[Pnews] The Making of a Movement by Political Prisoner Jalil Muntaqim

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 28 09:54:43 EDT 2017

*The Making of a Movement*
by Jalil A. Muntaqim

I was captured on August 28, 1971, in San Francisco after a car chase 
and gun battle with San Francisco police. It was alleged that myself and 
co-defendant Albert Nuh Washington were attempting to avenge the 
assassination of George L. Jackson, in San Quentin on August 21, 1971. I 
was convicted for the S.F. shootout, a federal bank robbery, and in 1975 
convicted of killing two police officers in New York that occurred on 
May 21, 1971. This conviction was code named NEWKILL by the FBI in a May 
26, 1971, meeting at the White House between J. Edgar Hoover, 
then-President Richard Nixon, and members of the Watergate plumbers. 
Having been a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation 
Army, it was decided in the White House to ensure BPP members are 
convicted for NEWKILL. Although I was captured for alleged 
revolutionary-military actions, charged and persecuted in criminal 
proceedings, the U.S. Corporate Government criminalizes political rebellion.

After my conviction in NYC, I was returned to California to complete the 
S.F. conviction and sentence. I was placed in San Quentin Adjustment 
Center, locked on the first floor in a cell between Ruchell Cinque Magee 
and Charles Manson. The San Quentin Six were locked a few cells away on 
the same tier. In 1975, I received a newsletter from Yuri Kochiyama, 
representing the New York City chapter of the National Committee in 
Defense of Political Prisoners. The newsletter highlighted a call for 
the United Nations to consider the existence of the US. political 
prisoners. After reading the newsletter, I drafted a proposal for 
progressives and activists to assist political prisoners to petition the 
United Nations on our behalf to call for a formal investigation into our 
existence and the conditions we suffered in prisons across the country. 
I showed the draft to Ruchell, who thought it was very good, but 
suggested I let Geronimo ji gaga Pratt review it. I had the proposal 
smuggled to the second floor of the Adjustment Center where Geronimo was 
being held, along with Russell Little and Bill Harris, members of the 
S.L.A., for his critique. Geronimo tweaked the proposal and sent it back 
for me to rewrite and send to Yuri and NCDPP to implement.

Unfortunately, after several weeks there was no response from Yuri or 
NCDPP, so the proposal was abandoned until early 1977. At that time, I 
met a white guy in San Quentin nicknamed Commie Mike, and I shared the 
proposal with him. He put me in contact with the United Prisons Union, a 
prison reform advocacy group in San Francisco. After a meeting with Pat 
Singer, a leader of UPU, it was agreed UPU would take on the proposal 
and develop what evolved into the National Prisoners Petition Campaign 
to the United Nations. Soon thereafter, the Prairie Fire Organizing 
Committee joined in support of UPU in building the petition campaign to 
the U.N. We were able to obtain former Amnesty International attorney 
Kathyrn Burke to assist with the development of the petition to be 
presented to the United Nations.

By 1978, the campaign had prisoners in 25 States, including Hawaii, 
supporting the petition. The petition was submitted to the U.N. 
Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of 
Minorities and recorded as U.N. document E/CN.4/Sub.2/NG0/75. This was 
the first time a document concerning the existence of U.S. political 
prisoners and racist prison conditions had been filed, recorded and 
heard at the U.N. In 1979, evolving from this initiative, an effort was 
made to have the International Jurists tour the U.S. and interview 
political prisoners. After a number of interviews, the International 
Jurists filed a report to the United Nations affirming political 
prisoners exist in the United States. Also in 1979, our campaign knew a 
journalist in Paris would be attending a news conference by U.S. United 
Nations Ambassador Andrew Young. I was asked were there any specific 
questions I wanted asked by the journalist, and I said only one, “Do 
political prisoners exist in the U.S.?”. Ambassador Young answered 
truthfully, stating “... perhaps thousands,” and for his admission, 
then-President Jimmy Carter fired Andrew Young from his post. It should 
be noted, also as part of the overall campaign, Cuba’s President Fidel 
Castro offered to trade U.S. political prisoners with prisoners in Cuba 
the U.S. wanted. Unfortunately, because we did not have contacts with 
the State Department or knew anyone who was willing and capable of 
intervening in our behalf, that trade did not happen.

Many years later, the Provisional Government of the Republic of New 
Afrika organized annual marches around the White House, demonstrating 
and calling for the release of U.S. political prisoners. In 1995, the 
PG-RNA, for lack of funding and participation, stopped the Jericho 
marches, which I thought should continue. So, in 1996, I distributed a 
call for action to reestablish the Jericho marches. Comrades Safiya Asya 
Bukhari and Herman Ferguson came to visit, decrying they were unable to 
organize a national Jericho march in a year’s time. In our meeting in 
the visiting room at Eastern Correctional Facility in NYS, we agreed 
that a concerted effort would be made to organize the Jericho March for 

Sista Safiya and Baba Herman’s organizing ability was incomparable, 
initiating the campaign by establishing an organizing committee, a P.O. 
Box address for communications, and a non-profit tax status to raise 
funds. They then issued a call for progressives in the left, especially 
those supporting political prisoners across the country, to join in the 
organizing initiative. Both Safiya and Herman criss-crossed the country, 
meeting with activists, explaining the importance of the march and 
demonstration, letting activists know we have a collective 
responsibility to support our captured and confined warriors and demand 
their release/amnesty. Within 2 years, their indomitable spirit and 
revolutionary determination successfully brought 6,000 activists from 
across the country to Washington, D.C. for the Jericho March and rally.

After the march and rally, it was decided the momentum from the effort 
should continue, and the Jericho Amnesty Movement was born. The Jericho 
Amnesty Movement is charged with the responsibility of supporting and 
representing the interest of U.S. political prisoners; calling for their 
release, especially those known to have COINTELPRO convictions. There 
have been continued initiatives to raise the profile of U.S. political 
prisoners at the United Nations. In 2016, Jihad Abdulmumit, the current 
Chairperson of Jericho, made a presentation in Geneva, Switzerland on 
behalf of U.S. political prisoners. Jihad was a member of the Black 
Panther Party and BLA and a former political prisoner; he understands 
this struggle to forge a determination to free U.S. political prisoners.

In 2018, the Jericho Amnesty Movement will reach a milestone of 20 years 
of actively fighting on behalf of U.S. political prisoners. In these 
nearly twenty years, Jericho has established a medical committee to 
assist political prisoners in their health needs; a legal defense 
committee to assist political prisoners in their legal defenses and 
challenges; assist families of political prisoners to visit, and 
continue to fight for their release.

When we consider many of those who were COINTELPRO targets are still in 
prison, we can agree that Jericho is an important formation bridging the 
generations from the struggle of the 60’s and 70’s to the millennials. 
Obviously, for any movement to be sustained, grow and evolve, activists 
must support their political prisoners. The Black Panther Party was 
instrumental in developing community organizing and political objectives 
to be achieved. The Party made people understand the process of fighting 
the status quo to empower the community. For example, in 1967 the Party 
started armed patrols of the police, carrying weapons and law books, 
demanding cops follow the constitution and laws on stop and frisk 
procedures. This type of public display of challenging police procedures 
encouraged folks on the streets to recognize the police weren’t all 
powerful or omnipotent. This was the primary reason the FBI COINTELPRO 
launched over 300 attacks against the BPP. In fact, the FBI employed 
every tactic used to destabilize a country in order to destroy the Black 
Panther Party. This includes illegal surveillance, infiltration, 
provocateurs, burglarizing offices and homes, stops and frisks, illegal 
arrests, poison pen letters, misinformation in the media, snitch 
jacketing, and assassinations. Indeed, on March 9, 1968, J. Edgar 
Hoover, the Director of the F.B.I., issued a COINTELPRO memorandum that 
stated in part:

“The /Negro youth/ and /moderate/ must be made to understand that if 
they /succumb to revolutionary teaching/, they /will be dead 

It must be understood that the FBI COINTELPRO did not begin with the 
U.S. Corporate Government’s efforts to destroy the Black Panther Party, 
and “...to prevent the rise of a Black Messiah”. However, the FBI 
COINTELPRO illegal, unconstitutional activities from 1967 to 1970 
resulted in the death of approximately 33 Panthers.

Despite the attacks on the BPP, the youth flocked to the Party, 
especially after 1967 when Bobby Seale and twenty-six armed Panthers 
entered the California legislature protesting hearings on gun control. 
This action captured the imagination of young Black youths across the 
country that the fight for revolution was here. The subsequent passing 
of the Milford Act made it illegal for Panthers to publicly carry 
weapons while patrolling the police. Also in 1968, membership increased 
when the Party established its “Serve the People” programs, initiating 
the free breakfast program for children. In 1969, the first BPP Free 
Breakfast for Children Program was started at St. Augustine’s Church in 
Oakland; and the Party was distributing and selling 100,000 copies of 
its newspaper, “The Black Panther” weekly. By 1968, the BPP had 
established thirty-eight branches and chapters with five thousand 
members. It was the indomitable spirit of these thousands of young 
people dedicating themselves to the Party and continuing the struggle 
for freedom and equality that began from the time when New Afrikans were 
brought to this country as slaves. Hence, when Willie Ricks and Stokely 
Carmichael proclaimed our struggle was for “Black Power,” it ignited a 
political cataclysmic storm of youthful energy for freedom. However, the 
Black Panther Party Ten Point Platform and Program manifested that 
declaration in the pragmatic development of programs on behalf of our 
people. It is this legacy of resistance and fight-back that Jericho 
incorporates, as lessons learned from the BPP.

I was one of those thousands of young people who, at 16 years of age, 
first signed up to become a Panther; at 18 years old I was recruited 
into the Black underground. A little more than a month before my 20th 
birthday I was captured, and am now one of the longest held political 
prisoners in the world. With 46 years in prison, I continue to seek ways 
to contribute to the overall struggle. The writing of my books, “We Are 
Our Own Liberators” and “Escaping the Prism—Fade to Black” is part of 
giving back to this generation of activists. It is necessary to ensure 
the continuum from one generation to the next, and it is incumbent on 
each generation to support political prisoners who paved the way, 
passing the torch of revolution.

In this regard, recently the Jericho Amnesty Movement embarked on a new 
national and international campaign to persuade the U.N. International 
Jurists to initiate a formal investigation on human rights abuses of 
U.S. political prisoners. To further demand the U.S. Corporate 
Government implement the U.N. Minimum Standards on the Treatment of 
Prisoners, and for the immediate release of our political prisoners. 
This especially calls for the release of those with COINTELPRO 
convictions who have languished in prison for 30 to 50 years. These 
political prisoners were contemporaries of Nelson Mandela; when he was 
fighting against Apartheid in South Afrika, they were fighting against 
Jim Crow segregation and second-class citizenship in the U.S. This 
Jericho campaign motto is “In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela” and 
activists across the country are urged to join and support in whatever 
way they are able in political solidarity toward the building of the 
National Coalition for the Human Rights of Political Prisoners. For more 
information on this campaign or on the existence of U. S. political 
prisoners, contact: www.thejerichomovement.com 
or email jihadabdulmumit at gmail.com <mailto:jihadabdulmumit at gmail.com>

About the writer: Jalil Abdul Muntaqim (ANTHONY BOTTOM) is one of the 
longest held political prisoners in the world. He is the author of “We 
Are Our Own Liberators,” a compilation of prison writings. Many of his 
essays have been published in scholastic anthologies such as “Schooling 
a Generation,” ed. Chiasole (2002); “The New Abolitionist: (Neo) Slave 
Narratives and Contemporary Prisoners Writings,” ed. Joy James (2005); 
“This Country Must Change,” ed. Craig Rosenbraugh (2009); Jalil’s 
articles have appeared in NYC Amsterdam News, the San Francisco BayView 
newspapers, and many progressive publications. His most recent book, 
“Escaping the Prison—Fade to Black,” a compilation of poems and essays 
with an extensive Afterword by Prof. Ward Churchill, published by 
Kersplebedeb Pub. & Dist., in Canada, can be purchased on Amazon.com and 
from AK Press. Jalil is the co-founder of the Jericho Amnesty Movement. 
For more information on Jalil’s NEWKILL conviction and fight for parole, 
check: http://www.freejalil.com 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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