One of the longest-known US serving prisoners: Sundiata Acoli
In 1974 Sundial Acoli was given a life sentence (plus 30 years) - he was granted parole in 2014 but the decision was appealed and he remains in prison. This year, after 43 years in prison, the parole decision was reversed.
New Jersey and the FBI are caught in a time warp and can see Sundiata Acoli only as a cop killer, not the brilliant mathematician, computer analyst, intellectual and humanitarian known and loved by the rest of the world, who registered voters in Mississippi in 1964, worked in Harlem with the Panthers, and has educated, mentored and counseled countless younger prisoners over the years; he is their hero. Imagine the term “killer cop” branding someone and burying him behind bars for life.
Sundiata Acoli (born in 1939, as Clark Edward Squire), a New Afrikan political prisoner of war, mathematician, and computer analyst, was born January 14, 1937, in Decatur, Texas, and raised in Vernon, Texas. He graduated from Prairie View A & M College of Texas in 1956 with a B.S. in mathematics and for the next 13 years worked for various computer-oriented firms, mostly in the New York area.
During the summer of 1964 he did voter registration work in Mississippi. In 1968 he joined the Harlem Black Panther Party and did community work around issues of schools, housing, jobs, child care, drugs, and police brutality.
In 1969 he and 13 others were arrested in the Panther 21 conspiracy case. He was held in jail without bail and on trial for two years before being acquitted, along with all other defendants, by a jury deliberating less than two hours.
Upon release, FBI intimidation of potential employers shut off all employment possibilities in the computer profession and stepped-up COINTELPRO harassment, surveillance, and provocations soon drove him underground.
Legal Case Background
In May 1973, while driving the New Jersey Turnpike, he and his comrades were ambushed by N.J. state troopers. One companion, Zayd Shakur, was killed, another companion, Assata Shakur, was wounded and captured. One state trooper was killed and another wounded, and Sundiata was captured days later.
After a highly sensationalized and prejudicial trial he was convicted of the death of the state trooper and was sentenced to Trenton State Prison (TSP) for life plus 30 years consecutive.
Upon entering TSP he was subsequently confined to a new and specially created Management Control Unit (MCU) solely because of his political background. He remained in MCU almost five years, … let out of the cell only ten minutes a day for showers and two hours twice a week for recreation.
In September 1979, the International Jurist interviewed Sundiata and subsequently declared him a political prisoner. A few days later prison officials secretly transferred him during the middle of the night to the federal prison system and put him en route to the infamous federal concentration camp at Marion, Illinois, although he had no federal charges or sentences.