'60s radical gets life in prison for murdering deputy
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A former Black Panther radical was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Wednesday for killing a deputy sheriff and wounding another officer as they were trying to serve an arrest warrant on him two years ago.
Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin -- known as H. Rap Brown during his days as a Black Panther in the 1960s -- could have been sentenced to death.
Al-Amin was found guilty last weekend by a Fulton County jury on all 13 counts he faced, including murder, felony murder, aggravated assault on a police officer, obstructing a law enforcement officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
At the time of the shootings, Al-Amin, 58, who converted to Islam in the 1970s while serving time in prison, was the imam, or spiritual leader, of a mosque in Atlanta's West End neighborhood, where he also operated a grocery store.
He was convicted of shooting two Fulton County deputies, Ricky Kinchen and Aldranon English, March 16, 2000, after they came to his store to serve him with an arrest warrant on charges of receiving stolen property and impersonating a police officer.
Kinchen died, while English survived and identified Al-Amin during the trial as the man who shot him. Al-Amin was captured four days after the shooting in Lowndes County, Alabama.
Al-Amin's defense team had argued he did not shoot the deputies and was the victim of a long-standing government conspiracy. Neighbors credited Al-Amin for working to clean up drugs and prostitution in their low-income Atlanta neighborhood.
Born Hubert Gerold Brown in Baton Rouge, La., Al-Amin went by the name H. Rap Brown during the 1960s and served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
In 1967, he was charged with inciting a riot in Cambridge, Maryland, where he declared to a black audience: "It's time for Cambridge to explode, baby. Black folks built America, and if America don't come around, we're going to burn America down."
The next morning, a school and two city blocks burned.
He later joined the Black Panther Party, serving at one point as "minister of justice" for the group.
As a Panther, Al-Amin exhorted blacks to arm themselves. "I say violence is necessary," he once famously said. "It is as American as cherry pie."
The Black Panther Party collapsed in the late 1970s, brought down by deaths, defections and infighting.
Al-Amin converted to Islam while in prison serving a five-year sentence for his role in a robbery that ended in a shoot-out with New York police.
From 1992 to 1997, the FBI staked out Al-Amin, suspecting him of gun-running. The agency generated 44,000 documents, records indicate, but failed to produce an arrest or indictment.
Jurors to consider death or life in prison for Al-Amin
March 11, 2002
Former 1960s black radical faces murder trial
February 18, 2002
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