H. Rap Brown (later known as Jamil al-Amin) in Cambridge, Maryland after the rebellion where he was ambushed by police in July of 1967.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
By Askia Muhammad
Updated Aug 14, 2007, 10:51 am
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) - From his jail cell on K-Block in the state prison at Reidsville, Ga., to his supporters all over the country—an unambiguous demand is being sounded for prison authorities and for the legal system itself, to end the unjust persecution of Imam Jamil Al-Amin.
“My husband says he feels he has been sentenced two times. He has been sentenced for a crime, number one, that he did not commit and that someone has confessed to it, and confessed shortly after the incident. And he’s been sentenced by the Department of Corrections,” Karimah Al-Amin, wife of Imam Al-Amin, told The Final Call.
In March 2002, Imam Al-Amin was convicted of murdering a Fulton County, Georgia Sheriff’s Deputy and wounding another in an incident March 16, 2000. Mr. Al-Amin steadfastly maintains his innocence. His supporters insist that he was convicted not based on the evidence, but because he is a Muslim, because of his militant past and his former association with the Black Panther Party.
There is a consensus among Imam Al-Amin’s supporters that he was convicted long before the jury announced its verdict and that prosecutors intentionally ignored the truth in order to punish someone with whom Atlanta authorities have had a long-running feud.
Law enforcement officials “know they’ve got the wrong people, but as long as they can do it in the darkness, or as long as there’s no mass protest, then they can just say, ‘Hey. We got another leader off the streets. So what if he didn’t do it. We’ve been after him since the ’60s’ COINTELPRO,’” complained Hodari Abdul-Ali, executive director of the Imam Jamil Action Network.
“What’s needed is more public awareness of the fact that he’s an innocent man. He’s a political prisoner who is serving time for a crime that he did not do. If he’s guilty, he’s guilty of fighting for the rights of African Americans and, fighting for the rights of Muslims. And trying to make America the democracy that it claims to be. Yeah, he’s guilty of that,” said Mr. Abdul-Ali.
Imam Al-Amin’s second unjust sentence, his supporters insist, is his treatment in the Georgia prison system where he has been on 23-hour lock-down since 2002, despite many public complaints, even petitions from among the Muslim population at Reidsville that he join them for Jumu’ah prayers as their Imam.
He gets one hour out of the cell to shower and also to walk around, what is considered a ‘Dog Pen’ for exercises, according to Mrs. Al-Amin. Authorities even tried recently to humiliate him by passing his meals to him through a slot on the floor, his supporters pointed out. That practice was ended after many vocal complaints.
“The [Prison] Commissioner, when questioned on the phone [recently] by [Imam Al-Amin’s] brother Ed Brown, said, ‘We’ll consider [modifying his conditions] once the situation changes.’” said Sister Al-Amin. “He was asked, ‘What is the situation?’ He could not come up with anything. He doesn’t have any infractions against him. He would be considered a model prisoner anywhere else.”
And there is the fundamental injustice of his conviction, insists Imam Al-Amin’s wife. The Imam has been a target of government harassment since the 1960s when he was the leader of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). At that time he was known as H. Rap Brown and was known for militant civil rights rhetoric.
The fiery civil rights leader was singled out individually, by name, as a threat by FBI Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) agents. “Spiro Agnew, who was then governor of Maryland said: ‘Throw Brown in the jail and throw away the key,’” Nkechi Taifa, then Director of the Equal Justice Program at Howard University School of Law told The Final Call at the time of Imam Al-Amin’s trial in January 2002.
The facts in the case also strongly support Imam Al-Amin’s claims of innocence.
There was testimony during the trial that within minutes of the shootout March 16, 2000, in which deputy Ricky Kinchen died, a caller to Atlanta’s 911 Emergency Telephone line reported seeing a bleeding man a few blocks from the scene of the confrontation, begging motorists for a ride. That fact is important because both Deputy Kinchen and his partner, Aldranon English, claimed to have wounded their assailant.
There was also testimony of a trail of fresh blood leading from the scene to an abandoned house, which was not investigated by the police, according to Sister Al-Amin, and “the Imam’s fingerprints were not found on any firearm associated with the crime,” she wrote in The Weekly Mirror. When Imam Al-Amin was arrested three days after the shooting in White Hall, Alabama, after a massive manhunt, authorities were shocked that he had no injuries.
Prosecutors managed to stack the jury, said Mrs. Al-Amin, excluding Muslims, Black women who might be old enough to recall COINTELPRO involvement in civil rights and campus rights activities.
Another puzzling development is the recent appearance of an un-dated and unsigned letter, purportedly written by a Mr. Otis Jackson who in the typewritten letter identifies himself as Mr. Bey. In his confession letter, Mr. Bey writes: “I pulled out and opened fire with my 9 mm hand gun. I then went to my car and got my M-14 and fired off some rounds. Deputy Kinchen shot me two times in the arm so I shot him. I shot Deputy English as well. I remember standing over him and him telling me about his family, but I was upset and hurt and I hate cops so I shot him anyway.
“I got in my car, went to the home of [redacted] She along with [redacted] removed the bullet. One went in and came out. The one that was in there, they got it out. I went home, on the 17th or 18th I found out that they were looking for Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. So I called my parole officer and told her what I had done,” the confession letter continues. “I was sent back to Vegas. I had to beg the FBI to investigate and I was told that I was not the one that they wanted. I was told that I should be honored that I had gotten away with killing a police.”
With such potentially convincing evidence available for his legal team, why is he still behind bars?
“That’s what we’re dealing with right now,” said Sister Al-Amin. “We’ve been in court in the county where he’s being held with a habeas corpus (petition). We have two new attorneys, not the original trial attorneys. We raised 14 grounds for reversal and for him to have a new trial,” she continued.
The plight of Imam Jamil Al-Amin is not new in the persecution of freedom fighters. We must not forget, and continue to organize and mobilize our community to support, defend, and with God’s help, gain the release of our Brother, another political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on death row in a Philadelphia, Pa. prison for the past 25 years.
Like the case of Imam Al-Amin, wicked forces do not desire to look at the truth of the evidence in his case that would free him.
The Final Call will continue to monitor, investigate and report on the legal proceedings of both cases involving Imam Jamil Al-Amin and Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Copyright 2007 FCN Publishing, FinalCall.com