A Knee on the Neck of Long-term Political Prisoners
A Knee on the Neck of Long-term Political Prisoners
The line between clearly defined political prisoners and prisoners targeted to make points for the political power structure is hidden. Criminalization is a standard tool of racial supremacists. George Floyd’s death is familiar a thousand times over because it restates the predominant ethic of law enforcement’s historical treatment of a minority population as revealed in the examples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton.
But consider the less well known and large number of former Black Panther and other community activists serving intolerable prison terms which have taken away their normal lives in trials that can’t match objective standards of justice or international law. Guilty verdicts thrived on the targeting mechanisms of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation, withheld testimony, ‘bought’ witnesses, rights violations, and obvious misidentifications suggesting that U.S. law enforcement has a difficulty telling black people apart. At particular risk of injustice were those who converted to Islam and were targeted for destruction.
Two troubling examples: (aka Hubert Gerold Brown) Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin was a target of CONTELPRO. It’s hard to explore the facts and conviction in his case without understanding that another has confessed to the crime he was convicted of and the crime’s perpetrator as described by witnesses bore little resemblance to Al-Amin. The likelihood of his innocence becomes law enforcement’s shame. Serving a sentence of life without parole, afflicted after confinement with a rare form of bone cancer, an imam deprived of his community, Al Amin’s most recent appeal to the Supreme Court was denied in April 2020.
Consider Jeff Fort (aka Abdul Malik Ka’bah) of Chicago, whose case and 168 year sentence have become so buried in history the reader may not have heard of him. Fort, a founder of Chicago’s Blackstone Rangers, the Black P. Stones, and El Rukn, is considered the first American convicted on charges of terrorism. His life is the story of a community leader and gang leader, surviving under the knee of supremacist law enforcement which made its final judgement with the intentionally unbearable sentences he currently serves. Wikipedia notes that currently he’s confined at the Florence Colorado supermax since 2006 under a “no-human contact order since his arrival.” An alternative judgement to law enforcement’s was his mother’s, quoted here from an ancient piece (“The Making of Jeff Fort,” 1988) by Tom Brune and James Ylisela, who wrote:
Fort’s mother recited parables. “We lived on 63rd Street, and there was an alley you could go through. In those days, it wasn’t dope fiends, it was old men being wineheads. I would cook [for her ten children] and when I would go into the parlor and sit down and come back, all my food is gone. I’m thinking somebody’s coming in getting my food. I didn’t have no dream that it was Jeff taking the food out there and feeding those people.
“He was out there, giving all of them a plate. He just couldn’t stand seeing people hungry. I just sat there and tears ran down. I said, ‘This child is an unusual child.’
Former Los Angeles Black Panther Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald died March 28, 2021, shackled in hospital following his second stroke. He served over fifty years of two life sentences and was eligible for parole. There was and remains more than reasonable doubt of his guilt in the crimes he was charged with.
Sentenced to fifty years for knocking the gun out of a police officer’s hand in Texas, Xinachtli (aka Alvaro Luna Hernandez) is eligible for parole July 18, 2021.
Finally released from 49 years in prison after eleven denials of parole, Jalil Muntaqim, tried to register to vote but technically before he was eligible to vote again. Arrested on charges connected to voter fraud, the charges were pressed by the District Attorney which would have returned Muntaqim to prison for the rest of his life but the country grand jury refused to indict him.
A veteran of military service in Germany and Vietnam and a former Black Panther leader in Omaha, Edward Poindexter, is serving the fiftieth year of a life sentence in Nebraska’s State Penitentiary for alleged involvement in bombing a policeman. There is a strong possibility that Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, (AKA David Rice) his co-convicted, were and are entirely innocent. Mondo we Langa has already died in prison. Poindexter, a diabetic with triple-bypass heart surgery and a eye cataract, uses a wheelchair. Petitions continue to urge the Nebraska Pardons Board to commute Poindexter’s sentence to time already served.
Imprisoned since 1973, under a life sentence, a model prisoner without betraying his beliefs Sundiata Acoli (Clark Edward Squire) is still held in prison and denied the parole he was first eligible for in 1992. The mechanism of his incarceration could be one of vengeance and extra-judicial punishment to extract information. The legal system apparently considers him to have information about the escape from prison to Cuba of Assata Shakur. Marilyn Buck, considered an accomplice to Ms. Shakur’s escape was released from prison to die from a cancer which was too slow to be treated at federal Prison in California. Dr. Mutulu Shakur, considered the escape’s mastermind has been fighting cancer after repeated unjust denials of parole and release. Acoli at 84 has had COVID and suffers from dementia among other illnesses. A petition to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy asks to commute the sentence and bring Sundiata Acoli home. It is hard enough to be an elder outside of prison.
With a judicial ruling allowing a review of previously filed appeals in his case, Mumia Abu Jamal’s current attorneys have filed actions supporting his claims. Recently he was shackled during his hospitalization for COVID and congestive heart failure. He has also reported an excruciating skin condition. In a letter published in The Jamal Journal urging protest of medical neglect in the treatment of Mumia Abu Jamal, Ramona Africa cites medical neglect as contributing factors in the deaths of Delbert Africa, Phil Africa, and Merle Africa. (see the Move 9).
North Americans rarely speak of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, born in Pakistan, a Muslim mother and neuroscientist who studied at the University of Houston Texas, then transferred to take her BA from M.I.T., and PhD from Brandeis. Her field of expertise included areas of biological warfare and viruses and all information about her could be ‘constructed’. She was a terrorist suspect wanted by the FBI for questioning when she was disappeared in Pakistan, March 2003. She was subsequently identified as prisoner 650 held at Bagram Air Force Base. Prisoner 650 was reportedly continuously raped by the prison officers at Bagram. There is strong evidence she was tortured.
She has claimed she was kidnapped by the intelligence agencies of the U.S. and Pakistan. Shortly after being reported as in American custody for four years, in 2008 she reappeared with her son at age 12 to be arrested in Afghanistan on suspicion of terrorism. In 2010 she was tried and sentenced in New York City to eighty-six years in prison for allegedly attempting to shoot at the entourage of U.S. military and law enforcement personnel which held her prisoner under detention in 2008. U.S. personnel were untouched by bullets. Dr. Siddiqui was shot in the torso. With no powder marks from firing a weapon on her clothes or self, evidence against her is non-existent, far-fetched, and unlikely. Her family fears she has been tortured within the U.S. prison system.
She is said to have been in solitary confinement for twelve years. Incarcerated at Carswell Medical prison, she has refused to see lawyers and communicate with her family. Two of her children survived her initial arrest in 2003 and were held in criminal circumstances. Her son Muhammad, age seven at arrest in 2003, was reportedly kept in F.B.I. custody from 2003 to 2009. Her daughter Mariam, age five at arrest, was reportedly kept in a “cold dark room” at Bagram Air Force base before return to the Siddiqui family in 2010. A third child, Suleman was only six months old when taken from his mother and was never returned and is feared dead. The facts of Dr. Siddiqui’s case are so publicly outrageous that either she was pre-empted for covert uses by U.S. and allied intelligence operations or elements of the war on terror are run by Nazis.
There’s an absence of mercy in unbearable sentences.