Date: Wed, 20 Aug 97 10:03:58 CDT
From: Marpessa Kupendua <email@example.com>
Subject: !*Attica Brother Akil Al-Jundi dies (NY Times obit)
Much respect to the memory of this strong
and dedicated revolutionary.
)Date: Tue, 19 Aug 1997 22:36:41 -0500
)From: Michael Novick <firstname.lastname@example.org>
)Subject: Attica Brother Akil Al-Jundi dies (NY Times obit)
Akil Al-Jundi, 56, Inmate Turned Legal Advocate
By Robert McG. Thomas, Jr., New York Times
20 August 1997
NEW YORK -- Akil Al-Jundi, a Harlem street tough who became a leading legal
advocate for young criminals facing prison sentences, but only after he had
served 15 years for murder and survived the bloody Attica prison takeover,
died on Aug. 13 at New York Downtown Hospital in Manhattan.
He was the lead plaintiff in the class-action suit to obtain damages for
more than 1,200 prisoners beaten, tortured or denied medical care in the
aftermath of the inmate uprising of September 1971.
Al-Jundi was 56. Colleagues said the cause was complications from diabetes.
To Legal Aid Society lawyers, judges, prosecutors and others in the
Manhattan criminal justice system, Al-Jundi, who lived in the South Bronx,
was a consummate professional who prepared presentencing reports with such
meticulous care and argued for leniency with such persuasive passion that
more than a few of the convicted criminals he represented had their
sentences reduced or were routed to drug rehabilitation programs, mental
health clinics or other alternatives to prison.
No wonder. As even some judges came to appreciate, an encounter with
Al-Jundi was sometimes all the rehabilitation a young criminal might need.
That was because Al-Jundi spoke to them with a special understanding of
where they were, what they might become and what they might avoid if they
pursued education rather than crime. As a Legal Aid Society advocate since
1976, Al-Jundi knew whereof he spoke and had the scars to prove it.
A native of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, who moved to New York with his
mother when he was 12, Al-Jundi, whose original name was Herbert Scott
Dean, soon dropped out of school and became a gang leader in Harlem and the
Bronx, where he used and sold drugs, committed armed robberies and served
as a bodyguard for heroin dealers.
After numerous scrapes with the law, Al-Jundi's life on the streets ended
in 1961 when he was convicted of second-degree murder after thrusting an
umbrella into the temple of a man who he said had come into his turf to
engage a prostitute.
Sentenced to 20 years to life, he proved to be one of the rare inmates who
find salvation in prison. Al-Jundi, who credited a conversion to Islam with
saving his life, became a demon for education. He obtained a high school
equivalency diploma and began a lifelong habit of reading every book he
could get his hands on.
An educated prisoner can be a threat to a system that routinely brutalizes
inmates, and it was hardly surprising that after a disturbance at the
Auburn Correctional Facility in 1970, Al-Jundi, who had previously taken
part in a disturbance at the Tombs, the pens in the basement of the
Criminal Courts building in Manhattan, was one of a number of inmates
singled out for punishment: transfer to the dreaded Attica Correctional
Facility near Buffalo.
During the spontaneous prison uprising in September 1971, Al-Jundi was part
of the Muslim contingent that supervised guards taken hostage. The uprising
ended on Sept. 13, when the state police, under orders from Gov. Nelson
Rockefeller, began an all-out assault, indiscriminately firing more than
2,000 rounds of ammunition over six bloody minutes, killing 10 hostages and
39 inmates and wounding hundreds of others.
As he later recalled it, Al-Jundi, who was was shot through the hand by an
explosive bullet and struck in the face by buckshot, was dumped in a cell
and left bleeding for hours without medical attention after he began
chanting to protest the torture of an inmate awaiting treatment for a
By the time he was paroled in 1975, Al-Jundi had undergone 34 operations to
repair his damaged hand and had acquired a new mission in life: obtaining
justice for the hundreds of inmates who had been mistreated.
As the minister of information for the Attica Brothers Legal Defense Fund,
Al-Jundi gave his name to a federal class action that led to a 1992 verdict
that held the state responsible for a variety of atrocities but left the
assessment of damages to later litigation.
Elizabeth Fink, the inmates' lead attorney, recalled Tuesday that Al-Jundi,
who took a leave from his Legal Aid Society job, had provided invaluable
assistance during the trial.
When a former fellow inmate, Frank Smith, won a $4 million judgment in
June, Al-Jundi was too ill to be in the courtroom, but he was not
forgotten. After hearing the verdict, Ms. Fink said, "He was the first one
Al-Jundi, who was reunited with his high school sweetheart, Evelyn Battles,
after his prison sentence and accepted her three children as his own, is
survived by Ms. Battles; a son, Ronald; two daughters, Wanda and Monique,
and five grandchildren.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.
Be PART of the solution -- People Against Racist Terror/
PO Box 1055/Culver City CA 90232-1055/310-288-5003/
Order our journal "Turning the Tide." email@example.com
Free Mumia Abu Jamal! Free All POW's and Political Prisoners! Abolish the
Racist Death Penalty!