In July of 1970, when I was 15-years old, my 12-year old sister Marialice Clark was named as the informant on an affidavit for a search warrant to raid the Omaha headquarters of a group called the National Committee to Combat Fascism, an off-shoot of the Black Panther Party. The chapter headquarters was near our house. We could see their back porch from our front porch. Our older sister Linda dated the head of the NCCF, Ed Poindexter. The young men who were members of the NCCF were a part of the neighborhood. We had no fear of them. Unbeknown to anyone, an ATF Agent named Tom Sledge claimed my baby sister saw 10 boxes of machine guns with six guns in each box inside the NCCF. He said she described the guns so accurately he knew they were AK-47s. He also claimed Marialice saw 15 bundles of dynamite with 12 sticks to the bundle inside the house. He said that five men-- some of whom I knew-- made a bomb out of dynamite in front of my sister. I do not believe that is true. Sledge never told our mother that he put my sister's name on his affidavit-- and he spelled her first name wrong as"Mary Ellis," making me wonder if he even met her.
Based on his affidavit, the ATF was granted a search warrant to raid the NCCF. However, the Omaha FBI had an informant in the chapter and they knew the information in the affidavit was false. An FBI agent contacted the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice around July 21, 1970 and asked that it intervene to stop the raid. The DOJ told a U.S. Attorney in Omaha it did not want a repeat of the raid in Chicago that killed Black Panthers Mark Clark and Fred Hampton in December 1969. ATF agent Tom Sledge was told to return the search warrant to the judge unserved. Marialice never told anyone that she had met an ATF agent, and she never told anyone that she saw machine guns, dynamite or men making bombs at the NCCF.
Two years later, in August of 1972, Marialice disappeared. She was never seen again. My mother petitioned the court to declare her dead in 1980, never knowing Marialice had been named as Tom Sledge's informant.
In 1997, my mother received a copy of the ATF affidavit. From the time she learned that Marialice was named on that affidavit, she wondered if Marialice was in a witness protection program. But, how could a 14-year old be put in a witness protection program without informing her mother? How could a 12-year old be named as an informant without telling her mother? Especially if she truly saw such dangerous things.
Please join me in asking President Obama to direct the Attorney General and the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to investigate ATF Agent Tom Sledge and the Omaha ATF records from 1970 to determine if my sister was a victim of the nationwide effort to eliminate the Black Panther Party. It is a crime to lie on an affidavit. Sledge should have been investigated and fired in 1970 over this affidavit. Everything Sledge did to investigate an August 1970 bombing that was blamed on the NCCF should be also be questioned and investigated. He may have fabricated evidence to convict two innocent men for a crime they did not commit.
Marialice wasn't a militant. She was a school girl. How would you feel if this happened to your sister?
- Attorney General Loretta Lynch
- Michael Horowitz Inspector General
Investigate the Omaha ATF for naming my 12-year old missing sister on an affidavit in 1970
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