[Ppnews] Jalil Muntaqim - from Attica about the 40-year Anniversary

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Aug 28 18:19:07 EDT 2011

Attica is All of Us:

On February 10, 2011, I arrived at Attica for the 
third time during my 40 year incarceration. As 
soon as I entered the reception room, I heard a 
Correctional Officer announce to all the other 
prisoners: “What you heard about Attica is true. 
We don’t care what you do to each other, but if 
any of you touch one of us, we will put you in 
the hospital or worse 
 welcome to Attica!” Since 
being here, I am aware of 7 prisoners who 
suffered a beat down by guards, and the 
Superintendent here knows what is going on, yet 
fails to curtail the level of violence against prisoners.

In essence, Attica today is pre-September 
9th-11th, 1971, where prisoners are controlled by 
fear and terror. The only Black Captain, 
apparently sent here for the purpose of 
overseeing the madness of Attica, is only capable 
of intervening when on site. As soon as he is 
gone, the guards return to their racist deadly 
antics. This is not to blanket all white guards 
at Attica as racist, but when there is an 
institutional culture of racism, fear and terror, 
it is difficult for a humane guard to not 
jeopardize his own safety; this includes the few Black officers in this prison.

Why? One of the reasons is because these 
Correctional Officers, beyond the innate racism, 
fear another insurrection that will cause “state 
sanctioned killing,” as when former NYS Governor 
Nelson Rockefeller ordered State Troopers and 
Guards to open fire, massacring 41 prisoners and 
guards. Therefore, fear, terror and brutality are 
the measure of their false safety and security, 
none of which is a secret to the authorities in Albany.

In September 1971, there was a vibrant 
progressive and revolutionary movement in this 
country. The prison movement reflected the fight- 
back determination of young people believing they 
could create a better world. On the streets there 
was a movement, and in prison there was a 
movement. No such animal exists today, at least 
nowhere near the level of the late 60’s and early 
70’s. Then there were “Free Political Prisoner” 
campaigns going on, from the Free Huey, Free 
Angela, Free the Panther 21, Free the Soledad 
Brothers, Free San Quentin Six campaigns that 
forged a national consciousness of fight back. No 
such broad political consciousness or campaign 
exists today. Hence, today’s prisoners reflect 
the drug and gang culture, much of which includes 
functional illiterates. Therefore, correctional 
personnel are not worried about these prisoners 
fighting back physically or legally. Some of the 
largest gains of civil rights for prisoners were 
in the 60’s and 70’s, when prisoners filed a 
multitude of lawsuits and had the assistance of 
progressive legal organizations. Today, the 
Supreme Court has severely restricted prisoners’ 
ability to file lawsuits and win.

The absent dynamic of a vibrant prison movement 
negatively impacts the capacity of prisoners to 
fight. Absent both community and legal support, 
in a confined repressive environment, prisoners 
can only be expected to survive, and try and make 
it home alive. Attica, Comstock, Clinton and 
other NYS maximum security prisons suffer the 
same reality, all of which tells All of Us of our collective failure.

It is my sincere hope, on this 40th Year 
commemoration of Attica, that NYC’s activists 
recognize what for many inside prison seems to be 
abandonment. That they will decide to recognize 
the work that needs to be done to help restore 
the capacity for all of us to fight back for freedom!

Jalil A. Muntaqim

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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