[sixties-l] Strong emotions felt, both for and against [Rap Brown] (fwd)

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Date: Fri Mar 15 2002 - 05:11:44 EST

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    Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 15:34:39 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Strong emotions felt, both for and against [Rap Brown]

    [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 3.14.2002]

    Strong emotions felt, both for and against

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer

    Law enforcement officers who have lost a colleague
    thought justice -- or at least a semblance of it -- was
    served. Supporters of a 1960s black militant convicted
    of killing a sheriff's deputy claimed a decades-old
    conspiracy had finally come to fruition.
    Others, though, found little clarity in the conclusion
    of the capital murder trial of the violence-
    preaching '60s radical named H. Rap Brown who became a
    Muslim clergyman known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin.
    "I believe he's guilty, but I don't understand why he
    did it," 31-year-old Marc James said at Underground
    Atlanta on Wednesday, shortly after a Fulton County jury
    voted to sentence Al-Amin to life in prison without the
    possibility of parole. Convicted Saturday in the March
    2000 killing of Deputy Ricky Kinchen, Al-Amin faced a
    possible death sentence.
    "It was unfair that an officer's life was taken away, so
    his life should be taken away, too," Carla Taylor, 20,
    said at Underground, a block from the Fulton County
    Courthouse, where the highly publicized trial was ending.
    But she added: "I feel sorry for [Al-Amin], because he
    was a great man in the past. . . . Now that he's
    convicted of murder, it's heartbreaking. It hurts to
    know that he's convicted of killing another black man."
    Like Al-Amin himself, the trial and its outcome incited
    strong emotions, pro and con.
    "I think he should have gotten the death penalty," said
    Bud Watson, an Atlanta police sergeant who is president
    of the Georgia Police Benevolent Association. "This was
    a brutal, vicious killing."
    Some law enforcement officers, though, were happy that
    Al-Amin received a substantial sentence, even if it
    stopped short of the death penalty. The jury could have
    left him eligible for parole in as little as 14 years.
    "Justice prevailed," said Fulton County Deputy Glen
    Robinson, a colleague of Kinchen and his partner,
    AlĀdranon English, who was wounded when a routine arrest
    turned into a gunbattle. "This is about as much
    satisfaction as I can get."
    Fulton County Sheriff Jackie Barrett, present when the
    verdict was read, said she had hoped for a tough
    punishment to deter attacks on law officers.
    "I thought the death penalty was appropriate in this
    case," Barrett said. "But this is the next best thing.
    We will be OK."
    Jurors declined to comment Wednesday.
    Their decisions were especially unpopular in the West
    End neighborhood where Al-Amin lived for almost a
    quarter-century. Residents there think the authorities
    had been after Al-Amin for decades, and the verdict and
    sentence reinforced various conspiracy theories
    surrounding the case and the defendant. To them, Al-
    Amin -- the 58-year-old imam, or spiritual leader, of a
    neighborhood mosque -- had become a victim of his
    radical past.
    "True, a life was taken," said Shukriyyah Muhammad,
    47. "But Imam Al-Amin didn't take the man's life."
    No signs of activity could be seen at Al-Amin's
    Community Mosque of Atlanta. At the tiny grocery that Al-
    Amin owned, no one would comment on the verdict.
    But at the nearby West End Mall, Prince Hornsby, 28, of
    Stone Mountain, said he was happy Al-Amin had avoided
    the death penalty. "I wouldn't want him to be sentenced
    to death for something he didn't do," Hornsby said.
    Some at Underground held similar opinions. "They were
    going to do something to him because he's a Black
    Panther," said Anthony Dowdell, 30, of Atlanta. "They
    were going to frame him."
    At Beautiful Restaurant, a popular dining establishment
    in southwest Atlanta not far from the West End, the Rev.
    C.T. Vivian, a civil rights icon who was among the
    sponsors of a newspaper ad urging leniency for Al-Amin,
    said he was relieved.
    "I thought it was a compromise," Vivian said. "It is
    what I expected. I am thankful, considering the death
    penalty and the impact it has on our people, our young
    people, that we even got this verdict. I know that he
    did not deserve to die."
    Another diner, Donny Grogan, said he was disturbed by
    the verdict -- by what it did to Al-Amin, and by what it
    did to his neighborhood.
    "I think it is a tragedy," said Grogan, 43. "Al-Amin
    cleaned up a community that was infested with drugs.
    They didn't sentence him; they sentenced a community to

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