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Sundiata Acoli, political prisoner for 39 years, wins appeal and is up for parole again

April 13, 2012
Sundiata Acoli
Attorney Bruce Afran’s appeal of Sundiata Acoli’s parole denial and 10-year hit resulted in the New Jersey Appellate Court’s remand to the New Jersey Parole Board that its 10-year hit be cut to three years. It was done and Sundiata has become immediately eligible for a parole hearing again. The Appellate Court must still rule on Sundiata’s 2010 denial of parole, but meanwhile he’s preparing to go before the parole board again for his newly won 2012 parole hearing. In that regard, he would greatly appreciate any and all letters sent to the parole board urging that he be released.

Sundiata is 75 years of age and has been in prison 39 years, resulting from a stop of his car by state troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973, which erupted in gunfire that resulted in the death of his passenger, Zayd Shakur, and a state trooper, Werner Foerster. The other passenger, Assata Shakur, was critically wounded and captured on the scene, where another trooper, James Harper, was also wounded. Sundiata was wounded at the scene, captured in the woods 40 hours later and subsequently sentenced to life in New Jersey state prison.

Sundiata is now the longest held prisoner in New Jersey’s history of similar convictions. He has maintained an outstanding record in prison and has had only a few minor disciplinary reports over the past 30 years and none during the last 16 years. He’s also maintained an excellent work and scholastic record and has always been a positive influence in prison, particularly in mentoring prisoners toward becoming crime-free benefactors to the community upon return to society and thereby break their cycle of recidivism.

Sundiata is a 75-year-old grandfather who has long been rehabilitated, has long satisfied all requirements for parole and has no or “little likelihood of committing another crime,” which is the main criterion for parole in New Jersey. Sundiata is an old man, in declining health, who wishes to live out the rest of his days in peace tending his grandchildren.

Send letters urging the board that 39 years is enough! Release Sundiata Acoli! His New Jersey prison number is 54859, and his federal prison number is 39794-066. Address letter to: New Jersey State Parole Board, P.O. Box 862, Trenton NJ 08625, BUT ADDRESS and MAIL THE ENVELOPE TO: Florence Morgan, Esq., 120-46 Queens Blvd., Queens NY 11415. Your letter will be forwarded to the parole board after a copy is made for SAFC files.

Thank you for your support. Please keep in touch with SundiataAcoli.org at the Sundiata Acoli Freedom Page to stay abreast of Sundiata’s parole situation and additional ways you can express support and solidarity with his parole effort.

Sundiata sends his sincerest condolences to the family and comrades of Christian Gomez, the prisoner who died in the California Prisoners’ Hunger Strike – and his warmest shout out of solidarity and strength to all those participating in or supporting the California Prisoners’ Hunger Strike.

Sundiata and his Freedom Campaign, SAFC, send their sincerest condolences to the family and comrades of Christian Gomez, the prisoner who died in the California Prisoner’s Hunger Strike – and we send our warmest shout out of solidarity and strength to all those participating in or supporting the California Prisoners’ Hunger Strike.

Who is Sundiata Acoli?

Sundiata Acoli, a New Afrikan political prisoner of war, mathematician and computer analyst, was born Jan. 14, 1937, in Decatur, Texas, and raised in Vernon, Texas. He graduated from Prairie View A&M College of Texas in 1956 with a B.S. in mathematics and for the next 13 years worked for various computer-oriented firms, mostly in the New York area.

Portrait of George Jackson - Artist: Sundiata Acoli
During the summer of 1964 he did voter registration work in Mississippi. In 1968 he joined the Harlem Black Panther Party and did community work around issues of schools, housing, jobs, child care, drugs and police brutality.

In 1969 he and 13 others were arrested in the Panther 21 conspiracy case. He was held in jail without bail and on trial for two years before being acquitted, along with all other defendants, by a jury deliberating less than two hours.

Upon release, FBI intimidation of potential employers shut off all employment possibilities in the computer profession and stepped-up COINTELPRO harassment, surveillance and provocations soon drove him underground.

In May 1973, while driving the New Jersey Turnpike, he and his comrades were ambushed by N.J. state troopers. One companion, Zayd Shakur, was killed; another companion, Assata Shakur, was wounded and captured. One state trooper was killed and another wounded, and Sundiata was captured days later.

After a highly sensationalized and prejudicial trial, he was convicted of the death of the state trooper and was sentenced to Trenton State Prison (TSP) for life plus 30 years consecutive.

Upon entering TSP he was subsequently confined to a new and specially created Management Control Unit (MCU) solely because of his political background. He remained in MCU almost five years, let out of the cell only 10 minutes a day for showers and two hours twice a week for recreation.

In September 1979, the International Jurist interviewed Sundiata and subsequently declared him a political prisoner. A few days later prison officials secretly transferred him during the middle of the night to the federal prison system and put him en route to the infamous federal concentration camp at Marion, Illinois, although he had no federal charges or sentences. Marion is one of the highest security prisons in the U.S., also one of the harshest, and there Sundiata was locked down 23 hours a day. In July 1987 he was transferred to the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.

In the fall of 1992, Sundiata became eligible for parole. He was not permitted to attend his own parole hearing and was only allowed to participate via telephone from USP Leavenworth. Despite an excellent prison work, academic and disciplinary record, despite numerous job offers in the computer profession, and despite thousands of letters on his behalf, Sundiata was denied parole. Instead, at the conclusion of a 20-minute telephone hearing, he was given a 20-year hit, the longest hit in New Jersey history, which dictates that he must do at least 12 more years before coming up for parole again.

The Parole Board’s stated reason for the 20-year hit was Sundiata’s membership in the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army prior to his arrest, the receipt of hundreds of “Free Sundiata” form letters that characterized him as a New Afrikan Prisoner of War, and the feeling that the punitive aspects of his sentence had not been satisfied and that rehabilitation was not sufficiently achieved.

The Parole Board’s stated reason for the 20-year hit was Sundiata’s membership in the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army prior to his arrest, plus the receipt of hundreds of “Free Sundiata” form letters that characterized him as a New Afrikan Prisoner of War.

The real reason for the 20-year hit is to attempt to force Sundiata to renounce his political beliefs and to proclaim to the world that he was wrong to struggle for the liberation of his people.

Send our brother some love and light: Sundiata Acoli (Squire), 39794-066, P.O. Box 1000, FCI Cumberland, Cumberland MD 21501.

Words from Assata Shakur

Assata radiant
“I want so much for Sundiata to know how much he is loved and respected. I want him to know how much he is appreciated by revolutionaries all over the world. I want Sundiata to know how much he is cherished by African people, not only in the Americas, but all over the Diaspora. I want him to know how much we admire his strength, his courage, his kindness and compassion. Sundiata loves freedom and we must struggle for the life and freedom of Sundiata.”

 

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One thought on “Sundiata Acoli, political prisoner for 39 years, wins appeal and is up for parole again

  1. loubelleadams4

    Thank you so much for this news and I know many people will have their own opinion regarding this issue and I hope the problem will be solved immediately. Justice is very important and essential. this article

    Reply

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