Sundiata Acoli

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Sundiata Acoli (born January 14, 1937,[1] as Clark Edward Squire) is a former member of the Black Liberation Army. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1974, for being accused of killing a New Jersey state trooper.[2]

Early life[edit]

Acoli was born on January 14, 1937, in Decatur, Texas, and raised in Vernon, Texas.[1] He graduated from Prairie View A&M University of Texas[3][4] in 1956 with a degree in mathematics and for the next 13 years worked for various computer-oriented firms, mostly in the New York area.[1]

During the summer of 1964 he participated in civil rights work in Mississippi.[5] In 1968 Acoli joined the Harlem Black Panther Party as its finance minister.[4] He was arrested on April 2, 1969, in the Panther 21 conspiracy case,[4] in which members were accused of planned coordinated bombing and long-range rifle attack on two police stations and an education office in New York City.[6]

New Jersey Turnpike shooting[edit]

Further information, see Assata Shakur

In May 1973, while driving the New Jersey Turnpike, his car was stopped by N.J. state troopers. Zayd Malik Shakur, was killed and Assata Shakur, was wounded and captured. One state trooper, Werner Foerster, was killed and the other wounded. Sundiata was captured days later.

He was convicted of the death of the state trooper and was sentenced to Trenton State Prison (TSP) for life plus 30 years consecutive.[7]


Upon entering Trenton State Prison he was subsequently confined to a new and specially created Management Control Unit (MCU) created for him and other politically associated prisoners. He remained in MCU almost five years.[4]

In September 1979, Sundiata was transferred to Marion, Illinois, federal prison despite having no federal charges or sentences. In July 1987 he was transferred to the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. In the fall of 1992, Sundiata was denied parole.[4] He was up for parole again in 2012.[8] On September 29, 2014, a New Jersey state appeals court officially granted Acoli's request for parole,[9] though the state of New Jersey will appeal this ruling.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Who is Sundiata Acoli?"
  2. ^ Johnston, Richard J. H. (March 16, 1974). "Squire Sentenced to Life For Killing State Trooper". The New York Times. Retrieved January 21, 2010. 
  3. ^ Safiya Bukhari, The War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison & Fighting for Those Left Behind, Feminist Press at CUNY, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e Joy James, Imprisoned Intellectuals: America's Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, September 1, 2004.
  5. ^ Akinyele Omowale Umoja, We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement, New York University Press, 2013, p. 108.
  6. ^ Ron Christenson (ed.), Political Trials in History: From Antiquity to the Present, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1991, p. 351.
  7. ^ Matt Meyer (ed.), Foreword by Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners, PM Press, September 1, 2008, p. 67.
  8. ^ "Sundiata Acoli, political prisoner for 39 years, wins appeal and is up for parole again", Prison Radio (April 29, 2012).
  9. ^ a b "Sundiata Acoli, Man Who Murdered State Trooper, To Be Released On Parole", Huffington Post, September 29, 2014.

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