Monthly Archives: March 2021

Grand jury refuses to indict parolee Jalil Muntaqim on voter fraud charges

A Monroe County grand jury has declined to indict a controversial parolee who was facing felony charges for registering to vote illegally that could have sent him back to prison.

The parolee, Jalil Muntaqim, was imprisoned under his given name, Anthony Bottom, for nearly 50 years for his role in the murder of two New York City police officers in 1971 before his release in October.

The Monroe County Public Defender’s Office confirmed Tuesday that the grand jury last week “no-billed” Muntaqim’s case, meaning the jury declined to indict. The case is now sealed.

“I think a no-bill was the right outcome in this case,” said his public defender, Jaquelyn Grippe. “Mr. Muntaqim is a truly inspirational person and I can say that it was my privilege to get to know him through this process.”

Originally from San Francisco, Muntaqim, 69, settled in Brighton with a friend upon his release.

A day after being set free, however, Muntaqim filled out paperwork given to him by the county Department of Human Services, which helps former prisoner’s acclimate to civilian life. The packet included a voter registration form, despite Muntaqim not being eligible to vote.

Prosecutors alleged that when Muntaqim filed his voter registration form with the county Board of Elections, he committed two felonies — tampering with public records and offering a false instrument for filing. He was also charged with providing a false affidavit, a misdemeanor.

The Board of Elections subsequently rejected his registration, and the former chair of the county Republican party, William Napier, seized on the matter as a question of voter fraud.

District Attorney Sandra Doorley has said that the charges against Muntaqim were about answering  allegations of voter fraud in the weeks before the election and that the case seemed straightforward.

“Is it a major thing?” she asked of the charges. “No.”

If convicted on the charges, Muntaqim’s parole status would have required him to return to prison.Billie Bottom Brown, 85, the mother of Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, aka Anthony Bottom, speaks outside of Spiritus Christi Church on behalf of her son on Nov. 12, 2020.CREDIT DAVID ANDREATTA / CITY

Muntaqim enjoyed much public support from family, friends, and Rochester’s activist community, who echoed the argument of his public defender that Muntaqim did not realize he was not eligible to vote.

Parolees are not allowed to vote in New York upon release from prison without receiving a conditional pardon to restoring voting rights from the governor.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued such pardons as a matter of course on a monthly basis since 2018, when he signed an executive order directing the corrections commissioner to submit to him each month a list of every felon newly eligible for parole, with each name to be “given consideration for a conditional pardon that will restore voting rights.”

Most parolees receive their pardon, which does not expunge their criminal record, within four to six weeks of their release. Cuomo denied Muntaqim a voting pardon in November, however, after news reports of Muntaqim’s predicament.

A national movement to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people is gaining steam, and Muntaqim’s case became a rallying cry for advocates.A supporter of Jalil Muntaqim holds aloft a sign at a rally calling for authorities to drop the voter fraud charges against him. Nov. 12, 2020.CREDIT DAVID ANDREATTA / CITY

“I certainly hope that legislation is passed in the future that expands on Gov. Cuomo’s executive order allowing parolees the basic right to vote,” Grippe said.

Twenty states allow parolees to to vote upon their release, according to the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group for criminal justice reform.

The concept of disenfranchising felons dates to colonial days, when certain criminals were striped of rights in a practice known as “civil death.” Later Americans applied a racist twist to the practice after the Civil War, when many states used it to deprive Black men of the vote they had recently gained.

Today, the impact of these laws still falls disproportionately on poor people of color.

The Supreme Court interprets the Constitution in such a way that upholds these restrictions.

David Andreatta is CITY’s editor. He can be reached at [email protected].ShareTweetEmail

Philly ABC Letter Writing for Fran Thompson. March 31

Philly ABC has been busy gearing up for this year’s Running Down the Walls 5K (save the date of September 12th with funds split between the ABCF Warchest and Mumia Abu-Jamal!), but we didn’t want to miss a monthly letter-writing so we are hosting the next event online this Wednesday the 31st.

Philly ABC is energized by building momentum towards abolishing the police. As prison abolitionists, we stand in solidarity with the many people who have taken necessary actions to defend themselves without engaging police or courts. We believe self-defense is a right, and recognize that police and courts do not provide viable options to ensure safety. Both are even more biased against people who are known to stand up against injustice.

This month we encourage people to write letters to Fran Thompson, who was sentenced to life for self-defense in 1994. Prior to her incarceration, Fran lived on a farm in Knox County, Nebraska. She was a dedicated animal rights and environmental activist. After a man who was stalking her threatened to kill her and then broke into her house, Fran shot and killed him in self-defense but was charged with murder.

Fran’s case was highly politicized. Fran had taken on the prosecutor and local government during her activism, organizing against two big projects, the Walden Egg Factory and a nuclear waste facility, that would have brought the county big profits. She was treated harshly by the local court for her commitment to animals and the environment. She was not allowed to enter a plea of self-defense and received a sentence of life without parole.

This event will be held on Jitsi – we’ll post the meet link on social media the day of. You can also message us to get the link beforehand. If you are unable to make the event, please drop Fran a line and let her know she is not forgotten:

Fran Thompson #93341
Nebraska Correctional Center for Women
1107 Recharge Rd.
York, NE 68467-8003

RIP Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald

Just heard the bad news that Romaine ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald passed away. He spent 21 years of his life on this side of the walls, and 51 years in a cage for fighting for the liberation of his people. Free All Political Prisoners.

RIP Romaine ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald
Born: April 11, 1949 
Died: March 29, 2021.

After Half Century in Prison, Elderly Black Panther Should Not Be Left to Die

Brand new article in The Intercept by Natasha Lennard about political prisoner Sundiata Acoli. Get involved in efforts to free him at

SUNDIATA ACOLI IS 84 years old and has been in prison for nearly half a century. When the state of New Jersey locked him up in 1974, Acoli was not sentenced to die behind bars; he has been eligible for parole for almost three decades. The much-loved father and grandfather has an exemplary disciplinary record and a stellar history of work and academic achievement while incarcerated.His parole bid in February was denied. Acoli will likely not live long enough to appear before the board again.

The idea that this elderly Black community leader could be a risk to society outside the prison walls is laughable. Yet Acoli’s release does not appear to be on the horizon. He has been consistently denied parole since the early 1990s. His last bid, in February, was again denied. The parole board determined that he should be considered ineligible for another hearing for an extended but unspecified period of time. Acoli will likely not live long enough to appear before the board again.

Read the rest at

Got your stimulus check? Donate to the ABCF Warchest!

Hey, its payday for a lot of people out there and those stimulus checks are rolling in.
Please consider donating to the ABCF Warchest which sends $50 to 20 different political prisoners every month. The Anarchist Black Cross Federation (ABCF) initiated the Warchest program in November 1994 to send monthly checks to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War who have been receiving insufficient, little, or no financial support during their imprisonment. Its purpose is to collect funds from groups and individual supporters and send that money directly to commissary accounts of vetted Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War (PP/POW) via monthly checks. Since its inception, we have distributed over $130,000 in funds! Watch the Warchest video.

The 20 people who receive ABCF Warchest assistance:

Ways to Donate

Check or money order: made out to Tim Fasnacht and send to Tim Fasnacht, P.O. Box 8682, Lancaster, PA 17604.

CashApp: $timabcf  (or send your donation to [email protected])

Venmo: TimFasnachtABCF

“FDC Englewood” by Eric King

Current segregated housing unit commissary ordering form

When someone is indicted federally, they are sent to either a private facility, or a Federal detention center (or held in county jail through US Marshal contracts). People indicted in Florence get sent to the Englewood FDC. Right now there are abortion bombers, people called killers, people called gang leaders, but not me. For the last 19 months, the admin or US Marshals (or both) have kept me in SHU (segregated housing unit) with no reason given.

At the FDC pretrial folks get to prepare for trial. They can call their lawyers daily and have in-person visits to review all evidence against them. At the fdc, prisoners have daily access to the law library and can print anything off pertinent to their case. In the SHU I am allowed 1 15 minute phone call per week with my attorney, we’ve never had an in-person visit, over a year and a half after being indicted, still haven’t been able to review our full discovery of evidence. There is a law library here and if you don’t mind filling a written request the guards will get you in there…. HOWEVER printing out documents can take weeks to retrieve, if ever. You will be charged for the paper and then told you never printed anything, maybe try again next week?

Being in the FDC is having a normalized pre-trial experience. You were able to make friends and enemies, use select fitness equipment and shower daily. You get to feel fresh air outside playing basketball or just walking the track. You can call or email your family as much as you like, you have a cell door so you can take a s*** without a guard monitoring your status. Real canteen is available to make your meals or buy songs for your mp3. You get to build bonds with the people around you, hear their stories and share yours. If you get a disciplinary write up you go to SHU you do your time (sanctions, it designated amount of time you will spend in segregation) then you come back, business as usual.

Since I’ve been back here I’ve seen the entire SHU get turned over except my neighbor Smiles and I, who has 8 months clear conduct and is spun constantly over his eligibility. Days ago someone who had masturbated in front of multiple staff members was allowed back for the second time, Smiles and I still wait…

The admin lies over and over, it’s a mind game “if you do this, we will reward you” then some other excuse arises. The main excuse is I am a “threat to security” no one cannot explain what this means, this is not a designation. There is no manual I can read to further understand as a threat to security, what I’m entitled. Meanwhile we’ll continue to wait, fighting a serious legal case while trying to maintain our sanity. The judges and prosecutors will say everything’s fine, but I haven’t seen the stars in two and a half years.

The system is rigged
This is why we fight

Eric King #27090-045
FCI Englewood
Eric is currently on mail restriction but can receive books and magazines.

PP/POW Updates and Announcements 3.23.2021

Here’s the latest compilation of every other week updates:

NYC ABC, along with several other individuals and prisoner support
crews, now send hard copies to all political prisoners and prisoners of
war we support.

If you consistently mail the latest updates to a specific prisoner,
please let us know so we can insure there’s no overlap. The goal is to
have copies sent to all of the prisoners we list.

We’ve also been told that some prisoners are not receiving the copies
sent in, yet we aren’t getting rejection notices. If you are in steady
contact with a prisoner, please ask them whether or not they are
receiving the updates and let us know.

Free ’em all,

NYCABC Letter Writing for Joe Joe Bowen

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing
WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021
COST: Free

As spring rolls in across the northern hemisphere, every bird seems to be busy building nests, streets and parks are filled with neighbors enjoying the warmer air, and the sun is shining longer and brighter. As much as those of on the outside welcome the seasonal renewal, it would be remiss of us to not also give time and energy to our friends and comrades for whom freedom is continually denied. Solidarity is perennial. In light of this, we keep going on with our bi-weekly letter-writing events, which remain socially distanced for the time being due to the ongoing pandemic. We will return to in-person events once it seems responsibly safe to do so, though we are not looking forward to returning to any “normal” that includes complacency with settler-colonial white supremacy.

This week please join NYC ABC and Page One Collective in writing to Joe-Joe Bowen. A native of Philadelphia, Joe-Joe was a young member of the “30th and Norris” street gang before his incarceration politicized him. Released in 1971, his outside activism was cut short a week following his release when Joe-Joe was confronted by an officer of the notoriously brutal Philadelphia police department. The police officer was killed in the confrontation, and Bowen fled. After his capture and incarceration, Bowen became a Black Liberation Army combatant, defiant to authorities at every turn. In 1973, Joe-Joe assassinated Holmesberg prison’s warden and deputy warden as well as wounded the guard commander in retaliation for intense repression against Muslim prisoners in the facility.  In 1981, Bowen led a six-day standoff with authorities when he and six other captives took 39 hostages at Graterford Prison as a freedom attempt and protest of the prison conditions. More information here.

Please take the time to write a letter to Joe-Joe (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online):

Smart Communications/PA DOC
Joseph Bowen AM4272
SCI Fayette
Post Office Box 33028
Saint Petersburg, Florida 33733
*Address cards/letters to Joe-Joe.

Brand-new Illustrated Guide to Political Prisoners

c/o NYC ABC, the brand-new version of their amazing Illustrated Guide to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War is now available. It’s version 14.0.2!

“We’ve finished the latest version of the NYC ABC “Illustrated Guide to
Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War” and it’s available for viewing/downloading at

This update includes updated mini-bios, photos, and address changes for several prisoners. Unfortunately, we are adding prisoners to the guide this
month–Plowshares activists Clare Grady and Martha Hennessy and Water
Protector Steve Martinez.”