---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 15:34:39 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Strong emotions felt, both for and against [Rap Brown]
[The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 3.14.2002]
Strong emotions felt, both for and against
By ALAN JUDD
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
"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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