Last week, people were elated all over hip hop because Lil Boosie beat his murder charges! Can I get applause! You know you ready to hear his post jail released tracks such as “B***ch I’m Out Joint” or “B***ch, Don’t Make Me Go Back In”. All jokes aside though I went on one of my twitter (follow me at @diggame) rants about people being so happy about Lil Boosie being out of jail. I could personally give a damn about Lil Boosie getting off. No diss to Lil Boosie but him getting off for orchestrating the death of a fellow rapper is not something that needs to be on my radar. Good for him he beat a murder charge but I took it as an opportunity on twitter to some people aware political prisoners that we really do need to be aware of. Lots of people were asking more questions about the people I mentioned on twitter that people want to become aware of so I decided to flesh out some more information in another edition Reversing a Culture of Ignorance.
It’s interesting I am writing this since a few weeks is the anniversary of the great Geronimo Pratt‘s death. Geronimo Pratt was a political prisoner many of us have heard of considering he was released in 1997 and won a court settlement for wrong imprisonment for around 6 million dollars. But, here are three other political just like Geronimo Pratt who many believe were victims of the U.S. Government’s COINTELPRO program.
As a journalist, Abu-Jamal was labeled as “a voice for the voiceless” by the Philadelphia Inquirer for his work exposing what the US Department of Justice called “the practice of brutality against minorities” by that city’s police department. Abu-Jamal was so well-known for his work, and so hated by the city government, that at a press conference in 1978, Philadelphia Mayor Rizzo stood up, pointed at Abu-Jamal and said, “Young man, someday you will be held accountable for what you have done.”
On December 9, 1981, the city government saw its chance to punish Abu-Jamal for his dissent. At 4 AM while working as a taxi driver, he drove up to the scene of a white police officer beating an African-American male, Abu-Jamal’s own brother, in the street. He exited his cab to intervene, presumably with his 0.38 caliber gun in hand, and shots were fired. The police officer lay dead and Abu-Jamal was shot through the chest.
“Elie Wiesel says that the greatest evil in the world is not anger or hatred, but indifference. If that is true, then the opposite is also true: that the greatest love we can show our children is the attention we pay them, the time we take for them. Maybe we serve children the best simply by noticing them.” – Mumia Abu-Jamal
The city government successfully convicted Abu-Jamal for premeditated first-degree murder in a trial riddled with racial bias, judicial improprieties, witness tampering, and no legal defense for the accused. His appointed attorney never spoke with a witness, a pathologist, or a forensic expert. His attorney did not even read the medical examiner’s report, because if he had, he could have brought out in court that Abu-Jamal’s gun and the bullet that killed the police officer were not even the same caliber. After dismissing his attorney, Abu-Jamal tried to defend himself, but was eventually denied that right after a white juror complained that his dreadlocks frightened her.
Despite all this, the jury was ready to find Abu-Jamal guilty of the lesser charge of third-degree murder, until presiding judge Albert Sabo, who holds the US record for death penalty convictions, defined premeditation for the jury as the few seconds of thought before the accused pulls the trigger. Based on that ruling, the jury found him guilty and sentenced him to die.
Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent the many years of his life on death row but he has not remained silent despite the government’s attempts to isolate him from the outside world. He has written an internationally bestselling book Live From Death Row, and he has just completed another. The international pleas for Abu-Jamal from Nelson Mandela, the Japanese Diet, and others have done much to bring attention to the case. On April 26, 2011, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed its earlier decision to vacate the death sentence on the grounds that the jury instructions and verdict form were ambiguous and confusing. He still in prison sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. (source)
Many of you may have heard Common’s Like Water For Chocolate album. On the album there was a song called Song for Assata that really put me onto Assata Shakur which drove me to read her autobiography Assata: An Autobiography. Assata also has a connection to the late great rapper Tupac Shakur as she is his godmother. Assata Shakur has a dynamic story that I should have added to my post Reversing a Culture of Ignorance: Black Women Who Were More than the Help. Assata has been a person who constantly fought for the rights of Black Americans to have justice, economic empowerment, and protection.
Assata was a graduate of City College of New York City and is a former member of the Black Panther Party For Self Defense and even became the leader of the Harlem chapter of the party. Assata would later leave the Black Panther Party. In May 1973 Shakur was involved in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike, during which New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and BLA member Zayd Malik Shakur were killed and Shakur and Trooper James Harper were wounded. Between 1973 and 1977, Shakur was indicted in relation to six other alleged criminal incidents—charged with murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, bank robbery, and kidnapping—resulting in three acquittals and three dismissals. In 1977, she was convicted of the first-degree murder of Foerster and of seven other felonies related to the shootout.
“Freedom? you asking me about freedom? you asking me about freedom? I’ll be honest with you, I know a whole lot more, about what freedom isn’t than what it is…”- Assata Shakur
Shakur was then incarcerated in several prisons, where her treatment drew criticism from some human rights groups. She escaped from prison in 1979 and has lived in Cuba in political asylum since 1984. Since May 2, 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has classified her as a “domestic terrorist” and offered a $1 million reward for help in her capture. Attempts to extradite her have resulted in letters to the Pope and a Congressional resolution. There is so much medical and ballistic evidence to support that Assata had nothing to do with the police killing on the New Jersey turnpike and that her hands were raised when she was shot by the New Jersey Highway Patrol. The case of Assata Shakur is one that has brought up critical legal studies and studies of critical race theory. (source)
Tupac Shakur is steadily becoming an intricate part of this post because Mutulu Shakur is Tupac’s stepfather and the father to former Outlaw member Mopreme aka Komani. Tupac’s mother was a former Black Panther party member and a member of the Panther 21 who were wrongfully prosecuted over two years. Tupac and a lot of who he became on his political side was shaped by Mutulu Shakur.
Shakur was a strong supporter of Malcolm X as well as several other Civil Rights leaders at the time. As he grew older he moved to Harlem in New York City in the 1970s. Shakur later joined the Republic Of New Afrika and the BLA (Black Liberation Army) as well. He was involved with several bank robberies and other criminal activities.
In 1970 Shakur started working with the Lincoln Detox (detoxification) Community (addiction treatment) Program, which offered drug treatment to addicts using acupuncture. Shakur became certified and licensed to practice acupuncture in the State of California in 1976. Eventually he became the program’s assistant director and remained associated with the program until 1978. He went on to help found and direct the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America (BAAANA) and the Harlem Institute of Acupuncture.
The word terrorist, unlike communist and fascist, is being abused by the oppressors as it disguises reality and impoverishes language and makes a banality out of the discussion of war, revolution, conflict, and politics. As Christopher Hitchens once said, “It’s the perfect instrument for the cheapening of public opinion and for the intimidation of dissent…This is the age of social media where the tragic dramas presented in testimony to a broad base of the American public will hopefully inform and expose the present generation and future generations to lessons this country need not repeat.”- Mutulu Shakur
Meanwhile, Shakur’s RNA group had allied themselves with the controversial Weather Underground, a group of mostly white radical anti-war protestors who would later be connected to a series of bombings. To fund their movements, the groups combined forces and began planning elaborate robberies-the black members would rob the bank, while whites drove the getaway cars. Federal law enforcement agents believed that Shakur was using his acupuncture school as a front for these and other resistance activities. Despite their lack of evidence, police shut down the institution in 1979.
In August of 1980, Mutulu moved to Harlem, where he began the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America. Shakur’s methods of treatment made him internationally known in the medical community, and many community leaders, political activists, lawyers and doctors came to Shakur for treatment. He also helped the poor, homeless, and drug-addicted members of the community get back on their feet.
Shakur remained No. 1 on the FBI’s Most Wanted list until his arrest on February 12, 1986. According to law enforcement agents, Shakur was involved in 12 robberies, held between December 1976 and October 1981. Shakur went on trial in 1987, he was charged with operating a criminal enterprise and with the killings in October of 1981. Despite lack of eyewitnesses or physical evidence linking him to the crime scenes, and the judge’s declaration that Shakur had been unfairly targeted by the federal government, the jury found Shakur guilty on all counts. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison. He is currently is incarcerated and is scheduled for release in 2016. (source)
If you haven’t make sure you check out this weeks episodes of the “Straight Outta Lo Cash” Radio Show. This week’s show “Hollywood Swingin” feat. comedian Arvin Mitchell.You can also subscribe to the show on I-Tunes or listen on your Android, I-Phone, I-Pad or Black berry of Stitcher Radio.
- Don’t Free Lil’ Boosie. (averagebro.com)
- Post-Racial Update: Republican KKK Leader Running for Sheriff Invites Media to Cross Burning (rippdemup.com)
- “Occupy the Department of Justice”: Trayvon Martin, Mumia Abu Jamal, & Mass Incarceration (rippdemup.com)
- Mumia Abu Jamal on Democracy Now (moorbey.wordpress.com)