[Pnews] Jalil Muntaqim on The making of a movement

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 7 12:04:38 EST 2017


  The making of a movement

Published November 6, 2017

*/by Jalil A. Muntaqim/*

I was captured on Aug. 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 Aug. 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.

I’d been a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation 
Army, and the White House had decided to ensure BPP members were 
convicted for NEWKILL. 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 New York City, 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 U.S. 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 Jaga 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 SLA (Symbionese Liberations Army), 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 

At a 1979 Paris news conference, U.S. United Nations Ambassador Andrew 
Young was asked by a French journalist a question suggested to him by 
Jalil Muntaqim: “Do political prisoners exist in the U.S.?” Jalil 
writes, “Ambassador Young answered truthfully, stating ‘… perhaps 
thousands,’ and for his admission, then-President Jimmy Carter fired 
Andrew Young from his post.”

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 for 
prisoners in Cuba the U.S. wanted. Unfortunately, because we did not 
have contacts with the State Department or know 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 New York, we agreed that a concerted effort would be made to 
organize the Jericho March for 1998.

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 crisscrossed 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 and amnesty. 
Within two 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 interests of U.S. political prisoners and 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 20 years, Jericho has established a medical committee to assist 
political prisoners in their health needs and 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 that 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 1960s and 1970s to the 
millennials. Obviously, for any movement to be sustained, grow and 
evolve, activists must support their political prisoners.

When current Jericho Movement chairperson Jihad Abdulmumit took the mic 
at the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights rally in D.C.’s Lafayette 
Park on Aug. 19, 2017, he wore a California Hunger Strike T-shirt. – 
Photo: Wanda Sabir

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 

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 FBI, 
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 revolutionaries.”

      The FBI employed every tactic used to destabilize a country in
      order to destroy the Black Panther Party.

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 26 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 38 branches and chapters with 5,000 
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. 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 
fightback 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 

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 into human rights abuses of 
U.S. political prisoners and to demand the U.S. corporate government 
implement the U.N. Minimum Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners and 
immediately release 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 it 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, keep reading and visit www.thejerichomovement.com 
or email jihadabdulmumit at gmail.com <mailto:jihadabdulmumit at gmail.com>

      *In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela: Campaign for UN investigation
      into the human rights of US Political Prisoners*

      *Proposal to campaign for UN international jurists to initiate a
      formal investigation *

In the last couple of years, we’ve witnessed the release of a few 
political prisoners after long, hard-fought battles. We also know many 
more were denied release after winning court battles, like Sundiata 
Acoli, Veronza Bowers and Dr. Mutulu Shakur. Either the court decided 
they should be released and the Parole Departments appealed, preventing 
release, or the Parole Board granted release, and state apparatus 
appealed to annul those decisions. In either case, our comrades continue 
to languish in prison, as these decisions leave few, if any, avenues of 
recourse to remedy the situation.

On the other hand, we have witnessed and celebrate the tremendous 
victories like the release of the Cuban Five, and the recent release of 
Oscar Lopez Rivera. His being granted clemency is one in a long line of 
clemency successes for Puerto Rican Independentistas. The broad-based 
international support for the Puerto Rican independence movement speaks 
loudly to the lesson of a unified and uniform determination.

We must seek the wherewithal to replicate their organizational success 
in our continued struggle to win the release of our incarcerated 
comrades. As we congratulate and celebrate the release of Oscar, it is 
extremely important to encourage that body of activists to join in our 
fight in international solidarity. His victory is our victory, and our 
continued fight should be their continued fight!

In this regard, I have been reflecting on our past successes, 
particularly having the United Nations International Jurists tour and 
interview a number of our political prisoners. Following the visits, the 
International Jurists reported to the U.N. Subcommission on Prevention 
of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities that political prisoners 
exist in the United States.

Soon thereafter, the late and honored Fidel Castro, the president of 
Cuba, offered, on Dec. 24, 1977, to make an exchange of prisoners held 
in Cuba for our captured revolutionaries. Unfortunately, we did not have 
the fortitude or organizational capacity to demand this exchange be made 
– to force the issue with the U.S. corporate government.

Some of the comrades interviewed by the International Jurists 35 years 
ago still languish in prison today. Therefore, I would like to propose 
it is time to organize a new international campaign to persuade the U.N. 
International Jurists to initiate a formal investigation. This 
investigation would be based on discovering U.S. human rights violations 
as they pertain to our long-held political prisoners.

I am proposing this campaign be organized under the slogan of “In the 
Spirit of Nelson Mandela,” as it is believed this slogan will resonate 
with progressives around the world. It will inspire them in 
international solidarity to join our efforts to persuade the U.N. 
International Jurists to initiate this call for a needed investigation.

Some of you may be aware that recently departed U.N. Rapporteur Juan 
Mendez successfully had a report and recommendation accepted by the U.N. 
General Assembly condemning the U.S. policy and practice on punitive 
solitary confinement. The U.N. General Assembly now identifies this 
accepted condemnation and recommendation as the “Nelson Mandela Rules.”

It would be politically and strategically advantageous for our campaign 
to build on Juan Mendez’ success with our organizing slogan “In the 
Spirit of Nelson Mandela.” This is especially significant since many of 
our imprisoned comrades suffer the punitive conditions of solitary 

When giving consideration to the New York Times 
Dec. 4 
and 5, 2016 
special report on the racial discrimination in disciplinary practices in 
the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, we 
know the “Mandela Rules” have been violated. In fact, I am writing this 
proposal from NYS Southport premiere gulag – in solitary confinement for 
a bogus disciplinary Tier III hearing in stark violation of the “Nelson 
Mandela Rules.”

Therefore, it is anticipated the organizing of this proposal will permit 
us to accomplish the following:

 1. Build a national determination focused on petitioning the
    International Jurists to initiate a human rights violation
 2. Create a political environment to build international solidarity
    among progressives around the world in support of our political
 3. Build a media propaganda campaign in support of this determination,
    giving greater recognition to our political prisoners and the
    conditions of their imprisonment;
 4. Expose U.S. hypocrisy on the U.S. human rights record and its
    continued violation of the “Mandela Rules”;
 5. Strengthen our capacity to represent our political prisoners,
    broadening the base of unity and support among the New
    Afrikan/Black, Native American, Puerto Rican, Chicano/Mexicano,
    Euro-American etc. anti-racist and anti-imperialist trends in the
    overall struggle;
 6. Have the U.N. International Jurists report to the U.N. General
    Assembly, hence to the world, the U.S. human rights violations as
    they specifically pertain to the existence of U.S. political prisoners;
 7. The report by the International Jurists to be used for the
    development of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with
    international observers to remedy the COINTELPRO persecutions and

The proposal tasks us to formulate and structure an organizational 
determination and action plan to possibly form a Coalition on Human 
Rights for Political Prisoners. Such coalition would be comprised of 
representatives of our political prisoners, human rights advocates, 
legal representatives, progressive organizations and faith-based groups.

In closing, after careful review, I ask this proposal be copied, widely 
distributed and posted for discussing toward implementation. Again, with 
the success of Oscar and the recent release of a few political 
prisoners, it is time to step up our fight for freedom “In the Spirit of 
Nelson Mandela.”

      *Fundraising and developing the UN International Jurists Campaign*

It has been brought to my attention that there is a growing interest to 
build and support the national and international initiative to persuade 
the U.N. International Jurists to conduct a formal investigation of the 
treatment of our political prisoners.

A member of the National Lawyers Guild has made me aware a specific 
concern toward initiating this campaign will be cost. As is usual, when 
talking about building and sustaining an initiative and campaign of this 
magnitude, developing financial resources is an issue of contention. 
Here, I would like to briefly address this concern in hope of offering 
some practical and pragmatic approaches to alleviate this concern.

Obviously, for this campaign to be a success and hopefully evolve into a 
sustainable organizational determination, it is essential and necessary 
to forge specific functioning committees tasked with specific purposes. 
For lack of a better term, I’ll call this the Financial Committee:

The FC will be tasked to build the economic foundation for this 
campaign. It will

 1. Establish a 501(c)(3) tax deductible account for fundraising;
 2. Develop a grant proposal to attach to the proposal for the campaign
    to be presented to the following funding resources; Haymarket Fund,
    Rosenberg Fund, A.J. Muste Foundation, North Star Fund. Other
    foundations or funding sources should be investigated to potentially
    support this campaign. Grant proposals should be written tailored to
    the funding sources’ criteria. However, our objective should not be
    to be complacent when it comes to testing the limits of those
    criteria – our innovative and creative structuring of the grant
    should be able to satisfy the demands of these funding sources.
 3. Start crowdfunding by establishing a working relationship with a
    crowdfunding source such as Indiegogo and other online funding sources.
 4. Make direct appeals with a specific bullet points funding pitch to
    be broadcast at intervals on progressive radio programs across the
    country, especially on Pacifica Radio.

In addition, create a short video pitch on the existence of U.S. 
political prisoners, our overall struggle and the specific objective of 
this campaign, appealing for people to make direct donations. This video 
pitch should be loaded on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Google and other 
social media platforms. The video pitch is both an educational tool and 
fundraising application further broadening the base of support, not only 
for this campaign, but for all of our political prisoners.

 5. Organize other fundraising committee events, including reaching out
    to the entertainment community to do benefits in support of the

The five specific initiatives present how the overall campaign can be 
adequately financed to ensure its success. It will further serve to 
secure the organizational development of the campaign to potentially 
evolve into a sustainable organizational determinant to project 
political-ideological direction for the future of struggle.

The importance of this (R)evolutionary prospect is we anticipate our 
long-term need to represent political prisoners. Other specific 
committees that will need to be organized are the Propaganda Committee, 
Legal Committee and the Committee for Organizational Development.

I am confident the initial organizing committee will have both the 
vision and courage to forge a non-sectarian political approach with the 
goal to eventually organize a broad-based Coalition on Human Rights for 
Political Prisoners. There are many voices that must be heard, and this 
vehicle will serve to ensure these voices are both recognized and heard 
subject to our initial, uniform and common interest on behalf of all 
political prisoners.

      The importance of this (R)evolutionary prospect is we anticipate
      our long-term need to represent political prisoners.

Ultimately, the task is to secure the International Jurists to conduct 
this investigation on human rights of political prisoners and to build 
international solidarity in support of this determination in 
anti-imperialist solidarity with progressive forces around the world.

If you desire me to present my thinking to the above-mentioned 
committees, please let me know. I hope these ideas are found both 
helpful and doable. Of course, it is extremely important to have the 
right committed people assigned to the task to be accomplished. It is my 
sincere hope there are more than enough activists who are interested in 
this objective and campaign and prepared to employ their talents to 
ensure our success.

Remember: We Are Our Own Liberators!

In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela!

Revolutionary Love and Unity,


/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 the New York Amsterdam News, the San Francisco 
BayView newspaper 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 Professor Ward Churchill, 
published by Kersplebedeb Publishing & Distributing 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/ 
And send our brother some love and light: Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony) 
Bottom, 77A4283, Shawangunk CF, P.O. Box 700, Wallkill NY 12589. /

/Contact the New York City Jericho Movement at P.O. Box 670927, Bronx, 
NY 10467, //www.jerichony.org/ 
//info at jerichony.org/ <mailto:info at jerichony.org>/./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
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