A Commentary by: Heather Gray

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Imam Jamil Al-Amin

To be successful in struggle requires remembrance of the Creator and the doing of good deeds. This is important because successful struggle demands that there be a kind of social consciousness.

One of America’s profound civil and human rights leaders, Imam Jamil Al-Amin – formerly known as H. Rap Brown – has been in prison for 20 years after being falsely accused of killing a deputy sheriff in Fulton County, Georgia and injuring another. There is now new compelling evidence that necessitates release from prison after his being incarcerated for the past two decades.

This compelling evidence is the confession by Otis Jackson now being viewed on Internet video outlets. Jackson, in fact, admitted to the March 16, 2000 killing in Atlanta, even prior to Al-Amin’s conviction in 2002, although this was never introduced at the trial by the prosecution or defense. The video adds another level of persuasive evidence.

None other than Andrew Young is calling for a “re-judgement” for Al-Amin. Young, who is one of the SCLC civil rights leaders, Atlanta’s former mayor, and former U.S. United Nations Ambassador, has noted:

“(There’s one case) that weighs heavy on my heart because I really think he was wrongfully convicted. This Man, a Muslim, helped ‘clean up’ Atlanta’s West End. ‘I’m talking about Jamil Al-Amin,’ he said, ‘H. Rap Brown.’ I think it’s time to re-judge, He’s been dying of cancerand has been suffering away from his family in the worst prisons of this nation.” (Andrew Young)

About Trial Against Al-Amin and Al-Amin’s Personal Statement

After 24 years of living in Atlanta, Jamil Al-Amin was arrested on March 20, 2000, and charged with the death of one and the assault of another Fulton County Georgia Sheriff’s deputy, yet all the indications were, even when the trial was on-going, that he was not the killer. In fact, as mentioned, even though prior to the trial, Otis Jackson confessed to being the shooter on the evening of March 16, 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia, this was never introduced at trial by the prosecution or defense.

It is also inferred that the Atlanta judge in the trial was told by the FBI that COINTELPRO could not be mentioned by the lawyers during the trial. The COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) is essentially how the government had been targeting Al-Amin for decades because of his demands for justice in America.

Regarding COINTELPRO, in an August 1967 memo outlining the program, J. Edgar Hoover identified different tactics to compromise the movement that was referred to as the “Negro Movement.” Reference was also made by him to surveil organizations and activists. The organizations included the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Nation of Islam, and the Revolutionary Action Movement. Individuals being surveilled were Martin Luther King, Jr., H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Max Stanford, and Elijah Muhammad.

During Al-Amin’s trial for the killing of Deputy Ricky Kinchen, there was also a court-imposed gag-order against Imam Al-Amin. Before this gag order was issued, however, Al-Amin, made a personal statement that he was not the killer:

My name is Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, the former H. Rap Brown. I am a devoted servant of Allah, and an unwavering devotee to His cause. For more than 30 years, I have been tormented and persecuted by my enemies for reasons of race and belief. I seek truth over a lie; I seek justice over injustice; I seek righteousness over the rewards of evildoers, and I love Allah more than I love the state.

 On March 16, 2000, Fulton County Sheriff Deputy Ricky Kinchen was killed and Sheriff Aldranon English was shot and injured in the neighborhood where I have lived, worked, and prayed. Indeed, this tragedy occurred across the street from the Mosque I founded. I have been accused by the State of Georgia of having committed these crimes. 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 of the 13 charges that have been brought against me. Let me also declare that 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….

[The police] have sought to marginalize my humanity and humiliate my family. They have done their level best to reduce me to a one-dimensional monster…. I am no monster. I am a human being created by Allah and am an instrument of his purpose. I am entitled to every right and every consideration as every other human being including fairness, a fair trial and the presumption of innocence. (Al-Amin)

Calling for Release from Prison

The 2002 trial ended in the conviction of Jamil Al-Amin who is now in the United States Prison (USP) in Tucson, Arizona where he is housed in the general population. During his 20 years of incarceration, however, he was previously held in solitary confinement for seven years in the Supermax Prison in Florence, Colorado where he became ill from medical neglect.

There is now but one major option regarding a reassessment of Jamil Al-Amin’s conviction. It is that the Fulton County District Attorney,  release him to, therefore, finally be with his family in Atlanta, Georgia.

In fact, all over the country individuals and groups are demanding justice for Al-Amin:

The Social Concerns Committee of Atlanta Friends Meeting stated that Imam Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, is currently imprisoned and seeking a fair review of his case based upon information that was withheld in the earlier trial. The Atlanta Friends also shared the following quote:

“(Restorative) Justice is a healing ground, not a battleground” 

Fania Davis, The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice

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