Free Jamil Al-Amin!

Political Frame-Up Of A Black Radical In Georgia

Free Jamil Al-Amin
By: Jon Wexler

In one of the most blatant political frame-ups in recent memory, a Fulton County jury sent Imam Jamil Al-Amin to jail for life without parole in March, after only two days of deliberation.

Al-Amin was convicted of murdering Deputy Ricky Kinchen and wounding Deputy Aldranon English in March 2000. They were shot while trying to serve a traffic warrant to the Imam (Muslim cleric) at his store. Three days later, Al-Amin was taken into custody, where he was held for almost two years before the trial.

Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, was a Black Power leader in the 1960s. As a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and an honorary Black Panther, Brown garnered enough attention and influence to earn a 44,000-page government file. He has been repeatedly harassed, arrested, and jailed over the last 35 years. In the 1970s, Brown changed his name, converted to Islam, and started a mosque and a large Muslim community in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood.

The case, therefore, smacked of vengeful racism -- not only toward Al-Amin, but also the Black and Muslim communities he represents.

The prosecution’s case had ridiculous inconsistencies:

  • Both officers described their assailant as 5-foot-8-inches, with gray eyes. Al-Amin is 6-feet-5-inches with brown eyes.
  • A man fitting the description of the shooter confessed, but the confession was thrown out.
  • The officers said that they shot the killer. When Al-Amin was found, he had no recent bullet wound.

The FBI agent who arrested Al-Amin openly bragged in court that he kicked and spit on Al-Amin, saying, "This is what we do to cop killers."

Judge Stephanie B. Manis clearly sided with the district attorneys. On a day that I was in court as an observer of the sentencing phase, Manis complimented the prosecution for its "skilled" argument and sounded disappointed when she ruled that they could not call to the stand police involved in an arrest of Al-Amin in New York 31 years ago -- which didn’t even lead to a conviction.

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty, with other groups -- including the International Committee to Free Imam Jamil Al-Amin -- were active around the case. We held a panel discussion, and several rallies of 100 people or more.

Unfortunately these events don’t reflect the large numbers that supported Al-Amin -- this support went largely unorganized. To win freedom for Al-Amin, we have to build a stronger movement.