspiracy theory: Military spies and a dramatic photo
Pepper, the lawyer in the conspiracy case, said military intelligence agents had gone onto the roof of the fire station opposite the motel with cameras to spy on King and they captured a photo of the real killer.
“One of the guys, when the shot took place, took his camera and spanned it all the way around to the left, into the bushes, and he caught the shooter lowering the rifle. And he said it was not James Earl Ray.”
However, Pepper never saw such a photo. He said he was told about it, tried to obtain it and was rebuffed.
Truth Crushed to Earth
It’s a new audio book in your library or bookstore.
Agents from the 111th Military Intelligence Group had been sent into Memphis after a protest march ended in violence the week before. Two of those agents did go onto the firehouse roof. Fire Capt. Carthel Weeden took them there.
But he said the agents decided the roof was too exposed. “If you’re up there,” Weeden said, “anybody can see you from across the street. They walked around just a minute and came back down.”
In fact, Weeden told CNN, it was probably two days before the murder when the agents were on the roof. They definitely were not there when King was shot, he said — virtually eliminating any possibility such a photo could exist.
Conspiracy theory: The CIA connection
In the famous photo taken on the motel balcony with King’s aides pointing in the direction from which the shot came, one man is not pointing, but instead is kneeling over King’s body.
Unknown to the civil rights staff at the time, he was an undercover cop, assigned to infiltrate a black power youth group. His police supervisor said, “He had Dr. King’s head in his lap. That’s him holding him.”
The FBI hid the fact the man was an undercover cop in the initial stages of its investigation. Later, the man would leave the Memphis police force and finish his career with the Central Intelligence Agency.
The young black policeman was Marrell McCollough. He testified openly in the House Assassinations Committee hearings in 1978 and said he had run up on the balcony to attempt first aid.
The CIA said McCollough did not join the agency until 1974, six years after the assassination. His was a nonoperational job. He is retired.
A Justice Department report in 2000 said McCollough had passed a lie detector test clearing him of involvement in King’s death.
Conspiracy theory: The mysterious “Raoul”
Ray insisted from the time he was caught that a mystery man named “Raoul” whom he met in a Montreal bar in the summer of ’67 duped him and framed him.
Ray said it was Raoul who gave him the money to buy the white Mustang, Raoul who told him to buy the rifle, Raoul who told him to rent a room in the boarding house and Raoul who must have been upstairs there when the shot was fired.
Attorney Pepper said years later he located a “Raoul” whose photo Ray and others would identify — a retired autoworker in a New York City suburb.
In all the places Ray traveled leading up to the murder — Los Angeles, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and Memphis — not a single witness has been found to place Ray with a mystery man.
The Justice Department cleared the autoworker in New York and said his daily employment records showed he could not have been with Ray in Memphis, Birmingham or other key places. Even Pepper conceded to CNN, “We never found anybody who placed James in Raoul’s presence or Raoul in James’ presence. We were never able to do that.”
Most investigators have long considered “Raoul” to be a phantom of Ray’s creation.
Wrong again Mr. James Polk, Soledad O’Brien and CNN. Most serious unbiased investigators firmly believe there had to be a ‘Raoul’ of sorts for James Earl Ray could not have pulled off one of the greatest crimes of the century and escaped through Canada to England all by himself without any help from anyone else.
UPDATED: April 15, 2010 – 3:11 PM Central Time USA