H. Rap Brown To Lose Privs

h rap brown black panther Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin
The former '60s radical once known as H. Rap Brown violated a gag order in his murder case and will lose some jail privileges, a judge ruled Monday.

Fulton County Judge Stephanie Manis said Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin deliberately tried to taint the jury pool by writing public letters from jail and by giving an interview to The New York Times, which was published Sunday.

To make sure it doesn't happen again, Manis stripped Al-Amin of his telephone privileges and limited his visitors to the Fulton County jail.

In a letter sent to his congregation at the Community Mosque of Atlanta on Dec. 14, Al-Amin said he did not shoot Sheriff Ricky Kinchen or wound his partner, Deputy Aldranon English, on March 16, 2000.

Jack Martin, one of Al-Amin's attorneys, argued Monday that his client has not talked about the facts of the case, but only proclaimed his innocence. Manis disagreed, and said, "The defendant has the right to proclaim his innocence in the courtroom, not the newspaper."

About 1,500 prospective jurors will be summoned to the Fulton County Courthouse when jury selection begins Tuesday morning.

Members of Kinchen's family are expected to vie for seating space in the courtroom with Al-Amin's supporters and police officers seeking justice in the killing of one of their own.

In an interview published in Sunday's New York Times, Al-Amin criticized the gag order and reiterated his claims that his arrest was part of a government conspiracy that has dogged him for decades.

"The FBI has a file on me containing 40,000 documents, but prior to this incident their investigation has produced no fruits, no indictments, no arrests," he was quoted as saying.

"At some point, they had to make something happen to justify all the investigations and all the money they spent," he said.

Before his arrest, Al-Amin led one of the nation's largest black Muslim groups, the National Ummah. The movement, which has formed 36 mosques around the nation, is credited with revitalizing poverty-stricken pockets such as Atlanta's West End, where Al-Amin owns a grocery store.

That's where police say Al-Amin ambushed the two sheriff's deputies trying to serve an arrest warrant. English survived and has identified Al-Amin as the gunman, police say.

Al-Amin was arrested four days after the shooting west of Montgomery, Ala., after fleeing a shed in a burst of gunfire and being pursued through the woods by federal and local law officers.

As Rap Brown, Al-Amin served as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1967, he said violence was "as American as cherry pie."

He changed his name when he converted to the Dar-ul Islam movement while serving a five-year sentence for his role in a robbery that ended in a shootout with New York police.

The trial was originally scheduled for September but was postponed because Manis said anti-Muslim sentiment after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks made it difficult to seat a jury at that point.

By Mitch Stacy
©MMII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed