The Unjust Extradition of Abdul Haqq
Revolutionary Worker #933, November 23, 1997
On November 13 political prisoner Abdul Haqq was extradited from New York City to Cleveland. Abdul Haqq has been framed and kidnapped by the authorities to stand trial in Ohio for an unsolved 1984 murder he did not commit. This is clearly political persecution of a man dedicated to the Black liberation struggle. The authorities not only want to snatch this brother away, they also hope to send a message to others. They must not be allowed to succeed.
Abdul Haqq is known simply as "Haqq" by his friends and comrades. Haqq is a Muslim and a member of the December 12th Movement, a revolutionary Black nationalist organization "fighting for human rights, self-determination, and socialism." He is also a co-founder of the Black Men's Movement Against Crack.
Haqq lived for a number of years in Cleveland and then moved to New York in the early '80s. He worked as a street vendor selling his wares in many different neighborhoods. He has a very dynamic personality and became well known by many people.
Haqq was one of the "Black Men's Movement 3"--three men framed for weapons possession by New York State police in 1987. Haqq spent eight years in prison. As soon as he got out of jail in 1996, he plunged into the struggle. Because he was on parole, any arrest could land him back in prison. But, despite this, Haqq fearlessly dove back into the struggle for Black liberation. The growing epidemic of police murder had become a focus of intense organizing in New York, and Haqq became extremely active in that movement.
In June 1996 Aswon Watson, a 23-year-old African-American, was shot by police 24 times as he sat in a car with his hands raised. The December 12th Movement held a mock funeral and a tribunal on the streets of Brooklyn to charge the police with cold-blooded murder. The December 12th Movement also organized people in the neighborhood into squads to monitor the actions of the police.
Stung by this organizing, the police of the 67th precinct hit back. During this campaign against police brutality, the cops arrested activists over 30 times, usually for "offenses" like jaywalking or passing out leaflets.
Haqq was right in the frontlines of this struggle against police brutality--and for that, he was targeted by the system. Haqq's attorney, Roger Wareham, himself a member of the December 12th Movement, described to the RW evidence that proves Haqq was deliberately targetted: "We have a videotape of surveillance by the police that we got during discovery in one of the trials from people who were arrested during the campaign. And in the tape, the intelligence officer sees Haqq, describes him and then, based on the description, says go tell..., obviously a superior officer, that he's on the scene. And then shortly thereafter they moved in to arrest the people. But Haqq had left by then so they didn't get him that time."
After narrowly avoiding arrest several times, Haqq was finally grabbed by police in September--as the December 12th Movement was showing political films on the sidewalk using a portable TV. Haqq reported this arrest to his parole officer, as he is required to do. However, the officer claims the report was "lost." An unreported arrest means parole violation, so Haqq was held in jail for a parole hearing.
More evidence that Haqq was being targetted: A top commander from the 67th precinct showed up to attend this parole hearing. As Wareham said, "They demonstrated a real over-and-above average interest in pursuing Haqq." A judge threw out the charges that time and Haqq was finally released again on December 12, 1996.
Meanwhile, suspicious newspaper articles appeared in New York. A Village Voice article accused the December 12th Movement of "advocating armed resistance against the NYPD." A New York Post article said, "The present rise in violent rhetoric, in conjunction with some very real violence against cops, bears careful watching."
The Making of a Frameup
On March 19, 1997 a frameup was in full effect. When Haqq appeared at a scheduled parole appointment, he was arrested by agents of Cleveland's FBI-led Joint Terrorist Task Force. Haqq was charged with murdering a man named William Turner. Haqq insists he is innocent--adding that he was in New York City on May 3, 1984, the day that William Turner died in Cleveland.
What evidence do the Cleveland authorities claim to have?
Attorney Roger Wareham has received the affidavit of a Cleveland detective in connnection with the case. Wareham says: "The affidavit of the detective said that last February a police informant approached him and said he remembered that, in the spring of 1984 or 1985 Abdul Haqq said that he, Haqq, had killed this guy. It's like out of the blue. This guy just popped up out of the woodwork and approached the police. And he described him as a police informant which immediately makes him suspect. And then: Why did he come all of a sudden in February 1997? Why did his recollection get jarred? It's a story that doesn't make any sense. And so it certainly supports our thesis that this was generated from New York. This was a continuation of the 67th precinct attack on Haqq around their cover-up of the Aswon Keshawn Watson case."
Wareham says: "As far as we know at this point, that's the essence of this case: This police informant who claims he overheard Haqq telling somebody else, not him, telling somebody else that he had done it and what they claim are two eyewitnesses who identified him from a photo exhibit 13 years after the fact. That's the case as far as we know."
This operation has the markings of a classic COINTELPRO covert operation. Former Black Panther Geronimo Ji Jaga was framed by a similar FBI operation--in which a police informant falsely accused him of a murder. Despite evidence that Geronimo was hundreds of miles away that day, he was railroaded and spent 27 years in prison before winning his release this year.
This sudden improvement in their informant's memory is obviously suspicious--so the Cleveland authorities also claim that they suspected Haqq of this murder all along. The Cleveland District Attorney says they didn't prosecute Haqq earlier because they didn't know where he was--though a routine investigation would have shown he was in prison and on parole in New York State.
The Ohio authorities made a formal request to move Haqq from New York prison to stand trial in Ohio. Haqq's attorney fought the extradition order in a series of hearings from last March, while Haqq was being held in the maximum security section of Riker's Island prison.
On October 14 the New York judge heard the extradition case. The judge refused to discuss the flimsy evidence in the Cleveland district attorney's case, claiming he only had authority to rule whether Haqq was in New York at the time of the murder. A woman named Jacqueline Bernard testified that she had spoken with Haqq in New York on May 3, 1984. But the judge ruled that her testimony did not constitute "clear and convincing evidence." He upheld the extradition. On October 30 a higher court upheld his ruling.
On November 13, Abdul Haqq was moved from New York City to Cleveland, Ohio to stand trial for murder.
Haqq has written from jail: "The rotten system is still pumping its deadly, deceitful propaganda about its phony war on drugs, while irrefutable evidence of the government's activities mount. On 3/19/97, I was kidnapped by the FBI and charged with a 1984 murder in Cleveland, Ohio that the police and Allah know I did not do. This is heavy; but I won't beg for mercy; and I won't give them any."
Haqq's spirits remain high. Each time he has entered the courtroom if his hands are not cuffed, his fist has been in the air to greet his supporters. People need to stand with this brother, publicize his case, and defeat this outrageous railroad.
For information or to get involved contact The Abdul Haqq Legal Defense Fund, P.O. Box 693, Lincolnton Station, New York, NY 10037, (212) 234-7788.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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