Written by Imani Asada Mohamed, with contributions from The Freedom Archives
as Salamu Alaykum, Greetings Comrades, Fam, Friends-and yes Foes!
I am writing in deep solidarity and service for our comrade Jalil Muntaqim, former member of The Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Jalil is also one of the USA’s longest held political prisoners. Comrade Jalil Muntaqim has roots here in the Bay area. He was born in Oakland in 1951, and lived in both San Francisco and San Jose. He was arrested at the age of 19 as part of a COINTELPRO target project. At the time of his arrest he was working as a social worker.
[Scroll below the videos for the rest of the essay.]
Interview with Jalil, Part I:
Interview with Jalil Part II:
I highly recommend reading the particulars about his case, his life, and learning about the strong, compassionate, intelligent man, who sacrificed his life in a quest to address racism, police brutality, oppression and injustice in our communities. Comrade Jalil is not only a Political Prisoner/Prisoner of War-but he is a beloved son, father, uncle, friend, and hero.
Jalil is not a number, he is a victim of the COINTELPRO slave chattel, gathered up to feed the Prison Industrial Complex and imprisoned for his political beliefs that oppression, injustices, and brutality against people is vile and wrong. He is a human being, punished for opposing the ills of this un-just system. Getting to know Jalil, opens a whole new door into how this system functions, why it must be changed, and revolutionary visions concerning how to create and implement positive changes. Anyone who views this as “threatening” has lost the ideals and meaning of what human rights are all about-for indeed these are human rights issues. Beyond the intellectual writings from his myrid of essays, books and interviews, Jalil is also a prolific poet. Jalil has written several volumes of poetry that causes one to pause, reflect and to contemplate deep seated feelings and emotions as his poetry speaks intensely on various issues both socially and personally, from the depths of the soul -from the belly of the beast; wherein over four decades of incarceration have produced some of the greatest creative and intellectual material written.
As I compile this essay, I hear Jalil’s voice- his words of wisdom and insight, I feel his strength in this fierce struggle-and I smile-with gratitude and sadness. Gratitude for the honor of being a small part of his struggle for freedom; gratitude for being able to converse and get to know such a great man-and for the things I have learned from him. Sadness at the dismal outlook of this un-just system and the brutal infliction’s it has imposed upon people and families such as comrade Jalil. I have known Jalil for over seven years, corresponding frequently with him. I consider him not only a friend but a Brother as well-he is family. He has been a great source of wisdom and strength for me as a single mom raising two young girls. His counsel for them has always been encouraging them to be morally upright, educated young women. I have always appreciated his insight, compassion and wisdom concerning our young people today and how to raise intelligent, respectful and successful young adults. I hope my efforts in the quest for his freedom can make even a small difference-for indeed I owe this great man much more than I could ever accomplish. However-every effort helps and it takes one person at a time to step forward as a collective to change things.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the need for readers to review his latest petitions for parole, as they point out the highlights of comrade Jalil’s contributions, attributes as well as successful endeavors he has made while incarcerated. http://www.change.org/petitions/nys-chairwoman-of-parole-release-jalil-muntaqim-to-buffalo-on-parole-in-june-2012 and http://www.freejalil.com/images2/2014_Jalil_Parole_Petition.pdf
These petitions are a heartfelt and accurate analysis of comrade Jalil as a revolutionary man of honor, as well as illustrating how driven and committed he is to constantly strive for excellence in all area’s of life. I ask myself-how many people have accomplished this much who are NOT incarcerated? I think his record of accomplishments is self supporting and indicative of his much deserved freedom. The great accomplishments he attained while incarcerated can only be magnified when he is free as he would be an asset to any community that values integrity, intelligence, compassion and productivity.
Examining the state of affairs within the USA, I can only comment on what the USA claims to be and claims to represent: a country wherein everyone is treated fairly and everyone had rights. However, I see many cases where people (police-protecting and serving the communities) have executed others point blank-and only served two years. In other cases, young men of color-even children, are gunned down for no reason and no justice is brought. Maybe I do not understand this concept of justice and equality-or maybe I sadly do.
I have written letters requesting those in “power” look at Jalil’s case, not as a number, not with contempt, but to look at it from the perspective of a concerned community member, a family member, a friend. Perhaps by evaluating what is justice for Jalil Muntaquim in light of freedom from possible professional bias, how would they decide? I appealed to visions of what they personally know would be right, if he were someone who mattered to them. However, it is evident that human life does not matter, nor does it matter that human right’s are violated. I am waiting for someone to prove me wrong and to do what is right in this case. I further asked: while Jalil has already served 40+ years, is it really necessary to continue on with his incarceration because some feel it is “politically correct”? The power to release or deny Jalil Muntaqim parole is a serious issue-morally, ethically, professionally as well as personally. I have asked congress persons, parole board members to: “really look at this case and please do give serious thought to the 40+ years served; his accomplishments and contributions, and one (now ELDERLY) man’s plea to live out the rest of his life in freedom with his loved ones. I do not believe this is asking too much, I believe this is what justice is. I believe that this is what America has declared it represents: fairness, just cause and equality for all. I believe that there existed a time wherein people who were incarcerated did their time and were released –they did not sit year after year after year hoping, waiting to be released-they served time and were released.
Today, many men and women sit and sit…waiting and hoping to be paroled after their time is served. Yet they remain incarcerated indefinitely, year after year. This is not a third world country wherein people can just be left to die in prisons after their time is served, or is it? I also look at the statistics and see that the USA has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world! Is this the America-where values of justice and freedom are held dear to heart? People immigrate here, hoping in that dream-that promise; instead, some arrive here only to whisper their shock at the delusions they have been feed. Somewhere along the line, Americans lost these rights-rights to fairness, rights to freedom, and rights for release after time served. Some American’s never really even had these rights to begin with-Americans of color and Americans who are poor. Oppression and racism is an ugly legacy, don’t you think?
In closing, I ask that you please take the steps needed to free our comrades, educate others for liberation and help restore and empower our communities. While you may think, “I am only one person”, I say “we all make up the whole, and with each of us doing our part, power to the people is not only a human right-but an constitutional right.”
And at the end of the day, we all must ask ourselves, did I do my best, was I fair, was I just….
“It was a time when yesterday’s dreams are preferred, a period where personal sacrifice was not abandoned but was regarded as doing one’s part….” From: Existing the Prism-Fade to Black by Jalil Muntaqim
Please Write to Jalil: Anthony J. Bottom #77A4283 Attica C.F. P.O. Box 149 Attica, NY 14011-0149
Submitted in Solidarity & Service, with gratitude to The Commemoration Committee, The Jericho Movement & The Freedom Archives
Imani Asada Mohamed, PhD
Bay Area CA Solidarity for Jalil Muntaqim
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