Instead of taking time out during Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday to recognize his contributions to creating a just and more civil society, I find myself spending more time thinking about his assassination.
And thinking about his death almost invariably surfaces the question: why did it happen?
Thanks to a 1999 lawsuit filed and won by the family of MLK against the US federal government for unlawful death and conspiracy to harm the human rights leader, we’re closer to unpacking the truth behind his death than ever.
You can read the 2,700+ page trial transcript to learn:
- The crime scene was cleaned up immediately after the assassination and before a police investigation took place.
- On April 3, 1968, the day before King was killed, “Army agents from the 111th military intelligence group shadowed [MLK’s] movements and monitored radio traffic from a sedan crammed with electronic equipment. Eight Green Beret soldiers from an operation detachment Alpha 180-14 were also in Memphis…” (Emphasis mine.)
- The Green Beret team was given MLK as a sniper target. This was confirmed by a member of the Special Forces unit assigned to assassinate King.
- James Earl Ray did not kill Dr. King, and there is a mob connection to the assassination.
- The typical nine-member African-American police team charged with guarding Dr. King during his first two trips to Memphis in 1968 was removed from this detail on the day of the assassination.
- Dr. King visited the Rivermont Hotel during his first two visits to Memphis, but was confirmed to stay at the less-secure Lorraine Motel during his third and final trip.
- Dr. King was moved from his initially-assigned room at the Lorraine—a first floor unit that faced the motel’s inner court—to an outside room with an exposed balcony. In other words, a sniper’s dream come true.
I can’t imagine how the King family felt after winning this case.
Perhaps they experienced a moment of victory.
but perhaps the crashing realities set in: a jury-confirmed government conspiracy at the federal, state and local levels to assassinate MLK, coupled with the deployment of a US military operation on American soil to target the SCLC leader. The thought has to be unsettling.
What could have been a motivating factor for killing Dr. King?
His evolution from lunch counter integration agitator to anti-war advocate and champion of global social equality could have been the answer.
Dr. King—who was Occupy Wall Street decades before hipsters chanted “We are the 99 Percent” while holding iPads—planned to occupy Washington DC, beginning in the summer of 1968, with demands that the US withdraw from the Vietnam War and channel those war funds to helping the poor.
To give you an idea of why guardians of the status quo may have been terrified of the new Dr. King, watch the leader’s April 14, 1967 speech at Stanford University.
You won’t hear this story in the mainstream media or history books, so it’s your responsibility to share this information with others.
A song is always stuck in my head, and whatever plays is almost always random. Except for today…