The four groups of current and retired Black officers namely the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, the Black Police Experience, and the Grand Council of Guardians have jointly written calling for the release of Sundiata Acoli, a former Black Panther member on parole.
Acoli is one of the former members of the Black Panther Party who are still in prison for acts to fight against racism in the late 1960s and 1970s and has been incarcerated for 48 years for 1973 for the death of a White New Jersey state trooper during a gunfight in which another member of the Black Panther member was killed.
84-year-old Acoli has been eligible for parole for more than 25 years but his petitions for parole have been summarily denied eight times.
In 2014 he was given a release order by an appellate court but later on, that decision was overturned by the New Jersey Supreme Court, which is now being asked once again to decide his fate.
One of the oldest Black political prisoners who has been languishing in jail, Acoli contracted Covid-19 last year from his cell and is suffering from physical and mental impairments including gradual deterioration of his memory, The Guardian reported.
The statement by the associations points out that New Jersey has the greatest disparity in the nation between the incarceration rate of Black and white people – a gap of 12 to 1, according to the state’s Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission, The Guardian reported. The statement further called his continued imprisonment “an affront to racial justice” and also alleged that the parole board of being discriminatory towards his bail applications.
“Mr Acoli has spent more than half of his life in prison cells the size of a parking space, including nearly 20 years as a senior citizen … He should be granted parole,” the groups wrote.