Author Archives: dmcg

Portland will be Running Down the Walls

Portland will be Running Down The Walls!

A multi-modal 5K and BBQ to raise funds and support for political prisoners. Sunday, September 18 from 11:00am-3:00pm, under the Hawthorne Bridge.

This annual solidarity event takes place in cities and prisons around the world to raise funds for political prisoners. We will be giving out enticing prizes to teams and individuals who participate! #RDTW Please join us by participating in the loop and asking supporters for $$ pledges. If you can’t attend, please chip in to the fund or sponsor a participant.

Registration: http://tinyurl.com/rdtw2022pdx
Questions? [email protected]

#RDTW #FreeThemAll

A day of action to mark 365 days in prison for Jessica Reznicek

Tomorrow, August 11th, marks the first year, or the 365th day, of Jessica’s incarceration after being labeled a terrorist for protecting the endangered water supply of over 40 million people.

After losing our appeal in the 8th circuit we want to use Thursday to spread the word about her case and build popular support as we prepare to continue the fight to free Jessica and reverse this dangerous precedent.

Take action tomorrow with these 2 simple steps to help us spread the word about her case!

1.) Take a selfie or group photo with a sign saying:
“365 days in prison and counting #freejessicareznicek Water protectors. Not terrorists. supportjessicareznicek.com” or

“365 days in prison and counting #freejessicareznicek Climate action ≠ terrorism. supportjessicareznicek.com

2.) Post this on your social media and most importantly tag us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @FreeJessRez and use the hashtag #FreeJessicaReznicek. If you do not have social media feel free to reply to this email with the picture and we will post it to ours.

Before you finish reading this email retweet and share this campaign on Facebook to spread the word about the day of action before tomorrow!  Instagram is blocking us from posting about this because it “goes against community standards.” Even more of a reason to be sure to take a selfie tomorrow and tag us on that platform as well!

To buy a shirt, sign the petition, and read more on Jessica’s case visit our website: www.supportjessicareznicek.com

We look forward to seeing you on the web tomorrow!

Solidarity Forever, The Jessica Reznicek Support Team

NYCABC Updates and Announcements 8.9.22

Here is the latest compilation of every-other-week updates:
https://nycabc.files.wordpress.com/2022/08/9-aug-2022.pdf

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

NYCABC’s Running Down the Walls– 9.18.22

WHATRunning Down the Walls – 5k Run/Walk/Jog/Bike/Hang
WHEN: 2:00-7:00pm, Sunday, September 18th, 2022
WHERE: Prospect Park– Lincoln Road/East Lake Drive, east of the Terrace Bridge
COST: $10 registration, participants encouraged to get sponsors (includes vegan BBQ afterwards, observing COVID precautions for serving!)

NYC Anarchist Black Cross (NYC ABC) is excited to announce Running Down the Walls 2022! After making the difficult decision to not host RDTW in person in 2020, we are looking very forward to gathering as a community. Last year, we had an amazing time and a successful fundraiser. Please stay tuned to our website, sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on twitter (@nycabc) or instagram (also @nycabc) for updates.

Every year, prisoners and supporters of political prisoners organize solidarity events with Running Down the Walls. In previous years, we’ve had runs in Albuquerque (NM), Arcata (CA), Ashland (OR), Bellefonte (PA), Boston (MA), Buffalo (NY), Chico (CA), Denver (CO), Elmore (AL), Inez (KY), Los Angeles (CA), Marion (IL), Minneapolis (MN) New York (NY), USP Navosta (TX), Pelican Bay (CA), Phoenix (AZ), Tucson (AZ), Seattle (WA), and Toronto, Ontario. This year we hope to expand the amount of runs in prisons and other cities, as well as increase the amount of funds raised for community projects. NYC ABC‘s goal with this year’s run is $4,500. You can donate online by going to venmo.com/nycabc@nycabc

This year’s run will take place on Sunday, September 18th, 2022 at 2:00 pm in solidarity and conjunction with runs that will take place in cities and prison yards across the country at the same time. Stay after to enjoy a vegan BBQ, served taking every COVID precaution!

REGISTER AS, OR SPONSOR, A PARTICIPANT
To raise our goal of $4,500 we need your support.

Promote – print and distribute flyers to friends and local businesses, your doctor’s office, laundromat, food co-op, wealthy benefactor, et cetera.

Run/walk/bike/roll in the 5k – We need participants who can run/walk/bike/roll the 5k and are able to collect financial pledges to offer as donations to the run. Download the brochure, complete with registration and sponsor form right here.

Volunteer for the run – We need folks who are willing to promote the run and bike the route as street medics.

Donate online at venmo @nycabc

Donate to the run/sponsor a participant – If you are not able to attend, but want to support this fundraising effort, please mail donations to:
NYC ABC
Post Office Box 110034
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Your donation of $10 or more entitles you to the celebratory picnic after the event.

Each year, we split proceeds between the Anarchist Black Cross Federation’s Warchest Program and a local organization. This year, local funds are going to Roots Unbound (RU).

The Warchest Program:
The Anarchist Black Cross Federation (ABCF) has initiated a program designed to send monthly checks to those Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War who have been receiving insufficient, little, or no financial support during their imprisonment. The Warchest program was initiated in November 1994. Its purpose is to collect monthly funds from groups and individual supporters, and send that money to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War (PP/POW) via monthly checks. Over the last twenty five years, the ABCF warchest has dispensed almost $200,000 to political prisoners. Currently, there are 17 imprisoned comrades who receive a monthly stipend as part of the program; they are Abdul AzeezDan BakerEd PoindexterEric KingFidencio AldamaHanif BeyJamil Al-AminJoseph BowenKamau Sadiki, Leonard PeltierMalik SmithMutulu ShakurOso BlancoRonald Reed, Ruchell MageeVeronza Bowers, and Xinachtli (FKA Alvaro Luna Hernandez). For more information, visit: abcf.net/warchest-program

Roots Unbound:
Roots Unbound (RU) is an abolitionist grassroots organization based in Brooklyn offering nature-based programming centered around food justice, therapeutic horticulture, and ecological disinvestment to people in the NYC area with a focus on supporting and uplifting people impacted by the carceral system. Abolition is liberation for all.

For more information, visit: rootsunbound.org

We will be starting here:

rdtw-2018-starting_meetup-point.jpg

From the Q train, get off at the Prospect Park stop. Walk to Lincoln Road and turn right into the park. We’ll be about 700 feet away.

The event will be one lap around what is known as the Main Loop, and will total five kilometers. For the curious, here’s what it looks like:

Main Loop

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail us at nycabc at riseup dot net.

Oso Blanco Statement in Support of Pushing Down the Walls

Brother and sisters, Comrades,

I thank you all very much for participating in “Pushing Down the Walls“. I’ve been a political prisoner since August 13th, 1999. I’ve tried my best to overcome the situations at hand that my enemy has handed me nonstop. At times I’ve tried my best to survive in here, hustling by cooking food, selling candy, to make ends meet. It’s nothing easy. At 55 years old I should be teaching my grandchildren to cook, hunt and fish, as well as taking care of my elderly parents.

I’ve been able to successfully start the “Children’s Art Project”. I had to give up most of my money a few times in order to print the products for Children’s Art Project to help provide a little bit of support for my comrades in Chiapas who run the schools. I wish to inspire you and all those out there struggling for a better world. In these times, it’s extremely difficult to fight for Indigenous People and the Earth. For those that attack our sovereignty and destroy the Mother Earth, they place money and profit above a future for our grandchildren. The situation has become dire. One would be best not to believe any type of politician on either side because they’re all full of it. I thank you all that have placed your lives on the line in direct action to protect water, the first medicine, and protect Indigenous People everywhere. We have extreme problems on our Reservations in the north.

There is so much work to be done. It’s unbelievable. I’ve been in these USPs (United States Penitentiaries) all these years watching the Native population in here grow and grow. I know now, more than ever, that political activists must step up their A game and take the great serpent by the horns. This serpent must be crushed before we have no Earth to live on. I thank you all for raising money and giving your efforts by physical strain and activity. I pray that we shall truly overcome the oppression that seeks to destroy and bury us in these cement coffins. It is truly no joke to live in here like a factory farm animal knowing that people are out there more worried about a cellphone and a new car than saving the Earth. 

Love and Power,
Oso Blanco

Write:
Byron Chubbuck #07909-051
USP Victorville
P.O. Box 3900
Adelanto, CA 92301
freeosoblanco.org

Monday, August 8th: Dr. Mutulu Shakur Birthday Call to Action!

SAVE THE DATE! Mutulu Turns 72!

On Monday, August 8th join the Free Mutulu Now Campaign as we commemorate Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s 72rd birthday with a call to action for his release.

To register: https://bit.ly/mutulubdayaction

Mutulu has been suffering with life-threatening bone marrow cancer and Bureau of Prison doctors have given him less than six months. We will gather online at 7:20 PM EST for a 72-minute program to hear from those who love Mutulu and are fighting for his freedom.

Learn more about Free Mutulu NOW Campaign and how to get involved, visit https://linktr.ee/FreeMutuluNow and https://mutulushakur.com/

The Resounding Right of Mutulu Shakur to Die in Freedom: Where Compassion Fails

Mutulu Shakur and his codefendant Marilyn Buck  at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan, 1987. Photo: Trella Laughlin.
by Susie Day


Anyone with a loved one in prison carries around the silent, ceaseless terror that the person so loved will die alone, behind bars. Currently, 71-year-old Mutulu Shakur, a Black man imprisoned 36 years, lies in a hospital bed in a federal prison medical facility in Lexington, Kentucky. Ravaged by bone marrow cancer, fed by tubes, having lost 25% of his body weight, Shakur has been given weeks – at best, months – to live. His loved ones – family, friends, hundreds of supporters – are trying any and all legal means to get him out. Time and again, the US government and the courts refuse.

Mutulu Shakur, born Jeral Williams in 1950, grew up in New York City. His mother was blind, and so he learned as a child to navigate, not just run-of-the-mill racism, but also the welfare system’s byzantine bigotry. When he joined the radical Black movements of the 1960s and ‘70s, he became Mutulu Shakur. He also became an activist, a community leader, and holistic healer credited with cofounding the Lincoln Detox People’s Program, which brought game-changing acupuncture treatment for drug addiction to the impoverished South Bronx. In 1988, with his codefendant Marilyn Buck, Shakur was convicted of conspiracy in several armed robberies, one of which resulted in the deaths of three people, and for the 1979 prison escape of the revolutionary, Assata Shakur. As a revolutionary himself, and as the stepfather of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, Mutulu Shakur is both famous and infamous.

But neither Shakur’s notoriety, nor his community work, nor the crimes for which he was convicted should matter now. Mutulu Shakur is dying in prison. He is one of thousands of people – predominantly Black and Brown – who are seriously ill behind bars and asking for release. These are people – regardless of their alleged crimes – whose human right is to lie unshackled in a bed outside prison walls, to say goodbye to those they have loved in this life. Most of them are repeatedly denied compassionate release, or release on any terms.

According to the Marshall Project, working with the New York Times, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), from 2013 to 2017, approved just 6 percent of the 5,400 applications it received for compassionate release, leaving 266 applicants to die in custody. Applications are often rejected on grounds that prisoners still pose a “risk to public safety” or that the nature of their crime remains too serious to justify release. These rejections, the report continues, “often override the opinions of those closest to the prisoners, like their doctors and wardens.”

It’s no coincidence that both current and former staff at Shakur’s prison have spoken out for his release. In fact, the Marshall Project, using statistics to represent thousands of prisoners, describes exactly what is happening to Mutulu Shakur. So, when you read Shakur’s story here, know that, even with his extraordinary history and politics, Shakur is not exceptional. The essence of his fight to get out is true in prisons across the country.

Dr. Barbara Zeller is one of Shakur’s medical advocates. She’s a New York internist with over 50 years of practice who, because of her medical work in the Bronx, has known Shakur since the mid-1970s. She now interprets Shakur’s prison medical records for his family and legal team. According to Zeller, Shakur’s medical care has been fairly competent – except: “his diagnosis came two years after he developed symptoms that could have been followed. Because of that delay, the cancer was far advanced.”
Although Shakur’s multiple myeloma was diagnosed in 2019, Shakur had already begun suffering years before from diseases that often accompany life inside prison: type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma, hyperlipidemia, and the aftereffects of a stroke in 2013. Since his cancer diagnosis, he has gone through exhausting rounds of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, a relapse, more rounds of chemo, pneumonia, and at least two bouts of Covid. By spring of this year, the cancer had spread throughout Shakur’s skeletal system.

“He’s in a lot of pain,” says Zeller, “extremely debilitated and too weak to take more chemotherapy. He’s facing the end of his life. Medical people feel that his staying in prison is elder abuse.”

According to the terms of his sentence, Shakur was actually eligible for “mandatory parole” on February 10, 2016. But the US Parole Commission denied his release. Since 2016, Shakur has survived, not only catastrophically poor health, but also eight more parole denials and three rejections of compassionate release. During his parole hearings, Shakur has taken responsibility for his part in the loss of lives, and voiced deep and unmistakably sincere remorse.

His legal team has also made attempts at federal clemency and release through the “good time” accredited to people like Shakur who were convicted under federal “old law” before 1987. Given this option, Shakur is eligible for 976 “good days,” which would – in theory – have let him out years ago. Nothing has worked.

Legal connections between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and district courts are infinitely murky. On one hand, says the Marshall Project, the US Sentencing Commission deems release considerations best left to the courts, but: “judges can rule on compassionate release requests only if the Bureau of Prisons approves them first.” On the other hand, The Intercept quotes a BOP spokesperson who asserts: “At all times, the decision on whether to grant [release] … lies with the sentencing court.” [Italics, mine]

In late 2020, the Honorable Charles S. Haight, Jr., who sentenced Shakur to 60 years in prison in 1988, ruled on Shakur’s latest request for compassionate release. Acknowledging the incurable cancer that had, at that point, reached Shakur’s “skull, his jaw, and his shoulders,” and the fact that Shakur’s life expectancy was then estimated at about two years, Haight concluded that release was impossible, given Shakur’s “criminal conduct, indefensibly undertaken for political reasons.” However, Haight allowed – straining every remaining quality of mercy – that if Shakur’s cancer were to take him “to the point of approaching death, he may apply again to the Court, for a release that … could be justified as ‘compassionate.’”

This has inspired some of Shakur’s friends to interpret Haight’s ruling basically as, “Come back when you’re dead.”

More motions have been filed on Shakur’s behalf, including a habeas corpus, which met with limited success until the DOJ shot it down in May of this year. Addressing Shakur personally, the DOJ cited “your commendable prison programming record” and “terminal cancer,” but denied release on the stupefying grounds of “the reasonable probability” that, if released, “you … still have the means and opportunity to influence others” and “could commit a Federal, State, or local crime.”

Shakur’s codefendant Marilyn Buck also faced terminal cancer. In 2010, Buck was flown from a BOP medical facility in Carswell, TX to a New York City airport, where, weak and in pain, she greeted friends in a wheelchair. Unlike Shakur’s case, the BOP had given Buck a parole release date. With the understanding that her cancer would kill her before her designated release, Buck’s date was moved up, allowing her to die in the home of friends three weeks after getting out.

If, at this point, you were to notice a racial bias in the carceral system, Marilyn Buck – a staunch antiracist – would be the first to agree with you. Attorney Nkechi Taifa, who knew and loved Buck, is on Shakur’s defense team. “Even though we’re all together in this struggle,” Taifa said, “there’s still vast disparities of race. All the white people in Shakur’s cases have been released on parole or clemency. But Mutulu Shakur, a Black man, languishes in prison.”

Shakur’s case now returns to Judge Haight, who is currently reading last-minute motions from the DOJ and Shakur’s defense team. He will likely rule again in early August. Meanwhile, Shakur’s “Appeal and Request for Reconsideration” is at the U.S. Parole Commission, which has already denied an earlier appeal. One member of Shakur’s legal team conjectures that, even if Haight were to decide for  Shakur’s release, the Parole Commission could well overrule his decision.

What does any of this mean for justice in the United States? Hannah Arendt’s depiction of Adolf Eichmann, the petty bureaucratic condemned for mass murder, comes close:
His conscience was indeed set at rest when he saw the zeal and eagerness with which “good society” everywhere reacted as he did. He did not need to “close his ears to the voice of conscience,” as the judgment has it, not because he had none, but because his conscience spoke with a “respectable voice,” with the voice of respectable society around him.

Arendt’s portrait is relevant now, not in condemning Charles Haight or any particular person at the DOJ, but for the ease with which racially maneuvered death sentences like Shakur’s weave themselves into the bureaucracy of “respectable” American culture, quietly and unnoticed.
Actually, some people have noticed. On July 20, a delegation of supporters appeared at the Department of Justice building in Washington, DC to deliver an open letter, signed by nearly 200 clergy people. Titled “Faith Leaders for Mutulu Shakur,” the letter calls “unconditionally” for Shakur’s immediate release. Noting the DOJ’s own “PATTERN risk assessment tool,” which puts Shakur in the lowest possible recidivism risk category, the letter begins, “As faith leaders, we believe in redemption and salvation – tenets that could not be more appropriately understood than in [this] case ….”
A press conference outside the Justice building was attended by a range of people: clergy; healers and organizers who worked with Shakur back in the day; young Movement 4 Black Lives activists who were newborns when Shakur went to prison… I’m there, too. I want to witness the open expression of the right of any human being to die outside prison – even as hope, hour by hour, seems to fade.

But back in the Bronx, Barbara Zeller has other thoughts. “Mutulu, he’s such a fighter,” says Zeller. “He tells his health providers to do anything they can to keep him alive because he is absolutely, deep-down convinced he will see freedom.”

Maybe you could say that, hour by hour, at the end of his life, Mutulu Shakur is living out his last work of activism.
 
Susie Day has written about prison issues since 1988, when she began reporting on the cases of people charged with political protest acts, one of them, Marilyn Buck. Her book, The Brother You Choose: Paul Coates and Eddie Conway Talk About Life, Politics, and The Revolution, was published by Haymarket Books in 2020.
 

Dan Baker Statement in Support of Pushing Down the Walls

Download PDTW/Dan Baker flyer

The United $tates of AmeriKKKa is a white supremacist terrorist organization. Their government strives for a monopoly on violence to defend their profits, acquired through the prison industrial plantation and wage slavery. They capture political opponents, even if they don’t break laws, making examples out of political prisoners in a campaign of terror and subjugation. Anyone who stands up for human rights, women’s liberation, animals or the environment is a potential, if not eventual political prisoner. This government no longer represents the interests of the people of North America, or the world and they never did. It is vital that we, a global community, train to fight and win our freedom.

I’m known as a militant personality, I’ve been training and fighting my whole life, and I still get my ass kicked when I fight big people. If we want liberation, lives worth living, we need to be strong, healthy and coordinated as a family that defends itself from extinction and humiliation at the hands of violent fascists, racists and dogmatic fanatics. They are working daily to out shoot you, run you down and beat you to death. Whoever works harder will win that fight. Join ABCF-OC on September 18th 2022 to train together and help support Political Prisoners. We need you!

Send letters or questions to:
Dan Baker #25765-509
FCI MEMPHIS
PO BOX 34550
MEMPHIS TN 38184

What: Pushing Down the Walls
When: September 18, 2022
Where: Por Siempre, 390 E Holt Avenue, Pomona, CA 91767.
With: Live performances by The Keeper (LA HxC for fans of Botch, Cursed Trap Them, etc) Sister Schools (San Diego Hip Hop) and DrewThatRaps (IE Hip Hop). Spin kick your friends or bob your head accordingly. PM Press will also have a table. Come swoop up some books while you sweat and mingle with the comrades. Is your project/collective interested in tabling? Hit us up!

The funds raised will support the ABCF Warchest, a program that provides financial assistance to long term political prisoners.
https://twitter.com/abcfoc
https://abcfoc.bigcartel.com
https://www.instagram.com/pushingdownthewalls/

Monday July 25th: Philly ABC letter-writing for Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal

lore.jpg

A notorious Trump lackey targeted Lore in June 2020 to be a scapegoat for the demonstrations that empowered Philadelphians against constant police brutality. Lore is known for providing essential, life-sustaining services to the most vulnerable Philadelphians as a care worker. She supports community members who live with HIV and chronic illnesses to access medical and critical care, often at her own expense. She provides regular outcalls to elders and clients who cannot leave their homes as a professional massage therapist. She is the irreplaceable rock of support to her family. Over the last two years, Lore has become a vital source for health information and care to the women hidden in the Bureau of Prisons’ Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia.

Join us online as we answer the call from her family and friends to send letters or postcards of support, share all your hope, well wishes, and your good news. Her support site also includes instructions on how to send photos and books .

If you are unable to make it, please drop Lore a line at:

Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal
#70002-066
FDC Philadelphia
PO Box 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105

We will also be sending birthday cards to U.S.-held political prisoners with birthdays in August: Daniel Hale (the 1st), Eric King (the 2nd), Bill Dunne (the 3rd), Hanif Bey (the 16th) and Ronald Reed (the 31st).

Activists are working to keep Tupac Shakur’s stepfather from dying of cancer in prison

Prison doctors have given Mutulu Shukur, activist and Tupac Shakur’s stepfather, up to six months to live, according to his attorney.

Mutulu Shakur

Mutulu Shakur sits in the Manhattan Correction Center in N.Y., on Nov. 6, 1987.
July 21, 2022, By Char Adams, NBC.

Organizers have launched a movement to release Tupac Shakur’s stepfather from a decades long prison sentence as he faces a rare form of blood cancer that his doctors say is incurable. 

Mutulu Shakur, an activist and holistic health care advocate, has been behind bars for more than 35 years and now, at 71, has several health issues, most notably stage-3 multiple myeloma, a  blood cancer that can affect the bones and kidneys. 

Shakur has endured drastic weight loss due to his illnesses and treatments; has had Covid at least twice; and has relied on IV feeding tubes on and off since May, his attorney, Brad Thomson, said. Thomson said doctors with the Federal Bureau of Prisons gave Shakur less than six months to live in May, noting that his cancer treatment had stopped working. 

“His health situation is extremely dire right now. He’s very much on an end-of-life trajectory. We’re looking at a matter of months at the most but, realistically, it could be a matter of days or weeks,” Thomson told NBC News. “At this point, the issue is getting him released so he can say goodbye to his loved ones, his family, his children, and grandchildren. To be surrounded by loved ones, so he can die in dignity, peace and comfort outside of prison.”

Shakur was diagnosed with myeloma in 2019, Thomson said, and his legal team requested his “compassionate release” in May 2020. U.S. District Judge Charles Haight Jr. in November 2020 denied Shakur’s request, holding that his crimes were too serious, and his health had not deteriorated enough to warrant release. 

“Should it develop that Shakur’s condition deteriorates further, to the point of approaching death, he may apply again to the Court, for a release that in those circumstances could be justified as ‘compassionate,’” Haight said in the ruling obtained by NBC News. 

A spokesperson for Haight, who also presided over the 1988 case that landed Shakur in jail for bank robbery and other crimes, told NBC News that a new request for Shakur’s release is pending and the judge is waiting for guidance from the U.S. attorney’s office  before making a decision. Shakur is being held at a federal medical center in Lexington, a prison in Kentucky for incarcerated people who require care. 

Shakur is serving a 60-year sentence stemming from a 1988 conviction for conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO Act, bank robbery, armed bank robbery and bank robbery murder. He was convicted of leading a group of revolutionaries in a string of armed robberies in New York and Connecticut, including one that left three people dead. He was also convicted of helping JoAnne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, escape from a New Jersey prison in 1979, according to The Associated Press and Thomson. 

However, Shakur and his supporters say that the acts were political, not criminal, in nature. Jomo Muhammad, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement working to free Shakur, as well as Shakur’s friends and family, said his incarceration is linked to his Black liberation efforts and his work with revolutionary Black nationalist groups in the 1960s, including the Revolutionary Action Movement and the Republic of New Afrika.

Muhammad said Shakur is being used as an example because of his activism. At the time of his 1986 arrest he was doing his own independent investigation of COINTELPRO, an FBI campaign to discredit radical groups including Black liberation movements that were deemed illegal, Muhammad said.

“Fifty years later, the United States government continues to hold a grudge,” Muhammad said. “You can make the argument that he is, in fact, a political prisoner.”

Along with being a respected activist, Shakur is called a “doctor” among his family and supporters. He is praised for his work bringing holistic health care to Black communities in the Bronx in the 1970s. He informally studied acupuncture and joined with several other activists, in groups like the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, to take over part of Bronx’s Lincoln Hospital and run the Lincoln Detox Center, a community  center that used acupuncture to address drug dependence and provided political education that produced several community activists, according to The Washington Post

A group of faith leaders and Shakur’s supporters gathered on Wednesday in front of the U.S. Department of Justice in a rally urging the U.S. Parole Commission, Bureau of Prisons, and Justice Department to free Shakur. Supporters said at the rally that Shakur is confined to a wheelchair and his brain function has deteriorated so much that he barely recognized his son during a visit two months ago.

“They claim he is a danger to public safety, a danger to society, and that he has the capacity to influence people. They don’t speak to the fact that he is a 71-year-old elder. They don’t speak to the fact that he has been incarcerated for 36 years,” Nkechi Taifa, founder of the Taifa Group, a social justice-centered consulting firm, said of the federal agencies. 

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on Shakur’s health, but said in an emailed statement: “The BOP has no direct authority to grant a reduction in an inmate’s sentence as a compassionate release measure. At all times, the decision on whether to grant such a motion — whether brought on behalf of the Director of the BOP, or the inmate themselves — lies with the sentencing court.” The spokesperson added that the bureau can recommend a person’s release. They have not done so for Shakur. 

Shakur has been denied release several times over the years, Thomson said, though because of “various time credits,” he is set for mandatory release in December 2024. But Thomson, doctors and Shakur’s supporters say it’s unlikely he’ll live that long. Shakur was eligible for release in a 2016 mandatory parole hearing but was denied. 

Thomson said that Haight’s assertion that the severity of Shakur’s crimes are what has delayed his release should not hold water because Shakur’s co-defendant Marilyn Buck, who was convicted of the same charges, was granted compassionate release in July 2010. She died of uterine cancer just weeks later.

“That’s exactly the situation that Dr. Shakur is facing now. We’re asking for that same relief,” Thomson said. “Everyone who was charged in that conspiracy, and overlapping conspiracies, all of those people have been released from federal custody.” 

Shakur’s latest request for release is expected to see a resolution in the coming weeks. Although they are hopeful, Muhammad said he and Shakur’s advocates would be devastated if Shakur dies in prison.

“This is a clear injustice. Regardless of what he’s done in the past, which he’s taken responsibility for, he should be free,” Muhammad said. “We will continue to fight. There’s a lot of justice that needs to happen. A lot of freeing and healing of people, which is what Doc’s work was about. We would mourn our beloved elder and we’d do what he instructed us to do, which is to carry on straight ahead.”