Organizations like the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement are pushing to release Mutulu Shakur, Tupac’s stepfather, from his 60-year prison sentence due to him battling a rare and incurable version of blood cancer, stage-3 multiple myeloma, which affects the bones and kidneys.
Since 2016, Shakur has been denied release about nine times by U.S. District Judge Charles Haight Jr. And now Grassroots activists, attorneys and church leaders are demanding his release. A petition for his departure needs 75,000 signatures and currently has over 60,000 signatures.
A few pics from yesterday’s action at the Dept of Justice demanding the compassionate release of Baba Mutulu Shakur. #FreeMutuluNOW #FreeMutuluShakur #FreeAllPPs #FreeAllPOWs pic.twitter.com/lXUVnJGqRN
— Prof KKC (@KaranjaKeita) July 21, 2022
On July 20, advocates and supporters gathered outside the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters, calling for compassionate release.
“Every legal effort has been made and is being explored, from compassionate release to clemency to [advocating for] changing the law that would allow people in Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s category sentenced under the law to get the benefits of release,” attorney Nkechi Taifa said. “It has to go beyond what we can do in the legal realm. It has to be a unified call from the people.”
According to Shakur’s attorney Brad Thomson, Shakur’s illness and treatments have affected his health negatively. Shakur dealt with significant weight loss; he had to rely on IV feeding tubes on and off since May and caught COVID at least twice with his underlying condition. Thomson also said that Shakur was given six months to live by his doctors at the Federal Bureau of Prisons because his cancer treatments were no match for his cancer.
“His health situation is extremely dire right now,” Thomson said. “He’s very much on an end-of-life trajectory. We’re looking at a matter of months at the most, but, realistically, it could be a matter of days or weeks. At this point, the issue is getting him released so he can say goodbye to his loved ones, his family, his children and grandchildren. To be surrounded by loved ones, so he can die in dignity, peace and comfort outside of prison.”
Doctors diagnosed Shakur with myeloma in 2019, and his legal representatives requested a “compassionate release” in May 2020. Haight denied the request in November 2020 because his crimes were too severe, and his health wasn’t aggravated enough to grant him the release because he’s not close to the judge’s definition of dying.
According to NBC News, Haight practically implied in the ruling that if Shakur was waving death in the face, he’d have a better chance at a compassionate release.
Shakur has been in prison since 1988 after being convicted for conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act), bank robbery, armed bank robbery and bank robbery-murder. Furthermore, the court convicted him of leading insurgents in some armed robberies in New York and Connecticut, one of which left three people dead (an armed guard and two New York police officers). He was convicted of helping JoAnne Chesimar (Assata Shakur) escape a New Jersey prison in 1979.
Shakur’s supporters and himself claimed the nature of his acts was political and not criminal.