By the Center for Constitutional Rights
New York – A group of prominent academics, lawyers and activists published an open letter on May 21 calling for the release of political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim (aka Anthony Bottom), the only remaining Black Panther incarcerated in New York. He was arrested 48 years ago, when he was 19 years old, and is scheduled for his 11th parole hearing in September 2019. Signers include Professor Angela Davis of the University of California at Santa Cruz, Professor Cornel West of Harvard, actor and activist Danny Glover, musician and filmmaker Boots Riley, author Michelle Alexander and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors.
The letter reads:
“We the undersigned offer our strongest support for the release of Jalil Muntaqim (aka Anthony Bottom) on parole. We also ask that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo commute his sentence to time served. Jalil was arrested in 1971 when he was only 19 years old and a member of the Black Panther Party. Forty‐eight years later he is the only Black Panther prisoner who remains incarcerated in New York State prisons. It is time for this father, grandfather and great-grandfather to come home.
“Over the decades, Jalil has consistently demonstrated his commitment to sustaining family relationships, pursuing educational advancement and providing service to the community, inside and outside of prison. He has served as a teacher, mentor and role model for hundreds of other incarcerated people. He stands as an example of the potential to reflect, change and grow despite the many challenges of the prison environment.
“Jalil is scheduled for his 12th parole hearing this coming September. One of his co‐defendants, Albert ‘Nuh’ Washington, died in prison in 2000. The other, Herman Bell, was released in April 2018 after serving almost 45 years in prison. There is no justification for Jalil to be held in prison any longer. He should be released at his next parole hearing when he will be 68 years old.
“We believe in the principles of restorative justice. While we understand the serious nature of the crimes for which Jalil has been convicted, a life sentence should not be a death sentence. Forty‐eight years is long enough. After all this time, Jalil Muntaqim belongs with his family and his community.”
See the letter here.
This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.