[Pnews] Civil rights activists, actors and others call for release of former Black Panther

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 21 13:35:24 EDT 2019


  Civil rights activists, actors and others call for release of former
  Black Panther

Ed Pilkington - May 21, 2019

*Seventy-five public figures sign letter to New York governor asking for 
release of Jalil Muntaqim after 48 years in prison*

Jalil Muntaqim in Sullivan Correctional Facility.

<#img-1>Jalil Muntaqim in Sullivan Correctional Facility. Photograph: 
Tom Silverstone/The Guardian

Leading civil rights activists, academics, actors and writers are 
calling on Andrew Cuomo 
<https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/andrew-cuomo> to release Jalil 
Muntaqim, a former Black Panther who has been in prison for 48 years for 
one of the most high-profile killings of the 1970s black liberation 

Seventy-five prominent public figures have signed a letter 
<http://freedomarchives.org/Support.Jalil/Campaign.html> to the governor 
of New York state, headlined: “48 years is enough”. The letter asks 
Cuomo to commute Muntaqim’s sentence to time served. They include the 
writer and activist Angela Davis, who was herself put on trial for a 
1970 courtroom kidnapping but later acquitted.

Among other signers are Cornel West of Harvard university, actor Danny 
Glover, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, film-maker Boots 
Riley and Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow.

The authors write: “We believe in the principles of restorative justice. 
While we understand the serious nature of the crimes for which Jalil has 
been convicted, a life sentence should not be a death sentence. 
Forty-eight years is long enough. After all this time, Jalil Muntaqim 
belongs with his family and his community.”

The letter also emphasizes that he has had a clean prison record for 
decades. “He has served as a teacher, mentor and role model for hundreds 
of other incarcerated people and stands as an example of the potential 
to reflect, change and grow despite the many challenges of the prison 

Muntaqim, whose birth name is Anthony Bottom, faces his 12th parole 
board in September, having been knocked back for release 11 times 
since he first became eligible in 2002 on a sentence of 25 years to 
life. He will be 68 at his next hearing.

He was arrested in 1971 at age 19 for the ambush and murder in Harlem of 
two police officers, Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones. Days after the 
shootings, the Black Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Black 
Panthers, claimed responsibility and three members were arrested.

Of his two co-defendants, Albert “Nuh” Washington died in prison in 2000 
and Herman Bell was released on parole 
<https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/27/nyregion/herman-bell-parole.html> in 
April of 2018.

The Guardian highlighted the struggle for release 
of Muntaqim in July 2018 as part of a series of articles 
<https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/series/black-power-behind-bars> on 
black power behind bars. At that time 19 black radicals 
were identified who were still being imprisoned, in some cases almost 50 
years after the crimes for which they were convicted.

That number has since fallen to 17 following the release of two members 
of the Move organization in Philadelphia, the husband and wife couple 
Mike Africa Sr 
and Debbie Africa 

Another former Black Panther profiled by the Guardian for the series, 
Mumia Abu Jamal 
is among the signers of the new letter 
<http://freedomarchives.org/Support.Jalil/Signatures.html> calling for 
Muntaqim’s release. Abu-Jamal remains behind bars in Pennsylvania as one 
of the 17 incarcerated black radicals, where he is serving a life 
sentence having been taken off death row in 2012.

Muntaqim’s battle for freedom after almost half a century in New York 
maximum security prisons has been hampered by ongoing vociferous 
opposition from New York <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/new-york> 
City police unions and from one of the widows of the two slain police 
officers. A further challenge has been Muntaqim’s unwillingness to 
denounce the black liberation struggle of which he was part.

Herman Bell secured his release in part upon his statement to the board 
in which he said of the 1971 incident: “There was nothing political 
about the act, as much as I thought at the time. It was murder and 
horribly wrong.”

Muntaqim is more resistant. Though he has admitted to committing the 
police killings, he continues to describe the 1970s black power movement 
as “noble”.

In an interview with the Guardian he said: “My engagement in the 
struggle was self-sacrifice because of my love of my people and 
humanity. Because of that I was targeted by the government and that 
indicates that my incarceration is of a political nature.”

Angela Davis told the Guardian that she believed black radicals in 
prison were being forced to denounce their politics before they could go 
free: “They have to denounce a party that was the forerunner of 
movements like Black Lives Matter today.”

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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