“Obey the law…Be law-biding, but if somebody puts his hands on you, send them to the cemetery!...”
Malcolm X, Message to the Grassroots, November 1963
“You haven’t got integration in New York City. If you can’t get integration in New York City as up to date and cosmopolitan as it is, you’ll never get it anywhere else in this country…”
Malcolm X, Theresa Hotel, 1st Post Mecca Press Conference, May 1964
Dear Governor Paterson,
I am most sure that we, the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, speak for many when we say we applaud your decision to commute the sentence of John White.
To be sure, we are of the expressed view that White should’ve been pardoned outright, that the environment in which he was tried and where he had to live, was to racially polarized for him to be given more consideration for what happened on that fateful night where he and his family was threatened. In this tradition, the Malcolm X tradition, we insist that anyone,, whenever threatened, avail themselves of the right to defend
themselves. We believe that White was within his God-given human rights to defend himself and his family when he was confronted by a white mob on his lawn.
Just as John White’s incredible case called out for justice, there are some other well repressed cases that also call out for justice. We are talking here about the case of New York State’s political prisoners, its COINTELPRO targets, who now have been languishing throughout the state’s prison system for more than 35 years in most instances.
We speak of the case of the surviving members of the NY3, Herman Bell (79c0262)and Jalil Muntaqim (fka as Anthony Bottom, 77a4283). They lost a codefendent to cancer in prison several years ago with the death of Albert ‘Nuh’ Washington! These men have been in prison from COINTELPRO-tainted political prosecutions because of their commitments to the Black Panther Party since 1973 and 1975 respectively. They have been model prisoners and the only reason they are still in prison is because of their affiliation with the Black Panther Party. Robert ‘Seth’ Hayes (74a2280) has been in prison as a consequence of a COINTELPRO-tainted
prosecution since 1973. He too has been a model prisoner and has faced down some serious health issues in recent years with great dignity. The only reason he is still in prison is because of his affiliation with the Black Panther Party. Abdul Majeed (83a0483) is the surviving Queens 2 defendant, framed for killing a police officer even though evidence of a drug connection in that officer’s killing, was suppressed. He was targeted, as well as his now deceased codefendant, the late Bashir Hameed, because of their affiliation with the Black Panther Party. He too has been a model prisoner and has wrongly incarcerated since 1981. Then there is the case of Sekou Odinga, (09a3775) who actually joined Malcolm’s Organization of AfroAmerican Unity and Muslim Mosque Inc. as a
youngster before joining the Black Panther Party. The torture he survived when he was captured was legendary. It is also typical of the kind of laboratory abuse these men and women faced before the government would later use in other countries, like El Salvador, Guatamala, Nicaragua, Haiti, and most recently Iraq (AbuGhairab). He has just done 28 years in federal time. He will not be eligible for parole in New York state until 2033!
In each of these cases, these men who were proud members of the Black Panther Party at the time that the Party had been dangerously labeled “the most serious internal threat to the national security of the United States” by the FBI. In each of these cases, these men have been charged with killing or the attempted killing of police officers, or something of comparable seriousness, and in each of these cases, exculpatory evidence pointing to their innocence had been suppressed, and ex parte evidence, secret evidence presented to a judge without due process by federal authorities, had factored in their trials. At this point, decades later, none have any means of legal relief
and the parole process has proven to be as arbitrary and racist as the polarizing climate that produced COINTELPRO in the firstplace.
Though the now legendary Church Committee hearings established clearly that those operations were wrong, dangerous in their pervasiveness, and a real threat to democracy, they wrongly did nothing to prescribe relief for its targets. So many like these men still languish in prisons throughout the country, some now for more than 40 years like Eddie Marshall Conway in Maryland!
We implore you, in the simple interests of justice, recognizing the urgency of our generation’s historical moment, to do what simple justice demands. Just as you found the moral courage to address the White case and to commute that man’s sentence, we implore you to do at least the very same thing for these men. Yes, the media will be hostile and spineless colleagues in your party will cringe, but history will absolve you and it will absolve these men who have sacrificed their very lives for all ofour freedom.We pray that you will address this matter with the urgency it requires.
May the God of our ancestors bless you in your deliberations and in all your future public service endeavors…
Outgoing press officer,
Malcolm X Commemoration Committee
973 714 9638
THE MALCOLM X COMMEMORATION COMMITTEE
PO BOX 380-122,BROOKLYN, NY 11238