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Guide to the Jomo Joka Omowale Papers, 1969-2008

Abstract

Jomo Joka Omowale, born as Cleveland McKinley Davis and also known as Eric Thompson, is a parolee in North Carolina who spent much of his life imprisoned in New York and Virginia. He was a leader of the Attica prison riot in 1971.

Collection includes court transcripts, legal papers and correspondence, court documents, press coverage and clippings, and internal prison policies and procedures from Omowale's many years in various prisons. Cases include armed robbery in Virginia, the Attica riots and subsequent trials, three trials regarding a police shooting in Brooklyn, and a murder of a drug dealer in Virginia. Omowale was convicted in the final case, and his pursuit of parole in Virginia following the elimination of parole in the 1990s is another significant component of the collection. Other materials include prisoner poetry and writings, personal correspondence between Jomo and his family, prisoner poetry, Attica Brothers Legal Defense materials, and court documents regarding a White Panther Party trial in 1970. Also includes hundreds of mugshots from New York. Acquired as part of the Human Rights Archive (Duke University).

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Omowale, Jomo Joka.
Title
Jomo Joka Omowale papers 1969-2008
Language of Material
English
Extent
25.0 Linear Feet, 18750 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

Collection includes legal documentation and court transcripts from Omowale's various trials, including Attica-related trials and the subsequent lawsuits brought by the Attica Brothers. Also represented are court cases from his armed robbery conviction in Virginia Beach; his repeated murder trials in New York regarding police shootings (and his lawsuits against New York following his acquittal from those shootings); and his murder conviction in Virginia in 1985. Also included are many materials from his wife and attorney, Elizabeth Gaynes, particularly regarding his legal defense in those trials as well as her attempts to gain his parole in Virginia in the 1990s and 2000s.

Other materials in the collection include personal correspondence between Omowale and Elizabeth Gaynes, as well as correspondence between him and other family members, in particular his daughter, Emani. Other correspondence exists between him and other Attica Brothers, regarding the Attica trials and the lawsuits that followed. Photographs, particularly of mugshots, are another significant component of the collection. The remainder of the materials are prison writings; publicity and press coverage of Jomo Joka Omowale's many court cases; news clippings about him, parole, and other related topics; and miscellaneous documents collected by Omowale during his time in prison.

Acquired as part of Duke University's Human Rights Archive.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Includes clippings with coverage of Black Panther Party, Attica riots and trials of Attica Brothers, as well as coverage of the lawsuits filed by the Attica Brothers against New York. Includes legal correspondence and documents, proceedings, motions, and orders from the court cases following the Attica riots. Also contains Attica Brothers Legal Defense materials, as well as legal documents from a White Panther Party case from 1970. Finally, includes witness files from the Wade Hearing held in 1975.

Black Panther Party clippings, 1969-1975 and undated
Box 1
Attica/Auburn Department of Corrections files, 1970-1972
Box 1
Court papers: John Sinclair/White Panther Party, 1970
(3 folders)
Box 1
Pre-trial correspondence
Box 1
Grand Jury proceedings, 1972
Box 1
Jury pooling
Box 1
Attica Brothers
Box 1
Indictments
Box 1
Autopsies and lab reports
Box 1

Attica trial

(20 folders)
Assignment of counsel
Box 2
Attica Brothers Legal Defense
Box 2
Motions regarding venue
Box 2
Trial documents: People of New York vs. Attica Brothers, 1973-1975
(3 folders)
Box 2
State of New York vs. Eric Thompson, 1973
Box 2
Legal papers
Box 2

Attica trial

(21 folders)
Legal papers, 1975-1976
Box 3
Inmates' personal property issues
Box 3
Evidence/discovery issues
Box 3
Attica Defense Committee legal papers
Box 3
Jomo's notes on Attica trial, 1974
Box 3
Miscellaneous petitions, etc.
Box 3

Attica materials

(25 folders)
Correspondence
Box 4
Attica Brothers defense
Box 4
Miscellaneous materials
Box 4
News clippings about the case and trials
Box 4
Press releases and coverage
Box 4

Attica materials

(20 folders)
Miscellaneous materials, including post-trial
Box 5
Attica Brothers Legal Defense files
Box 5
Court of claims, 1975-1979
Box 5
Attica Brothers' lawsuits, including Omowale vs. State of New York
Box 5

Attica materials

(35 folders)
Lawsuits against Nelson Rockefeller, et al, 1981
Box 6
Attica Brothers Legal Defense
Box 6
Governor pardons and lawsuit settlement, 1977-2001
Box 6
Wade Hearing witness files, A-Z
Box 6
Omowale vs. New York, re: Attica, 1978
Box 7
Attica News issues, May 1974-June 1975
Oversize Folder 1
Attica Prison Calendar, 1974
Box 7
Attica memorial book, 1974
Box 7

Legal documents, correspondence, and other materials relating to Omowale's non-Attica trials, including his armed robbery conviction in Virginia, his repeated murder trials in New York, and his murder trial in Virginia. Also includes a large amount of material from his quest for parole in Virginia in the 1990s and 2000s.

Coverage and clippings
Box 7
Virginia parole correspondence, 1980
Box 7
New York vs. Davis legal documents, 1979-1980
Box 7
Double jeopardy research
Box 7
Davis vs. Supreme Court and Eugene Gold, 1980
Box 7
Davis and Gaynes vs. State of New York, 1980-1989
Box 8
Correspondence, legal documents, etc.
Box 8
Armed robbery warrant correspondence, 1970-1972
Box 8
Parole, 1972-1975
Box 8
Appeal of conviction, 1987-1988
Box 8
Habeas Corpus suits
Box 8
Akil Al-Jundi vs. Vincent Mancusi, 1995-2000
Box 8
Letters supporting Jomo's case for parole
Box 9
Parole Board decisions
Box 9
Parole research re: Virginia
Box 9
Appeals
Box 9
Letters supporting Jomo's case for parole
Box 10
Parole Board decisions
Box 10
Parole research re: Virginia
Box 10
Appeals
Box 10
Habeas Corpus case, 1990s
Box 10

Includes handwritten correspondence between Jomo Omowale and Elizabeth Gaynes, as well as by Omowale to other family members. The Attica Brothers correspondence largely discusses the trials and condition of the Attica Brothers still in prison. Also included in this series are various poems and writings, both by Omowale and other prisoners, as well as by some of Omowale's supporters. Also included are clippings and press coverage of Omowale and his court cases.

Jomo's research and writings and notes on science, politics, race, etc.
Box 8
Poetry, etc., by Emani (Jomo's daughter)
Box 8
Attica Brothers, 1970s
Box 11
Jomo's personal correspondence, to Gaynes and Emani
Box 11
Prisoner poetry and writings
Box 11
Press coverage and clippings
Box 11

Court transcripts from the Attica trials and its Wade Hearing from 1975, as well as other trials both against and brought by Jomo.

Wade Hearing re: Attica, 15 January 1975-6 February 1975
Box 12
Wade Hearing re: Attica, 10 February 1975-11 March 1975
Box 13
Wade Hearing re: Attica, 12 March 1975-26 March 1975
Box 14
Commonwealth of Virginia vs. Cleveland M. Davis, Virginia Beach, 18 February 1971
Box 14
Grand Jury proceedings, 4 May 1972
Box 14
State of New York vs. Eric Thompson, indictments 5 and 15, 26 June 1973
Box 14
Attica Brothers vs. Nelson Rockefeller, et al, 29 January 1974-31 January 1974
Box 14
State of New York vs. John Hill and Charles Pernasalice, 25 February 1974
Box 15
New York vs. Eric Thompson, indictments 5, 15, 38, 39, 41, 11 March 1974
Box 15
Attica Brothers vs. Nelson Rockefeller et al, 13 March 1974
Box 15
Attica Brothers vs. Erie County, etc., 30 April 1974
Box 15
New York vs. Eric Thompson, indictments 38, 39, 41, 6 May 1974
Box 15
State of New York vs. Eric Jomo Thompson, 22 May 1974
Box 15
State of New York vs. Eric Thompson, re: Bill of Particulars, 23 May 1974
Box 15
State of New York vs. Eric Thompson, re: dismissal, 6 June 1974
Box 15
Pre-trial conference, Supreme Court, 17 June 1974
Box 15
Waiver and stipulation proceedings, 23 June 1975
Box 15
Trial against Thomas Wood, 27 November 1978
Box 15
Trial against Cleveland Davis, 4 April 1979-24 April 1979
(4 folders)
Box 15
Transcript of examination of Cleveland Jomo Davis, 15 February 1985
Box 15
Commonwealth of Virginia vs. Cleveland Davis, 16 May 1985 and 31 July 1985
Box 16
Commonwealth of Virginia vs. Cleveland M. Davis, 26 November 1985
Box 16
Commonwealth of Virginia vs. Cleveland M. Davis, 2 December 1985
Box 16
Commonwealth of Virginia vs. Cleveland Jomo Davis, 1985? (first pages missing)
Box 16
Commonwealth of Virginia vs. Cleveland M. Davis, 23 December 1985
Box 16

Miscellaneous Files and Materials

(2 boxes; 3 oversize folders)

Miscellaneous materials include correspondence, legal paperwork, fliers, and other materials. The crime scene photographs are extremely gruesome.

Legal correspondence re: Virginia Beach armed robbery, 1971-1975
Box 16
Legal papers re: Jomo vs. Sheriff Joe Smith, 1985
Box 16
Miscellaneous, including personal and legal materials
(11 folders)
Box 16
Crime scene photographs, trial unknown
Box 16
Omowale vs. State of New York, claim #59593, 1975
Box 20
Prison publications and zines, 1970s and undated

Contains a variety of materials including black community newsletters, articles about the KKK and racial oppression, zines created by prisoners, and handouts and pamphlets about particular convicts.

(3 folders)
Box 20
Notes, legal documents from Jomo Davis Defense Committee, 1973-1983
Box 20
Legal notes, documents, and correspondence, 1973-1980
(6 folders)
Box 20
Notes, photographs of a wrecked car (case unknown), 1970s and undated
Box 20
Correspondence, 1974-1976
Box 20
News clippings, 1975
Box 20
Press and press releases, 1976-1981
(2 folders)
Box 20
Oversize silhouette target sheet with several bullet holes, undated
Oversize Folder 2
Photographic prints (probably from Attica), undated
Box 20
Posters denouncing New York's drug laws as racist, 1998
Box 20

Mugshots

(3 boxes)

Hundreds of black-and-white 3x5 inch mugshots of prisoners, which appear to have been taken from New York prisons. Prisoners are identified and some information is provided on the reverse of the photograph.

Mugshots
Box 17-19

Historical Note

Chronology List

DateEvent(s)
1942 April 10Born as son of sharecroppers, Infield, North Carolina. Grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
1961Married Bobbi Lee Forman. They divorced in 1978.
1961-1963Jailed for burglary, Princess Ann Jail, Virginia.
1968Arrested in Virginia for robbery; escaped and went to New York.
1968Arrested in New York for robbery, sent to Sing Sing Prison.
1970Transferred to Auburn Prison, New York.
1970-1971Involved in Black Panther Party in Auburn Prison; transferred to Attica Prison.
1971 SeptemberInvolved in Attica Prison riots: Controled the "D" Door. Was shot 6 times when police stormed the prison.
1971Vincent Doyle took over Davis defense in Attica trial and appointed Elizabeth Gaynes as counsel.
1973Davis accepted "Alfred plea" for time served and was released from New York. He returned to Virginia to complete his sentence there. He then returned to New York to complete his time for his initial sentence, and was paroled in New York.
1975Governor of New York pardoned Davis for his involvement in the Attica Prison riots.
1976Married Elizabeth Gaynes.
1978 April 2Involved in a shooting in Brooklyn, NY, which ended with the death of two police officers and Dalou, an aquaintance of Davis. Davis was also shot. He was arrested for the murders and was severely beaten en route to the hospital, requiring reconstructive surgery on his face. His vision was permanently impaired.
1978-1980Davis was tried 3 times for the murders of the policemen and Dalou. The first 2 trials ended with hung juries, and he was acquitted the third time and released.
1983Davis and Gaynes separated. He moved to Virginia Beach, where he was involved (with 2 others) in an attempted robbery of drug dealer Robert Stith. Stith was killed during the robbery. Davis was wounded in the leg. He fled to Washington and then went on to New York.
1984-1985Davis was a fugitive on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. His co-defendents entered guilty pleas.
1985-1986Davis was captured and tried for murder and robbery. He was sentenced to prison, to be eligible for parole in 10-11 years.
1990s-2007Repeatedly denied parole under Virginia's law eliminating parole.
2008Paroled. Moved to North Carolina to live near his children.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Jomo Joka Omowale Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The Jomo Joka Omowale Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2011.

Processing Information

Processed by Meghan Lyon, February 2011

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, February 2011

This collection is minimally processed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.

Accessions in this finding aid: 2011-0026