[Pnews] Jalil Muntaqim - Former Black Panther, in prison for 47 years, denied release for the ninth time

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 19 17:48:20 EST 2018


  Former Black Panther, in prison for 47 years, denied release for the
  ninth time

Ed Pilkington _ December 19, 2018

Jalil Muntaqim, a former Black Panther who has been in prison for 47 
years, has been told he must spend at least another 15 months behind 
bars having been denied release for the ninth time by a New York state 
parole board.

The three-member parole panel voted this week by two-to-one to keep 
Muntaqim, AKA Anthony Bottom, incarcerated in the maximum-security 
Sullivan correctional facility in upstate New York. His release had been 
vociferously opposed by the New York City police unions and by the widow 
of one of the two police officers he was convicted of murdering in 1971.

Muntaqim’s ninth denial since he became eligible for parole in 1998 was 
in stark contrast to the release in April 
<https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/27/nyregion/herman-bell-parole.html> of 
his fellow Black Liberation Army member and accomplice, Herman Bell. At 
his parole hearing, Bell had expressed revulsion for the 1971 killings, 
saying: “There was nothing political about the act, as much as I thought 
at the time. It was murder and horribly wrong.”

The Guardian in July profiled 
Muntaqim’s battle to get out of prison almost half a century after he 
was arrested for the murders of the two police officers, Joseph 
Piagentini and Waverly Jones, in a shooting in Harlem. The officers had 
been drawn to the spot for what they thought was a domestic dispute but 
were then ambushed.

At the time the Black Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Black 
Panthers, claimed responsibility for the attack. Within days, Muntaqim 
who was then 19, Bell and Albert “Nuh” Washington were arrested for the 

Muntaqim and Bell were convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life. 
Washington died in prison in 2000.

The parole board’s denial means that Muntaqim will continue for at least 
another year to be incarcerated. He is among 18 men and women who are 
still in prison for acts carried out in the 1960s and 70s as part of the 
black liberation struggle.

Since the Guardian reported on their collective plight 
in July one of the group, Mike Africa, has been released on parole 
from Graterford prison in Pennsylvania.

Mike Africa was allowed out to rejoin his wife Debbie Africa who had 
also been incarcerated for 40 years following a police siege of their 
black liberation commune in Philadelphia in 1978. Debbie Africa, like 
her husband a member of the Move organization that still exists today, 
was granted parole in June.

But Mike and Debbie Africa’s success stories remain very rare examples 
of lenient treatment from judicial authorities towards black radicals 
accused of violent acts dating back decades. Many of those still behind 
bars are ageing and suffering rapidly declining health; the oldest, 
Sundiata Acoli, is 81.

Muntaqim had been hoping that recent reforms in parole regulations in 
New York state would work to his benefit, particularly after Herman Bell 
was allowed to leave prison. The changes require the authorities to give 
individualized reasons for refusing parole in cases where the prisoner 
has been classified a low risk of reoffending.

In this case, Muntaqim had been identified as low-risk. He also 
submitted a lengthy parole packet to the board summarizing his 
mentorship of other prisoners, his educational achievements and other 
accomplishments, and emphasising his remorse for the deaths of the two 
police officers.

The prisoner will now appeal against the board’s decision.

Nora Carroll, an advocate with the Parole Preparation Project who 
supported Muntaqim in the parole process, said that his family and 
supporters were devastated that he had been knocked back again despite 
meeting all criteria for release. She said: “Jalil is a rehabilitated 
individual and a great-grandfather who has earned college degrees and 
served as a teacher and role model for other incarcerated people.”

She added: “Jalil has been in prison for 47 years and denied parole 
repeatedly in spite of his accomplishments and his expressions of 
remorse and acceptance of responsibility for the 1971 murders of two 
police officers.”

Muntaqim’s daughter and only child, Antoinette Russell, who was born six 
months after his arrest, said the outcome of the parole hearing was 
deeply hurtful but not entirely unexpected. “This has been my life. He 
has been denied so many times.”

Russell said she was baffled why the parole board would think it served 
any purpose to keep her father in prison. “He poses no risk to the 
public, that’s the craziest part of this. My dad has grown up in prison, 
he’s educated and has degrees. He was 19 when he went inside and now 
he’s 67 – what possible threat can he be, and to whom?”

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The Guardian contacted Diane Piagentini, widow of Joseph Piagentini, but 
did not receive an immediate reply. She made her case to the parole 
board in October when she argued strongly 
against Muntaqim’s release.

“Anthony Bottom never ever should be released from prison. My husband 
and Waverly Jones are not coming home, and Anthony Bottom should never 
be released,” she said.

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