Student groups hold rally to call for release of civil rights leader
CASE: Al-Amin conviction based on government bias, faulty evidence, some say
By Sarah Lazur
Daily Bruin Contributor
The Muslim Student Association and the African Student Union presented
"Throwing Our Social Leaders Behind Bars," a discussion of civil rights
activist Imam Jamil Al-Amin's incarceration, on Friday.
Keynote speaker Imam Abdul Alim Musa, a Washington, D.C., activist who is
conducting a national tour to rally for Al-Amin's release, said the
conviction was unjust because of insufficient evidence. He said it is part
of government efforts to silence African American community leaders.
"In 1971, a group of students broke into the FBI offices and found secret
documents about this unfair internal war against the black people of the
United States," Musa said.
Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, was convicted last year for
murdering a police officer. The officer and his partner were approaching a
store owned by Al-Amin to arrest him for a missed court date when a man in
a car opened fire on them. The surviving officer identified Al-Amin as the
But Musa said faulty DNA evidence and conflicting police reports are
grounds for Al-Amin's release.
The surviving officer testified he saw the shooter's eyes were gray, but
Al-Amin has brown eyes.
Also, due to an eye condition, Al-Amin must wear sunglasses at all times,
which would have prevented the officer from noticing his eye color, Musa said.
"In Imam Jamil's case, everything they have shows that he's innocent so we
should be able to beat this," Musa said. "But you only get as much justice
in America as you can buy."
ASU programming coordinator Robbie Clark said she'd like students to
question the way the judicial system works.
"A lot of people don't realize that there are injustices in our society and
that our own justice system can be biased and unfair," Clark said.
According to Musa, the case against Al-Amin represents a concerted effort
by the government to deny the African American community leadership.
"They spot potential leaders before the people spot them themselves and by
arresting someone over and over, you break up their train of work and the
traction they have," Musa said.
The movement to put African American leaders in jail is nothing new, Musa
said. He distributed a 1968 FBI document which detailed FBI protocol for
fighting African American nationalist groups. The document urged agents to
"prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups."
"An effective coalition of black nationalist groups might be the first step
toward the ^ beginning of a true black revolution," the document said.
Musa pointed out that among the five major African American leaders the
document deemed dangerous Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, Martin Luther
King Jr., Maxwell Stanford and Elijah Muhammed only Brown, or Al-Amin, is
Al-Amin's roles in the civil rights movement included leading the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, being the Black Panther Party's Minister
of Justice, membership in the Black Liberation Army, and writing the book
"Die, Nigger, Die!"
According to Musa, drug use in inner cities caused a decline in
"If you want to find the 10 most drug-addicted cities in America in the
1970s, look at the most revolutionary cities in America in the 1960s," he
Clark sees the suppression of African American leadership and the
underrepresentation of students of color as inextricably linked.
"Without affirmative action, there is no equal access, and in effect,
they're stopping our access to higher education," Clark said. "We're not
able to educate people who could become leaders in the community and in
that way they're silencing the voice of our community."
MSA President Ghaith Mahmood said this connection makes Al-Amin's case
relevant for UCLA students.
"A lot of people know about the injustices but what they need is two
things an education and somebody who can guide them," Mahmood said.
"So when we see the issue of SP-1 and SP-2 and the issue of Imam Jamil,
it's so intertwined to us we have to address this problem," he continued.
The UC Board of Regents' SP-1 and SP-2 decisions ended affirmative action
in university admissions policy and hiring practices in 1995.
Mahmood said he hopes students made the connection between civil rights
movements of the past and the struggles of minorities today.
"We need to realize that we're not doing this by ourselves and that this is
something that has been going on for so long," he said.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Feb 13 2001 - 02:39:53 EST