Jalil Muntaqim with his daughter Antoinette and granddaughter Shacari in 2000.
First, I would like to thank all my friends and supporters for their tenacious and tireless work in support of the SF 8, especially the San Francisco 8 Support Committee, Committee in Defense of Human Rights, Asian-Americans Committee for the SF 8, Freedom Archives and many others. I wish to thank the excellent legal team whose unwavering commitment to the task was inspiring.
I especially want to thank the lawyers who did the majority of the behind-the-scenes legwork by name: Soffiyah Elijah, Jenny Kang, Julie de Almeida, Heather Hardwick, Rai Sue Sussman and Lori Flowers. This team of women suffering the testosterone of as many as 10 male lead attorneys, plus the eight men accused, truly had their feminist code tested. Naturally, I want to thank the most noted private investigators, Adam Raskin and Nancy Pemberton, whose investigative technique and services were outstanding.
Today we were to start the preliminary hearing but because of our strong legal defense team and growing public support, the California prosecutor offered plea settlements that could not be ignored. The entire group discussed whether I would plead no contest to conspiracy to manslaughter. After some discussion, I reluctantly agreed to take the plea and be sentenced to three years probation; one year of jail time, credit for time served, concurrent with New York state sentence, dismissing first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
This 2007 photo shows, in the back row, from left, Jalil Muntaqim’s grandson Selmar Jalil, granddaughter Shacari and son-in-law Selmar; in front are his daughter Antoinette holding great-granddaughter Aminah Jasmin.
Also, because of my plea, four other defendants would have all charges dismissed for insufficient evidence. This was a no-brainer, especially considering the elder brothers suffered a variety of health issues ranging from high blood pressure, chronic respiratory problems, diabetes, PTSD and prostate cancer. Although I have my own health issues, in my near 38 years of imprisonment, I believe I am in better shape than all four combined (Ha).
In the last 25 years prior to these charges being lodged, the brothers had been living peaceful and productive lives raising their families and offering community services. During the period from their release on bail to this date, they had been running themselves ragged across the country telling the story of Cointelpro destruction of the Black Panther Party, the “Legacy of Torture” and building support for the case.
“We love you, Jalil,” said the crowd of SF 8 defendants and supporters celebrating on Sept. 23, 2007, the release on bail of six of the brothers, while Jalil Muntaqim and Herman Bell had to stay behind, still political prisoners serving over three decades as two of the New York 3. A similar photo with a banner for Herman was taken that night.
While I would have liked to have continued the legal fight to what I believe would have resulted in complete exoneration of all charges, I know the jury system is fickle. I have seen too many innocent men in prison who fought with the conviction of being innocent after a reasonable plea bargain was offered, and they ultimately lost due to prosecutorial misconduct, defense attorney errors, improper jury instructions by a judge and/or a fickle jury. Unfortunately, their loss results in spending decades in prison fighting for a reversal or waiting to be released on parole or, in the worst cases, death row DNA exonerations. The American judicial system is nowhere near being without flaws, as the overwhelming number of Black men in prison sorely attests. Given these circumstances, my taking this plea is a bitter-sweet win-win.
Finally, I would like to thank with profound appreciation my attorneys Daro Inouye, a 30-plus year veteran of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, whose trial experiences and skills are incomparable; and Mark Goldrosen, a remarkable, selfless trial technician and writer whose understanding of both state and federal law brought the court (and some of the attorneys) to task.
A luta continua -
Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), 55, of San Francisco, has been a political prisoner in New York since 1978. Send our brother, who for the moment remains in county jail in San Francisco, some love and thank him for his sacrifice: Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), 2311826, 850 Bryant St., San Francisco CA 94103.