From The Final Call Newspaper

‘Trust God because God won’t fail you’ A mother’s faith and the mighty fight for justice for Ahmaud Arbery

By The Final Call
- November 30, 2021

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones his hugged by a supporter after the jury convicted Travis McMichael in the trial of McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga. The three defendants were found guilty Wednesday in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

by Naba’a Muhammad and Brian E. Muhammad

The Final Call @TheFinalCall

There is nothing perhaps as deep and as lasting as a mother’s love, a mother’s pain and a mother’s determination to defend her child even in death. Wanda Cooper-Jones devoted such commitment to a quest for justice for her youngest son. She called her boy “Quez,” short for Marquez—his middle name.

“Today’s a good day,” Ms. Cooper-Jones told The Final Call in an exclusive telephone interview, hours after those responsible for her son’s death were convicted of murder.

Quez is known to the world as Ahmaud Arbery.

Ms. Cooper-Jones fought when there were no signs anyone would be held accountable for her son’s killing. Prosecutors in Glynn County, Ga., where her son died had already refused to file any charges. She found strength and resilience in her faith.

Ahmaud Arbery

“I have my struggles from day to day … I had many, many trials early in my younger life,” Ms. Cooper-Jones shared. “There was nothing I could send to God, that he didn’t fix it for me.”

“And then when Ahmaud was murdered, I prayed and I prayed and I knew God would come through for us, ” the mother of three continued.

Ms. Cooper-Jones admits it took a while to get to this point of a victory. “I never saw this day,” she said. But she clung to faith in God’s timing and something “good” eventually happening.

She still takes it day by day. She has a message for mothers dealing with similar horrific losses. “Keep pushing, don’t give up hope, continue to pray, continue to trust God because God won’t fail you,” said Ms. Cooper-Jones.

She is trying to stay strong for a federal civil case against her son’s killers, Travis McMichael, 35, his father Gregory McMichael, 65, and neighbor William Bryan, 52, who were found guilty of murder and other related charges on Nov. 24. All face mandatory life sentences and separate federal charges, including hate crimes and attempted kidnapping on the streets of Satilla Shores, Ga., on February 23, 2020.

Earlier this year, she filed a civil suit against the McMichaels, Mr. Bryan, several county police officers, former Glynn County Police Chief John Powell, and former district attorneys Jackie Johnson and George Barnhill.

The suit charges the district attorneys and police covered up what happened to her son. It charges the killers “willfully and maliciously conspired to follow, threaten, detain and kill Ahmaud Arbery.”

The lawsuit has not been heard in court yet. The federal trial is scheduled for February 2022.

“We conquered that lynch mob,” said Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud’s father, addressing those gathered outside the Glynn County Courthouse after the verdict.

Many felt jubilation and relief with the guilty verdict rendered by 11 White and one Black juror.

The outcome was never guaranteed with defense attorneys lobbing appeals to race at jurors through complaints of “intimidating” Black ministers in the courtroom, ugly depictions of Ahmaud in defense lawyers’ closing arguments and references to how people in Scintilla Shores, a predominantly White community, looked out for one another and kept one another safe. Ahmaud was described as an intruder whose presence and visit to a house still under construction violated the community.

It was 74 days before any arrests were made, and only after video of the shooting went viral.

With the police slayings of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman in Louisville, Ky., and George Floyd, a Black man murdered by a White cop on a Minneapolis street, protests grew. Ahmaud’s name was added to the list of Black martyrs whose lives were taken by Whites in America.

Lynching in America

“Some people likened the murder of Ahmaud Arbery to a modern-day lynching, but I see it as simply a lynching,” said James Simmons, a human and civil rights attorney. “They saw fit to chase him down—in the old term, coon hunting—and gun him down,” said Atty. Simmons.

Lynching is defined as a killing by three or more people claiming extrajudicial reasons to kill. Ahmaud, a lone, unarmed Black man on a jog, was illegally confronted by armed White men in South Georgia. Historically that is a lethal combination.

Tears streak down the cheek of Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones after the jury convicted Travis McMichael in the Glynn County Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Georgia is stained with White racial terror and a lynching tradition second only to Mississippi in numbers between 1877 and 1950, according to the Equal Justice Institute. “For more than six decades, as Southern Whites used lynching to enforce a post-slavery system of racial dominance, White officials outside the South watched and did little,” an EJI report observed.

There was fear Ahmaud’s killers, who pursued him in pickup trucks and trapped him before Travis McMichael shot him to death with a shotgun, would be protected by the White power structure and legal system. Without the mother’s vigilance, the death video, protests, media coverage and anger nationwide, it’s unlikely that the case would have ever gone to trial.

“This is the beginning of an era of new justice that we can continue to use as a blueprint,” said Porch’se Miller, a national civil rights activist from Atlanta.

“As you know 99 percent of the time it comes back with an unfavorable verdict—justifiable homicide,” said Cephus “Uncle Bobby” X Johnson of the Love Not Blood Campaign. He advocates for families seeking justice for loved ones lost to police or community violence.

Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, talks with the media outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, are on trial for murder and other crimes in the February 2020 slaying of her 25-year-old son. (Sean Rayford/Pool Photo via AP)

Though “extremely surprised” and “grateful” about the verdict, he hadn’t had a lot of faith in the jury make up as he sat in the courtroom. He is the uncle of Oscar Grant III who was killed by a California transit cop on New Year’s Day 2009.

“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said with change, there is two elements, danger, and opportunity,” said Odis Muhammad of the Nation of Islam study group in nearby Brunswick, Ga. “What is happening in America and the world is the grip of White supremacy has been loosened and is falling.”

Things happening in Georgia illustrate an unraveling of White power, he continued. “When their world begins to disintegrate in front of their eyes, desperate moves are necessary,” said Mr. Muhammad. He added that Whites feel, “We gotta do some things to put y’all (Blacks) back in check, we have to make sure that we are the dominant force and that you all respect that.”

“As the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, ‘this man will go down fighting’ with his last breath,” said Odis Muhammad.

National pressure, local change?

“What we’re seeking is real change … with the police department … the justice system locally,” commented Allen Booker, a Glynn County commissioner who knew Ahmaud as a young man working for his father in landscaping.

National attention added pressure for local change, he said.

Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery, center, his hugged by his attorney Benjamin Crump after the jury convicted Travis McMichael in the Glynn County Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted of murder Wednesday in the fatal shooting that became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice.(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

“I think that transparency is our friend,” said Mr. Booker. “It’s not something happening backroom or underhanded that you’re trying to seek, but real justice,” which ultimately “comes from God,” he added.

The commissioner and others have worked to reform the county justice system. They organized to remove discredited Police Chief Powell. They fought to get rid of former District Attorney Jackie Johnson. She was arrested in August for telling two police officers not to arrest the McMichaels over the killing.

Ms. Johnson was indicted on violating her oath of office, a felony, for “showing favor and affection” to Gregory McMichael and failing “to treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity.” Gregory McMichael was a former cop and worked with Ms. Johnson as an investigator for the Glynn County district attorney’s office.

Mr. Booker hopes positive change will come with the appointment of Jacques Battiste, the county’s first Black police chief, and his deputy, Ricky Evans, who is also Black.

Gains attributed to the Arbery case include Georgia repealing a citizen’s arrest law, and a new law barring non-law enforcement from detaining people. Georgia also became the 47th state to enact a hate crime law.

But more needs to be done. “The federal government still has not passed federal anti-lynching legislation, despite over a hundred years of advocacy for it,” noted Atty. Simmons. If the federal government were serious about stopping racist activity it would pass police reform, anti-lynching and voting rights protections, he said.

“That’s three guys … White men. That is not covering the country,” added Atty. Simmons. “There are still people from sea to shining sea that want to engage in this activity.”

History and old hatred?

Atty. Simmons wouldn’t be surprised if lynchings and racial animus increase. Although, there were convictions in Georgia, there was the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three White men, killing two, during police protests in Kenosha, Wisc., last year. The White right and White terror organizations supported the young White male.

“There is so many Ahmaud Arberys’ in small towns like this all around the United States,” said organizer and activist YoNasDa Lonewolf, who lives in the South.

Local government didn’t care about the case, she noted. It was the movement of the people that kept the spotlight on and led to the trial and the verdict, the activist added. “We cannot flip the supremacy that is happening if we don’t speak up. We cannot be silent anymore,” said Ms. Lonewolf.

There was widespread joy, tempered joy across Black America with the convictions and declarations from some Blacks and Whites on the right that the system worked. Few were declaring a new day in the United States.

“Generations of Black people have seen this time and time again, with the murder of Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, and many others. The actions and events perpetrated by the McMichaels and William Bryan leading up to Ahmaud’s death reflect a growing and deepening rift in America that will be its undoing if not addressed on a systemic level,” warned the NAACP.

“We must fix what is genuinely harming our nation: White supremacy. To address and begin to repair the harm and trauma caused by centuries of racism, violence, and murder, we need stronger federal and state actions to address and eliminate outdated racist policies, like citizens’ arrest.”

Odette Flemming, who lives in the St. Louis area which has its own ugly racial history and where protests and rebellion erupted after the 2014 police killing of unarmed Black teen Mike Brown, was plainspoken. “These guilty verdicts are a direct result of the digital age. If no video footage had ever emerged, Ahmaud Aubrey’s family would never have even seen the inside of a courtroom,” she said.

“There is nothing Black people can do to minimize these attacks since they are unprovoked. Therefore, as long as we are dark skinned people in America, we are potentially at risk of being the victim in an unprovoked attack. That is the American reality that remains hidden and is forgotten every time an innocent life is taken and the White majority culture seeks to justify the death by digging for the imagined past sins of the victim and never the predator,” she said.

Cedric Rashad is a 73-year-old successful businessman. Born in Mississippi, now living in Mazatlán, Mexico, he picked cotton as a little boy, lived through Black and White drinking water fountains and other indignities.

“I’m so disappointed in how people have become so open with their bigotry, this America has not changed much since I was young,” he said. “We have become so polarized as a country and thought we would be accepted, especially when Barack Obama was elected. But that just pulled the scab off a sore that’s been infected for a long time. I see this country moving backwards not forward.”

J.A. Salaam contributed to this report.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Plots, Deceptions and Lies of a Wicked Enemy U.S. government conspiracy further exposed amid exoneration of innocent men wrongly convicted in murder of Malcolm X

By Starla Muhammad, Managing Editor
- November 23, 2021

Malcolm X is shown addressing rally in Harlem, New York on June 29, 1963. (AP Photo)

“… even if it be the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, even though it be in a rock, or in the heaven or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Surely Allah is Knower of subtilities, Aware.”

—Holy Qur’an 31:16

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”—Bible John 8:44 KJV

Lies and liars continue to be exposed and the treachery of the U.S. government’s deadly actions in targeting, infiltrating and attempting to destroy the Nation of Islam (NOI) is once again being brought to light.

Muhammad Aziz a suspect in the slaying of Malcolm X, is escorted by detectives at police headquarters, after his arrest, in New York, Feb. 26, 1965. Aziz, previously known as Norman 3XButler, one of two men convicted in the assassination of Malcolm X, is set to be cleared after more than half a century, with prosecutors now saying authorities withheld evidence in the civil rights leader’s killing, according to a news report Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo, File)

Finally, after 55 years, a New York judge on Nov. 18 exonerated Muhammad Aziz and Kahlil Islam, two of the three men convicted of murdering Malcolm X. Both men had always maintained their innocence and the FBI and New York Police Department knew from the beginning the two were not involved and were nowhere near the Audubon Ballroom that fateful day in1965.

“We are moving today to vacate the convictions and dismiss the indictments of Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam for the assassination of Malcolm X on February 21, 1965. But I want to begin by saying directly to Mr. Aziz and his family, to the family of Mr. Islam, and the family of Malcolm X, that I apologize for what were serious, unacceptable violations of the law and the public trust,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. in front of Chief Administrative Judge Ellen Biben at the New York State Supreme Court.

Khalil Islam, center, is booked as the third suspect in the slaying of Malcolm X, in New York, March 3, 1965. Islam, previously known as Thomas 15X Johnson, one of two men convicted in the assassination of Malcolm X, is set to be cleared after more than half a century, with prosecutors now saying authorities withheld evidence in the civil rights leader’s killing, according to a news report Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Detective John Keeley is at right. (AP Photo, File)

A 43-page Joint Motion to Vacate Judgements of Conviction and Dismiss Indictment laid out several critical points. A nearly two-year investigation by attorneys for Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam, the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the Innocence Project revealed that prosecutors for the FBI and NYPD withheld key evidence that would have led to the men’s acquittal had it been turned over.

The third man convicted, Thomas Hagan (also known as Talmadge X Hayer and Mujahid Abdul Halim), was arrested at the Audubon that day, confessed to his role in the assassination and later stated during the 1966 trial that Mr. Aziz (known then as Norman 3X Butler) and Mr. Islam (known then as Thomas 15X Johnson) were innocent and not involved.

All three men were sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. Mr. Aziz, now 83, was paroled in 1985. Mr. Islam, who died in 2009 at age 74, was paroled in 1987.
Muhammad Aziz, center, stands outside the courthouse with members of his family after his conviction in the killing of Malcolm X was vacated, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in New York. A Manhattan judge dismissed the convictions of Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, after prosecutors and the men’s lawyers said a renewed investigation found new evidence that the men were not involved with the killing and determined that authorities withheld some of what they knew. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“I apologize on behalf of our nation’s law enforcement for this decades-long injustice, which has eroded public faith in institutions that are designed to guarantee the equal protection of the law. We can’t restore what was taken from these men and their families, but by correcting the record, perhaps we can begin to restore that faith,” said District Attorney Vance.

The DA’s inquiry was prompted by the many questions raised in the Netflix documentary series, “Who Killed Malcolm X?” released in 2020 which chronicled the research and investigation of Abdur-Rahman Muhammad about the assassination.

“The recently unearthed evidence of Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam’s innocence that had been hidden by the NYPD and FBI not only invalidates their convictions, it also highlights the many unanswered questions about the government’s complicity in the assassination—a separate and important issue that, itself, demands further inquiry,” said Vanessa Potkin of Innocence Project.

The U.S. government’s records show through its FBI Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) under director J. Edgar Hoover that it sent informants and agents into the ranks of the NOI to foment tension and division among its members. When Malcolm X split from his teacher and benefactor, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, eventually starting Muslim Mosque Incorporated and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, law enforcement infiltration of all three organizations did not cease.

The U.S. government has had the NOI in its crosshairs since the group’s founding in Detroit in 1930 by Master Fard Muhammad, Allah in Person, the Great Mahdi and Teacher of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Both men were arrested, jailed and viewed as a threat for their Teaching of Black independence and self-determination.

Abdul Akbar Muhammad joined the Nation of Islam in New York in 1960 under Minister Malcolm X. That is where he met and worked with Mr. Aziz. He told The Final Call he and “Brother Norman 3X” worked together in the early 1960s. Both were tasked with assisting in training Muslim brothers in the FOI (Fruit of Islam) class. Mr. Aziz used to teach the men martial arts, shared the longtime NOI pioneer.

“I know personally that the brothers were not there at the Audubon Ballroom,” said Akbar Muhammad, who today serves as international representative for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. In a previous conversation he had with Mr. Aziz, Min. Akbar Muhammad said Mr. Aziz told him when law enforcement personnel came to his home days after the assassination,

“they went in his closet and pulled out a coat and told him to put that particular coat on,” he shared. “He didn’t understand that. You know, he was there with the police officers who were arresting them. … The last time we talked, he told me that ‘they wanted me to put their coat on,’ so that they could identify, somebody would identify that coat.”

Evidence points to U.S. gov’t

The exonerations of Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam is another step toward the full exoneration of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, said Student Minister Wesley Muhammad. Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam were framed to frame the Nation of Islam and authorities knew Malcolm’s assassins were not from New York but were from New Jersey, declared the researcher, author and lecturer who holds a PhD. in Islamic Studies.

“There was a reason even though the New York Police Department and the FBI knew in early March, not a week after Malcolm X was gunned down at the Audubon Ballroom, it was known that the source of the hit squad, if you will, was not New York but was New Jersey,” explained Student Min. Wesley Muhammad.

Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam were FOI from New York’s Temple No. 7 (as the mosques were called at that time). Confessed gunman Mr. Halim had been a member of Temple No. 25 in Newark however was in “F-Time”, explained Wesley Muhammad.

This means he had been put out of the temple, was not in good standing and was not active or permitted to be part of the Nation’s activities or community.

“There was a reason this government, the prosecutor’s office, the New York Police Department, and the FBI, there was a reason they insisted on making this a Nation of Islam New York operation and so they framed two well-known New York FOI when they knew that the mechanics, if you will—that’s the intelligence community’s name for shooters, in cases like this—the shooters came out of Newark but the actual identity of the shooters linked the operation back to the New York Police Department and the


FBI,” the NOI student minister explained.

Of the three gunmen at the Audubon that day, the shotgun shooter who fired the fatal first shot at Malcolm X was identified years later as William 25X Bradley of Newark. Mr. Halim later pointed the finger at Mr. Bradley (later known as Al-Mustafa Shabazz) as one of the men involved. In 1978, Mr. Halim gave the names of four men who he said were his accomplices, yet officials did not reopen the investigation of the murder. Mr. Halim was released in 2010 and is still living.

In the Netflix documentary, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad’s investigation also came to the same conclusion, that Mr. Bradley was the shotgun shooter. For years, late attorney William Kunstler also worked to reopen the case, arguing that Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam were not guilty.

There was no political will to bring justice to this case, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad told Marc Lamont Hill, host of Black News Tonight airing on the Black News Channel. “It allows us to begin the process to interrogate the government; to find out just what was involved here. Why was there such prosecutorial misconduct and why as we’ve shown in our series was there such a desire to protect the man that they knew to be the shotgun assassin, William X Bradley?” asked Abdur-Rahman Muhammad.

Mr. Bradley died in 2018 and said he was not involved in the assassination. He has been described as an “enforcer” for Temple No. 25 in Newark and was featured heavily in the Netflix special, but Student Min. Wesley Muhammad said one key detail has been omitted.

“William 25X Bradley was a Newark, New Jersey, Muslim, only as a cover. He was an employee of the New York Police Department. He even had an office at the Harlem station, so he was undercover in Newark. So, his role in the assassination was not on behalf of the Newark Mosque No. 25 but was on behalf of the New York Police Department!” declared Student Min.

Wesley Muhammad. Leon 3X Davis, who was also later identified as the gunman with the Lugar, was caught at the scene of the crime but his identity at the time was protected, explained Student Min.

Wesley Muhammad. “There was no reason to protect the identity of a shooter of Malcolm unless you are protecting an asset. Leon 3X Davis, a Newark shooter but a protectee of the New York Police Department. Why was he protected? Well certainly because he was a protected asset. His gun disappeared. William Bradley’s gun disappeared. The refusing to open up the files, release key files, the disappearance of files and the disappearance of the weapons all are part of the cover up, I believe.”

The Newark connection to the assassination had to be “bleached out” because it proved the connection and link to the NYPD and FBI’s involvement, he explained. Eugene Roberts, a Black NYPD intelligence unit agent assigned to infiltrate Malcolm’s OAAU organization and eventually became his head of security, was also at the Audubon that day.

A history of duplicity

In February of this year, a press conference at the Malcolm and Betty Shabazz Center in New York was held outlining a confession by Ray Wood, an undercover NYPD officer and infiltrator of Black organizations, which cast additional light on the government’s hand in the killing of Malcolm X and prompted renewed demands that all files related to the killing of the Black nationalist leader—especially the full FBI files—be made public.

Daughters of Malcolm X and his wife, the late Dr. Betty Shabazz, were present. Mr. Wood said a federal agent directed him to go to the Audubon Ballroom and observe something that would happen. He said he watched as the fatal shooting took place and the FBI and the NYPD were involved. A letter from Mr. Wood, the onetime undercover agent was released, and he shared how he was assigned to infiltrate Black organizations throughout New York City. Mr. Wood died in late 2020 and his memoir, “The Ray Wood Story: Confessions of a Black NYPD Cop on the Assassination of Malcolm X,” was released earlier this year.

Since the early 1990s and beyond, Minister Farrakhan has called for the release of all government files about the death of Malcolm X.

During the exoneration hearing, DA Vance stated his office obtained dozens and dozens of reports, from the FBI and NYPD’s BOSSI unit. “These records include FBI reports of witnesses who failed to identify Mr. Islam and who implicated other suspects. And, significantly, we now have reports revealing that, on orders from Director J. Edgar Hoover himself, the FBI ordered multiple witnesses not to tell police or prosecutors that they were, in fact, FBI informants,” he told the judge.

According to Min. Akbar Muhammad, the objective of BOSSI was to put people inside the NOI who would spy and cause disinformation and confusion within its ranks. “They know that they did all of this, and it was the deathbed confession of one of the men that they were using (Mr. Woods) in terms of accusing the Nation of killing Malcolm. Allah (God) is the best knower. It all comes out now and we will just see how it unfolds.”

Dr. Wesley Muhammad argues the reason the government refuses to open the files into the assassination is because it will clearly show the government’s hand. Telephone records, the weapons used, and other critical evidence has been destroyed or disappeared and files that have been made public are heavily if not completely redacted.

“This is really just another example of how the Black community has been horrendously impacted by COINTELPRO. We’re talking about an effort to prevent the rise of a Black Messiah, the FBI, took outrageous action to arrest and convict and cover-up what they themselves were doing! Afterall, this was a cover-up from the FBI and agents that they had within the Nation of Islam,” said Attorney Nkechi Taifa, a longtime human rights activist.

Demetric Muhammad, author of the book, “But Didn’t You Kill Malcolm?: Myth-Busting The Propaganda Against The Nation of Islam,” stated he had mixed feelings on news of the exoneration. While he is happy for Mr. Aziz and the families of both men that their names have been cleared, there is a clear argument that it was long overdue.

“There’s an old saying that justice delayed is justice denied. So, I hope that what follows from this admission from the Manhattan DA, is that a grand effort be made to help make the families of these two brothers whole … they certainly are well-deserving of monetary compensation for having given many years of their lives up to incarceration and having their families broken apart as a result of that,” said the Memphis-based student minister who is also a member of the NOI Research Group.

An apology is not enough

For journalist Doshon Farad, who was outside the courthouse and caught glimpses of Mr. Aziz as he left the hearing, said this case is just one of many involving Black men and women in prison for crimes they did not commit or who are still locked up when there has been evidence if not to exonerate, to at least grant them a new trial.

There are cases across the country of Black and Brown political prisoners that need to be made known, explained Mr. Farad. “This is another case in my judgement of the criminal, criminal injustice system.”

While the Manhattan district attorney apologized, critics argue it rings hollow. Lives have been destroyed, families needlessly suffered, and pain has been inflicted on innocent parties.

Mr. Islam’s son Shahid Johnson was thankful but also saddened. “The fact that the family suffered, growing up with concerns of fear, of people coming after us … those kind of things you can’t get back,” Mr. Johnson said after the hearing. “Normality was gone when I was 10,” he said. “Right now, this is great, but not so great at the same time,” he added.

Min. Akbar Muhammad said he last spoke with Mr. Aziz about six months ago and that all he was concerned about was one day clearing his name.

“I mean, you can’t just have an exoneration. I mean, this was these people’s lives! Decades taken away. What is the compensation? Where is the reparations that is due? Where is the healing that we need for our communities?” asked Atty. Taifa.

“When will the FBI stand charged for their actions? Not one FBI agent ever served time for counterintelligence activities? Not one. So, we can’t just sit down and say, ‘Okay, folks have been exonerated.’ The FBI needs to be put on trial! It’s a good feeling that finally, ‘justice’ has been done … But it’s not enough,” she continued.

“It’s not enough and until we really start dealing with what the genesis of what all of this was—the illegal actions of a U.S. government through its tentacles, i.e. the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there won’t be any true justice.”

Vindication of the Nation of Islam

While there are those who will still accuse and blame the NOI for the assassination of Malcolm X—even as more evidence is revealed vindicating the 90-year-old movement, its Eternal Leader the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and His National Representative and Chief Student, Minister Farrakhan—those efforts are collapsing on weak ground.

This deliberate lie of NOI involvement has caused pain not just on the families of the men wrongly accused but on the families of Elijah Muhammad, Min. Farrakhan, Malcolm X, as well as the Nation and Black America in general. It was by design, argued Min. Akbar Muhammad.

“All of the young students who were tossed between their love of Minister Farrakhan and their love of Malcolm as the patron saint of liberation struggle, these students were torn. They loved Malcolm, and they love Minister Farrakhan, and the enemy was showing them that Farrakhan and Elijah Muhammad were enemies to our people, and so forth, and they planned all that and worked it for years. As Allah (God) would have it now, it comes to the surface, that we had nothing to do with the death of Malcolm. And that it was all planned and laid out,” said Min. Akbar Muhammad.

Ameen Johnson, left, and Shahid Johnson, sons of Khalil Islam, speak during a press conference outside Manhattan court, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in New York. A Manhattan judge dismissed the convictions of Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, after prosecutors and the men’s lawyers said a renewed investigation found new evidence that the men were not involved with the killing and determined that authorities withheld some of what they knew. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“We need to make use of this kind of development to put it within our narrative of our complete innocence. But the Manhattan DA, and mainstream media are using this story to basically say, the Nation of Islam is guilty. We just arrested and imprisoned the wrong members of the Nation of Islam. That’s their narrative,” said Student Min. Demetric Muhammad. However, the popular and official narrative that the NOI killed Malcolm X is unraveling, he explained.

Student Min. Wesley Muhammad, also a member of the NOI Research Group and serves as a National Laborer, agreed. “They framed these well-known New York Muslims, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson at the time, well-known Muslim FOI out of New York and to seal the Nation of Islam killed Malcolm X narrative,” said Student Min. Wesley Muhammad.

“It’s right that we start with an exoneration of those two New York FOI but they were framed not just to do injustice to them. The whole purpose of their framing was to frame the Nation of Islam and in particular the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad for the murder of Malcolm X. So, the next step is a public exoneration of the Nation of Islam and an apology for all the efforts that this government entered into in order to frame the Nation for this crime,” said Student Min. Wesley Muhammad.

“Our narrative, which is not a narrative for propaganda purposes, it is just the truth is that the U.S, government is responsible for the assassination of Malcolm X,” noted Student Min. Demetric Muhammad.

The enemies of the Nation of Islam whip up this false narrative for another reason, observed Student Min. Wesley Muhammad. “They use the murdered Malcolm X against the living man that they fear, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. The government’s posthumous investment in Malcolm after killing Malcolm, they invested in his legacy so heavily, not because of Malcolm X but because of Louis Farrakhan.”

(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)

From The Final Call Newspaper

Delays, bruises, lost teeth, stolen dignity as Black women suffer with Chicago cops
By The Final Call
- November 16, 2021

by Naba’a Muhammad and Tariqah Muhammad

The Final Call @TheFinalCall

CHICAGO—Activists and Black women are closely watching the case of Anjanette Young, and whether officers who held her naked after wrongly raiding her apartment will face any punishment.

The city agency that is supposed to hold cops accountable has issued a report to the police superintendent calling for a firing and other action against officers who were part of that infamous raid.

But that isn’t the only unsettled major case involving Black women that comes to mind. There are two others that Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her top cop, David Brown, have failed to deal with. Nothing has happened to a cop who punched a Black teenager in the mouth, knocking out teeth, and activists say nothing has happened after a young Black woman was terrorized and assaulted by a White cop while out with her small dog.

“Lori Lightfoot has most definitely failed Black women and girls in this city,” said adult advisor Camilla Williams of GoodKids Mad City, a youth activist organization. “We’re always criminalized in some form. It’s the lack of how we’re viewed, we’re viewed to be this strong rock, and to me as a Black woman it makes me fearful for my life.”

Police superintendent David Brown recently recommended Sergeant Alex Wolinski be fired for failing to “intervene in the disrespectful treatment” of Anjanette Young during a botched police raid in February 2019. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 3 before the Chicago Police Board to address the charges against Sgt. Wolinski. The superintendent has yet to make a recommendation for other officers involved. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigated Ms. Young’s case and turned their findings over to the police superintendent in April. The agency found seven officers “failed to intervene in the disrespectful treatment” of Ms. Young and were guilty of other misconduct.

The mayor’s office did not respond to multiple Final Call requests for comment over two consecutive weeks.

But is firing a single cop enough after the humiliation and betrayal Ms. Young said she felt during the raid and while trying to reach a settlement with Mayor Lightfoot?

“No,” said community activist Victoria Brady, who works with young people.

“All of the sworn Chicago police officers responsible for the blatant and unacceptable mistreatment of Anjanette Young must be held accountable based on their level of involvement,” she told The Final Call.

“With the case of Anjanette Young, there are a couple of things going on. We saw a video of her ostracized, villainized—and this is a common thing among Black women,” commented Eric Russell, founder of Tree of Life Justice League, an organization advocating for police accountability.

“She had a meeting with the mayor and they signed a joint statement together, a seating with the city council—that is the perfect admission of guilt. You mean to say you haven’t settled a lawsuit yet?”

Ms. Young said she feared for her life while standing naked and handcuffed, pleading with the officers that they had the wrong place.

After the mayor and her administration attempted to hide footage of the raid, a court forced the police department to release it and turn it over to Ms. Young as part of her lawsuit against police. The city tried to keep the video secret before Ms. Young’s lawyer released it to the media in violation of a court order. Mayor Lightfoot initially said that punishing the attorney would not be wrong.

The mayor also gave different accounts about being informed of the incident despite receiving detailed emails about the Young case prior to the video release.

Two years later, Ms. Young and her attorney Kaneen Saulter of Saulter Law P.C. were dismissed by the mayor and City of Chicago Department of Law for not agreeing to accept a settlement which was less than half of what was settled in a previous similar case.

“Unless and until meaningful and appropriate police reform takes place, these kinds of atrocities will continue. The Black community must unite and stand in solidarity for police reform in Chicago,” said Ms. Brady.

The police department now says unusual warrants, such as “John Doe” warrants and no-knock warrants, must be authorized by police bureau chiefs. John Doe warrants are based on anonymous tips that have been verified. No-knock warrants allow officers to enter a property without notification to those inside. The reviews also call for the information used to secure the warrant to be verified and calls for special conditions that may be present to be considered, such as whether or not children are expected at the property. An informant allegedly told cops a man with a gun had been seen in Ms. Young’s apartment. That was a lie.

Former COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts, who resigned in early May, called the raid “painful to watch.” “While we cannot fully heal the pain Ms. Young experienced on that day and ever since, we hope that our investigation and recommendations will enable the healing process,” Ms. Roberts said as she left the agency.

“There’s a long history of COPA taking extraordinarily long amounts of time to investigate cases of police complaints or complaints against police and the sort of delays we’re seeing, unfortunately, are not unique to Ms. Young,” said Nusrat Choudhury, legal director with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. She was interviewed by The Final Call earlier this year.

Carolyn Ruff, an activist based in Chicago, was blunt about what should happen to cops involved in the Young debacle in a previous Final Call interview. “They all should be fired,” she said.

Ms. Ruff, like many, was angry at the slowness of the investigation and any moves toward justice.

Ms. Lightfoot ran her mayoral campaign calling for real police reform. Critical Chicagoans said she had treacherous history of being a police apologist and her dishonest handling of Ms. Young’s case was a betrayal of the Black community.

Kofi Ademola, an adult adviser with GoodKids Mad City, said the mayor’s history speaks against her. “She would hear stories all the time, or people coming up to her, telling her about the wrongs that Chicago police had committed against (them). And she was completely cold hearted and oblivious to any complaints folks had to say,” he said, in an interview earlier this year. The mayor once headed the agency that is supposed to hold police accountable.

An ordinance proposed in Anjanette Young’s name faced pushback from Mayor Lightfoot. The ordinance, introduced by five female aldermen in February, was put together by Black and Brown Chicagoans and community organizations, Ms. Choudhury said. She said it would ban no-knock warrants, and has other provisions that would protect against the pointing of guns at young people and more.

“The ordinance does so much to solve the problems that the video on the raid of Ms. Young reveal, but the city has not indicated their position on the ordinance,” Ms. Choudhury said. “It looks like they’re blocking the ordinance. Both the consent decree, and this ordinance are really calling on the city to engage with community organizations to solve problems, and by not meeting with community organizations, the city is suggesting that these communities don’t have real expertise and input to give, even when they’re the communities that are impacted by wrong raids and impacted by this kind of police harm.”

When speaking about the ordinance during a virtual town hall, Ms. Young told listeners, “You know, my name is on it. This started because of my experience. But this is larger than Anjanette Young.”

Dog walking while Black—and female?

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability completed their investigation in the case of Nikkita Brown late October of this year and submitted their report to the superintendent’s office for review. The incident happened over the summer.

The superintendent is typically given 60 days to respond. Will the pattern of delayed responses continue?

In a video released by Ms. Brown’s attorney, Keenan Saulter, the young Black woman was walking her dog 10 minutes after closing time at North Avenue Beach. A Chicago officer berated, threatened and grabbed Ms. Brown, ordering her out of the area, and continually moving toward her.

Ms. Brown is seen walking away, obeying the officer’s command to leave yet still harassed by the officer, now identified as Bruce R. Dyker, said activists. The video shows Ms. Brown and Officer Dyker. After Ms. Brown stops walking, she then looks down at her phone. The officer then grabs Ms. Brown’s arm.

Ms. Brown can be heard screaming as the cop accosts her.

Ms. Brown said she felt threatened and profiled for being Black. She and her attorney believe the officer should not be in a position of trust.

“Anjanette Young, I can’t, and Nikkita, you sat on COPA, you know what you were up against. As a mayor, a Black woman, you put your foot down and demand justice,” said Ms. Williams of GoodKids Mad City.

The Saulter law office, in a press release, said, Officer Dyker “violently attacked Ms. Brown for NO LAWFUL REASON” and has at least 24 past allegations of misconduct against him since his career began in 1998. The officer was disciplined several times and has yet to be charged in the Brown case, said the law firm.

The police department also did not respond to multiple Final Call requests for comment.

Struck by cop, a Black girl is forced to pay for injuries

Miracle Boyd, then an 18 year old GoodKids Mad City activist, was punched in the face by police officer Nicholas Jovanovich during a summer protest in 2020, said activists. Teeth were knocked out and the horrific incident was captured on video. She turned to the kindness of strangers to pay for her injuries through GoFundMe. She told local news outlets she wanted the officer “relieved of his duties.”

The Civilian Office of Accountability said it reviewed and submitted their findings to the superintendent’s office in late July. The police department’s office of news affairs told The Final Call nothing had been received. Ephraim Eaddy, of the communications staff with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, confirmed with The Final Call that the agency sent a review to the superintendent’s office. It’s been more than 60 days and there has been no public response. The superintendent should have responded by Sept. 29 based on COPA’s account.

“The Black woman historically has been the backbone of every community in this country,” said Victoria Brady. “Black women deserve to be treated as the top of humanity and the dehumanization of Black women is unacceptable, a total atrocity. The handling of those three cases specifically are blatant examples of the level of disrespect.”

“The Black woman absolutely must be protected and she must be treated in the matter of respect that is due her. The Black community must stand together and fully address these atrocities!” she declared.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Benton Harbor mayor stands strong for city he loves amid water crisis

By Starla Muhammad, Managing Editor
- November 9, 2021

Major Cooper, Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Lake Michigan College, joins volunteers Thursday Oct. 21, 2021, as they distribute bottled water at Benton Harbor High School in Benton Harbor, Mich. A water main break on Wednesday left most city residents without water as the city continues to deal with lead pipe water quality issues.(Don Campbell/The Herald-Palladium via AP)

When Marcus Muhammad talks about Benton Harbor, the pride and fondness expressed as he discusses the city he loves reflects in his voice. Located in Berrien County, Benton Harbor, Mich., is a small city nearly 50 miles southwest of Kalamazoo and 70 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.

A young Marcus moved from Niles, Mich., to Benton Harbor as a fifth grader to live with his father. Little did he know his experiences over the next several years in the majority-Black city with a population today of less than 10,000 would help mold, develop and shape him into a public servant who today serves as its mayor.

Campaign victory celebration

“I moved to live with my father from a broken home to get stability and discipline and a better quality of life. When I became a student at Martindale Elementary School, I met Rodger Triplett who became my fifth-grade teacher and sixth grade basketball coach. It was his love and passion for excellence and for the city of Benton Harbor that influenced and shaped my existence as it relates to that,” reflected Mayor Muhammad, now 46. He was a high school basketball star in Benton Harbor and played at DePaul University in Chicago before coming back home.

Mayor Muhammad served as a commissioner-at-large for two terms and mayor pro tem before success in his first mayoral campaign, winning the unsalaried position in 2015. He took office in January 2016 and was reelected in 2019. It has certainly not been an easy road.

Benton Harbor is currently in the middle of a water crisis that has thrust it into the national spotlight. Decades of disinvestment, struggling schools, crime, decline in manufacturing and crumbling infrastructure has had a devastating impact on a community where 84.7 percent of the population is Black, the median household income is barely $22,000 per year and 45.4 percent of the population lives in poverty.

The city has been under a state advisory since 2018 for having higher-than-acceptable levels of lead in some of its aging water pipes. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can cause irreversible harm. Even low-level exposure in children is linked to damage to the brain and nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and harm to blood cells, according to the CDC. The agency also notes that exposed adults can suffer from cardiovascular disease and adverse impacts on reproduction and kidneys, among other harmful health effects.

America’s infrastructure has been crumbling for decades. Since 2001 the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has issued an Infrastructure Report Card every four years examining and rating the condition of the country’s infrastructure in 17 categories including recommendations on needed improvements.

Mayor Muhammad (fourth from left) shovels dirt at groundbreaking for Whirlpool Corp. housing development in Benton Harbor. (L-R) U.S. Congressman Fred Upton, Whirlpool CEO Marc Bitzer, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Mayor Muhammad, Commissioners Ruthie Harrison and Duane Seats and County Commissioner Mamie Yarbrough.

America’s drinking water infrastructure system is made up of 2.2 million miles of underground pipes that deliver water to millions of people, but the system is aging and underfunded, reports ASCE. Its most recent report gives America an overall C- grade for its drinking water. Michigan’s grade for its drinking water is D-.

Some of the nation’s oldest pipes were laid in the 19th century, and pipes that were laid post-World War II have an average life span of 75 to 100 years, meaning that many are reaching the end of their design life, notes ASCE. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that there is a range of 9.7 million to 12.8 million pipes that are, or may be, contaminated with lead, spread across all 50 states.

According to Bridge Michigan, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news agency, the Michigan Municipal League has estimated there are as many as 500,000 lead lines in Michigan, with a price tag as high as $2.5 billion to replace them all. Many of the pipes are 50 years old or older.

There are about 6,000 lead service lines in Benton Harbor and anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 are projected to need replacement. It will take $30 million to $35 million to completely replace the pipes in Benton Harbor.

While federal and state funds and resources are desperately needed, much of the cost is unfortunately passed along to residents through higher water bills, further burdening the very people who can’t afford it.

All these dynamics have made Benton Harbor’s water crisis a challenge, admitted Mayor Muhammad. But it is one he is not shying away from, and he is determined to tackle it head on for his city and its residents, while leaning heavily on his faith and enduring the criticism and barbs thrown his way. Mayor Muhammad is a Muslim and student of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad under the leadership of Minister Louis Farrakhan.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

Mr. Triplett, a lifelong Benton Harbor resident, said the same quiet, humble fifth grader who was one of his students, is the necessary leader the city needs to lead it through this latest crisis. Mr. Triplett now serves on the school board for the city.

“He’s an amazing man and if he believes in something, he’s going to fight for it and he’s been fighting for this city as a commissioner and as mayor. He never had any problem with showing deference. I think a lot of that is a reason that he might be experiencing some of the things that he’s experiencing right now is because of his commitment and his upbringing and his training, to give deference,” noted Mr. Triplett. He has observed Mayor Muhammad willing to listen and learn and seek counsel from others to do what is best for Benton Harbor and its residents even during the water problems.

Mr. Triplett is hurt by the attacks he sees leveled at the mayor but is confident Mayor Muhammad will keep pressing forward. “He is concerned about the citizens of this community,” said Mr. Triplet. “He’s probably one of the most astute mayors that I’ve seen in my time here in Benton Harbor. I’ve been in Benton Harbor all my life. … He is on top of what’s happening in this city. He’s on top of it!” said Mr. Triplett.

Mayor Muhammad conceded it has been difficult. “It’s by far the most challenging difficulty of my political life, however, we are given the Study Guides with one of the units, ‘Overcoming Difficulty’ and we know that the greater the difficulty, the greater the value,” he said referring to a course of study developed by Min. Farrakhan titled, “Self-Improvement: The Basis for Community Development.”

A recall petition against Mayor Muhammad was rejected Nov. 1 by the Berrien County Election Commission. The petition’s reasoning for the recall stated, “For failing to tell the residents of Benton Harbor that the water was contaminated with lead.” The election commission voted to deny the petition because “the language was deemed inaccurate.” Since 2018 when the elevated lead levels were reported, Benton Harbor city officials sent out several advisory notices which were emailed to media, mailed to residents and posted at city hall.

One of the key lessons Mayor Muhammad said he has learned during this ordeal is that he must turn inward and “absorb the slander, envy, hatred, the false allegations, the mud,” but ultimately become a better public servant. “If this is going to help me be a better Muslim, a better minister, which is a servant, then that will help me be a better man which will help create a better Benton Harbor,” he said.

Mayor at community event.

“So, at the end of it all, even though it’s a terrible thing, but as the scripture says, ‘all things work for the good for those that love the Lord and are called by His name and according to his purpose.’ So that’s what I’m grabbing and leaning on, and I think that we’ve gotten off to a good start,” said Mayor Muhammad.

Mayor Muhammad has met multiple times with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer pushing for the necessary resources and funds to resolve the crisis. His goal is for all affected pipes in Benton Harbor to be replaced within 18 months.

“I have the support of the governor. She signed that executive directive to take a whole government approach, $10 million has also been allocated from the state budget. I testified before the House Oversight Committee and requested another $11.4 million,” he said. Mayor Muhammad has also been in contact with Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to work toward the possibility of FEMA being able to come in soon with other resources to help residents.

“But this is a long time coming because the $30 million that will be infused as well as the other resources is something that this community and city has been needing for long time,” he said.

Married 21 years to his wife Abisayo and the father of seven children, Mayor Muhammad recently took a leave from his job to dedicate even more time to the water crisis. Unlike major cities where mayors and city council members receive a salary, Benton Harbor is governed by a council-manager system as laid out by its charter. As the chief administrator of Benton Harbor, the city manager is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the city. The commissioners who include the mayor receive a small stipend for attending council meetings.

Mayor Muhammad putting his painted hand print on the Black Lives Matter mural in front of Benton Harbor High School.

However, Mayor Muhammad is not in politics for accolades or money, but for the people, noted Apollonia Williams, chair of Twin Cities Transportation Association based in Benton Harbor. She has known the mayor and his family several years and admired his commitment and work in the city before he held political office. She described the city as a place where “everybody knows everybody.”

As a youngster she said you would always hear about “Mr. Muhammad” volunteering at the school or working in the community. She described him as honorable and humble. “Nobody’s perfect don’t get me wrong but he’s a stand-up guy and he stands up for what he believes in, and he loves the entire city and that’s one thing that you can’t take away,” said Ms. Williams. “Everybody that knows Mayor Muhammad knows that he is for our city.” She witnessed this firsthand in 2019 when Mayor Muhammad and a delegation traveled to the state capitol in Lansing to protest a plan to close Benton Harbor’s high school.

“I was one of the ones who went up there and tried to fight for our schools with him. I saw him standing there in front of whoever, for our city,” said Ms. Williams. People applauded Mayor Muhammad when streets and roads previously in disarray began being repaired, and she hopes despite the seriousness of the water crisis that residents know he is still working tirelessly for them, she explained. The city manager, commissioners and other officials on the city and state level also should be held accountable, not just the mayor, she argued. “Just because he’s the mayor, doesn’t mean he calls all the shots.”

Regardless of the challenges that lie ahead, Mayor Muhammad said he is determined to see his beloved city through. “Though we’re looking at great difficulties and challenges, as the mayor of the city, I’m happier that the needle has moved in the way of our treasury to address the problem,” he said.

Mayor Muhammad with young people in Benton Harbor. Photo Abisayo Muhammad

“We’re not where we were, we’re not where we want to be. But, we’re better than where we were yesterday, and that’s where I can continue to give residents hope as I work with county, state and federal government to address this problem.”

From The Final Call Newspaper

My son was murdered’ Finally, felony murder charges are filed against a U.S. Marshal and Georgia police officer. Will there be a conviction in case where Jamarion Robinson, a Black male, was shot 59 times?

By The Final Call
- November 2, 2021

by Naba’a Muhammad and Michael Z. Muhammad

The Final Call @TheFinalCall

It’s been a long time coming but two law enforcement officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jamarion Rashad Robinson in East Point, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, are facing charges. The 26-year-old’s body included 76 exit wounds, and he was shot 59 times.

With the recent grand jury indictment of Eric A. Heinze, a U.S. Marshal and assistant chief inspector with the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, and Kristopher L. Hutchens, a Clayton County, Ga., officer, there is hope but no guarantee that anyone will be held accountable for the killing.

The indicted officers were part of a joint task force involved in an incident that has led to charges of felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, making false statements and violation of oath by a public officer.

Monteria Robinson, Jamarion’s mother, in a telephone interview with The Final Call, talked about her son’s case and her five year old fight for justice. Jamarion was shot to death by police in 2016 though his mother reached out for police help with her son, who suffered from schizophrenia.

Jamarion Rashad Robinson

“He was being served a warrant at his girlfriend’s East Point home for an altercation with police during which they say he pulled a gun on them. A second warrant involved an incident in my home when I called the police because he was pouring gasoline throughout the house,” she said. “You can’t just approach a person that suffers from schizophrenia, paranoia. And they knew that my son suffered from schizophrenia, paranoia. I called the police for help. They filed a warrant.

“My son was murdered, and it’s like, no one has been listening to me. If it had not been from my efforts, along with a lot of the grassroots organizations here in Atlanta, Ga., I don’t think we would have gotten here,” she said. “You know I had to be aggressive, pushing forward, every day trying to make my voice heard. And I was like: ‘They will say my son’s name.

They will see my son’s face on every corner that they turn.’ And I made that happen. I literally made that happen. Jamarion became a Muslim in May of 2016; he was a scholar-athlete while attending Clark Atlanta University, where he played football. He was set to finish his degree in biology at Tuskegee. Jamarion had no prior convictions, and he was not a criminal.”
‘The process hasn’t been finished yet’

Rashid McCall, who served as the lead investigator for the Robinson family, cautioned against getting overly excited about the indictments. “The process hasn’t been finished yet. And as we all know, police in this country are rarely held accountable for their actions; even when they’re found guilty, they don’t necessarily serve substantial time,” he said.

“So when we look at it from a historical perspective, I am hopeful that the trend will change. And if it doesn’t, we still have to continue striving for justice for our people because Jamarion is not the last person. He’s already one of many in the whole continuum of state violence against our people.”

In describing the climate in 2016 when police officers killed more than 250 Black men, Mr. McCall noted that communities across the country were up in arms every single week, dealing with death after death. “I feel like the police took exception to that, and it was almost like each day it got worse. It was almost like they were out there trying to outdo each other,” he said.

It is impossible for police agencies to investigate other police forces, even when done at the state level, he argued. Even a Black prosecutor in the Atlanta area complained and sued the federal government for stonewalling in the case and complained about the lack of body cam footage.

The prosecutor, however, backed away in the name of the Justice Dept. “acting in the spirit of the investigation.” It was another low point for those who couldn’t forget the number of bullets that were pumped into Jamarion’s body and who wanted justice.

Mr. McCall shared how police violated laws in dealing with Jamarion. It includes police, who were from several different jurisdictions, burglarizing Jamarion’s apartment, he said.

Monteria Robinson stands with supporters in front of a poster of her son, Jamarion Robinson, who died at the hands of police officers in 2016. Two officers have now been charged in Jamarion’s death. Photo via Justice For Jamarion website

“It was burglary because they had this place under surveillance. They could have gone through the correct protocols in obtaining a warrant for a search for that particular property. And for them to lie, for them to make up excuses on why they could not do that is a travesty,” said Mr. McCall. “I think it’s important for us to reimagine what policing looks like in this day and age and take responsibility in terms of our community for our protection and safety. I think that that’s paramount because you won’t have bad actors coming into a community (where) they’re taking responsibility for their public safety.”

Marcus Coleman, an Atlanta-based community activist with a political, civil rights organization called Save OurSelves, stood with the Robinson family from the beginning. “We salute the new Fulton County District Attorney, Foni Willis, a sister who has made history as being the first Black woman, being the first woman to become district attorney. We applaud her for doing what falls under her job description.

It was 1,908 days that it took for this legal process to play out,” he said. But Mr. Coleman added, “I don’t make a habit of cheering in the locker room at halftime. I’ve had the honor and the opportunity of being involved with many indictments in the southeastern region and some across the nation, but even fewer convictions.”

“When there is a joint task force which involves federal agents, they do not have to be required to have body cameras, and that’s legislation that we need to look into. We also know today that in terms of mental health issues, not every call has to have an officer at the point, you know. There can be social workers, people that are trained and are experts in the area of mental health,” he said.

“I saw the results of the excessive force used that day. Where he lived was an older apartment complex. And man, it was filled with so many bullet holes. I think 110 rounds were fired, and the boy was hit 59 times and ended up with 76 exit wounds. But apart from his apartment, the neighboring apartments, I mean, bullets went whizzing in and out of the whole unit. So the excessive force was not just, of course, on the deceased. I mean everyone in that unit was in danger that day.”

Adding to the despicable deadly assault, a flash-bang grenade was used, according to Mr. Coleman. The family also charges Jamarion’s dead body was dragged down a flight of stairs where he was handcuffed—after he had been shot nearly 60 times. An independent investigation conducted by Opposition Research found that someone stood directly over his lifeless body and fired additional rounds into him. “One of the most chilling things about this case is somebody climbed up the stairs and stood over the boy and put one in him,” Mr. Coleman said.

Monteria Robinson has been fighting for justice for her son, Jamarion Robinson, since 2016.

Questions about officer conduct, accountability and charges of Justice Department stonewalling

At Final Call presstime, though the charges had been filed, neither officer was in custody. The indictments were handed up Oct. 26 after the Fulton County district attorney’s office presented Jamarion’s case to a grand jury.

Mr. McCall of Atlanta-based Opposition Research Investigative and Protective Services compared Jamarion’s killing to the police assassination of Black Panther Chairmen Fred Hampton in 1969 in Chicago. Ninety rounds of ammunition were fired into his apartment. Jamarion was shot 59 times on August 16, 2016, he said. Officers involved in the Hampton case freely walked away when the killing was ruled a justifiable homicide.

Jamarion’s case opened up questions about police use of force, lack of transparency and accountability, lack of use of body cameras by police and U.S. Marshals when serving arrest warrants and interacting with people who suffer from mental illness.

A family lawsuit charged law enforcement officers used excessive force when they shot Jamarion and the officers tried to cover up their actions by tampering with evidence, lawyers for Jamarion’s mother asserted in a 2018 federal civil rights lawsuit.

Officers serving an arrest warrant broke down the front door of an apartment in East Point and “without cause or provocation” began “spraying” the inside of the apartment with bullets, killing Jamarion, lawyers for his mother wrote in the lawsuit. The officers were aware that Jamarion had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but failed to investigate his mental health status before trying to arrest him and weren’t properly trained to arrest people with psychiatric conditions, the lawsuit said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a news release the day after the shooting that gunfire erupted when members of a U.S. Marshals Service task force made contact with Jamarion inside the apartment. Witnesses and videos show that officers gave numerous verbal commands for Jamarion to put down a weapon, the GBI said.

GBI agents found a handgun and multiple spent rounds “believed to be associated with Robinson,” the release said. But when a Black prosecutor was demanding information from federal officials about the case, he declared that the gun was “inoperable.”

Jamarion Rashad Robinson

East Point police said after the killing that Jamarion was suspected of shooting at Atlanta officers about 10 days earlier. Andrew M. Stroth, a Chicago-based attorney representing Jamarion’s mother, said he didn’t believe Jamarion fired at officers, in a June 10, 2018, Associated Press article. He also said the narrative provided by police about Jamarion’s shooting is not consistent with witness accounts that he said he and others had gathered.

“We’re fighting to make sure the individual officers that made up the task force are held responsible for their unjustified and unconstitutional actions,” Mr. Stroth told the Associated Press. “In addition, we’re seeking reform of the policies and procedures of these departments. You’ve got a group of rogue officers unconstitutionally violating folks’ rights in Atlanta.”

The lawsuit said officers knocked loudly on the front door of the apartment multiple times and then broke the door down and began shooting without knowing how many people were inside.

At least one officer then went up to a second-floor landing, where Jamarion’s body lay and took steps to cover up the officers’ actions, including setting off a flash-bang grenade, firing two bullets into his body, handcuffing his body, putting an oxygen mask on his body and moving his body to the first floor. Those actions were taken to make it difficult or impossible to accurately reconstruct the shooting, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit was filed against eight named law enforcement officers from a number of different law enforcement agencies, as well as 11 unidentified officers. It alleges that the officers violated Jamarion’s constitutional rights, using excessive force, manipulating evidence and falsifying reports.

The lawsuit sought “substantial actual or compensatory damages” for violations of state law and Jamarion’s constitutional rights, as well as punitive damages and attorney fees.

The family hadn’t gotten any information from law enforcement about what happened, and filing a federal lawsuit allows them to have subpoena power to get documents from law enforcement, Atty. Stroth said in 2018. “The family wants the truth,” he said. “Let’s find out the truth of what happened to Jamarion Robinson and let’s hold those officers accountable.”

Protestors demand justice for Jamarion Robinson who was shot to death by members of a police task force in 2016. He was shot 59 times when officers, including U.S. Marshals, raided an apartment in East Point. Ga. Photo: Justice For Jamarion, instagram

In December 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice was sued over its refusal to provide information about what happened that fateful day. Then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard accused the federal authorities of blocking his prosecutors from interviewing the officers who killed Jamarion.

Mr. Howard said the federal agency also stymied his investigation of the 2016 killing by refusing to turn over any documents, despite numerous requests over two years under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

The demand for justice for Jamarion Robinson has been going on for six years. Two officers, a U.S. Marshal and a Clayton County, Ga., police officer have been charged in connection with the 26 year old Black male’s death. Photo: Justice For Jamarion, instagram

“We’ve never done anything like this,” he said of the lawsuit. “Our hope was that the federal authorities would cooperate and provide this office and this family with all the information about this incident. I cannot understand why they have not done it.” Jamarion’s mother accompanied Mr. Howard when he announced the lawsuit.

Atlanta criminal defense lawyer Page Pate, who isn’t involved in the case but has handled numerous others involving the federal government, said the standoff between local and federal law enforcers “is extraordinarily unusual.”

Monteria Robinson, mother of Jamarion Robinson, who was schizophrenic and shot by police in August 2016, stands with her lawyer, Andrew M. Stroth, as he addresses reporters at a news conference outside the federal courthouse, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Atlanta. A federal civil rights lawsuit alleges law enforcement officers used excessive force and then tried to cover their actions in the fatal shooting of Jamarion Robinson. (AP Photo/Kate Brumback)

“They stonewall plaintiffs all the time, but it is unusual for them to stonewall a district attorney who is investigating a possible crime. … They generally cooperate when it comes to investigating serious crimes,” Atty. Pate told the Associated Press.

The fugitive task force was armed with weapons that included submachine guns, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged federal officials didn’t even return calls to the prosecutor’s office. “It has now been 875 days since the officers killed Mr. Robinson, and the DOJ has yet to provide any of the documents or evidence requested and has failed to provide any investigative reports relating to Mr. Robinson’s death,” the 2018 lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit also alleges that while officers claimed Jamarion fired at them three times with a gun found later in his apartment, “when the firearm was recovered, it was damaged and inoperable.”

Yet Mr. Howard withdrew the federal subpoenas on January 31, 2019.

According to 11 Alive, Mr. Howard had “issued testimonial subpoenas to seven local law enforcement officers and a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, to appear before the grand jury on Feb. 5. The Department of Justice accused Howard of trying to bypass the proper authorization process and filed a motion to quash the subpoenas.

Howard has again made his case to the D.O.J. why he feels the documents and interviews are necessary, but in a ‘spirit of cooperation’ has agreed to withdraw the subpoenas. He has asked the D.O.J. to respond with their intentions within the next 10 days.”

The then-district attorney, however, never received the information requested.

In downtown Atlanta, family members and activists gathered April 1 for “Jamarion Robinson Day,” which was his birthday, and condemned the police killing, saying 110 shots were fired at the young Black man with 59 bullets striking his body. Photo: Screenshot Fox 5 Atlanta

As a result Fulton County prosecutors filed another civil suit against the Justice Dept. in September seeking access to “all records” about the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force operations on 14 topics.

Prosecutors also say the Justice Dept. violated Freedom of Information Act laws.

Their request includes “all internal investigative documents and reports, as well as recorded interviews, either reviewed or prepared by the Department of Justice pertaining to [the Robinson shooting],” attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. did not rule favorably in the wrongful death civil lawsuit in federal court. The Robinson family has appealed that ruling.

The Final Call reached out to the Department of Justice and the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force for comment but did not receive a response at press time. For more information or to support Ms. Robinson, visit

The Associated Press contributed to this report.