by Charles ‘Talib’ Brooks
As the world laid to rest Nelson “Madiba” Mandela, who was wrongfully incarcerated for 27 years, I thought about the case of Bobby McClelland. He was arrested 23 years ago on May 19, 1990, for an alleged attempted murder and processed through the same Los Angeles County Jail that was recently indicted on 18 federal counts for, amongst other things, obstruction of justice.
“There are only two ways to charge a civilian with a crime in the whole of the United States,” McClelland tells this reporter during our interview: “One, felony complaint or information and two, grand jury indictment.” Mr. McClelland asserts that he has never been charged by either method.
As proof, he handed me his charge sheet. I reviewed the charges and, sure enough, they were all dismissed, as he stated. Yet, like Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who spent 19 years in prison before being proven innocent, and Geronimo Pratt, who, like Nelson Mandela, spent 27 years in prison before being proven innocent, Bobby McClelland, whom I witnessed choke up watching Bat Kid in San Francisco, has now spent 23 years in prison.
“What are you hoping for and what would like to see done in your case?” I asked Mr. McClelland as we dialogued.
“For starters, I’m looking for someone of consequence to ask LAPD to provide proof of booking of Bobby McClelland in the Dec. 28, 1989, alleged assault of Tony Wallace.”
“Is this the crime for which you have been warehoused and if so how can our readers help?”
“Yes,” answers Mr. McClelland. I’m not sure if the officer, Detective D. Lada (No. 23038), who investigated the alleged assault against Tony Wallace is caught up in the recent federal indictment or not, but I need proof of booking or the lack thereof to prove my innocence,” he stated.
“Do you have a report number that goes along with the alleged assault of Tony Wallace?” “Yes, the LAPD report number is DR 89-1834434. Also, I can provide a two-page signed declaration of facts and copies of my charge sheet for anyone who wants more information to help prove my innocence,” he said.
“Any final thoughts or words?” “Yes. There has been a host of fabricated documents that I have discovered and disproved through governmental investigation and the court, yet here I remain. I would like to share this information in hopes of getting someone to champion my quest towards freedom. Although my situation may sound stranger than fiction, I can assure you that fiction it is not! I can make it quite clear to the hearing ear. Will you listen?” he asked.
On Sept. 4, 1990, the Los Angeles Superior Court DISMISSED the original charge against Bobby McClelland and three additional charges. After all four charges were dismissed, Bobby McClelland was never released from custody. Instead, he was sent – not sentenced – to state prison on March 24, 1992, for allegedly attempting to murder an individual by the name of Tony Wallace.
Today, as the world honors the incredible life of Nelson “Madiba” Mandela, let us not forget his struggles during 27 years in prison. Let us not forget, too, that it was ordinary folks from Canada who helped Rubin “Hurricane” Carter prove his innocence, and it will take the same for Bobby McClelland.
To help Bobby McClelland, you can forward this article to an advocacy for justice group you know about.
Readers may write to Bobby as well: Bobby McClelland, H-29611, San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, CA 94974.
Charles “Talib” Brooks is a writer and activist born and raised in Hunters Point who expects to be home soon after a stint in San Quentin.