Revolutionary Worker #905, May 4, 1997
On March 19, Abdul Haqq of the December 12th Movement in New York was arrested by the FBI for a murder that happened 13 years ago--a murder he did not commit. This injustice must be seen in the context of a situation where the New York Police Department has been on a murdering spree--over 115 have been killed in cold blood since January of 1994. Such blatant police brutality has given rise to intense protest among broad sections of the people. New mass organizations have been formed, such as Parents Against Police Brutality. Together with existing organizations and individuals, new unity has been forged in the struggle to end the reign of terror by the police. Thousands have marched on Racial Justice Day, demonstrated at the courthouse for justice for Anthony Baez and participated in the October 22nd National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality. Now the government has launched a vicious attack against one of the groups in the heart of this struggle, the December 12th Movement, an organization of revolutionary Black nationalists. The arrest of Abdul Haqq is a clear case of political persecution.
The December 12th Movement was strong in the streets last June in the aftermath of the murder of Aswon "Keshawn" Watson. Aswon was shot 24 times as he sat in a car with his hands raised in the air on a busy Brooklyn street. The December 12th Movement called this out for the cold-blooded execution that it was. They held a mock funeral and a tribunal on the streets of Brooklyn in which people stepped forward and voted 350-to-0 to convict the killer cops and demanded a warrant be put out on them. They organized people in the neighborhood into squads to monitor the actions of the police. Their members were arrested over 30 times, including spokespeople for the December 12th Movement such as Omowale Clay, for such "offenses" as jaywalking and passing out leaflets on the corner.
In February the basis was laid for attacks on the forces involved in the struggle against police brutality by a nasty article that appeared in the Village Voice on February 4. The article, titled "The Return of Black Rage," objectively set up the December 12th Movement and other forces active in the struggle against police brutality for severe government repression. The article talked about the likelihood of increased resistance among the Black masses to the reign of police terror. It did this in such a way to make various forces, the December 12th Movement prominent among them, criminally liable for whatever righteous action the masses take against police brutality. The article quoted "unnamed sources" and claimed the December 12th Movement is "advocating armed resistance" against the NYPD.
In response to the Voice article, a statement was issued by the New Afrikan Liberation Front, a coalition of Black nationalists of which the December 12th Movement is part. Called the St. Mary's Declaration, it called the Voice article out as an attempt to "destroy the Black Liberation Movement by attempting to destroy the leadership and organizations that shape its character." The statement has received support from a number of organizations and individuals, including political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Geronimo Pratt.
In a statement in support of the St. Mary's Declaration, the New York branch of the RCP wrote: "What is the real story? Brutalizing, murdering police run rampant and unpunished in the communities of the oppressed. Ending this evil will require broad, diverse and determined resistance. But the organizations and individuals resisting this are harassed, slandered, spied upon, threatened, beaten and arrested by these same police. Now comes this Village Voice article filled with distortions, misrepresentations and lies. Such an article can be used to further criminalize and suppress the much needed resistance. So it is extremely important to support and defend those targeted in this article and we strongly support the initiative of the New Afrikan Liberation Front in acting quickly to unite people to do so. Police terror and repression is a major problem facing the people. It is the cutting edge enforcing the whole vicious program against the oppressed. Our Party is pledged to do all we can to fight it and to stand with all others who are struggling against it."
Two weeks after the Voice article came out, an editorial in the the pro-police New York Post claimed that the December 12th Movement was responsible for the shooting of a cop in the Bronx. In discussing the "larger context" in which the cop was shot, they referred to the Voice article and said: "The present rise in violent rhetoric, in conjunction with some very real violence against cops, bears careful watching." Three weeks after the Post editorial appeared, the FBI-led Joint Terrorist Task Force from Cleveland arrested Abdul Haqq in New York.
Abdul Haqq is known simply as "Haqq" by his friends and comrades. Haqq is a Muslim, a member of the December 12th Movement and a co-founder of the Black Men's Movement Against Crack. Omowale Clay told the RW that "Abdul Haqq was always one of the strongest, brightest, sharpest and fiercest warriors to defend the Black community against the insidious drug of crack, also to play a role in educating the Black community against the conspiracy of the government to saturate our community with drugs."
Abdul Haqq was one of the "Black Men's Movement 3"--three brothers who were charged with weapons possession after New York State police planted a gun in a car they were driving in 1987 (see box). Haqq did eight years for this phony weapons possession charge. He was paroled in March 1996. Despite the fact that he was on parole and knew an arrest could land him back in prison, Haqq went right back to the front lines of the struggle against the oppression of Black people.
In the weeks after the police murder of Aswon Watson, Haqq was targeted by police. They used an argument with a white store owner to set him up and arrested him for "threatening" the store owner. The arrest violated his parole, so he was held in jail for a parole hearing. After three months the hearing was held, a judge threw out the charges and he was finally released on December 12, 1996.
On March 19, 1997, just a few weeks after the articles appeared in the Village Voice and the Post, Abdul Haqq went to report to his parole officer at his regularly scheduled time. His parole officer was not there, but agents from the Cleveland Joint Terrorist Task Force were. They arrested Haqq on a 13-year-old murder charge.
Roger Wareham, Haqq's attorney and himself a member of the December 12th Movement, told the RW that "They charged him with some murder that occurred in Ohio in 1984. It wasn't an old indictment, it was an indictment that had been filed a week before. It was a new indictment. So it wasn't like Haqq was a suspect in this from the beginning and they had filed an indictment that was just laying there and they'd never been able to catch up with him. He had been in the criminal justice system in 1987 around the Black Men's Movement 3, so if that was the case they would have found it. This was a new indictment. So, obviously they were scouting around the country going through his records everywhere where he may have been arrested and trying to manufacture something. We're confident that this isn't going to hold up. We know that he didn't do it and we're confident that we can beat the case."
In an interview with the RW, Omowale Clay said, "The campaign to free Abdul Haqq is first based on the premise that Abdul Haqq is a Black man who stood up against racism and against national oppression in our community. Abdul Haqq is a revolutionary and Abdul Haqq has always been a soldier on the front line to defend the Black community against drugs, against police brutality and against the naked economic exploitation and disrespect that our community finds itself in. And so to follow the trail of how Abdul Haqq now finds himself literally kidnapped by the government and behind bars once again gets into the very heart of Black people's struggle and the forces that they always come up against."
The kidnapping and imprisonment of Abdul Haqq is an attack on a fighter for the people. The authorities want to not only snatch this brother away, they hope to send a message to others. They must not be allowed to succeed. In a statement from jail, Abdul Haqq wrote, in part: "The rotten system is still pumping its deadly, deceitful propaganda about its phony war on drugs, while irrefutable evidence of the government's activities mount. On 3/19/97, I was kidnapped by the FBI and charged with a 1984 murder in Cleveland, Ohio that the police and Allah know I did not do. This is heavy; but I won't beg for mercy; and I won't give them any."
The people need to stand with this revolutionary brother and make sure the authorities are defeated in their efforts to railroad him. Haqq is presently being held at Riker's Island. He will be arraigned on April 28, at which time a date for an extradition hearing will be set. The December 12th Movement has begun a campaign to force the authorities to drop these outrageous false charges. For more information or to send contributions for Haqq's legal defense, write to the Abdul Haqq Legal Defense Fund, P.O. Box 693, Lincolnton Station, New York, NY 10037.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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