by Kiilu Nyasha
To date, I have yet to receive a reply to this letter I sent to New York Gov. David A. Paterson regarding Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim. Therefore, I decided to make it an open letter with the hope that pressure can be brought to bear – by the people – to address this concern.
Herman and Jalil, held captive since the early 1970s, are being denied their parole hearings because neither the California governor nor the New York governor will respond to their transfer requests.
The San Francisco 8 Committee, of which I’m a member, is conducting a Black History Month campaign – “Phone or Fax for Parole!” – every Monday. Please write to Gov. Paterson at the address below, call him at (518) 474-8390, fax him at (518) 474-1513 or (518) 474-3767 or email him at email@example.com.
Governor David A. Paterson
Albany, New York 12224
December 29, 2008
Dear Gov. Paterson,
As one disabled person to another, we have both learned the art of compensation – you with heightened sensitivities and memory, me with a wheelchair and special equipment. We have both suffered the particular brand of discrimination illustrated by the recent Saturday Night Live episode that referred to us as freaks.
You and I have also suffered the discrimination of racism toward African Americans. With this in mind, I decided to write this appeal to your humanity, a humanity I find sorely lacking in most politicians.
I have known and struggled to be in touch with political prisoners Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) for more than 30 years. One of their original co-defendants in the 1971 trial and, in my opinion, false conviction for the murder of two New York policemen, Albert Nuh Washington, died of cancer in 2000 after 29 years of incarceration in New York State. The three brothers were known as the NY 3 at that time.
Bell and Muntaqim were eligible for parole in 2006, and are both excellent candidates for release because of their sterling prison records of 36 and 38 years respectively. They have each earned two degrees and both have been role models and tutors to mainstream prisoners.
It grieves me to have to visit these wise Black elders – the kind of Black men so badly needed in our communities today – locked up in the San Francisco County Jail’s Administrative Segregation with no contact visits, no company, healthy food, radio, TV, nor access to the outdoors for two years now. It is not only grossly unjust “cruel and unusual punishment,” but an outrageous inhumanity.
I’m referring to the case of the San Francisco 8. Charges have been dropped against one of the eight defendants in this 38-year-old cold case of a police officer’s murder in August 1971. Five of the remaining defendants have been released on bail pending preliminary hearings scheduled to begin in June ‘09 – leaving Bell and Muntaqim stuck in these horrible conditions awaiting litigation that will likely result in dismissal.
With these facts and conditions in mind, I trust you will carefully consider using your gubernatorial powers to grant clemency to Bell and Muntaqim in the New York case and parole to warrant in the San Francisco case.
Sensing the urgency of this situation, I hope you will give this your immediate attention. Thank you very much.
Send our brothers some love and light: Herman Bell, 2318931, 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco CA 94103, and Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), 2311826, 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco CA 94103.