“Davon-Marie Grimmer has been struggling to get help for more than year for her cousin, Kent Clark. Sometimes, when he calls from prison, he asks to speak with relatives who are no longer alive. Sometimes, he forgets the name of his cell mate.
“As far as I know, he hasn’t received any medical attention for the dementia, and he’s just so vulnerable in there,” Grimmer said. “He’s 66 years old. He can’t take care of himself.”
Clark is one of about 150 people in federal prison who time mostly forgot. This group of “old law” prisoners committed crimes before November 1987, when the law changed to remove the possibility of parole. But even with the grandfathered-in chance for parole — and despite a push to reduce prison populations — dozens of men in their 60s, 70s and 80s still have little hope of release.”
While the Panthers have become a staple of pop culture, veteran members of the group remain invisible.
On October 7, 2020, Jalil Muntaqim exited the Sullivan Correctional Facility in upstate New York a free man. A member of the Black Panther Party and its more militant, clandestine offshoot, the Black Liberation Army, Muntaqim was 19 years old at the time of his 1971 arrest, which was followed by his conviction three years later for the murder of two NYPD police officers, Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini. After nearly a half-century behind bars and over a dozen parole requests, Muntaqim’s parole was approved last September, one month before his sixty-ninth birthday.
Download this zine by the Page One collective that highlights the 13 elders currently incarcerated for their participation in Black liberation movements. Write them, support them, bring up their names. Hand this information out at a protest, at a family dinner, or in your neighborhood. Let’s keep these names in our minds and hearts.
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, NYC ABC — NYC ABC Post Office Box 110034 Brooklyn, New York 11211
Many thanks to all of you who have participated in our ongoing drive to benefit NYC Books Through Bars! We truly appreciate your generosity at this time (over 8,000 books purchased on their behalf since June 2020!), when those incarcerated face ever greater obstacles getting access to written material.
May 2021’s pick: Assata: An Autobiography, Giovanni’s Room, and a selection from the Penguin Great Ideas Series–three books for $30
Following April’s drive (almost 700 books collected!) is a bundle focusing on great thinkers and political iconoclasts. Assata Shakur and James Baldwin were firebrands in the 1960s and 70s who challenged mainstream culture and racial assumptions through their words and activism.
Shakur’s 1987 autobiography has become an important document of Black resistance movements that reveals the incredible lengths the U.S. government went to stifle revolutionary thought at the height of the Civil Rights era.
Though James Baldwin’s own nonfiction (essays, criticism, polemics) is substantial, we decided to focus on his fiction this month, and the novel Giovanni’s Room. Set in 1950’s Paris and amongst a community of American expatriates, Baldwin tackles social isolation, gender and sexual identity crisis, as well as conflicts of masculinity within this story of a young bisexual man navigating the public sphere in a society that rejects a core aspect of his sexuality.
Rounding out the bundle are classic works from the Penguin Great Ideas Series, which your purchase will allow us to provide incarcerated readers with a variety of, like works on evolution, political theory, the ethics of the Samurai, and women’s rights.
To learn more about the important work NYC Books Through Bars does, go here.
It’s May 1st: Mayday and that means our column on It’s Going Down: *Prison Break* is out for May! Check it out at the link and read all about political prisoner birthdays, releases, acquittals & dropped charges, ongoing cases and our new Call for Submissions for our 2022 calendar!!! Be sure to check out the amazing art by indigenous PP Oso Blanco featured as well!