Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Rap Sheet: H. Rap Brown, Civil Rights Revolutionary- Cop Killer/FBI Target?

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Rap Sheet: H. Rap Brown, Civil Rights Revolutionary- Cop Killer/FBI Target?

Article excerpt

A Voice for the Voiceless His voice had power. His booming delivery was infused with rousing socio-political rhetoric. With a rhythmic cadence, tone, and inflection, his voice kept a beat. It emboldened a generation of black youth, and frightened the white establishment. His voice organized black voters in rural southern towns. It later pushed drug dealers and prostitutes out of his Atlanta community. As he aged, the provocative rhetoric gave way to a mellow, measured and direct recital of religious discipline. He traded his iconic black beret and black sunglasses for a knitted kufiand wirerimmed glasses. Despite his garb, at a lean 6'5", he always cut an imposing figure - a revolutionary unafraid to speak truth to power.

But now, that voice has been muted; muzzled underneath the wailing screams of the mentally ill as they bang on the walls of their prison cells - walls on to which they spread their feces. Men who mutilate their bodies with and swallow razors, shards of glass, sharpened chicken bones and writing utensils howl and weep at all hours of the day and night. It is within these hellish confines that a Civil Rights icon sits shackled in an underground cell. Silenced.

Let me declare before the families of these men, before the state, and any who would dare to know the truth, that I neither shot nor killed anyone. I am innocent...

For over 10 years now, Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin has been under perpetual solitary confinement, for usually 23 hours a day with almost no human contact. Al-Amin, once known as H. Rap Brown during his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, is now referred to as 99974-555 - his inmate register number at the federally run Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. He is serving a life sentence for a crime many people believe he never committed.

Al-Amin was convicted of murdering a deputy sheriffand wounding another during a gun fight in March of 2000 and was sentenced to life in prison two years later. Then, on July 30 into August 1 of 2007, Al-Amin was secretly transferred overnight to the super-maximum security ADX prison, without the knowledge of his family or legal counsel. It is there where he now resides, 1,400 miles away from home, shackled in that underground cell. Although housed in a federal facility, Al-Amin is imprisoned on state charges and is still being paid for by Georgia state tax payers.

Al-Amin has always maintained his innocence. In a statement released after his arrest, he wrote: Let me declare before the families of these men, before the state, and any who would dare to know the truth, that I neither shot nor killed anyone. I am innocent...I am one with the grief of this mother and father at the loss of their son. I am joined at the heart with this widow and her children at the loss of a husband and a father. I drink from the same bitter cup of sorrow as the siblings at the loss of a beloved brother. I am powerless to do anything to ease your pain and suffering except pray that Allah comforts you in your hour of need and grants you peace for the remainder of your days.

Later, prior to his trial, a gag order was imposed on Al-Amin, preventing him from professing his innocence outside of the trial. Even now, a request sent to the ADX prison to interview Al- Amin has gone unanswered.

To give a voice back to the man who once vociferously spoke for the voiceless, over 200 supporters of Al-Amin gathered under the dome of the Georgia State Capital building in Atlanta for a national day of action on March 19, 2012. The rally, which featured many speakers including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Imam Zaid Shakir, was coordinated to demand that Al-Amin be released from federal detainment and transferred back to the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia.

"We're certain the F.B.I. has a role in (his transfer to the federal prison)" said Heather Gray, host of the Just Peace radio program on WRFG in Atlanta and an organizer of the rally. …

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