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With just months to live, liberation activist and co-founder of the Republic of the New Afrika Movement, Mutulu Shakur, has been granted compassionate release after serving 35 years in prison.

Mutulu Shakur, the step-father of late rapper Tupac Shakur, was imprisoned in 1988 and sentenced to 60 years in prison. He was accused of leading a group of revolutionaries in a string of armed robberies in New York and Connecticut. He was charged with RICO conspiracy and armed bank robbery that resulted in the death of two New York City police officers and an armed guard

Some details surrounding Shakur’s arrest have been debated. The website states, “At no time did the evidence show that Dr. Shakur killed anyone. At two trials the evidence indicated others were responsible for the deaths (one of which became a government witness in return for a sentencing deal). The remaining defendants were acquitted of the murder allegations presented by the government.” 

At the time of his arrest, Dr. Shakur was a well-known acupuncturist using his skills to address rampant drug addiction among young Black people. He participated in presentations to the United Nations on discrimination experienced by Black communities throughout the U.S. and by 1970 was a subject of the FBI’s illegal COINTELPRO infiltration program. Because of his efforts, supporters believe that Shakur was being held as a political prisoner and that authorities sought to make an “example” of out him because of his activism.

Mutulu Shakur freed on compassionate release with little time left

While in prison, Shakur developed several health issues, including stage-3 multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that can affect the bones and kidneys. 

His attorney, Brad Thomson, went on record disclosing the deterioration of Dr. Shakur’s health. Reportedly he’s had massive weight loss due to treatments for his medical conditions. He’s contracted COVID-19 twice and has had to depend on IV feeding tubes on and off since May. 

Earlier this year, doctors with the Federal Bureau of Prisons had given Shakur less than six months to live, noting that treatment for his cancer no longer worked. He is being held at a federal medical center in Lexington, a prison in Kentucky for incarcerated people who require care.

Despite accepting full responsibility and expressing remorse for the actions that led to his conviction, Shakur was denied release on several occasions. Organizers have advocated for the 72 year old’s compassionate release, urging authorities to allow him to spend his final days with family. In August of this year, a suit was filed against the U.S. Parole Commission for refusing to grant a compassionate release.

But, because of his supporters’ advocacy, Dr. Mutulu Shakur will be released next month on December 16th.

 “There are a lot of tears of joy,” an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Jomo Muhammad, said after the parole was granted. He has been working to gain Shakur’s freedom for some time.

“There’s still disbelief because we were steadying ourselves for another denial. Now folks are excited about being able to reunite Mutulu with his family. We were crying together. It’s a long time overdue.”

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work--"If not me then who?" As a strategist and injustice interrupter, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for radical...