Even Auntie Beeb is daring to politely question the official line of the ‘lone assassin’ a modus operandi so very common in that era when figures who threatened the hegemony of the establishment kept being murdered, funny that. And if the truth ever gets out, it will be once all those responsible have died after lives enriched from their crimes, mission accomplished. Yet people are convinced their enemies are over there, where the oil is coincidentally, terrorists will steal our resources. Our real enemies are really no more than a quick drive away, if you live in a capital city you could probably just walk it.
In January 1968, King launched an inter-racial Poor People’s Campaign. The idea was to bring black, white and brown poor people to Washington, where they would establish a tent city and camp out in front of Congress until either a job or a living income was guaranteed for all.
Increasingly, King identified the war in Vietnam as part of a global struggle against colonialism, and black inequality as a function of class inequalities that also affected many whites. Though he opposed the separatism espoused by black nationalists, he had his own view of what “integration” meant: “We are not interested in being integrated into this value structure.” A “radical redistribution of economic power” was needed. “So often in America,” he observed, “we have socialism for the rich and ragged free enterprise capitalism for the poor.”
[On April 4th 1968] he was shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. He was 39 years old.
The civil disorder that ensued was the most widespread in US history. Riots erupted in 125 cities; 70,000 national guard and US troops were called in to quell them, with 50,000 on stand-by – the largest domestic deployment of military forces since the Civil War. Curfews were imposed and martial was declared. In the end 24,000 were arrested; 3000 injured; 46 killed, all but five black.
In Washington DC, crowds 20,000 strong overwhelmed local police. Marines mounted machine guns on the steps of the Capitol. At one point, rioting reached within two blocks of the White House, which was guarded by the Third Infantry.
In 1999, the King family brought a civil suit in Memphis for wrongful death; after reviewing the evidence in more detail than had ever been done before, the jury ruled that government agencies had indeed been involved in a conspiracy to kill Martin Luther King.