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Sender: owner-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 97 12:29:08 CDT
From: "Workers World" <ww@wwpublish.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: RIP: Akil Al-Jundi
Article: 16734

Via Workers World news service
Reprinted from the August 28, 1997 issue of Workers World newspaper

Akil Al-Jundi

By Key Martin, in Workers World
28 August 1997

Akil Al-Jundi, a well-known prison activist, died Aug. 13 from complications of diabetes. He was 56.

"I didn't know Akil until he came out of Attica," Afeni Shakur told the meeting to pay tribute to him. "He lived two lives before most of us came in contact with him and had that wonderful, smiling, giving, human spirit."

Afeni Shakur's son was the late recording artist and actor Tupac Shakur. Afeni Shakur was one of the Panther 21 prisoners acquitted a quarter-century ago of outrageous charges brought by the New York Police Department as part of an effort to break up the Black Panther Party in the city.

Akil Al-Jundi was one of the Attica Brothers who led and survived that famous prison rebellion against racist oppression in upstate New York in 1971. Once released, he led a political and legal campaign for justice for the remaining Attica Brothers and to expose the rapidly growing prison-industrial complex.

At the time of the Attica uprising--in which police and National Guard troops killed 43 prisoners and guards--there were 13,000 prisoners in New York state prisons. Today there are 70,000.

Akil could speak to the unspeakable conditions inside the walls. He was deeply involved in lawsuits wending their way through the courts a quarter-century later seeking financial restitution for the heinous crimes visited upon the Attica Brothers.

Akil always called for community self-defense. He was active in organizing groups that carried it out under the banner of "Self-Respect, Self-Defense, Self-Determination."

Akil was also the senior union delegate from his union. 1199 National Health and Human Services Employees Union represented the work force at the Legal Aid Society, where Akil labored to save some of the youth from being devoured by the system.

All the union delegates knew Akil. A tribute/benefit was held in his honor at the 1199 hall in July.

His last words were to implore us to worry about the new "Atticas" of today.

A powerful voice for our struggle has fallen silent. We will pick up his baton and continue.

Akil is survived by his wife Evelyn Battles, son Ronald, daughters Wanda and Monique, grandchildren Hiasia, Doria, Brandon, Austin and Ronald.

[Key Martin is a member of the Executive Board of the Newspaper Guild of New York, a former prisoner and activist in the Prisoners Solidarity Committee.]

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