In the years following his death, documents related to Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder case were destroyed, and all files of FBI surveillance on King were sealed for 50 years. The suppression of information prompted human rights lawyer Dr. William Pepper and the King family to file a civil action in Memphis against a man who admitted he was involved: Loyd Jowers, owner of a restaurant near where King was assassinated.
Vital information about the 1999 civil rights trial is extensively revealed in a powerful one-hour interview on The Project Censored Radio Show where Pepper sits down with Project Censored co-hosts Mickey Huff and Kenn Burrows to discuss his newly published volume, “The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.”
Pepper’s investigation points to a conspiracy to silence King’s growing criticism of the Vietnam War and his anti-poverty campaign by then FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, elements within the military and intelligence agencies, the Memphis Police Department, and “Dixie Mafia” crime figures in Memphis, Tennessee.
Significant information on the trial is revealed below, as quoted by Pepper in the interview:
“The King v. Jowers civil trial… went on for 30 days with some 70 witnesses. It was not covered by the media. The media just stayed away. Because of the degree of media control in matters of this sort, very few people know that trial took place. But it did. And it took a jury 59 minutes to find that James Earl Ray had no involvement, knowing involvement, in the killing.”
“Well, they had determined that they were going to kill him because of the two issues we’ve just been discussing. The [Vietnam] War was a very important monetary issue for major American corporations. You know; at one point, John Downey, who was head of the military intelligence group, the 902nd Military Intelligence Group, used to brief [Lyndon] Johnson, President Johnson, on a very regular basis. And every time he would come back from Vietnam, he would brief him. And he would ask him: Why are we there? Why are we losing blood and treasure? What’s behind all of this? What is the reason for it? It doesn’t make any sense. And Johnson would ignore him for the most part. And, then, finally, one day, I guess he’d had too much or whatever, he pounded the table; and he said: John, I can’t get out of Vietnam. My friends are making too much money.”
“[King] was shot from the bushes in the back of the rooming house by a Memphis police department sharp shooter. He was hit in the face and went down and lost consciousness. He was, however, alive. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital. He was in the emergency room. They were working on him in the emergency room. The chief of neurosurgery, a head neurosurgeon, a doctor named Breen Bland, who was also the family doctor for the Dixie Mafia family, the Adkins family, came in with two men in suits and told the people: ‘Stop working on that nigger. Get out and just let him die.’”
“The last one to leave the room was a surgical nurse. Her name was Shelby. And, as she was leaving, she heard them gathering spit up in their mouths like this. And that caught her attention. So, she turned around, looked over; and then she saw them spit on the body of Dr. King, saw Dr. Bland pull out the catheter, and take a pillow, put the pillow over his face and suffocate him.”
King Family Statement on the Assassination Trial
On behalf of the family of Martin Luther King, Jr, Martin Luther King III on January 17 issued the following statement on the U.S. Justice Department’s release of its report on their “limited investigation” of recent evidence regarding the assassination of Dr. King.
We learned only hours before the Justice Department press conference that they were releasing the report of their results of their ‘limited investigation,’ which covered only two areas of new evidence concerning the assassination of Dr. King. Given the recent verdict, we are able to state the following:
(1). We initially requested that a comprehensive investigation be conducted by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, independent of the government, because we do not believe that, in such a politically-sensitive matter, the government is capable of investigating itself.
(2). The type of independent investigation we sought was denied by the federal government. But in our view, it was carried out, in a Memphis courtroom, during a month-long trial by a jury of 12 American citizens who had no interest other than ascertaining the truth. (Kings v.Jowers).
(3). After hearing and reviewing the extensive testimony and evidence, which had never before been tested under oath in a court of law, it took the Memphis jury only one hour to find that a conspiracy to kill Dr. King did exist. Most significantly, this conspiracy involved agents of the governments of the City of Memphis, the state of Tennessee and the United States of America. The overwhelming weight of the evidence also indicated that James Earl Ray was not the triggerman and, in fact, was an unknowing patsy.
(4.) We stand by that verdict and have no doubt that the truth about this terrible event has finally been revealed. We urge all interested Americans to read the complete transcript of the trial … and consider the evidence, so they can form their own unbiased conclusions.