(By Safiya Bukhari & Claude Marks)
On November 10, 2003, Judge Stephanie Manis sentenced Kamau Sadiki to life imprisonment for murder and ten (10) years to run consecutively for armed robbery after a Fulton County Superior Court jury found him guilty for the murder of Atlanta Police Officer James Green on November 3, 1971.
At the time of the murder, nineteen year old Kamau Sadiki was a member of the Black Liberation Army (BLA) which was led by John Thomas. Several members of the BLA, including Mr. Sadiki, left New York City and lived in the Atlanta area for a short period of time. On the night of the murder, two witnesses observed three black males run from a van where Officer Green sat at a gas station in downtown Atlanta. The witnesses failed to identify Mr. Sadiki from a photographic line-up. There was no physical evidence that implicated Mr. Sadiki. In 1971, the Atlanta police department closed the case as unsolved.
In 2001, following increased interest in terrorism, one such former BLA member gave a statement about the 1971 murder after being detained during a traffic stop. With no eyewitness testimony and no physical evidence, the State based its case entirely upon the statements of three former BLA members who were present in Atlanta at the time of Officer Green’s murder. Mr. Sadiki was arrested in 2002 in Brooklyn, New York some thirty one (31) years later after the murder.
After a lengthy jury trial in Fulton County Superior Court that began in September 2003, Mr. Sadiki is now serving his sentence in Augusta State Medical Prison in Augusta, Georgia. Appellate Attorney Stephen Scarborough filed a motion for new trial which was heard on April 23, 2009 in Fulton County Superior Court.
Among the many issues raised in his appeal, Mr. Sadiki is urging the court to reconsider her exclusion of the testimony of John Thomas’ former wife, Ignae Thomas, wherein she was present during two conversations where others admitted their participation in the murder of the officer. Mr. Thomas who is now deceased, made statements exonerating Mr. Sadiki and stated that he had nothing to do with the shooting. Judge Manis ruled such testimony by Ms. Thomas inadmissible and excluded the testimony from the jury’s consideration. Other issues raised on appeal include Judge Manis’ inclusion of a conspiracy charge to the jury when there was no evidence of such and Judge Manis’ admission into evidence inflammatory statements regarding Mr. Sadiki’s participation in the BLA and allegations of misdeeds by the BLA.
To date, Judge Manis has not ruled on the motion for new trial. Historically, few motions for new trial are granted. In the event she denies the motion, Mr. Sadiki can file an appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals and, thereafter, the Georgia Supreme Court. Mr. Sadiki also has a right to appeal to the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court.
Kamau Sadiki has always maintained his innocence and has been a loving father and grandfather, steadily employed for 30 years. The Fulton County D.A. refused to try him 30 years ago due to lack of any credible evidence. The question is "Why him? Why now?"
Who Is Kamau Sadiki?
Kamau Sadiki is a former member of the Black Panther Party. At the age of 17 he dedicated his life to the service of his people. He worked out of the Jamaica, Queens office of the Black Panther Party. Having internalized the 10 Point Program and Platform, the 3 Main Rules of Discipline and 8 Points of Attention, Kamau used his knowledge to guide his organizing efforts within the Black Community.
Kamau worked in the Free Breakfast Program, getting up every morning, going to his designated assignment and cooking and feeding hungry children before they went to school. When the Free Breakfast Program was over for the day, he reported to the office, gathered his papers and received his assignment for the day, and went out into the community to sell his papers.
While selling his papers he continued to educate the people, while organizing tenants, welfare mothers, whomever he came in contact. At the end of the day, he reported to the office. He wrote his daily report and attended political education classes.
Kamau Sadiki was one of the thousands of young Black men and women who made up the Black Panther Party. The rank and file members of the Party who were made the Black Panther Party the International political machine it was. While the media followed Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and others the day to day work of the Party was being carried out by these rank and file brothers and sisters, the backbone of the Black Panther Party. They were these nameless and faceless tireless workers who carried out the programs of the Black Panther Party, without whom there would have been no one to do the work of the Free Health Clinics, Free Clothing Drive, Liberation Schools, and Free Breakfast for Children Program. It was to these brothers and sisters that the people in the Black community looked when they needed help and support.
It was because of this tireless work in the community that J. Edgar Hoover, the then FBI Director, declared the Black Panther Party to be the greatest threat to National Security and sought to destroy it. It was not because we advocated the use of the gun that made the Black Panther Party the threat. It was because of the politics that guided the gun. We had been taught that politics guide the gun, therefore our politics had to be correct and constantly evolving. We had to study and read the newspapers to keep abreast of the constantly changing political situation. But this was not the image that the government wanted to portray of the Black Panther Party. It preferred the image of the ruthless, gangster, racist gun toting thug. Every opportunity that came up to talk, or write about the Black Panther Party was used to portray this image.
When the opportunity didn’t arise on it’s own, they created situations and circumstances to make the claim. An all out propaganda war was waged on the Black Panther Party. Simultaneously a psychological and military campaign was instituted.
The governments was of terror against the Black Panther Party saw over 28 young black men and women of the Black Panther Party killed over a period of less than four (4) years, hundreds more in prison or underground, dozens in exile and the Black Panther Party in disarray. Even though the Black Panther Party, as an entity, had been destroyed the government never ceased observing those Panthers who were still alive. Whether or not others believed it, the government took seriously that aspect of the Black Panther Party’s teaching that included the 10-10-10 Program.
If one (1) Panther organized ten (10) people, those ten (10) people organized ten people, and those ten people organized 10 people exponentially we would organize the world for revolution. The only way to stop that was to weed out the Panthers. Not only must the Black Panther Party be destroyed, but all the people who were exposed to the teachings must be weeded out and put on ice or destroyed.
During this turbulent time, Kamau had been among the members of the Party who had gone underground. He was subsequently captured and spent five (5) years in prison. While he was on parole he legally changed his name from Fred Hilton to Kamau Sadiki.
Why Him? Why Now?
The government and police, knowing that he suffers from Hepatitis C, Cirrhosis of the Liver and Sarcoidosis they told Kamau that unless he helped them capture Assata Shakur that he would ‘die in prison’. They told him that if he worked with them and got Assata to leave Cuba and go to some other country where they could apprehend her that they would not prosecute on the police killing. This seemed to be the right time to play this card. So many different forces were congealing in the world that had changed the mood of the country in favor of mania and fear. The conflict in the Middle East had heightened the stakes with 9/11. The Patriot Act had been passed, giving new meaning to what it meant to be patriotic and making disagreeing with or not going along with the policies of the government unpatriotic.
Police and other uniformed personnel were heroes/heroines and above the law...untouchables. What would not have been able to be prosecuted thirty (30) years ago was now, in this climate, possible. Then too, Kamau has not been in the spotlight in the last 25 years. What people don’t know is he never was. After being released from prison, he went to work. Having two daughters and himself to support, He went to work. He worked for the telephone company in New York for over eighteen years. Both of his daughters finished college and are now married with families of their own. No, Kamau wasn’t out beating the drums, he was being the quiet warrior that he is. He is a Muslim. Another liability in these United States where the term is almost synonymous to terrorist now.
The Lies...The Distortions...The Drawbacks
There are many lies and distortions of the truth that come to play in this case. The most glaring and insidious is that Freddie Hilton had been in hiding under the name Kamau Sadiki and that’s why it has taken so long to find and indict him. A bald face lie. The entire five (5) years Kamau spent in prison he wrote and signed all him mail under the name Kamau Sadiki. All of his mail was censored. When he was released from prison he was on parole and while he was on parole he had his name legally changed to Kamau Sadiki. His parole officer was aware of this. When he went to work, he didn’t obtain a new social security number under Kamau Sadiki, but his name was changed on his old card to Kamau Sadiki. There was never an attempt to hide from anything. How could he? One of his daughters was also the daughter of Assata Shakur and he couldn’t hide from that. He was always under the scrutiny of the federal government, if for this reason alone.
New Evidence?! No. No new evidence. The same old story from the 70's that was supposedly told to them by Sam Cooper. The same old story that was not enough to indict at the time of the death of the police officer in 1972, is now enough to indict in 2002. Thirty years later, they are able to find independent witnesses to corroborate Sam Cooper’s story. It boggles the mind that they have found a way to make memories that usually fade over time, reverse themselves and grow stronger.
The Implications of this Case
We have long held that there is a diabolical scheme going on in the minds of the those who run this government. It is not something that started yesterday or the day before. It is not something that will end tomorrow or the day after. This scheme is to rid the world of those who disagree with the politics of the United States. The Black Panther Party was such an entity and it no longer exists. It was systematically and meticulously destroyed almost thirty (30) years ago. But the effort to destroy the legacy of the Black Panther Party continues. Books are continually written attacking the Party. Daily, articles still appear in newspapers and periodicals redefining the work of the Black Panther Party. Panthers are still in prison and still going to prison from cases dating back to the 60's and 70's.
The further we get away from the 60's and 70's the more likely that people forget what happened and what we were really about. When issues are taken out of their historical place and placed into another day and time, people tend to get confused. The government banks on that. Historically, it has worked for them. In this new day and time. In the shadow of 9/11, in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the greatest historical figures of the Civil Rights/Black Power era was convicted and sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole. The response of the community was, ‘We told you we were capable of convicting him.’ This gave impetus to the government’s plan to clean up the streets of dissent. In 1967 it was disclosed that one of the goals of COINTELPRO was to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize... no opportunity must be missed to exploit through counterintelligence techniques ... for maximum effectiveness ... long range goals are being set... prevent [them from] gaining respectability ... and a final goal should be to prevent the long range growth of militant black organizations, especially among youth."
COINTELPRO didn’t go away. It continues today. This case, as well as the case of Mumia Abu Jamal and Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown) are prime examples of the existence of COINTELPRO and its agenda. We have a tendency to forget and think that things have changed. The enemy doesn’t forget. They maintain files and lists. They maintain think tanks and, when it is convenient and at the proper time they move. The movement’s of the ‘60s, caught them by surprise. They rushed to catch up and won the first skirmish. We still have casualties. While we were busy they were preparing so they wouldn’t be caught off guard again. This round of activity on the part of the state is their efforts to clean up the books. We must not allow them to do this. We must defend Kamau Sadiki. We must push back the state. We must not allow them to use Kamau as a scapegoat... we must Free Kamau Sadiki and all Political Prisoners.
WRITE TO KAMAU
Kamau Sadiki is living in a nightmare -- along with his loving family. He has been commited to community since age 15 and deserves our gratitude and support. Send greetings to this extraordinary man and "reach through the bars today."
Mr. Freddie Hilton, a/k/a Kamau Sadiki
Augusta State Medical Prison
3001 Gordon Highway
Grovetown, GA 30813