After spending nearly half a century in prison, having been arrested at the age of 19-years-old, former Black Panther party member, Jalil Muntaqim, 68 is set to be released.
He finally won his decades-long fight for freedom after going before the parole board at least 10 times.
Muntaqim, aka. Anthony Bottom, faced “virulent” opposition from the New York police union — the Police Benevolent Association — and by the widow of one of the murdered police officers, The Guardian reported.
After almost half a century in prison, a New York parole board this month ordered Muntaqim released by Oct. 20 from the maximum-security Sullivan correctional facility in upstate New York.
That’s “a long time for a 19-year-old to go to prison and be there for the rest of their lives,” said Antoinette Russell, Muntaqim’s daughter and only child, in a 2018 Guardian interview. Russell was born six months after her father’s arrest.
Muntaqim was 18 when he joined the Black Panther Party which promoted Black nationalism, socialism, and armed self-defense — particularly against police brutality. He joined the armed Black Liberation Army.
During a three-hour filmed interview with the Guardian in 2018, Muntaqim said that in his years behind bars he had “evolved” from the revolutionary position that he adopted in 1971. However, he said that he remained committed to the cause of racial equality and justice.
As of 2017, 16 Black Panthers were still locked up in the U.S. — many, for charges from the late 1960s and 70s, Colorlines reported. Some have since died in prison or been released.
Edward Poindexter, convicted for killing a police officer in Omaha, Nebraska, had been in prison for 50 years as of August.
The seven surviving members of the Move 9, Black liberationists and environmentalists from Philadelphia who were arrested in 1978 after a police siege of their communal home, were all released on parole in the past two years.
Muntaqim and two co-defendants each were sentenced to 25 years to life for the killings of two police officers who answered what they believed was a domestic dispute call. The police were then ambushed and shot. Albert “Nuh” Washington died in prison in 2000, and Herman Bell was released on parole in April 2018, Guardian reported.
“We did not receive a fair trial,” Muntaqim told the Guardian in 2018. “There were multiple coverups in this case.”