Conspiracies to Kill

Conspiracy is the hot word of the ’90s. With The X-Files the most compelling of TV fare, and with the current trial about the real-life terror created in the Oklahoma City bombing by conspiracy-prone militiamen, Americans are seeing conspiracies everywhere. (It used to be a mark of distinction to be a conspiracy theorist; now it’s trendy.) But just because everyone’s milking a pet conspiracy doesn’t mean some aren’t true.

The linking of the assassinations of public persons, albeit not a new theory, is receiving renewed attention. The family of Martin Luther King Jr. has requested that the court reopen the case of James Earl Ray, the man convicted of King’s assassination. Dexter King, son of the slain civil rights leader, recently met with Ray in the hope of gleaning any new information about his father’s murder. After the meeting, the younger King declared his belief that Ray is innocent.

Such an argument has long been made by Ray’s attorney, William F. Pepper. An associate of Martin King, Pepper penned Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King in 1995 precisely to push the case in this direction.

In this book Pepper argues that Ray was a stooge of government forces who conspired with organized crime and business interests to kill King. Pepper points to a number of disturbing questions about the case, while also demonstrating the self-interest of some government officials, notably FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, in the elimination of King and disruption of the civil rights movement.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 1997
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