[Pnews] Jalil Muntaqim on The making of a movement
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
*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
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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