From Thu Aug 3 10:30:58 2000
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2000 23:43:09 -0500 (CDT)
From: Marpessa Kupendua <>
Subject: !*Muslims, Panthers Gather to Offer Al-Amin Support
Article: 101771
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Muslims, Panthers Gather to Offer Al-Amin Support

The Atlanta Journal Constitution, 29 July 2000

[Publisher’s note: The date, author, and source of this article are unknown or uncertain.]

As 250 Muslims bowed in prayer in West End Park, Black Panthers wearing holstered handguns stood at attention around the worshipers.

It was an ironic contrast for the start of a three-day Riyaadah, a national Muslim gathering that began Friday in Atlanta. Peaceful prayer contrasted by militant men. Symbolic, perhaps, of the one who wasn’t there: Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin.

In Al-Amin’s youth, he was once a Black Panther who wore a black beret and carried a gun. But since moving to Atlanta 20 years ago, he has been the imam, or prayer leader, of the West End Community Mosque. He is credited with preaching about inner peace and cleaning up the neighborhood of drug dealers.

And now the 57-year-old is in jail, accused of killing Fulton County Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Kinchen and injuring another deputy on the night of March 16.

For 18 years, Muslims from across the country have attended the Riyaadah to play sports, worship, eat together and catch up with old friends. The event is held in a different city each year. Al-Amin was the principal organizer. But for this weekend’s event, many of the participants said they came to West End because of Al-Amin’s incarceration and to show support for him.

We don’t believe whatsoever that he committed that act. We’re gonna believe in his innocence until we’re buried in our graves, said Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a former Denver Nuggets basketball player who came to Atlanta from Gulfport, Miss. for the Riyaadah.

Earlier Friday, William Abdur-Rahim, an imam of a mosque on Hank Aaron Drive in Atlanta, visited Al-Amin in the Fulton County Jail. He’s in wonderful spirits, Abdur-Rahim said as he stood at a microphone in the park. Posters displaying Al-Amin’s picture hung around the park.

Abdur-Rahim said Al-Amin sent his thanks to the worshipers for coming. Many said they planned to visit him in jail, following the example of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who visited Al-Amin on Tuesday.

After the prayers and sermons in the park were over, participants broke up into smaller groups. Some played basketball. Women purchased shawls and traditional clothing from vendors. Children ate snow cones, lined up to ride two ponies and jumped in an inflatable room called the Moonbounce.

Others stood together talking about the death penalty case against Al-Amin. At first, all reports about his case looked bad for Al-Amin’s supporters.

The surviving deputy identified Al-Amin as the shooter. Tests on two guns found in some Alabama woods where Al-Amin was arrested showed they were the ones used to shoot the deputies.

But then came reports of a blood trail and 911 caller who saw a bleeding man five blocks from the shooting scene begging for a ride.

Al-Amin had not been shot, giving his supporters hope someone else was the shooter.

I hope the criminal justice system will work for him as it has worked for others, said Nihad Awad, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington.

As the celebration and discussions about Al-Amin’s case were going on, Atlanta police discretely approached the Black Panther members and asked them to disarm.

They respected our chain of command and we respected their chain of command, said Ahkee El-Shabazz, chairman of the Bankhead chapter of the Black Panthers.

In the end, the Panthers gave up their guns.