Imam Jamil who was then known as H.Rap Brown was one of the most articulate, militant, and most sought after voices during the Black Power era of the 60's and 70's, where he was a leader in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and later drafted into the Black Panther Party. During one of his many stints in the 70's, in the belly of Amerikkka's concentration camps, as a political prisoner the Imam converted to Islam, changed his name, started a masjid and a Muslim community in the West End of Atlanta where agents of the government of the United States continued to harass him over the decades, in which this is the latest scenario in this epic life long battle that has been waged and continues to be waged against our people in this country, and the movement's leadership in particular.
An interview wit' his wife Karima Al-Amin
Imam Jamil Al-Amin
In one of the most blatant instances of political and religious persecution since the turn of the millenium, Imam Jamil Al-Amin was wrongfully convicted of killing a cop and wounding another one, in a case where from day one another man confessed to it, and the police and the media have been instrumental suppressing and manipulating evidence. After two days of deliberation, this political prisoner was sentenced to life with out the possibility of parole in March of 2002.
This Block Report interview is with his wife and one of his attorney's Karima Al-Amin, to talk about him recently being moved from Reidsville, a state prison, in Georgia to Florence Super-max in Colorado, which many people refer to as the Guantanimo Bay and Abu Ghraib of the mainland United States. Please read this entire interview and see how you can get involved.
MOI JR: Imam Jamil Al-Amin was transferred to Florence Super-max, which is the mainland Guantanimo Bay in the United States, what was going on before this transfer? And what do you think prompted this transfer?
Karima: Right before the transfer, we had challenged Reidsville, because they had moved my husband to another cell in the maximum part of where he was being held in Reidsville, here in Georgia. They moved him to a cell where they had to put food, uncovered, down a trough to him. He felt that that move was not warranted. He did not have any violations. As a result of people calling in, and our writing the commissioner, they moved him out of that cell block. As you know, we do have a habeus hearing, still under way here in Georgia, and we also have to argue a legal mail violation case before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, on the week of September 17th. So we had so many individuals calling into Reidsville and calling the Department of Corrections, that the move came very sudden and it happened Wednesday (August 1st) without his attorney's knowing, and the family did not receive any information. They moved him swiftly in the middle of the night. The Atlanta Journal Constitution knew before we did. We found out Thursday afternoon that he had been moved. He was moved to Oaklahoma City. We thought that he was going to be there for at least 3 weeks, because that is how long it takes for them to process, but they moved him immediately to Colorado, and that is the information that we have right now.
MOI JR: Now for the people that are not really up to date, with the information, what is the difference between a state prison and a super-max prison, and should the supporters of Imam Jamil Al-Amin be concerned?
Karima: Yes, absolutely. We were challenging Georgia because they were holding him under 23 hour lockdown. He wanted to be moved into the general population. Inmates had written letters requesting for him to be placed in the general population, so that he could serve as the imam. He never had any violations for them to hold him in such a way. They regarded him, as he has been regarded throughout his history here, as a high max or high profile inmate, but we were questioning Georgia as to why they would hold him in 23 hour lockdown, without any violations. He wanted to be placed with other inmates, in the general population. The interesting thing is that in the 1990's, the state of Georgia, and I believe many states, entered into an arrangement with the feds that if they could not hold an inmate, that the inmate would be transferred to a federal prison. Even the Imam requested to be moved, if Georgia could not hold him fairly, and treat him fairly. Our thinking was that, because he had the legal issues going here in Georgia, that they would move him to the Atlanta Federal Pen, which was a natural thing for them to do, not to move him to the super-max facility as they have. But we're not surprised, there are so many political prisoners being held there, and we do regard it, as you stated as the Guantanimo Bay, on the mainland. So we're not surprised that they would do such a thing, but we're concerned not only for my husband, who's in the super-max, we're concerned about all of the political prisoners that are being held, not only in Colorado, but in all of the super-max facilities without reason.
MOI JR: And I just want to point out to the readers that there is people like Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman who is also being held in Florence and also Mutulu Shakur was recently shipped to Florence. But there is also people like Chief Malik and Larry Hoover, so Florence is really trying to be the mainland Abu-Ghraib, the mainland Guantanimo Bay. For people that don't know, what separates a super-max from a state prison in regards to the conditions that the prisoners are held under?
Karima: Well each state has its own super-max facility. Reidsville, here in Georgia is what we call the bottom, that's the super-max. The only difference with that is for instance in Georgia, those that are held on deathrow are at another facility, they are not at Reidsville. But the are being held the same way. They're being held under the 23 hour lock down. My understanding is that the difference here in the state, is that my husband had contact visits. We were able to visit with him in a cell, but we were together. The super-max in Colorado, I believe, even for the attorneys, they're behind a glass. So his conditions now, there in Colorado, would be worst than the conditions that he had here. Why Georgia at this point decided to turn him over, when we were challenging the very nature of his conditions, they just dropped the ball. They said here, we are not going to deal with it any more, we'll give it to the feds. Let them fight with the feds about it. That's where we are at this point. I think that telecommunications, to my understanding under the super-max, that they are not allowed to make telephone calls. And so it is a total isolation, and that's what Georgia had wanted to do, but could not do it. They wanted to totally isolate him, so he would not have a voice, and we would not have a voice to speak for him. So that's what this move is about, they're moving him out of this jurisdiction completely. The attorneys, we have still meet to see what we are going to do, what our next steps will be.
MOI JR: You talked a little bit about his hearing coming up in September in regards to Imam Jamil Al-Amin's case, what is going on in September?
Karima: In 2003 and 2004, my husband put in grievances, and then filed a pro-say, on his own, lawsuit against the warden and staff for opening legal mail that I sent in to him. I am an attorney, licensed to practice in the state of Georgia, and they just did not want to give me the same rights as an attorney so they opened all of my legal mail. And we did get a ruling from the Department of Corrections that Reidsville facility was in violation of their own standard operating procedure, and also it is a first amendment right violation. As a result, a district judge heard the case, ruled actually in the Imam's favor, the state appealed it, and asked for oral arguments in front of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals then appointed a major law firm here, in Atlanta, to represent the Imam and we have oral arguments during the week of September 17th, in front of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. It's a violation and this is national, and there have been other inmates who have challenged this issue, but it is a violation for a facility, whether it is state or federal, to open the legal mail of an inmate outside of his or her presence. So that's what they continued to violate, and they even did it, right before his move. With going into federal custody, a guard did the same thing, opened his legal mail that I had sent to him, and the Imam put in a grievance about that. So that's what we're doing. The week of September 17th, we're going into the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to argue this issue.
MOI JR: What can we do, as supporters and as people who benefitted from his political career directly or indirectly, to protest the Imam's move to Florence Super-max, and what can we do to aid in the case of political prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin?
Karima: I know many people are stating that they are going to contact the Bureau of Prisons, which is the federal arm, to inquire concerning the conditions, and why he was moved a state prison to a federal prison and that his condition has been worsened. Number 1, he has been moved away from not only family, but access to his attorneys, and he has pending cases. It's not like all legal cases are over for him, they continue. And we have a open state habeus. So they have moved him miles and miles away, and isolated him completely. And that has placed a burden on family members and attorneys. I'm not really as concerned about the burden, as I am concerned about his well-being, as far as the legal issues and the legal fight. So we are asking people to just speak out, and not only about my husband, but we really need to look into the conditions of these super-max facilities, and begin to really be a voice for the inmates who are absolutely isolated.