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YOU CAN ALMOST HOLD IT IN YOUR HAND: SUNDIATA ACOLPS LONG WALK TO FREEDOM

YOU CAN ALMOST HOLD IT IN YOUR HAND: SUNDIATA ACOLPS LONG WALK TO FREEDOM

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Sundiata Acoli identifies himself as a New Afrikan Prisoner ofWar. The testimony
prepared here is for an International Tribunal to be held in 1990, describes his
imprisonment
Sundiata Acoli identifies himself as a New Afrikan Prisoner ofWar. The testimony
prepared here is for an International Tribunal to be held in 1990, describes his
imprisonment

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Published by: Mosi Ngozi (fka) james harris on Oct 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/12/2013

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YOUCAN
ALMOSTHOLD
IT
IN
YOUR
HAND:
SUNDIATAACOLPS
LONG
WALK
TO
FREEDOM
I.
INTRODUCTION
At
the
openingof
the1990s,
Black
leader
Sundiata
Acoli
has
spent
17
years
as
a
political
prisoner
in
US
prisons.
For
eight
months
he
endured
24
hours
a
day
in
a
speciallycreated
cell
in
a
New
Jersey
prison
which
wassmallerthan
thespace
requirements
for
a
German
shepherd
dogaccordingto
theSociety
for
Prevention
of
CrueltytoAnimals.
Sundiata
was
arrested
and
tried
with
Assata
Shakur,
who
was
subsequently
freed
from
prison.
In
herautobiography,
written
from
her
new
home
in
Cuba,
Assata
describes
Sundiata's
character:
There
is
something
about
Sundiata
that
exudes
calm.
From
every
part
of
his
being
you
can
sense
the
presenceof
revolutionaryspirit
and
fervor.
And
his
love
for
Black
people
is
so
intense
that
you
can
almost
touchit
and
hold
it
in
your
hand.
Sundiata
Acoli
identifies
himself
asa
NewAfrikan
Prisoner
of
War.
The
testimony
below,
prepared
for
an
InternationalTribunalto
be
held
in
1990,
describes
his
imprisonment.
II.
PRE-ARRESTCOUNTERINSURGENCY
When
I
was
a
member
of
the
Black
Panther
Party
in
Harlem,
New
York,our
office
telephone
was
tapped
and
the
office
was
under
24-hourvisual
surveillance
from
an
apartmentoccupiedby
police
located
directly
across
thestreet.
All
phone
calls
from
that
officewere
monitored.
The
police
frequently
tookphotos
whenever
i
entered
or
exited
the
office,
and
recorded
license
plates
of
cars
i
drove
.
My
home
telephone
was
also
tapped.
On
April
2,1969,1
was
arrested
to
stand
trialin
the
Panther
21
case.
Twentyone
of
us
were
accused
ofconspiring
tocarry
out
a
ridiculous
plot
to
blow
up
a
number
of
New
 
Yorkdepartment
stores
and
the
New
York
Botanical
Gardens.Although
the
legal
process
took
two
years
and
the
trial
lasted
eight
months-trie
longest
criminal
prosecution
in
NewYork
history-the
jurors
took
only56
minutes
to
acquit
all
the
defendants
of
everycharge.
Police
agents
appearing
at
the
Panther
21
trial
had
also
attended
some
group
political
educationclassesheldatmyapartment.
FBI
agents
visited
my
apartment
and
triedto
recruit
me
as
an
agent.Whenthat
failed,
they
visitedmy
job
where
i
workedas
a
computer
consultant
and
tried
to
persuade
mysupervisor
and
the
president
of
the
corporation
to
fire
me.After
i
wasarrested
in
the
Panther
21
trial,
the
mother
of
my
youngest
daughter
began
to
regularly
get
thinly-
disguised
obscenetelephone
calls
from
the
police.
This
lasted
for
two
years
until
i
was
acquitted
and
released
from
jail,
when
the
calls
stopped.
After
my
release,the
surveillance/counterinsurgency
stepped
up
tremendously.
My
apartment
was
burglarized
several
times,
yet
nothing
wastaken
from
it.
Landlordswould
suddenly
requestthat
i
move
even
though
my
rent
was
paid
up.
Frequently
plain
clothes
police
would
openly
trail
my
car
from
the
moment
i
exited
my
apartment
in
the
morning
until
ieludedthem.AtothertimesImadethemdesistbystoppingonabusystreet
in
Harlem
and
loudly
pointing
out
to
thepeople
on
the
street
that
i
was
being
trailed
bya
car
of
white
men.
One
night
when
i
came
home,
gun
shots
rang
out
into
the
air
from
a
nearby
car
which
then
sped
away.
My
mail
was
opened
and
tampered
with.
Although
an
ad
hoc
organizationof
my
fellow
workers
named
"ComputerPeople
for
Peace"
had
raised
and
posted
bail
for
me
during
the
Panther
21
trial,
and
although
severalotherdefendantshadbeenreleasedon
bail,
thejudgerefusedtoletmeouton
bail,
i
had
to
do
the
entire
two
years
on
trial
injail
until
released
on
acquittal.
After
Iwas
finally
released
and
was
driven
underground
by
continued
police
surveillance
and
harrassment,
plain
clothes
policementvisited
all
my
previous
addresses
andfriends
inquiringaboutmywhereabouts.
III.
CONDITIONS
OF
MY
ARREST
 
After
the
New
Jersey
Turnpike
shootout
(ambush)
on
May
2,1973,
police
launched
a
two-day
massivesearch
ofthe
surrounding
area.
When
Iwas
arrested,
police
immediately
cut
my
pants
off
meso
that
i
onlywore
shorts.Whooping
and
hollering,
a
gang
of
New
Jerseystate
troopersdragged
me
through
the
woods,
through
water
puddles,
and
hit
me
overthe
head
with
the
barrel
oftheir
shot
gun.
They
only
cooled
outsomewhat
when
they
noticedthat
all
the
commotion
had
caused
a
crowd
to
gather
atthe
edgeoftheroad,observingtheiractions.
IV.
NATURE
OFTHE
INDICTMENT
Iwasindicted
for
murderofonestate
trooper,
andiwasalsoindicted
for
themurder
of
my
comrade
ZaydShakur.
In
fact
thesecond
state
trooper
had
testified
at
trial
and
before
a
GrandJury
that
he
had
killed
Zayd.
iwas
indicted
with
multiple
counts
ofthesame
assault
on
this
trooper.Additionally,although
i
had
no
gun
onme,iwas
indicted
with
armed
robberyofthetrooperand
illegal
possessionofweapons.
V.
FRAME-UP
After
the
Panther
21
acquittal,
iwas
forced
to
plead
guilty
toan
earlierframe-up
subway
boothrobbery
charge
in
return
for
a
sentence
of
"probation."
I
did
this
to
avoid
the
risk
ofa
trial
and
a
prison
sentence,
and
so
that
I
could
be
released
from
jail
following
the
Panther21acquittal.
VI.
POLITICAL
INTERNMENT
After
i
had
raised
my
bail
money
during
the
Panther
21
trial,
the
judge
wouldnot
accept
it,
and
rescinded
my
bail.
Thus
I
was
interned
for
the
entire
two
years
on
trailuntil
acquittal.
VII.
PRE-TRIAL
TREATMENT
Following
myarrest
on
the
New
Jersey
Turnpike
shootout
(ambush)
i
was
given
no

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