The Implications Of The MLK Verdict Today

Should the United States government be allowed to assassinate its own citizens? That question was in the air briefly not long ago. April 4 is an excellent day to revive it:   On April 4, 1968, the government was part of a successful conspiracy to assassinate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

That’s not just some wing-nut conspiracy theory. It’s not a theory at all. It is a fact, according to our legal system.

In 1999, in Shelby County, Tennessee, Lloyd Jowers was tried before a jury of his peers (made up equally of white and black citizens, if it matters) on the charge of conspiring to kill Dr. King. The jury heard testimony for four full weeks.

On the last day of the trial, the attorney for the King family (which brought suit against Jowers) concluded his summation by saying: “We’re dealing in conspiracy with agents of the City of Memphis and the governments of the State of Tennessee and the United States of America. We ask you to find that conspiracy existed.”

 It took the jury only two-and-half hours to reach its verdict: Jowers and “others, including governmental agencies, were parties to this conspiracy.”

I don’t know whether the jury’s verdict reflects the factual truth of what happened on April 4, 1968. Juries have been known to make mistakes and (probably rather more often) juries have made mistakes that remain unknown.

But within our system of government, when a crime is committed it’s a jury, and only a jury, that is entitled to decide on the facts. If a jury makes a mistake, the only way to rectify it is to go back into court and establish a more convincing version of the facts. That’s the job of the judicial branch, not the executive.

So far, no one has gone into court to challenge the verdict on the King assassination.

Yet the version of history most Americans know is very different because it has been shaped much more by the executive than the judicial branch. Right after the jury handed down its verdict, the federal government’s Department of Justice went into high gear, sparing no effort to try to disprove the version of the facts that the jury endorsed — not in a court of law but in the “court” of public opinion.

The government’s effort was immensely successful. Very few Americans are aware the trial ever happened, much less that the jury was convinced of a conspiracy involving the federal government.

To understand why, let’s reflect on how history, as understood by the general public, is made: We take the facts we have, which are rarely complete, and then we fill in the gaps with our imaginations — for the most part, with our hopes and/or fears. The result is a myth: not a lie, but a mixture of proven facts and the fictions spawned by our imaginings…


At home, on TV, American kids watch machine gun thrillers and news videos of US soldiers and planes killing bad guys in six or seven countries at a time. ln school they learn that in 1968, beloved national hero Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead by a man who hated black people.

Someone should check how many schoolchildren get to learn the words that Martin Luther King Jr. cried out in solemn and serious outrage, one year to the day before he was murdered; words that made headlines across the whole world. King condemned US wars and covert violence in small nations on three continents as meant to maintain unjust predatory investments!…

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