Mutulu Shakur with Talib Shakur

It was announced Nov. 10 that after an incarceration of 36 years, the U.S. Parole Commission granted ailing Black Liberation Army activist, Mutulu Shakur, 72, a compassionate parole in October. United States Federal Bureau of Prisons doctors estimate he has less than six months to live. He’s scheduled to be released from a Lexington, Kentucky federal medical prison on Dec. 16.

“We now find your medical condition renders you so infirm of mind and body that you are no longer physically capable of committing any Federal, State or local crime,” wrote the Parole Commission in a letter filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cheryl Morgan last Thursday.

Shakur has served 35-plus years of his 60-year sentence, been denied parole nine times, and has been enduring deteriorating health, namely catching COVID-19 three times, and has stage-3 multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that affects bones and kidneys. 

New York-based Malcolm X Commemoration Committee activist Dequi kion-Sadiki told the Amsterdam News, “Dr. Mutulu Shakur, a 72-year-old grandfather and respected healer and elder, is one of thousands of incarcerated older people in federal and state prisons who has been repeatedly denied parole for over a decade after completing his minimum sentence.”

“We are elated that Mutulu is being released!” said activist Zayid Muhammad. The member of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee continued, “Let us be on several things, however. One, that he is indeed a sick man. That cloud hangs over us all of us heavy. Two, he has done his time and has already been denied parole nine times already, and three, he is slated to be released on the same date that we are back in Philadelphia for Mumia (December 16) before a handpicked Black female judge who is already disposed to dismiss all of the new evidence exonerating Mumia and potentially shutting down all of his last rights to appeal his conviction. We are elated Mutulu is coming home, but we have serious work to do for the rest of his comrades.”

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams denied his motion for compassionate release this summer, citing the “severity of his crimes.” Shakur was also denied compassionate parole in 2020.

He was convicted in 1988 for an October 1981 Brinks armored truck robbery which resulted in the deaths of two Nyack, New York cops and a security guard. Initially, he remained underground until getting arrested in 1986 and then was hit with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Investigators claimed he was part of a squad of revolutionaries that robbed banks in New York and Connecticut, attempting to link them to 12 heists, from 1976 to 1981. He also was convicted for assisting Assata Shakur’s exodus from prison in 1979.

Supporters contend he was a revolutionary, holistic healer, renowned for rehabilitating heroin addicts via acupuncture, mainly at the South Bronx’s Lincoln Detox Center. They say the FBI through COINTELPRO operatives wanted to make him an example due to his courageous activism.

“There are a lot of tears of joy,” noted Jomo Muhammad, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. “There’s still disbelief because we were steadying ourselves for another denial. Now folks are excited about being able to reunite Mutulu with his family. We were crying together. It’s a long time overdue.”

Shakur will be forced to wear a GPS device, and be confined to limited travel, as well as other restrictions. Throughout the 1970s he was a godfather to Tupac and his sister, Sekyiwa. 

“He was not exonerated. He was given medical parole, which means he could still be snatched back from us. His release doesn’t end his cancer,” Muhammad said. “We’re preparing for him to come home, and we have to figure out transportation because his condition has deteriorated so much that he can’t fly commercial. He’s been able to make it longer than what the doctors have given him, but he still has cancer and he’s still dying.”

There are many organizations who for decades have fought for the release of America’s political prisoners—individuals who were former members of Black liberation groups like the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army.

“We are pleased with the recent decision to grant Mutulu Shakur parole,” said Lumumba Bandele, organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. “Our calls for the paroled release have been based on Dr. Shakur clearly meeting the guidelines for parole. We were not asking for favors. We were simply requesting the parole commission fairly apply the regulations and release Dr. Shakur. We are now preparing to support Dr. Shakur’s release and his transition to finally being reunited with his family.” 

Last month the Movement for Black Lives, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and #FreeMutuluNOW ahead of the upcoming parole hearing for the dying 72-year-old acupuncturist activist, held a press conference, and delivered, they claimed, over 60,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Parole Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice, demanding his compassionate release.

They stated that the terminally ill elder “has stage three bone marrow cancer and been given less than 3 months to live.

“Dr. Shakur has been in custody for over 36 years and fits every possible criteria for release. Under the law he should be granted mandatory parole, which would allow him to spend the remainder of his life fighting his cancer and being with his family and community, people who love him and need him. The various agencies within the DOJ—the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Attorney, and the U.S. Parole Commission—are each abdicating their responsibility to do justice. The result is death by bureaucracy for Dr. Shakur and others like him.”

Dequi Kion-Sadiki declared, “As family, friends and community prepare for Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s release from decades in prison, let us remember that Freedom Ain’t Free; that Mutulu and his family have paid an enormous price for his participation in the Black Freedom Struggle. It is now our turn to pay our gratitude forward by donating to the Family & Friends of Dr. Mutulu Shakur Return Home fundraising campaign.

“Mutulu, who is ‘struggling and juggling’ through Stage-4 bone cancer, is in urgent need of financial resources to aid in the cost of being transported from the Kentucky prison hospital he has spent the last several years in to the airport, onto to a flight headed for Los Angeles, where he will reside, a hospital bed when he gets there, round-the-clock home care, continued cancer treatment, a nutritional diet, holistic medical resources and more. In short, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, a healer himself, is now in need of healing. We are asking folk to donate towards his healing.

“After 36 years of imprisonment, Dr. Mutulu Shakur is scheduled to be released on parole.  December 2022 will mark a new chapter in the lives of the Shakur family. We are asking for your support to aid in making their transition as comfortable and smooth as possible. We are also asking that you remember there are seven veteran Black Panther Party members still held captive as U.S. held political prisoners. We must continue the struggle to FREE ‘em ALL. Until all of them are free, none of us are free.”

“Mutulu is deeply grateful and thankful for the expressions of trust and support,” the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee said. “We ask that he have space and time to be with family when he is released and to continue receiving medical treatment.”

The grassroots organization stated, “In order to bring Mutulu home to his family in California safely and comfortably, we must raise funds to cover several urgent costs. These costs include Mutulu’s ground transportation from the prison to the airport, medical air transport from Kentucky to Los Angeles to be reunited with his family, adding a wheelchair accessible ramp and other modifications to his home, health care to address existing and emerging urgent medical needs, and other costs associated with him returning home.”To this end the FFMS (Friends and Family of Mutulu Shakur) are asking folk to donate to Mutulu’s release fund through the Community Aid and Development Corporation: https://www.cadnational.org

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *