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Sundiata Acoli
www.sundiataacoli.org

Sundiata was in the car with Assata Shakur in 1973 when they were stopped by New Jersey State Troopers known for their Nazi membership (this is not the usual hyperbole, there were cells of authentic WWII Nazis in that organization).                              

"There is something about Sundiata that exudes calm. From every part of his being you can sense the presence of revolutionary spirit and fervor. And his love for Black people is so intense that you can almost touch it and hold it in your hand." --Assata Shakur

Assata escaped from jail and obtained political refuge in Cuba. Sundiata is finding it difficult to even be considered for parole.

Sundiata, a Black Panther, has been imprisoned since 1973 when, traveling the New Jersey Turnpike with two companions, Assata Shakur and Zayd Shakur, his car was ambushed by state troopers. During the shooting, Zayd was killed, a state trooper was killed, and Assata and Sundiata were wounded, captured and sentenced to life in prison.

After 21 years of imprisonment in the nation's harshest penitentiaries, Trenton State Prison, USP Marion, Il., and USP Leavenworth, Ks., and with an exemplary prison record, Sundiata came up for parole in 1994. He was not permitted to appear before the New Jersey Parole Board in person but was only allowed to participate from USP Leavenworth via telephone without an attorney present. After a 20 minute telephone hearing Sundiata was denied parole. In 2004, there was the possibility for parole, but he did not get it. He has now clocked over 3 decades in the federal system.

You can follow Sundiata's struggles at:
www.sundiataacoli.org

FREEDOM DANCE, 11/14/2009


SAVE THE DATE!!!

FREEDOM DANCE

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14TH
7 TO 11 P.M.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. LABOR CENTER, 1199 SEIU
310 W. 43RD STREET, btw. 8TH & 9TH AVENUES
NEW YORK, NY 10036

$20 ADMISSION, FOOD AND BEVERAGES FOR PURCHASE

Fund Raiser for the Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign (SAFC)

On Saturday, November 14th, we will dance and celebrate at Freedom Dance. This celebration is an opportunity for us as a community to acknowledge our victories and renew our efforts to continue this essential work. We celebrate the liberation and freedom of our sister Assata Shakur, who along with many other Political Prisoners (who still remain behind the walls) set the example of unselfish sacrifice for our beloved people. We also celebrate the sacrifice of those freedom fighters whose spirits were released due to their physical demise. This is a celebration for them all. We will especially honor Sundiata Acoli. Through music and the warm meaningful collective interaction of dance and laughter, we will reaffirm our commitment to their freedom.

1999 Campaign for the release of Sundiata Acolitop

September 18, 1999

SUNDIATA ACOLI FREEDOM CAMPAIGN

mailto:SAParole@aol.com

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

On May 2, 1973, three former members of the New York City chapter of the Black Panther Party - - Sundiata Acoli, Assata Shakur and Zayd Malik Shakur-- were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike for a purportedly "faulty tail-light." A shoot-out ensued during which a state trooper, Werner Foster, and Zayd were killed and Assata and Sundiata wounded. Both Assata and Sundiata were subsequently convicted of the murder of the trooper and related charges and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Twenty-six years later Sundiata remains in prison, and if New Jersey governor, Christine Todd Whitman, and the New Jersey State Parole Board have their way, will remain there for the remainder of his life. In 1994, Sundiata appeared before the Parole Board was denied parole and assigned a new parole eligibility date in 2006. At the time of his appearance before the Parole Board, Sundiata had maintained a "charge free" record for eight years and had outstanding educational and work reports. However, the Parole Board, in denying Sundiata's release ignored all of the evidence supporting his release and instead concluded that a substantial likelihood existed that if released on parole Sundiata would commit another crime because of, inter alia, his former membership in the BPP; his characterization of himself as a "political prisoner," and because his family, friends and supporters had written letters to the Parole Board demanding his release. 

In other words, Sundiata is being held in prison because of his and his supporters First Amendment protected beliefs and activities. The transcript of Sunidata's telephonic parole hearings and the Board's decisions also make clear that the Parole Board had predetermined to deny Sundiata parole in violation of his right to due process of law.   Twenty six years is long enough! No evidence exists that if released on parole, Sundiata, who is now 62 years old, will embark on a life of "crime." Sundiata has already served more time than the average person convicted of murder. Just because Sundiata is a former member of the Black Panther Party and was convicted of a murder of state trooper, along with another well known member of the BPP, Assata Shakur who successfully escaped and was deservedly granted political asylum in Cuba, should not mean that Sundiata should spend the remainder of his life in prison. The purpose of prison, except in the instances in which the barbaric punishment of death is imposed, is supposed to be rehabilitation, not torture and revenge!

Sundiata has unsuccessfully appealed the Parole Board's decision up to the United States Supreme Court and is presently preparing to file a writ of habeas corpus in federal court. In conjunction with the filing of his writ of habeas corpus, Sundiata is launching a mass campaign calling on Governor Whitman and the Parole Board to release him on parole. To succeed, he needs your support and the support of others like you.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

1. Endorse the following "Call for Release of Sundiata Acoli" by filling out and returning the form below the Call to the Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign today at SAParole@aol.com. Please include your full name, address and organizational afflation, if any.

2. Copy and circulate this letter and Call for the Release of Sundiata Acoli to as many people as possible.

Thank you in advance for your support of the freedom of Sundiata Acoli. 

Sincerely,

Joan P. Gibbs, Esq.
Florence Morgan, Esq.
Legal Advisors to Sundiata Acoli


CALL FOR THE RELEASE OF SUNDIATA ACOLI

For the past twenty-six years, Sundiata Acoli a former member of the New York City chapter of the Black Panther Party and one of the "Panther 21" years has been imprisoned on New Jersey state charges stemming from a May 1973 incident involving Sundiata and two other former members of the BPP, Assata Shakur and Zayd Malik Shakur. On May 2, 1973, while driving south on the New Jersey Turnpike, Sundiata, Assata and Zayd, were stopped for a purportedly "faulty tail-light." A shoot-out ensued during which a state trooper, Werner Foster, and Zayd were killed and Assata and Sundiata wounded. Both Assata and Sundiata were subsequently convicted of the murder of the trooper and related charges and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

In 1994, Sundiata appeared before the Parole Board was denied parole and assigned a new parole eligibility date of 2006. At the time of his appearance before the Parole Board, Sundiata had maintained a "charge free" record for eight years and had outstanding progress, work and educational reports. In denying Sundiata release on parole, the Parole Board ignored all of the evidence supporting his release and instead concluded that a substantial likelihood existed that if released on parole Sundiata would commit another crime because of, inter alia, his former membership in the BPP and his characterization of himself as a "political prisoner." In addition, the Parole Board cited the fact that his family, friends and supporters had written letters to the Parole Board demanding his release, in blatant violation of his and supporters rights under the First Amendment! Indeed, the transcripts of Sundiata's telephonic parole hearings and the Parole Board's decision strongly suggest that the Parole Board had predetermined to deny Sunidata release on parole in violation of his right to due process of law.

Twenty six years is long enough! No evidence exists that if released on parole, Sundiata, who is now 62 years old, will embark on a life of "crime." The purpose of prison, except in the instances in which the barbaric punishment of death is imposed, is supposed to be rehabilitation, not torture and revenge! Sundiata has already spend more time in prison than others convicted of similar crimes. Just because Sundiata is a former member of the Black Panther Party and was convicted along with another well known member of the BPP Assata Shakur who successfully escaped and was deservedly granted political asylum in Cuba, should not mean that Sundiata should spend the remainder of his life in prison.

We, the undersigned, therefore call on the Governor of New Jersey Christine Whitman and the New Jersey State Parole to immediately release Sundiata Acoli on parole.

Name: ____________________________________________________________

Address: _________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

Telephone: _______________________ Fax: __________________________

Electronic Mail: _________________________________________________

Organizational Affiliation For Identification Only: ______________

__________________________________________________________________

[ ] Yes, I support the Call for the Release of Sundiata Acoli.

[ ] No, I do not support the Call for the Release of Sundiata Acoli

Return to Assata Index

Assata Shakur writes in honor of Sundiata Acoli's Birthday - 1/9/99top

POEM FOR SUNDIATA by Assata Shakur

I remember your smile
Bright as the sun’s explosion
Wide as the arms of Yemaya
Deep as a gushing well of kindness
I remember your smile

Slow like the dawn of recognition
Quick like the wit of observation
Clear as the logic of common sense
I remember your smile

Frank as a simple declaration
Bold like the taste of naked love
Wasn't no grinning or smirking or sneering
I remember your smile

Even when you were young
You had an old smile,
deep wrinkles spread across your brow
Like worn paths
Crossing familiar ground
Laugh lines descending from eyes made old
By deadly images
Laughter holding back the tears
I remember your smile

Your smile is like an umbilical cord
Pulling me back, pulling us back
to a lost continent
of brown velvet faces with white incandescent teeth
radiating home, radiating peace, radiating love

Your smile
wakes me up from nightmares
turned into day-mares
Reoccurring slave-mares
In the twisted tinsel hell
They call amerika

When they came and they took my baby
When the milk in my breast turned to sour curds
When there was no one there to hold me
And the voices that tried to console me
Sounded like empty words
I remembered your smile

Wrote off our lives with reams of paper
Stained with filthy, greedy lies
Turned us into prison statistics
Using legaleeze linguistics
Regurgitating hypocritical diatribes
Like thin white vomit

In the midst of body bags
And toe tags
And the flood of black blood

In the midst of affirmative negation
And mass extermination
I remember your smile
We remember your smile
We call on your smile
We call on your smile
To give us light

They been trying to take your smile
Wipe it off your face
Like they be wiping us off this earth
But you smiled that smile in cages,
Institutionalized outrages
Twenty year hits
Like contemptuous spit
And in spite of a bitter taste in your mouth
Your smile shines strong

All of us smile lovers
Need to set you free
We need to free your smile
That x-ray smile
Beaming rays of freedom
Unchain that smile
Unchain that smile
Set it free

We love your smile
We need your smile
Your smile is sweet enough
To melt hard hearts
Into love syrup
Sweet and sticky as the nectar of freedom

 

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