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UFPPC (www.ufppc.

org) Digging Deeper LXXIX April 20,


2009, 7:00 p.m.
William F. Pepper, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King
(London and New York: Verso, January 2003; paperback updated with a
new afterword dated January 2008).
PART ONE living in Houston, she had known an individual
Ch. 1: The Beginning. William Pepper met Pepper identifies as “the man I call Raul Pereira,”
Martin Luther King Jr. in early 1967 when he gave from Portugal, a Mafioso working for Carlos
him information on the effects of the Vietnam war Marcello, and heard he had killed King, and was
on the civilian population (3-5). King’s opposition told so directly by him in the early 1970s, just
to the Vietnam war gave corporate and state before raping her (53-57). In 1995-1997, Pepper
interests a motive to kill him (5-6). So did his succeeded in locating Raul, now with a family of
campaign against economic injustice (6-8). his own and living in the northeast [near N.Y.]; he
Pepper began to take an interest in the King denied having ever been in Houston, but was
assassination at the behest of Ralph Abernathy in identified by Glenda Grabow; afterwards,
late 1977 (9-10). The House Select Committee Glenda’s house was shot at (57-61).
on the JFK and MLK assassinations dismissed Ch. 6: The conspiracy deepens. In 1993,
conspiracy theories (10-14). In 1988, Pepper Pepper questioned Army Special Forces members
became Ray’s lawyer (14-16). whom a Memphis reporter (Steve Tompkins, upon
Ch. 2: The television trial of James Earl Ray. whom again and again witnesses insist upon
Thames Television funded a mock TV trial dealing with as a go-between with Pepper, for
conducted according to Tennessee law, in which reasons that are inadequately explained; as a
Ray was found not guilty. The program was result, Pepper has never seen these individuals
broadcast in April 1993 but received no media personally) believes were involved in the King
attention (17-19). assassination (62-64). King was under
surveillance by U.S. Military Intelligence, which
Ch. 3: The continuing investigation: Loyd had elaborate intelligence on “black militants”
Jowers’s involvement. In 1993, quest to get and [“as early as 1963 and 1964” (76)] had plans
Loyd Jowers, owner of Jim’s Grill in Memphis near to make us of it (65-67). An eight-man
the assassination site, immunity to testify; Jowers “Operation Detachment Alpha 184 team” was in
names Jim Holt as the “shooter” but Holt Memphis when King was killed; one member
convinces Pepper’s he was innocent (20-29). answered Pepper’s questions (67-70). Another
Betty Spates, a black woman who was Jowers’s SFG unit almost killed King at the Selma march in
waitress and mistress, implicates him (29-35). 1965 (70-71). A now dead member of these
Jowers’s deposition was full of lies (36-39). teams, murdered in 1979, told a friend details
Jowers later changed story and gave a version (71-73). Marrell McCollough, a black agent
confirming Betty Spates’s version; he said he was inside King’s group? (73-74). A military
accommodating Frank C. Liberto, a produce photographer here called “Reynolds” claimed to
dealer, who sent “Raul” or “Royal” to see him have taken pictures (74-75). A colonel (John
(40-41). Downie) from the 902nd MIG played a key role in
Ch. 4: New strands and connections. Pepper coordinating various military units, and also
Interviewed John Curington, formerly the “follow- revealed details about how the 902nd relied on
through” guy for billionaire H.L. Hunt (1988- working with Mafia gun-running operations for
1974), involved in smearing King, and possessing cash (75-77; 78-79). Ray’s “Eric S. Galt” identity
many FBI and Mafia ties (42-44). Ray was denied (77-78). In 1997 ABC News’s “Turning Point,” in a
parole in 1994 (44-45). A cab driver named show on the MLK assassination, tried to debunk
Nathan Whitlock told Pepper that Mafioso Frank leads Pepper had developed (80-81).
Liberto told his mother that he had King killed Ch. 7: New allies, revelations, and untimely
(45-47). A photograph showed a hedge raises deaths. James Earl Ray developed cirrhosis of
questions about the official story (47-48). the liver and Pepper tried to arrange for a liver
October 1994: Pepper met Arthur Wayne transplant (82-84). The King family got involved
Baldwin, who says he almost became involved in the late 1990s and supported a trial for Ray
with helping Ray escape from prison in 1977, and (84-88). A test of the rifle failed to win plea for
that Ray was not supposed to return alive (48- trial (88-92). In October 1997 Jowers talked to
50). Another Mafia-based plot to kill King (50-51). Pepper, and “indicated” that Memphis Police
A taxi driver saw someone jump down from a wall Dept. Lt. Earl Clark was the assassin (95; 92-96).
and get into a police car (51-52). Death of James Earl Ray, Apr. 23, 1998 (97). In
Ch. 5: Raul and the Grabows. Glenda Oct. 1998, Pepper filed suit for the King family,
Grabow told Pepper that since the age of 14, pursuing a civil suit (98-99). Don Wilson, a
former FBI agent, came forward with evidence of military photographed the events so as to have a
H.L. Hunt connection and to Jack Ruby (99-104). record of witnesses who might need to be
PART TWO “suppressed” later (155-62; cf. 75).

Ch. 8: The trial. The trial before Judge James Ch. 10: A vision unto death and a truth
Swearingen began on Nov. 16, 1999 (107-09). beyond the grave. Pepper portrays King’s Poor
Background testimony (109-10). Evidence of a People’s campaign as a revolutionary attempt to
local conspiracy (110-16). Evidence that the fatal alter the course of world history, heroically
shot came from the bushes (117-19). The rifle in redeeming American society from domination by
evidence was not the murder weapon (119-21). the military-industrial complex and saving it from
Testimony about “Raul” (121-26). Pepper “gradual dehumanization” and “self-destruction”;
decided not to present evidence of a connection (163, 163-80).
to JFK’s assassination (126-27). Evidence of a Ch. 11: The state’s case: the how and the
broader conspiracy (military involvement) (127- why of the assassination. A critique of Gerald
31). Evidence of a cover-up (131-35). William Posner’s support of the official version of the
Schapp’s testimony about government assassination, with detailed accounts of many
propaganda and disinformation (135-36). points (181-217).
Evidence of Loyd Jowers’s admissions (137-39). Ch. 12: The United States Attorney
The King family sought only $100 in damages General’s report. In 1998, President Clinton
(139-40). Lewis Garrison’s case for the defense ordered the attorney general to review the
(140-46). Closing arguments, jury instructions, evidence on the assassination; a report was
verdict that Jowers participated in a conspiracy to issued in June 2000 which, Pepper concludes,
harm Martin Luther King and that “others “selectively decided who and what to believe” in
including governmental agencies were parties to order to avoid a conclusion of government
this conspiracy,” and the award of damages and involvement (232; 218-61).
judgment by Judge Swearingen that 30% of the
comparative liability was Jowers’s and 70% that Epilogue. The events since King’s assassination
of “all other co-conspirators” (146-47). (triumph of imperialism, globalization, etc.)
suggest that his death facilitated the victory of
Ch. 9: The aftermath and a post-trial the forces that he opposed before he was
summary. Media interest in the verdict lasted “martyred” (272; 262-72).
about 12 hours (148-49). Gerald Posner led the
charge in mainstream media dismissal of the Afterword. Subsequent developments have
case (149-50). Rev. “Jim Douglas” [misspelled— “only supported” the conclusion that “”[t]he
this is James W. Douglass, author of JFK and the blame for the initiation, planning, conspiracy, and
Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters , execution of the killing should be laid squarely on
who has contracted to write a book on the the shoulders of agents of the government of the
murders of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. United States in collaboration with Memphis
and another on the assassination of Robert F. operatives of the Marcello criminal organization”
Kennedy] attended the trial, took “copious (273). The King assassination and matters
notes,” then agreed to approach Earl Clark’s related to it make it “clear that for half a century
former wife, Rebecca, which he did in February or more the military have been heavily involved
2000; Pepper believes she perjured herself at the in the domestic affairs and life of the nation.
trial (150-55). A seven-page summary of “what Very few people at the time knew, or even now
we now know” [i.e. Pepper’s theory of the know, the extent of this involvement” (274).
assassination]: Memphis police officer Earl Clark, Since 2003 Pepper has “become close to Hugo
working at the behest of the crime organization of Chavez,” who “carries on and expands King’s
New Orleans Mafia chief Carlos Marcello [1910- struggle on behalf of the wretched of the earth”;
1993], killed King; “Raul” monitored events from his work, too, is at risk of being aborted by
rooming house; “backup” military units were on assassination (275). “Their common enemy is
the scene prepared to act but were not used; corporate capitalism” (275). Pepper endorses
James Earl Ray, who was being set up as a patsy, work by Naomi Klein (275) and Norman Solomon
was supposed to be onhand but was not in the (276). Noting the passage by the House of the
vicinity because on his own initiative he took a Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism
white Mustang that Raul intended to use as a get- Bill on Oct. 23, 2007 (278-80 [but not by the
away car to a service station some distance away Senate as of April 2009]), and calling the War on
in order to have a flat spare tire repaired (Ray Terror as “the biggest lie being perpetrated on
started to return to the area, but then fled the the American people” (282) by an “increasingly
scene because of the swarming police and only authoritarian government” (282) which is
learned of the assassination on the radio while compiling a list of “dissenting citizens” (282) and
driving toward Atlanta); a cab driver who had effecting “[g]overnment consolidation of and
seen the gunman was killed later that night; the control over the media”(284). The “forces
running the corporate state” are aware of the year of Ray’s life. In 1995 he published Orders to Kill:
likelihood of and preparing for an “impending The Truth behind the Murder of Martin Luther King. He
disaster”: “A pretext for the declaration of represented the King family in a wrongful death civil
martial law and the wholesale detention of trial in which a Memphis jury found Loyd Jowers
responsible for King’s death in a plot that included
American citizens must not be ruled out during a “governmental agencies,” on Dec. 8, 1999, awarding to
period of decline and disaster” (280). The U.S. is the King family the requested sum of $100, after
moving down the road toward fascism and the deliberating for one hour. Pepper has also organized
apparatus for the establishment of an an International Human Rights Seminar at Oxford
authoritarian government is now in place (284- University, which Hugo Chavez has attended. Videos
87). Pepper is now investigating the Robert F. of Pepper are widely available online on YouTube and
Kennedy assassination and advising 9/11 Truth Google Video.]
organizations (287). Chavez’s Bolivarian
Revolution is currently “the most important [Critique. Interesting evidence and an intriguing
movement on the planet” (288). Pepper theory, but very poorly organized, on certain details
expresses approval for King’s belief “that weakly supported and lacking in sources that can be
nonviolent civil disobedience was [sic] the best produced, and presented in a writing style that can
strategy to obtain justice” and concludes by only be described as wretched. Pepper’s garbled prose
urging: “Don’t mourn . . . organize” (288). sometimes makes it hard to know what he is claiming.
For a lawyer, there is a surprising sloppiness and
inattention to detail (his editor and publisher share the
Appendices. Appendix A: A further analysis of
blame) and his attempts to write narrative prose are
the Department of Justice report. List of 55
inept. He inflates the potential of the Poor People’s
positions contradicted by the evidence (289-99).
Campaign that King was organizing in 1968 and
Appendix B: Direct examination of Clayborne
ignores the many significant challenges to King’s
Carson, history professor at Stanford, by Dr.
leadership that he was facing at the end of his life in
Pepper, King v. Jowers et al., November 24,
what seems to be an attempt to make his theory more
1999. (299-307). Appendix C: Interview with
plausible. His very alarmist 2008 afterword is also
Team Leader. Asserts only a professional sniper
sloppy; e.g. it calls the 2002 Maher Arar case, which
could “make that shot” (310; 308-10).
surfaced in late 2003 “the most famous recent case” of
Notes. 30 pp. rendition and ignores the substantial pushback that
has occurred. However, Pepper has pursued this case
Index. 10 pp. with great courage and deserves the gratitude of
citizens. — NOTE: Though Pepper’s earlier book,
Orders to Kill, is cited a single time, UW Tacoma
About the author. William Francis Pepper, an historian Michael K. Honey has not a word to say in
English barrister and American lawyer working in the Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin
area of human rights law both in the U.S. and London. Luther King’s Last Campaign [W.W. Norton, 2007]
[Additional information: Born Aug. 16, 1937, Pepper about Pepper’s theory of King’s assassination or, for
also represents Sirhan Sirhan, convicted for the that matter, about the 1999 trial; his book does not
assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Pepper became mention the controversy about whether his death was
James Earl Ray’s attorney several years after King’s caused by a conspiracy. However, an attentive reader
assassination, organizing a mock trial in 1997, the last will note that in Honey’s volume he artfully avoids
endorsing the view that Ray killed King.]