NEW YORK: Political prisoner Jalil Muntaquim spent 49 years in the State’s dungeons due to his service in the ranks of the Black Panther Party and alleged involvement with the underground Black Liberation Army. Since 1971, this elder servant of the people has been a teacher and scholar behind bars, continuing the struggle against the national oppression of New Afrikan people from within the belly of the beast. The elder is recovering from COVID-19, which is at epidemic stage in America’s prisons, showing ever more their genocidal role. Prisons are places where death comes in myriad ways, from pig backed and encouraged gang violence, to deadly disease and medical neglect, to torture and being worked to death. Jalil Muntaquim had no business in prison in the first place, but the United States’ role as a fascist country ensures that those who dare to struggle for their people have this hellhole in their future.
Elder Muntaquim sought to exercise his democratic right to vote after being released from prison on October 7, and filled out a voter registration form. One of the key demands of the prisoners’ rights movement is the restoration of the right to vote to current and former prisoners. While it’s the opinion of this writer and all Communist revolutionaries that the election and the vote is a farce, this arrest of a respected elder for attempting to express a supposed Constitutional right is yet another example of fascism. Disenfranchisement of New Afrikan people has been a constant throughout this country’s history, beginning immediately after Black men (women couldn’t vote until 1920) were granted this right during the Reconstruction era after a bloody war and general strike from the plantations of the South and border states. In response, the Ku Klux Klan and other proto-fascist organizations comprised of the old planter aristocracy, former slave patrols, and Confederate military officers began a terrorist campaign to keep Black people away from the polls. Despite this terrorism, Black people elected their representatives at all levels, from the US Senate to state legislatures to local offices. The former slaveocrats resented this, and escalated their campaign of terror until Black people were effectively disenfranchised in the South. This was the situation until the mid 1960s, when a mass movement for democratic rights and the end of Jim Crow swept the South. This movement was in essence reformist, but there were elements of armed struggle. Those who write off the Civil Rights Struggle in the South as “peaceful” know very little history – there were armed confrontations such as those in Monroe, North Carolina between progressive activists and the forces of reaction, meaning the police/Klan who would ride through Black neighborhoods firing guns seeking to terrorize the people from continuing to militantly seek their democratic rights. So, while we recognize and promote the truth that the election and voting is a farce, we also recognize the prisoner rights movement and its demand for democratic rights.
The continued denial of these democratic rights, to the vote, assembly, freedom of the press, and speech, shows that the United States has a vested interest in continuing to erode these rights to colonized people, which were only granted in the first place after revolutionary violence became the order of the day. The arrest of a respected New Afrikan elder for simply filing out a voting rights form exposes the electoral farce, and the fascist character of this country. Even though the ruling class lackies who never wanted Muntaqim released in the first place will quote the law, we should call this what it is: a political hit job against a New Afrikan revolutionary. We call on readers to join the growing movement to defend Jalil Muntaqim, struggle for his freedom, and restore to him his full democratic rights. Find more information here.