- On November 18, Jalil Muntaqim (formerly Anthony Bottom)
was refused parole a day after his November 17 hearing. The board called
his record exemplary, but still denied him. Muntaqim thanked everyone who
wrote letters of support and said he'll appeal the decision. Failing that,
his next scheduled hearing is in June 2010. His earlier 2002, 2004 and
2006 hearings were also unsuccessful.
- In a November 19 letter to supporters, he wrote as follows:
- "The parole board ignored the overwhelming support
from the community for my release, and denied me parole. I have come to
the conclusion after this, my fourth parole appearance....that the parole
system is not a fair and impartial decision making body. It is a political
institution with a law enforcement agenda....incapable of being fair and
impartial in cases where a police officer's death is involved....The judiciary
generally supports the law enforcement agenda of the parole board."
- To rectify this "double standard," he urged
his supporters to:
- -- "organize a coalition of progressive folks willing
and able to concentrate on this issue;"
- -- get the "religious/faith based community"
- -- challenge elected officials "for their refusal
and failure to intervene....;" and
- -- New York's "Governor Patterson must be told his
choice of parole chairman and commissioners must reflect the desires of
- Short of these actions, nothing will reverse the "institutional
repression and racism endemic (in) the NYS prison and parole system."
Muntaqim is its longest-punished example, an innocent man kept imprisoned
- The freejalil.com web site calls him a "political
prisoner & prisoner of war." Some history and background follows.
- At age 19, he and Albert Nuh Washington were arrested
in San Francisco on August 28, 1971, charged with the May 21, 1971 killings
of two New York City police officers (Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini).
Washington died in prison on April 28, 2000. In 1973, Herman Bell was also
arrested and charged along with Gabriel and Francisco Torres. The two brothers
were later acquitted for lack of evidence. Muntaqim, Washington and Bell
became known as the New York Three.
- The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc. (odmp.org) said
- "were shot and killed in the 32nd Precinct when
they were ambushed by members of the Black Liberation Army (BLA). (The)
three suspects snuck up behind them and opened fire. Patrolman Jones was
struck in the back of the head and killed instantly. Patrolman Piagentini
was shot 13 times and succumbed to his injuries en route to the hospital.
(The BLA) was a violent, radical group....responsible for the murders of
more than 10 police officers around the country. They were also responsible
for violent attacks....that left many police officers wounded."
- In a secret White House May 26, 1971 meeting, Richard
Nixon, John Erlichman, FBI Director Herbert Hoover, and others named the
murders "NEWKILL," (for New York killings). It's believed they
decided to blame them on Black Panther Party (BPP) members as part of the
COINTELPRO conspiracy to destroy them.
- The first trial against the New York Five, including
the Torres brothers, ended in a mistrial. The brothers were acquitted in
a second 1975 one, but the New York Three were convicted of first degree
murder, weapons possession, and conspiracy despite evidence shown to be
inconsistent, fraudulent, and based on perjured testimonies.
- The FBI claimed a crime scene fingerprint was Herman
Bell's. Not the NYPD, however, but the jury wasn't told. The defense argued
that federal agents took the print from Muntaqim's San Francisco apartment,
and together with the NYPD conspired to assure conviction in the second
- Two firearms were also seized when Muntaqim and Washington
were arrested. The prosecution said one belonged to officer Jones. The
FBI tested the second one, a .45 caliber automatic, compared its ballistics
to crime scene evidence and found no link. The NYPD claimed its later tests
matched the San Francisco weapon. Either the FBI or NYPD lied, but it didn't
help. On May 12, 1975, Muntaqim, Washington and Bell (the New York Three)
were convicted and sentenced to two concurrent terms of 25 years to life,
the maximum penalty at the time.
- Prosecutorial charges were bogus as later exculpatory
evidence showed. Linda Torres, Karen Parks and Jacqueline Tabb testified
regarding matters relating to a Bronx, NY apartment the defendants shared.
On October 14, 1971, Tabb and others were there when police raided it.
Everyone was arrested. Tabb, Maria Torres Bailey and Stanley Bailey were
subsequently indicted for hindering prosecution in the second degree, possession
of a shotgun, and criminal possession of narcotics.
- At trial, Tabb testified that from October 16 - October
28, 1971, the New York County district attorney (DA) questioned her but
never mentioned the May 21 killings. Fearing imprisonment, however, she
then became a prosecution witness, after which she was freed and given
a DA-provided apartment.
- Later, an FBI October 30, 1971 teletype showed her testimony
was perjured, and the DA knew it. According to an NYPD inspector Jenkins,
Tabb wanted her charges dropped in return for grand jury testimony. A deal
was apparently struck.
- At trial, she testified that on May 21, 1971, the five
accused didn't leave the apartment until 8PM. Later they returned in two
groups from 10:45 - 11PM. After news reports of the killings, Bell allegedly
said "we hit the wrong ones" (because one of the officers was
Black). She also swore seeing three weapons belonging to Muntaqim, Washington
and Bell on a table.
- However, a November 5, 1971 FBI teletype, undisclosed
at trial, differed from her trial testimony. In it, she said the five men
left about 3PM, returned later, left again at 7PM, returned after several
hours, and Muntaqim, not Bell said "we hit the wrong ones." She
also claimed seeing four weapons, not three.
- Linda Torres, the estranged wife of Gabriel Torres, testified
that on May 21, 1971 she was at the Bronx apartment with her husband, his
brother Francisco, Muntaqim, Washington, Bell, Karen Parks, and Tabb. She
said the defendants left together from 8 - 9PM, then returned from 11 -
midnight." She also claimed hearing Muntaqim say "we just offed
some pigs," and the Torres brothers placed guns on her table.
- However, in her October 27, 1971 NYPD statement, she
said the five men returned together "during the late hours of May
21 or the early hours of May 22." Contrary to her trial testimony,
she mentioned no contact with the defendants prior to the shooting nor
that guns were placed on a table.
- Three days later on October 30, she changed her story,
saying the men left at 7PM, returned from 11 - 11:30PM, and "one of
the individuals place(d) three pistols on a table," contrary to at
trial claiming each defendant placed a weapon there.
- The prosecution also withheld a January 13, 1972 FBI
teletype regarding an interview with Karen Parks, allegedly in the apartment
on May 21, 1971.
- At trial, Valerie Wall and Patricia Bryant identified
Muntaqim as one of two shooters, but prosecutors didn't disclose material
relating to a May 29, 1971 FBI interview with Bryant. Also withheld was
evidence proving other individuals, not the defendants, committed the murders.
- After the crime, NYPD detective David Gregory told the
FBI that he interviewed a woman named Will Jean Davis who said her boyfriend,
Michael Williams, told her that his brother, Reggie, fit the description
eyewitnesses provided. She also identified photos of persons she knew as
the Davis brothers, not Muntaqim and Washington, even though they resembled
the individuals she knew. Neighbors identified them as well.
- In sum, charges against the New York Three were inconsistent,
fraudulent, aided by perjury, and based on a deal struck between the prosecution
and a key witness. The defendants were denied due process and judicial
fairness, never should have been convicted, and at minimum deserve a new
- Under New York State constitutional law, prosecutorial
withheld evidence entitles a defendant to retrial if what's suppressed
creates a "reasonable possibility" that the verdict might have
been different. Clearly that's true. A new trial should be ordered, or
charges dismissed altogether after decades of injustice.
- The trial was a mockery of justice. Testimonies were
riddled with inconsistencies and perjury:
- -- from Jacqueline Tabb and Linda Torres;
- -- from Willie Jean Davis, who identified two other men,
not the defendants, as the killers;
- -- undisclosed evidence that a suspected drugs trafficker,
Adolph Porter, was the real target, and the killings were drugs related;
- -- the suppressed exculpatory FBI ballistics test on
the .45 caliber weapon seized after Muntaqim and Washington were arrested;
- -- the perjured testimony of NYPD detective George Simmons
concerning the test; and
- -- the recanted testimony of one witness, Rubin Scott,
who was intimidated to cooperate at trial.
- In total, these violations create a "reasonable
probability" that had jurors known the truth their verdict might have
- The three defendants were named in later revealed COINTELPRO
documents as Black Liberation Army (BLA) and Panther Party (BPP) members,
targeted to be "neutralized" by the FBI's war on dissent, political
activism, and opposition to government injustice against society's most
vulnerable - a war still raging against Muslims, Latinos, Blacks, activists,
and heroic lawyers who defend them.
- Some Background on Muntaqim
- Born in Oakland, CA, he grew up in San Francisco and
engaged in NAACP youth organizing during the civil rights movement. In
high school, he was a leading Black Student Union member. After Martin
Luther King's assassination, he joined the Black Panther Party for Self
Defense to fight racism and injustice.
- More on them below and the San Francisco Eight, that
included Muntaqim and Herman Bell, targeted for their activism against
racism, imperialism and injustice, not crimes they never committed, and
prosecutors knew it.
- When arrested in 1971, Muntaqim was a high school graduate,
a social worker, an activist for social justice, and an FBI target to be
- His Prison Achievements
- Incarcerated since 1971, he's one of the nation's longest
held political prisoners and one of the 10 longest held Black political
prisoners in the world. He has a daughter, two grandchildren, one great
grandchild, and states:
- "I came to prison an expectant father and will leave
prison a grandfather....The United States does not recognize the existence
of political prisoners. To do so would give credence to the fact of the
level of repression and oppression, and have to recognize the fact that
people resist racist oppression in the United States, and therefore, legitimize
the existence of not only the individuals who are incarcerated or have
been captured, but also legitimize those movements of which they are apart."
- His prison achievements are impressive:
- -- from 1975 - 1977, he organized the first national
prison petition campaign to the UN; the first revolutionary prisoners'
national newspaper called Arm the Spirit, and wrote some of the first Black
political booklets, essays, and an unpublished novel and teleplay;
- -- in 1986, he drafted a legislative bill for New York
State prisoners to receive good time off their sentence; former Assemblyman
Arthur O. Eve submitted it to the NY State Assembly Committee on Corrections;
- -- in 1994, he established the first Men's Council in
the US prison system; Japanese television and The New York Times reported
- -- during the same period, he graduated from SUNY (State
Univ. of NY) New Paltz with a BS in psychology and a BA in sociology; he
also taught African studies to other prisoners;
- -- twice he got commendations from prison officials for
quelling potential riots, once in the Great Meadow mess hall and again
in the Greenhaven Correctional Facility auditorium;
- -- from 1996 - 1999, he was Eastern Correctional Facility
computer lab office manager, responsible for teaching prisoners computer
skills; at the same time, he raised money from inmate accounts for charitable
- -- in 1999, he established Auburn Correctional Facility
(ACF) sociology, poetry and legal research discussion classes under the
auspices of the Lifers' Committee he chaired;
- -- he co-sponsored the Victory Gardens Project, a program
enlisting Maine farmers to distribute produce to poor urban New York, New
Jersey, and Boston communities;
- -- in 1997, he founded the Jericho Movement to gain US
and UN "recognition of the fact that political prisoners and prisoners
of war exist inside the United States despite the United States' government's
continued denial (to win) amnesty and freedom for these political prisoners;"
he's filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of other prisoners and advocated
for humane treatment for everyone; as a result, he was punished, abused,
formally disciplined, and transferred often to other prisons;
- -- after 9/11 while still at ADF, he proposed raising
inmate funds for the Red Cross and was acknowledged by the former deputy
superintendent of programs for his efforts;
- -- during the same period, he worked as a pre-GED teacher's
assistant and earned a vocational certificate for architectural drafting;
he proposed and got approval for a Life Skills Program for inmates; and
- -- he once initiated a campaign to provide school supplies
to AIDS orphans in Africa.
- In addition, he's a published poet and essayist with
writings found in several university sponsored books containing the works
of prison writers. He says, "Remember, we are our own liberators!"
- Muntaqim's Legal Challenges
- Muntaqim v. Coombe challenged New York State's law disenfranchising
convicted felons. He argued that the law disproportionately impacts Blacks
in violation of Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act regarding the
denial of the right to vote based on race.
- -- in September 1994, he filed a pro se complaint in
US District Court for the Northern District of New York alleging various
constitutional and civil rights violations, one regarding the Voting Rights
- -- in October 1999, defendants in his complaint moved
for summary judgment dismissal; the motion was referred to a magistrate
- -- in July 2000, the magistrate recommended that defendants'
motion be granted and Muntaqim's complaint dismissed;
- -- in January 2001, the District Court judge accepted
the recommendation; Muntaqim appealed to the US Federal Court of Appeals
for the Second Circuit regarding the dismissal of the Voting Rights Act
- -- in March 2003, the case was argued before a three-judge
- -- in April 2004, his appeal was denied; he applied to
the US Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to have his case heard;
- -- in November 2004, the High Court declined;
- -- in December 2004, the Appeals Court agreed to a rehearing;
- -- in March 2005, it ordered his case heard with a similar
one, Hayden v. Pataki;
- -- in June 2005, the case was argued;
- -- in May 2006, it was dismissed on grounds that Muntaqim
lacked standing as a convicted felon.
- The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP)
- As this writer earlier explained, they stood for ethnic
justice, racial emancipation, and economic, social, and political equality
across gender and color lines - radical ideas once and more than ever now
in a climate of fear and intimidation targeting anyone opposing state policies
- ones waging global wars against humanity masquerading as a democratic
- Founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the BPP's
10-point program stood for:
- (1) freedom and "power to determine the destiny
of our black community;"
- (2) full employment for everyone, including Blacks;
- (3) "an end to the robbery by the capitalists of
our black community;"
- (4) decent housing;
- (5) education to expose "the true nature of this
decadent American society (and teach) us our true history and our role
in the present-day society;"
- (6) for "all black men to be exempt from military
service" at a time they were drafted for foreign wars;
- (7) "an immediate end to police brutality and murder
of black people;"
- (8) "freedom for all black men held in federal,
state, county and city prisons and jails" as political prisoners;
- (9) in court, for Blacks "to be tried....by a jury
of their peer group or people from their black communities;" and
- (10) "land, bread, housing, education, clothing,
justice and peace."
- Words echoing the Declaration of Independence's message
that "all men are created equal (and) whenever any form of government
(destroys democratic freedoms), it is the right of the people to alter
or abolish it, and institute a new government."
- Fifty signers endorsed it, including John Adams, John
Hancock, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Harrison (father of America's 9th president),
Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.
- The San Francisco Eight, Former BPP Members
- On January 23, 2007, they were arrested in early morning
raids in California, New York and Florida, charged with killing a San Francisco
police officer and various conspiracy acts from 1968 - 1973. They were
framed following decades of harassment, a ruthless vendetta against former
Panthers, and anyone challenging imperial America. Included were:
- -- Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones, Richard
O'Neal, Harold Taylor and Francisco Torres;
- -- Jalil Muntaqim and Herman Bell, imprisoned since 1971
and 1973 respectively; and
- -- Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth, believed still sought.
- For decades, no new evidence was found against any of
them. On February 7, 2008, the conspiracy charge against Boudreaux, Brown,
Jones, Taylor, and O'Neal was dropped, the result of successful defense
motions challenging it on grounds that the three-year California statute
of limitations expired.
- Similar motions for Muntaqim, Bell and Torres were heard
by the California Appeals Court. Despite their innocence, Muntaqim pleaded
to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter and Bell to voluntary manslaughter
charges. Both men were sentenced to time served and probation. Torres is
the last one still charged, but maintains his innocence. O'Neill is now
cleared of all charges.
- Nearly three years of struggle and mass support included
resolutions from the San Francisco Central Labor Council, the Berkeley
City Council, and several San Francisco Supervisors. As a result, they've
nearly thwarted the racist, vindictive persecution by the Department of
Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and California prosecutors.
- No matter. Muntaqim and Bell remain imprisoned for crimes
they never committed, because of them activism for social justice.
- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre
for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at