New York Task Force on Political Prisoners

New York Task Force on Political Prisoners (NYTFPP) is a collective of attorneys, former political prisoners, politicians, activists, clergy, and political prisoners family members dedicated to providing legal, organizing and technical support to New York’s incarcerated political activists.

There are over 100 people incarcerated in the U.S. because their beliefs and / or actions were in opposition to the repression of this government. A country which claims to have been founded on the idea of political freedom and diversity should have no political prisoners.

We remember that Martin Luther King, Jr. was incarcerated many times, for example, because he opposed economic and political segregation. Yet, MLK wasn’t the only person to be incarcerated. Many people of his generation have been languished in prisons for 20, 25 and 30 years. We believe it is a human right to oppose oppression and domination.

These prisoners’ convictions reflect as yet unresolved issues of civil, racial, and economic justice of the 1960’s and 70’s, a time when thousands of people of all races, young and old, women and men, formed militant movements to demand fundamental social change. Their trials occurred during a time when their juries and the general public did not know that, in response to these movements, the government was engaging in illegal and unconstitutional acts – acts of infiltration and surveillance which, according to the government’s own documents, carried over into the legal arena. Foremost in the government’s campaign was the FBI’s now-infamous Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), which was later condemned by a 1976 United States Senate Committee.

Some of the people in severely damaged by COINTELPRO have received redress in the courts. For example, in 1990, Dhoruba Bin Wahad, a former Black Panther Party leader incarcerated for over 19 years in New York, won his release when it was revealed that the prosecution had withheld exculpatory evidence. In 1996 in California, Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt also won his release on the same grounds. In both cases, all charges were then dismissed at the request of prosecutors.

Goals:

Clemency – to develop and promote clemency petitions for political prisoners in New York

Truth & Reconciliation Commission – to create and implement a Truth and Reconciliation Commission focused on the war against the Black Liberation Movement

Crisis Management – to provide “crisis management” to political prisoners as it relates to the policies and practices of Department Of Corrections, Department of Parole, Federal Bureau of Prison towards activists inmates.

Criminal Litigation – to exhaust all possible appeals and challenges to the criminal convictions of New York State political prisoners

Civil Litigation – to research possible civil cases to highlight the existence of political prisoners regarding the past practices of COINTELPRO and current “COINTELPRO like” practices

2004 Activities:

Over the last 12 months we held several news conferences, which received widespread attention in the case of Herman Bell and Jalil Bottom. Both these former panthers have been locked down for over twenty-five years and they both had parole hearings in 2004.

To our delight the son of one of the officers Jalil and Herman were wrongly convicted of slaying came forth and said that these men should be released. MXGM will continue to be active in the New York State Task Force on Political Prisoners, organize visits, and do fundraising to support the Political Prisoners. We will follow up on legal appeals and other casework that has been on going throughout the year. We have also begun to develop a strategy to address the politics of the parole system as it related to political prisoners.