Little Known Black History Fact: Loyd Jowers

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    The shot that killed Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 was presumably fired from Jim’s Grill, a café on ground floor of a rooming house. James Earl Ray, King’s assassin, was staying there. But in 1993 Loyd Jowers, who ran Jim’s Grill, told ABC that he had received $100,000 from a man named Frank Liberto to arrange for Dr. King’s assassination.

    He said that Ray was not King’s killer. After an investigation by the Shelby County prosecutor’s office, Jowers’ claims were proved meritless, and it was learned that Jowers asked people to back up his story in return for part of a $300,000 movie deal.

    Jowers died in 2000, maintaining all along that Dr. King’s assassination was a conspiracy of the Mafia and the federal government and that the fatal shot was fired by Memphis police officer Earl Clark. Jowers’ conspiracy claims were taken more seriously in 1999 when a jury found that Dr. King’s death was, indeed, part of a larger plot that included the FBI, the CIA, the media, Army intelligence and other government officials.

    Though Jowers was too ill to testify, he and unknown assailants were convicted of wrongful death and paid $100 to the King family, who sought a moral victory, not a financial one. According to William Pepper, the prosecuting attorney for the King family, orders to kill Dr. King came from a New Orleans crime kingpin and were sent to Liberto, who got Jowers to handle the payoff and murder weapon.

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