Regarding The Farewell Of Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald

On Behalf Of The Family & Committee To Free Chip

On Sunday, March 28, 2021, at 3:04 p.m., our brother, uncle, cousin, comrade and friend, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, joined the ancestors. For a week, he lay barely conscious in a Los Angeles hospital as he struggled to extend his life after suffering a massive stroke in California’s gulag known as Lancaster. Chip’s strength and dedication to life remained intact as he defied those doctors who said he would not make it through the night in the hours after his initial arrival at the hospital. A stalwart soldier, he fought until his very last breath. Chip died as he had lived: fighting.

Among the government’s many victims, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald was a member of the Black Panther Party in Los Angeles. Incarcerated since 1969, he grew old in prison and was disabled many years ago by an earlier, less lethal stroke. Like millions of Black youth during the sixties, Chip, at the age of 17, joined the freedom struggle as the social justice movement rapidly expanded to include massive numbers of urban youth. The government’s conduct towards Chip proves that important elements of our society are guided by an irrational tradition that values vengeance over justice or reconciliation. This failure demonstrates the nation’s unwillingness to fully acknowledge historic wrongs perpetrated against Black Americans.

Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald was a social justice activist and it is inhumane to imprison activists for 50 years or more, particularly while others convicted of comparable crimes have served significantly less time. A closer look reveals the only differences between those serving shorter sentences and those serving longer ones are the political beliefs and affiliations some had with social justice groups like the Black Panther Party.

Chip never compromised, though he continued to the end to seek redress for this egregious wrong by working with his lawyer, family and defense committees to end his half century nightmare of a slow death behind bars. For us the living, Chip’s passing is a lesson to keep fighting the good fight. To give when perhaps it’s hard to give. And to live when perhaps life seems so empty. Chip’s life did not leave us without a clear message. During his final days in the hospital, the authorities felt the need to chain and shackle Chip to his bed. Despite the fact that he was hardly conscious, they saw this demeaning action as necessary. What they failed to understand is that you can neither jail nor shackle the spirit of liberation. May we all aspire to leave this same impression of daring to struggle until our last breath. And may Chip’s stalwart example give us the courage to dare to win.

All Power to the People!

Free All Political Prisoners!

A Service is being planned which may be in a month or so due to COVID, followed by a memorial. We want to also thank the many thousands who put their voices together to free Brother Chip.

NYCABC Statement on Death of Romaine ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald

Rest in Power Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald (April 11, 1949—March 29, 2021)

We are saddened and angered by the death that Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald suffered behind bars. Chip was a parent, grandparent, uncle, mentor, and Black Panther. He was held for 51 years which makes him one of the longest serving political prisoners anywhere in the world. Chip was continually denied both adequate medical care and compassionate release, though he clearly posed no threat to anyone. Chip became eligible for parole in 1976, and was partially paralyzed by a stroke in 1998. It is obvious to us that even by the inhumane logic of the carceral system he had over-served his sentence by decades, and was only being kept inside out of spite for his active participation in the ongoing struggle for Black Liberation.

The fact that neither the pandemic raging through California prisons nor Chip’s own failing health moved the corrupt powers-that-be to release him proves the callousness with which they regard the lives of Black people, not to mention the emptiness of their “progressive” posturing.

We honor Chip for his years of sacrifice and dedication. Even as we mourn his loss we celebrate the struggle for which he gave his life.

The Struggle continues…
Until All are Free!

-NYC ABC

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 https://sundiataacolifc.org

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 https://theintercept.com/2021/03/28/elderly-prisoner-black-panther-parole/

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

PayPalwww.paypal.me/abcfwarchest  (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:
https://nycabc.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/updates-23-mar-2021.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