Free Al-Fatah!

Steve: Hi this is Steve. Today I am bringing you the words of Al-Fatah Stewart, an incarcerated person fighting for his life. He is living in an ongoing humanitarian crisis on Rikers Island. He is currently fighting for his freedom. He is fighting for his life. He is fighting against the district attorney, against the court judge, against even his own hired attorney.

We encourage you to reach out to him. His address will be in the show notes. You can also reach out to us and we can put you in touch with his supporters. Our email address will be in the show notes as well. 

After Al Fatah speaks and details the humanitarian crisis happening on Rikers and his constant quest for freedom, we hear the song “So Let It Be Done,” a song by an outside comrade called Adam about the revolutionary abolitionist John Brown. We also hear from Adam a bit about their song and why they wrote it. 

Here is Al Fatah. Prisons Kill. 

Al Fatah Stewart: Hi. My name is Al Fatah Stewart. I’ve been incarcerated on Rikers Island for 32 months for the alleged crime of robbery and burglary of two well-known drug dealers for a cellular phone and a pack of cigarettes. I’m actually factually innocent. In this case, the 911 call, these people said the person that came in their house had a ski mask or bike mask on. Six days later in the precinct, they allegedly pick[ed] me out, saying that they 100% sure it’s me, which proves complete police misconduct. I’m in here for 32 months for this garbage, it’s past the speedy trial deadline, CPO 30.30, it violates Colleen’s Law and the coronavirus doesn’t even count, it’s a case called United States v. Henning that states that even during a terrorist attack or civil unrest, nothing circumvents the United States constitution and yet, I’m still here and I’m on Rikers Island where there’s gang riots, no one locks in, people [are] sleeping in the hallways, there’s water bugs, gnat-infested, urine and feces on the walls, it’s over 15 alarms per day, five ambulance runs, over ten slashings, and seven stabbings every single day and I’m in here during the third wave of the pandemic. 

People are sick, throwing up blood, getting no medical, I haven’t had any outside recreation in over a year, we don’t get bandaids even for a stab wound, even ibuprofen for a seizure and this whole case stems around garbage where even my alleged co-defendant, a man named Jose Sera, stated that he went there with another man, names the other man, and that it was really an alleged drug deal where he gave them fake counterfeit money for drugs and these people couldn’t go to their alleged connect with the real information because I guess they wouldn’t deal with them no more, so they called the police and said it was a robbery and my co-defendant and said to the DA that it wasn’t mean and I didn’t have anything to do with it and then when he got locked up he made a video in the precinct and a video to the district attorney’s office and when he came to Rikers Island he sent me a sworn notarized affidavit and I’ve sent this whole packet of information to Senator Jamaal Bailey, Senator Zellnor Myrie, Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, every council member and assembly member in New York State and I’m still here with no assistance and no help and I’m suffering. 

My mother right now is in the hospital, but she just checked herself out because she wanted to be home for Thanksgiving, which is wrong. She’s starving from malnutrition ‘cause she has no one to take care of her and be there for her and I was the only one there. All of my siblings are dead or in another state. My older brother was murdered, my little brother is in a wheelchair with one leg, the rest of my family’s not even in New York State, so I’m here all alone and I need help and attention to this situation because it’s wrong and I’m innocent. 

If anyone out there can help me, please let me because the attorney that I have now named Jeffrey Chambrowe is selling me out every which way. He has not filed one motion. I have filed every single motion in this case on my own. I have placed every objection of this case on my own. The court said he was hired for me as an 18b [a public defendant] and this is after I gave this man $10,000 so he committed fraud and robbery and I brought this to the court’s attention and they still did nothing. He doesn’t object to anything, he sells me out asking frivolous questions, and then one of my union reps questioned him and he caught a temper tantrum which was very unprofessional. 

I’m in bad hands in a bad way in New York County Court, where they are railroading Black people in a time where Black lives are supposed to matter. We’re supposed to have a new district attorney in New York County, I think his name is Alvin Bragg. I hope he steps up and does something because what’s going on is a travesty of justice. I’m in here way past the speedy trial deadline. They didn’t give me any discovery. They said that they have a video of me and my alleged co-defendant entering and exiting these people’s apartment and in 32 months, they’ve not produced it. I’ve filed a motion for that and the judge didn’t even acknowledge the motion and according to a new discovery law, they’re supposed to dismiss it when they don’t turn it [the evidence] over. 

Twelve officers responded to this case with body cameras and the DA only turnt over only one body camera, so that’s another discovery violation. I brought that up to the judge and he didn’t even acknowledge that. All I ask for is help and justice. Somebody open their eyes and put a spotlight on this. 

One of my dear friends was in court the other day, taking notes for me and the bailiff came and chased him out of the courtroom and threatened him. They don’t even want people in the courtroom taking notes. 

Okay now, getting back to the Rikers Island situation, Rikers Island is completely understaffed with every officer here is working triples and four shifts. There’s absolutely no one to protect us here. Since I’ve been on Rikers Island, I’ve personally been stabbed, I’ve been cut, I’ve had my jaw broken by ESU officers and then it was refractured on August 9th, 2021 in Beacon Correctional Facility. 

They’re abusing us. We don’t have no sanitizers to protect us from covid, people are sick in here and dying. The medical staff is a joke here and it’s so chaotic. If people were to come in here with cameras, they would see people have mattresses in the day room, no one even locks in, there’s no security, people are running in other housing areas, stabbing other inmates. There is no response team to even respond to the violence and I’m stuck in here in fear for my life for a crime that I did not commit and in this crime, I’m facing over 20 years minimum and this is for alleged robbery of a cell phone and a pack of cigarettes from two well-known drug dealers. 

32 months. 32 months I’ve been sitting up in here. 

Steve: Damn. 

Al-Fatah: This is just like the Khalief Browder case. 32 months. Somebody gotta step up and help us, like how can we even move forward with trial when you violated every law there is already. We didn’t get nothing for discovery. It’s past the speedy trial deadline. So what are they going to do? Force me to trial and railroad me? 

This is what they’re doing to us. They’re giving us jurors who are not from where we’re from or understand our struggle and these district attorneys are master manipulators, they practice how to twist our words and make us something that we’re not and they threaten people to come in and lie on us in court and it’s wrong. 

People should stand up and tell the truth. You don’t have to press charges for something that didn’t happen. You shouldn’t let pressure you to take someone else down and put someone behind these walls for the rest of their lives. This is not a good thing. 

This is what they’re doing and they [district attorneys] consider this as business and they go home everyday. 

Steve: And they don’t see who this is affecting and what communities this is affecting and this isn’t just you, what were you saying? 

Al-Fatah: They don’t see us as human beings. I’m a man that’s completely changed my life. I have two doctor degrees. I’m an ordained minister. I was working in a barbershop, I was working in Fast Lane Trucking, and I was enrolled in Ness Truck Driving Academy. I had completely changed my life. And still, I don’t have a robbery or a burglary on my record at all. 

I’m still here, I wrote everybody and nothing happened. I filed grievances to the grievance committee about Judge Curtis Farber and the attorney Jeffrey Chambrowe and I sent them the evidence of the judicial misconduct, the bias, and this man [Jeffrey Chambrowe] this attorney doesn’t come see me, doesn’t answer my letters, he doesn’t answer his phone anymore, and last court date on November 22nd, he blatantly blurted out, “Oh that’s you, you did it,” in front of the whole courtroom, in front of judge and everything. What kind of lawyer does that? 

Steve: That’s so messed up. That’s so fucked up. 

Al-Fatah: Yeah, he blurted out to the judge, “Oh yeah that’s you, that’s so incriminating, it’s so damaging, you’re guilty,” and this is a paid attorney. 

Steve: And Al-Fatah, just a couple things, at points you’ve tried to get rid of Jeffrey Chambrowe too? 

Al-Fatah: I tried to get rid of him but Judge Curtis Farber told me that if I fired him, he would not assign me a new attorney and if I hire a new attorney, he would not give that attorney enough time to catch up with the case and he stated this in court on record on February 4th, 2021. That’s judicial misconduct. 

Steve: That’s hellacious and I was talking to one of your other supporters and they were talking about how Chambrowe’s listed as a court-appointed attorney and I don’t know if you mentioned that earlier, but I find that—

Al-Fatah: I have him listed as an 18b, but I hired him as private counsel, so he’s getting checks from me and checks from the court which is illegal and I filed this with the grievance committee and I’m still waiting for a response. Like how is he doing this? How could he take my money as he was already assigned as an aide to the attorney? He should be disbarred. That should have a major effect on the case, but nothing happened. I’m still here. 

Not to alarm but people getting stabbed in the hallway. I’m listening to you, but I just had to let you know right now. I wrote Laticia James, the attorney general, and see if she’ll do something. I wrote the Chief Judge of the Southern District Court. I wrote the Deputy Administrative Judge of New York County. I wrote the Administrative Judge of New York County. I wrote the Supervisory Judge of New York County and nothing is being done yet. Just based on the speedy trial violation, I shouldn’t even be here. 32 months. The judge said on record and said all of those things was on me, not on the prosecution.

My first attorney, Randall, yeah she waived my right to testify in the grand jury, so I fired her. The second attorney, his name was James Phillips, he tried to convince me to plead guilty and cop out to 20 years, so I fired him. The next attorney, David Liedman, he never came to court, he never answered phone calls, he never came to see me, I didn’t even know I had him until the judge told me that, “Your lawyer’s not here right now,” so I fired him and hired Jeffrey Chambrowe. Chambrowe said that he was an ex-district attorney, five star attorney, and he could beat the case with flying colors because I have a picture of me in a whole nother state when the crime happens. I have six alibi witnesses, but now, I talked to all of my alibi witnesses, he hasn’t sent one of his private investigators to speak to any of my alibi witnesses, which is a failure to investigate. He didn’t even send a private investigator and see these alleged victims and see what they have to say. They’re drug dealers. I can’t see them coming to court to lie about a cell phone and a pack of cigarettes. I believe police made these up because in the one body camera we got, these people are smoking cigarettes, using their phones to pick my co-defendant on Facebook. So what phone and pack of cigarettes did they get robbed of? 

Al-Fatah Suppporter: And they didn’t let police in one of the rooms, talking about how there’s dogs in the room. 

Al-Fatah: And they have two pit bulls in the house. Who you know that gets robbed when they got two pit bulls, two full-grown pitbulls? 

Steve: (laughing) They were just the calmest pit bulls ever. 

Al-Fatah: First thing you’ll say is “Get ‘em” and robbery’s over. 

Steve: Yeah, “Sic ‘em.” 

Al-Fatah: This is crazy. They’re saying that I drove down from Massachusetts in a bright white car and a suit and tie, went to a drug program, got a certificate, took pictures, changed to a sweatsuit and a ski mask, went and got a well-known crackhead to Manhattan, went to these people’s house and said, “Give me a cell phone and a pack of cigarettes,” changed back to a suit and tie, drove back to Massachusetts, and took pictures. That’s their theory of the whole case and they’re sticking with that. 

Steve: That makes absolutely no sense. 

Al-Fatah: They said that my phone pinged in Manhattan at 1:20 and in Massachusetts at 3:50 PM so they are saying that I made it from Manhattan to Massachusetts in 2 hour and 30 minutes flat and we’re talking about Ludlow, Massachusetts. It’s impossible and this is on a Friday, March 1st, in a blizzard, 2019 in a Mitsubishi Galant. You tell me how is that possible. 

Steve: It’s not. This is hellacious. 

Al Fatah: They went to one of my witnesses homes, a woman I was dealing with, I’m not going to mention her name, but they raided her house, four months after I was incarcerated just destroyed her house, sexually harassed her, dragged her out, cuffed her and everything, saying that my alleged co-defendant’s phone was pinging in her home in Ludlow, Massachusetts and they didn’t find him or his phone and this is a house that I’ve never ever been to, I’ve never been to her home in Ludlow, Massachusetts and they know that because she moved there four months after I got arrested. 

And then, eight months later I’m incarcerated, they went back to this woman’s house in Ludlow, a district attorney investigator named Amanda Border and showed her pictures of me and another female, saying “Look, look, look, this is the guy you’re with,” and she said, “Listen, I’ve seen that picture [of them] together. I’ve seen that picture. We’re not a couple, I’m just testifying that he was up here at the time of the crime and y’all lying,” and when that didn’t work, they threatened her, saying, “If you come to court, woman, we’re going to arrest you for perjury,” and threatened her and her son, who has nothing to do with it.

I told the judge about witness tampering and he didn’t respond to that because they threatened all of my alibi witnesses. Because of this case, one of my witnesses, she moved to Boston. Another one of my witnesses lawyered up and moved to Queens. My sister, my flesh and blood, she lawyered up and moved to Augusta, Georgia because the police threatened her, the district attorney threatened her. These people went to my mother’s house, an elderly, sickly woman suffering from pancreatic cancer and they threatened her and they forged letters to NYCHA, New York [City] Housing Authority, stating that, “Your son has been convicted of a robbery on housing grounds, so you’ll be evicted,” so I wrote Assemblywoman Karines Reyes and she looked into it and she shut that down and I’m not even on her lease, so they couldn’t kick her out but this is the tactics trying to force people not to testify for me. 

The good Reverend Concepcion from the drug program that I was in, who I went to every Friday and graduated from, they even went and threatened him and this is a reverend and he said he don’t care, “God got my back, I’m not scared of you people, and I’m going to be in court,” because I have a past and my past is not pretty. I mean, I was 15 years old, when a man tried to cut my mother, he beat her into a coma. I came home from school, me and him struggled for his gun, it went off and we both got shot, he died, I lived. I did my time for that and came home.

When I came home, they said that I killed somebody else, I was ignorant of the law, I was 23, I had no money for an attorney, and it was a slam dunk because I already had a record and they had two crackheads and one gang member say [that] I told ‘em I did it. I blew trial and did 21 years. So I spent almost my whole life in jail for injustice and if people google [me], they’ll see my story and I’m still fighting these cases. I should have been a hero for what I did over my mother and that was not even intentional. This other guy I don’t even know and it turns out we have paperwork and a bus ticket that proves that I wasn’t even in the state when this man died and they have DNA off the crime scene from someone else and they found a gun registered to somebody else that killed this man in North Carolina and I still did the whole 21 years. 

So they don’t care. Once you have a record, they don’t care. They say, “Get it on appeal.” Almost everything that we do pro se is knocked down, these judges they just push paperwork. It’s a sad state. 

I’m not the only one going through it, I’m just the only one speaking up right now. 

You have one minute left. 

Other people they’re not articulate enough or don’t have the resources or the people to help and put this out there so we can get help. I need help now. Right now, if Black lives matter, you’ve got to show me, man because they’re trying to end me. If I don’t beat this case, I will never see daylight again. I will never see my woman outside these prison walls, I will never see my children outside these prison walls, I will never smell free air again and remember this is over a cell phone and a pack of cigarettes [whose robbery] never happened and [they] never existed. 

With that, I love y’all, I’m going to call y’all tomorrow. 

Outro: That was Al-Fatah Stewart. This is Steve. 

We strongly encourage you to connect with Al-Fatah, who has been voraciously trying to free himself for the last 32 months. His supporters are raising funds to acquire effective and adequate legal counsel for him. If you are in a position to donate, we encourage you to do so. The information will be included in the show notes. 

This episode of the PrisonsKill Podcast was produced and recorded on occupied Anishinaabe and Lenape land. Music for this episode was created by our comrade Jacob Cohen. As we wrap up this episode, here is Adam talking a bit about his song “So Let It Be Done,” which you will hear as well. The song is about revolutionary abolitionist John Brown. December 2nd 2021 marked 162 years since his courageous attempt to end slavery on Turtle Island. 

Prisons Kill.

Adam: I have two kids, a five and a six year old and they’re pretty integrated into the work that I do organizing and we talk to them about everything we do. So they know a lot about John Brown, certainly more than I did as a five or six year old. We actually went on a trip this summer and we stopped in Osawatomie, Kansas, where he and his people defended a town against slavers crossing over from Missouri to take over that town. And then we stopped in Harper’s Ferry on the way up to New England to see our families. And then we stopped at his farm actually where he’s buried and some of the other raiders are buried up in upstate New York. We’re trying to, my partner and I, feed our kids as much as we can to try and innoculate against some of the things that will be pushed in school. It was the anniversary of Harper’s Ferry and I remembered that date and said, “Oh shit, I should write a song.”  

“So Let It Be Done” by Adam

In the winter of ‘59, they hanged him in the square

A man with two convictions, but just one for which I care

They kept people from hearing the words that died upon his tongue

And in the shadow of his death, a battle that was never done.

So rest easy Osawatomie 

Rest easy in the wind

that carries your word forward

for the sabre laid upon on your skin

Yeah rest easy Osawatomie 

In the cold December sun

We hear the echo of your voice sayin

So let it be done!

Across the Potomac River, under the cover of the night 

He walked into Harper’s Ferry, to advance a righteous fight

He threw the door wide open, never to close again

And in the hands of the souls beside him was the courage of a thousand men

So rest easy Osawatomie 

Rest easy in the wind

That carries your word forward

for the sabre laid upon your skin

Rest easy Osawatomie 

In the cold December sun

We hear the echoes of your voice sayin

So let it be done!

They called him a fanatic, a madman and a fool

With 22 beside him, shouldered carbine, pike and tool

By the time General Lee came knocking, and tore through the engine door 

The evil heart of the USA was already shaken to its core

So rest easy Osawatomie 

Rest easy in the wind

That carries your word forward

for the sabre laid upon your skin

Rest easy Osawatomie 

In that warm December sun

We hear the echoes of your voice saying

So let it be done!

We hear the echoes of your voice saying

So let it be done!

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