Activists gathered in Tucson, Arizona, recently for a press conference to protest the detainment of political prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin in a federal penitentiary. He was convicted in 2002 of murder of a police officer in Georgia but transferred to a federal facility.
The prominent Black Panther leader, formerly known as H. Rap Brown and his supporters have proclaimed his innocence from day one. Another man, James Santos also known as Otis Jackson, self-proclaimed leader of the Almighty Vice Lord Nation (AVLN) has admitted to the crime in sworn affidavits.
Imam Jamil’s family want him transferred back to Georgia where he can be close to his legal team and family, receive appropriate medical care and a new trial based upon new evidence that should exonerate him.
“This fight has been my fight, my personal fight for 21 years, because this is my father,” Attorney Kairi Al-Amin said at the Aug. 15 press conference. “Three years ago, my father asked me to take over the public outreach aspects of his campaign. My goal was to get this effort on the internet and on social media,” he explained.
“This turnout of people who are Muslim, people who are Black, people who are White … came from all walks of life from all across the country to Tucson. The campaign is working. My father got a visit the other day from Homeland Security and the FBI. They flew all the way from Washington to Tucson because they heard about this event we were organizing,” said the younger Al-Amin.
On March 16, 2000, Fulton County, Georgia Sheriff’s deputies Ricky Kinchen and Aldranon English went to Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s house to execute an arrest warrant for his failure to appear in court. The home was unoccupied, and the deputies left. After that point the story by some accounts is blurred.
Imam Al-Amin is accused of murdering Deputy Kinchen during a traffic stop. The surviving deputy—Mr. English—testified that he shot the two men’s assailant—who “had grey eyes”—in the exchange of gunfire. Imam Al-Amin’s eyes are brown, and he had no gunshot injury when he was captured just four days later. Both officers were Black.
Imam Al-Amin’s defense team also argued that his fingerprints were not on the alleged murder weapon, and he wasn’t wounded in the shoot-out.
“Time is of the essence, and we must fearlessly speak out against this injustice and advocate for Imam Jamil NOW,” explained Oussama Jammal, Secretary General of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations. They were a co-sponsor of the press conference. “Imam Jamil is now 77 years of age, and his health is not well. He needs our voices. He needs us to advocate for him the way he advocated for us throughout his lifetime. Imam Jamil sacrificed everything to be Allah’s servant and to speak truth to power. It is now our turn,” he said.
“If we were outraged about the killing of Fred Hampton, we should be outraged by the wrongful life imprisonment of Imam Jamil Al-Amin. We must advocate for him during his life rather than wait for his death to celebrate him after we have wrongfully abandoned him,” added Mr. Jammal.
Imam Al-Amin was convicted in 2002 of 13 charges and sentenced to life without parole.
Otis Jackson tells another story of what happened that night. He has admitted in great detail to the shootout and murder in his confession to an FBI agent after he was arrested for a parole violation.
That confession has been ignored for decades. Imam Al-Amin has been transferred from Georgia to the ADX SuperMax prison in Florence, Colorado to Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina for treatment after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He is presently imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona.
“It was not a federal crime that they convicted him on. It was a state crime,” Abdul Akbar Muhammad, international representative for the Nation of Islam, told The Final Call. “The authorities seem to want to punish him, not just for that crime, but for his years of struggle for Black people and then becoming a devoted Muslim and helping Muslims throughout the country and Muslims in the prison system,” he said. “This is an unjust punishment by not allowing him to come back to the state of Georgia where the so-called crime was committed, that he was charged with where he would be near his family, loved ones, doctors that he can rely on instead of isolating him … .”
Mr. Muhammad is encouraging the activist community and faith leaders who know Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s history to raise their voices in protest. “If they leave him there as just the forgotten brother who is in prison doing life he will stay right there. But if we lift our voices, I think that we can make a change.”
The Nation of Islam has a long history making change in the prison system by supporting political prisoners. “It goes way back to supporting those Muslim brothers inside when it came to a diet and prayer services, which in many cases were forbidden the inside of the prison. It was the brothers in the Nation coming together and getting their lawyers, writing and agitating and people holding public rallies for them. So, we have to do that,” said Mr. Muhammad.
This history is documented in the recent book by Dr. Garret Felder, Those Who Know Don’t Say: The Nation of Islam, the Black Freedom Movement and the Carceral State.
Imam Al-Amin is no stranger to U.S. government prosecution and persecution. The FBI’s infamous, secret COINTELPRO document called for “neutralizing” him. He once went into hiding for 18 months when he was listed among the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted fugitives. After a robbery conviction, he served five years at the infamous Attica Penitentiary where he embraced Islam.
Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s history begins with him being known as H. Rap Brown in the early 1960s. He was the fifth chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s and in 1968 was the Minister of Justice between SNCC and the Black Panther Party.
In the 1970s, he became a Muslim and established a Muslim community in the West End of Atlanta, Georgia. Between 1977 – 2000, he led a neighborhood cleanup of drugs, prostitution, and crime; worked with youth and street organizations; and was a part of the establishment of the “National Jamaat” (Al Ummah) comprised of approximately 40 masjids in various cities in the U.S. and the Caribbean.
“What we’re missing is really an understanding of what we’re fighting for. Imam Jamil Al-Amin was a leader in the Muslim community that laid the foundation for our national organizations,” said Maha Elkolall, from Students for Imam Jamil, at the press conference.
“He was a civil rights leader, he spoke truth to justice. This is a spiritual warfare. He fought for Black Liberation and empowered people.”
He has a long history of service to Black people and Muslims. Imam Al-Amin’s case is currently under review by the Fulton County Conviction Integrity Unit. There is no evidence placing him at the scene of the crime: no fingerprints, no gun residue, no DNA.
“We should never have had to come to Tucson,” said Atty. Al-Amin. “My father is not a federal prisoner. When we talk about his exoneration, we have to talk about fairness. He has not been able to participate in his own defense. You haven’t heard him speak at all. He cannot speak to the media. We want him moved from Tucson to Georgia.”
Atty. Al-Amin is asking his father’s supporters and national organizations to do the following:
Contact the Georgia Fulton County District Attorney and Attorney General to express their support for Imam Jamil Al-Amin and demand they:
Exonerate Imam Jamil Al-Amin: The government has been derelict in its duty to properly investigate that confession and the enormous amount of evidence supporting Imam Al-Amin’s innocence.
Request for his transfer back to Georgia.
Demand proper medical treatment: The Federal Prison system has identified that Imam Jamil Al-Amin should be housed in a level 4 facility to receive proper medical treatment. However, he is housed in a level 3 facility where he faces medical neglect, to the extent that he is now blind in both eyes and has been awaiting cataract surgery since 2018.
For more information visit www.whathappened2rap.com