New York 3

On May 21, 1971, two New York City police officers were fatally shot. This shooting occurred within the context of two major national trends: the growth of black revolutionary groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and, later, its armed wing, the Black Liberation Army; and at the same time, the FBI operation under Director J. Edgar Hoover, with the cooperation of the Nixon administration, to destroy the leaders and memberships of both mainstream civil rights and militant black organizations. This counterintelligence operation, called COINTELPRO, targeted black leaders by infiltrating the Black Liberation Movement, framing members of the movements for crimes, and even murdering them, in order to get them off the streets and out of contact with the community. The shooting of these two police officers also came immediately after the infamous trial of the "Panther 21,""" a case in New York against 21 members of the BPP charged with planning "terrorist" acts. After nearly a two-year trial all 21 defendants were acquitted.

Three months after the killings, on August 28, 1971, Jalil Abdul Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) and Albert Nuh Washington were arrested in San Francisco during an armed confrontation with police. Their arrests came only one week after the assassination of BPP Field Marshall, George Jackson. They were later charged with the New York killings. Nearly two years later, Herman Bell was arrested in New Orleans. Also arrested and charged in the case were Gabriel and Francisco Torres although charges the two brothers were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

The first trial, then against the New York 5 (including the Torres brothers), ended in a mistrial. In that trial only one vote was cast to convict Nuh Washington. The Torres brothers were acquitted in the second trial. But at the end of a second trial, in 1975, the New York ThreečNuh, Jalil, and.Hermančwere convicted of first degree murder, weapons possession, and conspiracy.

All three members of the New York Three were specifically named in COINTELPRO documents as members of the black liberation movement who had to be "neutralized," These documents, and the media smear campaign enacted by the FBI and the White House, claimed that these community and human rights activists were ≥terrorists≤. This domestic program of political repression was revealed by a 1976 congressional committee, the Church Commission, to have utilized extra-legal methods to neutralize social justice movements, including surveillance, beatings, torture, harassment, instigating violent feuds between rival individuals and organizations, coercion and intimidation of witnesses, isolating and badjacketing influential leaders, as well as outright murder. In fact, a major reason that many BPP and BLA members were forced to go underground and arm themselves was the deadly FBI-instigated split in the party between factions led by Eldridge Cleaver and Huey P. Newton.

Despite the media perception that the BPP were "terrorists," the main activities conducted by the New York Three and other members of the BPP were running programs designed to serve the community, such as the Free Breakfast program for children; health care programs, such as sickle-cell anemia testing and lead poisoning prevention; legal and political education; and anti-drug activities.

Clearly, the NY3 and other political prisoners are imprisoned not because of crimes they actually committed, but for their political activity and J. Edgar Hoover's racist and personal war against members of the black liberation and civil rights movement. The New York Three continue to fight for their freedom and maintain their innocence. Herman and Jalil are now two of the longest held political prisoners in the US. Each member of the NY3 has served almost 30 years. On April 28, 2000, Albert Nuh Washington passed away after a long, painful battle with liver cancer. Jalil and Herman are currently serving their sentences.

New York Three Flier