Thursday, January 10, 2019

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Kingston activist Ismail Shabazz begins life after prison

Shabazz: "I learned a lot. I got stronger"

KINGSTON – Ismail Shabazz, the controversial Kingston activist, has been released from prison following a two-year sentence served for attempted criminal sale of a weapon. He now faces three more years of parole supervision.

Eleven months of that time was spent in solitary confinement. Shabazz was also transferred around the state frequently to different facilities during his incarceration. “I knew I was going to do the total two years, I understood that, and I had a feeling I would do most of that time inside the SHU [Special Housing Unit, or solitary],” Shabazz said. “But it did me good, because I was in there, reading and writing; it wasn’t bad, it was a lesson learned, I’ve never been to prison, so I learned what the system is like, it’s Fascism at its best.”  

Arriving back last Thursday, Shabazz spent time reuniting with his family, and dealing with parole officers. He told Mid-Hudson News that authorities instructed him to relinquish the family dog, a pit bull named Supreme.

Arrested in June 2015 under a 16-count indictment, Shabazz was the target of an undercover sting operation, over the span of several years, which eventually led to his involvement in the sale of firearms.

Shabazz maintains his innocence, claiming the informant represented himself as a licensed gun dealer, and gave him a copy of the credential, which was later removed from his home during a police search, along with other items of exculpatory evidence.

Prosecutors countered that hidden camera video shows Shabazz plotting to kill cops with gang members. The evidence remains under seal to protect the informant, but was reviewed by defense lawyers, who disputed the accusations.

According to Shabazz, Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright and he never liked each other, going back to 1983 when the prosecutor represented him as a public defender.

“For him to take a case that the feds dropped, because there was no evidence, and make up lies to say I was training Bloods up in Albany to kill police, that never happened,” he said.  They made up a story just to make it sound good for them, because none of it they could prove.”  

Ulster County Court Judge Donald Williams recused himself from the case. Judge Richard McNally later removed Carnright from the case as well.

With a family fearful of a full conviction with prison spanning decades, Shabazz says he took a plea bargain of two years instead of going to trial. “I’m fine with that,” he said. “I learned a lot. I got stronger. I’m going to do what I have to do and be careful how I do things. My family comes first.”.

As leader of Black Panthers for Justice, a small civil rights group, Shabazz is now prevented from participating in demonstrations. He will be staying with relatives until the dog is either housed elsewhere or destroyed.

 


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