Abdullah Majid died on April 3, 2016.
Rest In Power comrade. We never forget.
Abdul Majid is a native of Queens New York and has been imprisoned for two decades. In the 1960s, he worked in the Grass Roots Advisory Council, an anti-poverty program. In the late 60s Abdul joined the Black Panther Party and the Republic of New Afrika. Abdul was involved in many of the community-based programs of the BPP including the free health clinic, free breakfast for children program, and efforts to decentralize the public schools and the police department.
After the BPP was destroyed by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, Abdul worked as a paralegal at Bronx Legal Services.
New York Officer Killed, Manhunt Begins
On the night of April 1981, two NYPD officers were fired on by two suspects during a traffic stop. Police claim that the stop was in connection with several burglaries, while they also claim the van was pulled over because of its connection to the liberation of Assata Shakur from a New Jersey prison.
Regardless of the reason for the stop, the occupants exited the car and opened fire on the police, shooting both officers- killing one officer, John Scarangella and injuring the other.
A few days after the shooting, police began circulating a folder of “suspects” which consisted exclusively of former members of the Black Panther Party and their associates. Bashir and Abdul (James York and Anthony LaBorde) were identified in the media as chief suspects and targets of a “shoot to kill” manhunt.
Bashir was arrested in August 1981 in South Carolina. Abdul was arrested in Philadelphia in January, 1982 and was brutally beaten by police after his arrest.
Over a five-year period, Bashir and Abdul were tried three times for this incident, the main witness being a man who was hypnotized by the police. Their first trial ended in a hung jury divided along racial lines. The second trial was declared a mistrial by the judge immediately after the jury rendered a decision that acquitted Bashir on the murder charge. The third trial was presided over by Judge Gallagher (son and brother of a cop). Throughout the trial, cops harassed Abdul and Bashir’s family members and supporters. A racially stacked jury in the third trial returned a guilty verdict and sentenced Abdul and Bashir to 33 1/3 years to life.
Life in Prison
During Majid’s imprisonment, he was beaten by prison guards, and was originally awarded $15,000 in compensation.
That compensation, however, was reversed when in 2006 a Dutchess County jury ruled that Abdul must pay $42 million in civil damages to the family of the New York City police officer he is charged with shooting and his partner who was injured in the gunfight. The money Abdul would have received for being beaten by guards instead was included in the millions of dollars he has to pay to the police officers and their families. Abdul will never make near that much money, so instead the families will automatically take anything he earns of $50 while he serves his 33 years to life sentence in prison.
Appealing their Case
For the past fifteen years, although Abdul and Bashir have been forced to live behind bars, as political prisoners they have continued to challenge injustice. In 1996, Abdul and Bashir’s lawyers went before the Court of Appeals in Albany, New York. They argued the District Attorneys, in violation of the law, systematically excluded Blacks from the jury. This assertion by the defense team was clearly borne out by District Attorney Gregory Lasak. During a 1992 evidentiary hearing, D.A. Lasak attempted to justify to the Court why Blacks had been excluded by stating that
“These cop-killing revolutionaries had gotten away in two previous trials and this was probably our last chance to get them. We couldn’t take the chance of those religious people serving as jurors in this trial.”
Predictably, the courts denied their appeal.
Cointelpro and the Suppression of Evidence
The government has been very uncooperative about turning over requested documents being sought by supporters of Abdul under the Freedom of Information Act. During the three trials there were deliberate acts by law enforcement agencies to hide certain evidence helpful to the defense. Attorneys are still in the process of trying to make law enforcement agencies turn over all evidence in this case.
Harassment in Prison
Since their imprisonment, repression against the Queens Two has only increased. Abdul Majid has been harassed, seriously assaulted twice, and denied proper medical treatment as a result of the assaults. He has also been refused certain programs offered to general population because of his political background.
Bashir Hameed, fellow Queens Two Passes Away
Bashir Hameed, a devout Muslim continued to apply his religious and political principles to struggle against injustice and racism behind the walls. As a result of his activities, Bashir gained the widespread respect of prisoners.
In 1987, he was transferred after being targeted as an alleged organizer of a strike. He spent three years in solitary confinement, not as a result of disciplinary infractions, but solely due to his political and religious beliefs.
Throughout 2007-2008, Bashir became seriously ill and was delayed adequate medical treatment. As a result, his health continued to fail. On August 30, 2008, Bashir Hameed passed away.