[Pnews] The Freedom Campaign for Sundiata Acoli with Soffiyah Elijah - Jan 14, 2021

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jan 13 20:08:28 EST 2021

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New York, NY (January 13, 2021) - A former employee of NASA and a civil 
rights era Freedom Rider, Sundiata Acoli turns 84 on January 14. The 
college graduate and grandfather of two has been incarcerated for over 
forty-seven years. Acoli has been consistently denied parole for more 
than twenty-five of those years, going all the way back to 1994.

The Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign (SAFC) is the largest coordinated 
campaign to free Acoli since his incarceration and follows years of 
behind the scenes advocacy and legal filings. The campaign will use the 
hashtag #BringSundiataHome 
<https://www.youtube.com/hashtag/bringsundiatahome>and kicks off this 
week. There are media appearances planned throughout the week as well as 
a major social media push on Thursday where individuals, advocates and 
other organizations and religious institutions will join in the wishes 
of love and support for the soon to be 84 year old.

Following his conviction in the murder of New Jersy State Trooper Werner 
Foerester in 1973, Acoli was sentenced to life. In the Garden State, 
those convicted and sentenced to life are eligible for parole after 
twenty-five years.

“Sundiata Acoli has had a near perfect disciplinary record for 40 years, 
with no violations of any kind for the past twenty-five years,” explains 
Acoli’s attorney, Bruce I. Afran. “I have come to know Mr. Acoli well 
over the past nine years. He has emerged into a useful, law abiding and 
productive member of the community, albeit while incarcerated. He has 
evolved so far in his life and thought that he has been approved to 
teach the Federal Bureau of Prisons’s course in Avoiding Criminal 
Thinking, the program to teach younger inmates how to avoid recidivism.”

Sundiata’s health is deteriorating in his late stage of life and is now 
being treated for advancing dementia, cardiovascular disease, 
hypertension, emphysema and glaucoma. The frail senior citizen also lost 
30 pounds during a long battle with the Covid-19 virus; he was one of 
those blessed to survive the health scare. He should be released before 
his health is further compromised.

Nearly fifty religious leaders across New Jersey said the following in a 
joint statement to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy last June when asking 
for a commutation of Acoli’s sentence:

“Mr. Acoli had to be rushed to a hospital in Maryland when he fell ill 
from the COVID19 virus. For several days he was maintained on oxygen,” 
says the group of faith leaders across multiple denominations and 
thirty-nine religious institutions. “Recently, he was bedridden for a 
week due to intestinal complications. For all of the reasons stated 
above, we unconditionally call upon you to release Mr. Acoli from prison 
immediately. When he is released, we pledge to support you and champion 
your just and humane decision,” the statement concludes.

“As his daughter, I can say that the Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign 
means so much to me and our entire family,” says Sunni Middleton, an 
executive in finance. “The death of officer Foerester was a tragic event 
and we grieve for that loss and pray for the healing of all families 
involved. My dad is in his twilight years and he has paid for that 
terrible incident while showing us how to be accountable for one's actions.

Our family is so grateful for this outpouring of support from members of 
the community and the Freedom Campaign,” adds Middleton. “It gives us 
the strength, and faith, to see this through and to know that our 
prayers may one day be answered and my father will be in his family’s 
care to live out the remaining years of his life.”

The Freedom Campaign The Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign (SAFC) kicks 
off this week with the following activities:

Thursday, January 14th Sundiata Acoli birthday letter writing campaign ● 
The letter writing campaign started at the turn of the new year and will 
culminate on his birthday, January 14.

Saturday, January 16th 12:00 P.M. The People Are Suffering: Martin 
Luther King March For Racial And Economic Justice Location:​ Lincoln 
Statue 12 Springfield Avenue (Intersection of Springfield Avenue and 
West Market Street) Newark, NJ 07102

● The SAFC will participate in this MLK march carrying signs to 
#BringSundiataHome <https://www.youtube.com/hashtag/bringsundiatahome>. 
They will also hand out informational flyers to spread the word in the 
Black and Brown community as the group begins its public outreach around 
this case. For more information visit our ​Facebook page​ or email 
​Sundiataacolifc at gmail.com​.

Media Contact: Scott McDowell Communications Director Sundiata Acoli 
Freedom Campaign
scottmcdowellny at gmail.com


    *The Freedom Campaign for Sundiata Acoli with Soffiyah Elijah


Soffiyah Elijah is an advocate, attorney, scholar, and educator, and the 
executive director of the Correctional Association of New York. Prior to 
joining the Correctional Association, Elijah served as deputy director 
and a clinical instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard 
Law School. Subscribe also to iMWiL! https://imixwhatilike.org 

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