Friends and Supporters:
I feel compelled to offer these concerns and sentiments due to perceived challenges and opportunities. Over six months ago, I urged NYC activists in support of political prisoners to begin the process to resurrect the old civil rights tactics of occupation/sit-ins, picket-line strikes and demonstrations. Specifically, I suggested that Harlem State Office Building where the State Division of Parole maintains an office should be identified for this kind of action. I argued that it was time for the NYC progressive activist community to take the initiative to challenge the system, and employ age-old tactics of putting feet on the pavement to challenge the system to free our political prisoners. Unfortunately, there was no interest to “up the ante” and build a visible opposition to the current prison and parole situation.
When considering the impressive level of support cultivated and organized to spare the life of Troy Davis, we political prisoners in NYS can only wonder what kind of impact that would have had on NYS DOCS and Division of Parole on our collective condition. Although the state of Georgia failed to spare the life of Troy Davis, there is no doubt they were under tremendous pressure. I sincerely doubt, if such pressure was directed on NYS in support of our issue, NYS would be unable to deny our demands. This is especially true when considering there would be no finality to our issues. When considering the extent of support and attention given to California Pelican Bay hunger strikers, that will eventually force major changes in SHU prison policies, we need to ask why NYS activists are perceptually silent on prison and parole issues?
These concerns virtually speak to a weakness in political leadership and organization in NYC and NYS in the progressive community. It points the finger to the debacle of sectarian divisions and perceived personality arrogance stifling or prohibiting united and uniform action. This kind of praxis needs to come to an abrupt halt. There needs to be a complete and utter change in political attitude and practice among NYC and NYS progressive communities, one of cooperation and unity.
Since 1998, the Jericho Amnesty Movement has consistently represented the existence of U.S. political prisoners. No doubt, after the passing of Sister Safiya A. Bukhari, Jericho suffered in direction and leadership, although the organizational determination and ideal was kept alive. Now, under new leadership, the Jericho Amnesty Movement has taken a bold and giant leap forward by sponsoring the building of a National Confederation and the implementation of a five-year strategy. Again, NYC and NYS progressive activist communities are found recalcitrant in their failure to join and support this potentially historic forward development in support of U.S. political prisoners. In my amazement, despite my own idealism, it is obvious to me that young people in this country are ready and prepared to take matters to the streets. Where those who have decades and years of political experience are failing to take bold and courageous action, young people are ready to act, to resurrect the age-old tactics of the civil rights movement of occupation, sit-ins and demonstrations. In essence, the more “liberal left” has stepped ahead and in front of the “old guard” progressive left community and gone “postal”. They are mad as hell and not taking it anymore!
Here, I humbly urge NYC and NYS progressive activists to read my essay “Toward a New Amerikan Revolution” and determine for yourself if it speaks directly to the issue of “Occupy Wall Street.” If you agree that it does, I ask that if be printed and distributed at Occupy Wall Street. If possible, if each of you could distribute a hundred copies asking the recipient to do the same, as in a chain distribution, perhaps it will serve to offer broader insights on its organizational potential and determination. If there is going to be an opportunity to prohibit the Occupy Wall Street demonstration from becoming a flash in the pan protest, and ensure it evolves into a mass and popular movement that challenges the foundation of this capitalist-imperialist system, we need to introduce and interject revolutionary ideals and politics. I believe we will agree the Occupy Wall Street demonstration is not anti-capitalist, it is not anti-imperialist, although these sentiments are a trend within the demonstration it is not revolutionary. The “liberal left” and non-profit entities sponsor and are giving expression to the demonstration. When the winter weather sets in the physical and visible demonstration will dissipate, leaving in its wake a spirited but divided demonstration that will probably dissolve into electoral protest movement. Needless to say, “Toward a New Amerikan Revolution” addresses these concerns, and presents an alternative political vision for a mass and popular movement.
Just as importantly, NYC and NYS progressive activists must introduce and rally Occupy Wall Street to recognize the existence of U.S. political prisoners, and to demand the amnesty and release of our numbers. I personally ask that the Jericho Amnesty Movement and the building of the National Confederation be introduced to Occupy Wall Street in furtherance of strengthening and uniting the initiative to forge a mass and popular movement that includes U.S. political prisoners in the national debate.
and Supporters, from this cell in Attica Correctional Facility, on my 40th
birthday in incarceration, I offer these reflections and concerns
with the hope this will be received with kindness and generosity. Needless
to say, we are in troubling times, and it is expected that it will get much
worse before it gets any better. We, the progressive activist community,
can no longer operate in sectarian division, lacking courage to take decisive
action, but rather, we must resurrect a revolutionary determination of human
rights and international solidarity with workers around the world.
Jalil A. Muntaqim
October 18, 2011