WW: Al-Amin: the state seeks death.

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMtao.ca
Sat May 13 03:11:41 MDT 2000



JAMIL ABDULLAH AL-AMIN: GEORGIA SEEKS DEATH SENTENCE

By S. Tomlinson
Atlanta

Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown,
has spent a lifetime fighting racism. Now, in the ultimate
irony, it appears that racism's most powerful weapon will
be turned against him.

The district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., announced in
early May that he intends to seek the death penalty against
Al-Amin for the March 16 shooting death of a Fulton County
sheriff's deputy.

Approximately 90 percent of those whom U.S. prosecutors
seek to execute are African American or Latino. A recent
study showed that Black people in Philadelphia are nearly
four times as likely to get the death penalty as other
defendants under similar circumstances.

The case against Al-Amin is tangled with unanswered
questions, police misconduct and outright lies. Yet the
prosecutors feel confident enough to make this a capital
case and pursue the death penalty against a respected
community leader.

The only identified eyewitness is a second deputy, who was
wounded in the incident. He initially could not identify
the shooter, but he identified Al-Amin the next day.

This deputy said that he clearly wounded the assailant in
the shootout. Investigators first on the scene that night
found a trail of fresh blood. However, after Al-Amin's
arrest, it became apparent that he had not been wounded. So
now the authorities consider the blood trail irrelevant to
the case.

This will to ignore evidence in cases against former Black
Panthers is nothing new. Former Panther Geronimo Ji Jaga
Pratt recently settled his false imprisonment and civil-
rights lawsuit against the FBI and the city of Los Angeles
for $4.5 million. Activist, writer and former Black Panther
Mumia Abu-Jamal is on Pennsylvania's death row for a crime
he did not commit.

Is the case against Al-Amin just another chapter in the
long history of the government's attempt to annihilate
revolutionary Black leaders?

In the late 1960s, Al-Amin was known as H. Rap Brown,
chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
It was during these turbulent times that Al-Amin emerged as
a true leader in the fight against racism. His fiery
rhetoric stirred the people and troubled the authorities.

In July 1967, after a speech in Cambridge, Md., he was
ambushed and shot by assailants he later came to learn were
Black police officers. After the shooting, the crowd began
to rebel. He was charged with inciting to riot.

JOINED BLACK PANTHERS

By 1968, he had joined the Black Panther Party, where he
served briefly as minister of justice. The FBI treated the
Black Panthers as "the most dangerous and violence-prone of
all extremist groups" and used every oppressive weapon
against them.

He was eventually arrested and sent to prison. There he
served five years.

During the first year of his incarceration, the freedom
fighter converted to Islam and changed his name to Jamil
Abdullah Al-Amin. Released on parole in 1976, Al-Amin
settled in Atlanta and began to build a Muslim community.

So, did the government still think Al-Amin was a threat,
or was he forgotten? On the 25th anniversary of the
Cambridge rebellion, Al-Amin was interviewed for a local
Washington paper. He spoke of the ongoing struggle for
justice for Black people in the United States. He defined
various movements in that struggle. Then he spoke of Islam.

"In Islam, we're not talking about getting the poor to
vote. We're not talking about empowering poor people with
money. We're talking about overturning that whole thing,
man."

Those words appeared in 1992. If the government had
forgotten about Al-Amin, his words may have served as a
stark reminder. Al-Amin was a revolutionary. That same
year, the FBI and Atlanta police began investigating Al-
Amin in connection with everything from domestic terrorism
to gunrunning to murder.

In 1995, Al-Amin was charged in the shooting of a man in
his neighborhood. After the victim revealed that he was
coerced into naming Al-Amin as the shooter, all charges
were dropped.

The FBI investigation is said to have ended in February
1996. Atlanta police say their investigation ended in
August 1997. Despite the lengthy investigations by both
agencies, no charges were ever filed against Al-Amin.

For 25 years, Al-Amin has been considered a pillar of his
community. These are the sentiments of those who know Al-
Amin, those with whom he cleaned up his formerly drug-
infested neighborhood in Atlanta. Throughout the nation,
even the world, Al-Amin is Imam Al-Amin, a respected Muslim
prayer leader.

Years of government scrutiny failed to yield that
information. The investigator saw Al-Amin's status in the
community simply as a cover for criminal activities. To the
government, Al-Amin is just another violent Black
revolutionary with a target on his back. If, in seeking the
death penalty against another Black revolutionary, the
government looks to end a movement that they consider a
threat, then they would do well to heed the words of Al-
Amin.

"Many times, people mistakenly identify movement as
struggle. Movement is only a phase of struggle ... the
struggle goes on."

                         - END -


Macdonald Stainsby
-----
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