Historic I tend to give my flowers to those that came before me and sacrificed their lives their flowers while their alive and through example of dedication to this struggle from myself as well! much love Baba Watani Free The Land – Haki Kweli Shakur

Activist’s Bid for Freedom Blocked : Refuses to Cooperate With Probe of N.Y. Brink’s Holdup

August 12, 1987|KIM MURPHY | L.A. Times Staff Writer

Watani Tyehimba, a black activist who has been imprisoned for nearly a year for refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury, lost a bid for freedom in Los Angeles Tuesday.

The case involving Tyehimba stems from the holdup of a Brink’s armored car in New York that left two police officers and a security guard dead.

Judge’s Determination

U.S. District Judge William D. Keller ordered Tyehimba, who is under investigation for harboring the alleged mastermind of the 1981 robbery, held on civil contempt charges for as long as four more months–or until he agrees to provide handwriting samples requested by a Los Angeles federal grand jury which is probing local connections to the bloody East Coast holdup.

“The order is a most important order of the court, and I intend to have it followed,” Keller declared at the conclusion of a two-hour hearing as dozens of Tyehimba’s supporters looked on.

Tyehimba is a longtime activist in the New Afrikan People’s Organization and the New Afrikan Independence Movement, both of which advocate an independent state for blacks within the United States.

The 36-year-old former United Parcel Service mechanic and father of three was jailed Aug. 21, 1986, after he refused to provide a photograph of himself, fingerprints and samples of his handwriting to the grand jury.

Federal prosecutors say Tyehimba is believed to have assisted in harboring two alleged participants in the October, 1981, holdup, including the reputed mastermind, Mutulu Shakur, and an associate, Cheri Dalton.

Shakur has been identified by the FBI as the kingpin of the Black Liberation Army, which claimed responsibility for the holdup, and has been charged with a series of other Brink’s holdups between 1978 and 1982.

Arrested in Los Angeles on Feb. 11, 1986, Shakur is awaiting trial on federal conspiracy, racketeering, murder and armed robbery charges in connection with the holdup. Dalton, who with Shakur was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, is still at large.

It was only through the “above ground” assistance of people like Tyehimba that Shakur was able to avoid apprehension for as long as he did and that Dalton was able to remain at large, Assistant U.S. Atty. J. Stephen Czuleger argued in court papers.

Tyehimba claims he has been incarcerated “for taking a principled stand of non-collaboration” with the grand jury.

‘Will Not Collaborate’

“I will not betray the memories of all those who have struggled before me, and I will not endanger those who struggle now. I will not collaborate with the grand jury,” he said in a sworn declaration filed with the court.

Indeed, in Tuesday’s hearing, Tyehimba avowed that, although he has lost his job and his wife has been forced to take two jobs since his incarceration, his year at Terminal Island Federal Prison “has actually made me more resolved . . . . The only thing it made me do is reflect on the things our people have gone through.”

U.S. District Judge James M. Ideman’s original order imprisoning Tyehimba last year prompted a violent demonstration in the courtroom that resulted in four arrests, an incident that supporters blamed on over-aggressive federal marshals, but which Czuleger described as “a riot.”

Keller opened Tuesday’s hearing by sternly ordering one recalcitrant member of the audience to stand as he entered the courtroom, and he threatened at one point to jail both observers and attorneys should events get out of hand.

But in a largely uneventful hearing, Tyehimba’s attorneys, Dennis Cunningham and Chokwe Lumumba, argued that recent appellate court decisions require that Tyehimba be freed, unless there is evidence that continued incarceration would coerce him to provide what the grand jury is seeking.

“What we’ve done is gone beyond the point of coercion and into the point of punitive incarceration,” Lumumba argued.

Czuleger disagreed. “If we wanted to punish the defendant, we could indict him,” he said. “I want the evidence. The government and the grand jury want the evidence.”

Under federal law, persons deemed in contempt of grand juries can be imprisoned for as long as 18 months, or until the end of the grand jury’s term. Under the law, and by Keller’s order Tuesday, Tyehimba could be held until December.

Watani Tyehimba on Geronimo JiJaga



Watani Tyehimba, Tupac Shakur (2pac) preceptor and activist teacher is a (CPP), Board Certified in Security Management, and (CCDI), Board Certified Criminal Defense Investigator has been in the protective services field since 1972.  Socially, Tyehimba was also a member of the Black Panther Party Movement during the 1970’s and the 1980’s. Mister Tyehimba  has performed duties as a legal investigator and paralegal for law firms in California, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, and New York since 1979. For five of those years he worked as an apprentice private investigator in Los Angeles, California in order to qualify for his own private investigator’s license. Tyehimba Services, Inc., specializing in Criminal Defense Investigations and Protective Services was established in Georgia in 1997. For three years, Mr. Tyehimba provided film and music management services for « High Profile » artist Tupac Shakur. This provided him an invaluable insight into the entertainment industry on all levels.

Mr. Tyehimba has been qualified and testified as an expert witness in forensic firearms evidence and the reconstructive aspects of crime scenes and shooting incidents for the Superior Courts of Georgia & Mississippi, and is licensed by the Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies as a classroom and firearms instructor; is an Advisory Member for the Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council and a faculty member for the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, the Georgia Capital Defenders and the National legal Aid & Defender Association.

In 1998 and 2006, he served as a subject matter expert (SME) to review and revise both the Private Detective and Security Agency licensure examination for Georgia. In 1999 he served on the Board of the Georgia Association of Professional Private Investigators. From 1998 to 2012 he was an adjunct instructor for DeKalb Technical College, teaching the Private Investigation and Security Officer courses. He is also certified by the NRA as a Pistol, Home Firearms Safety and Personal Protection Instructor. Master Tyehimba co-created a martial arts system entitled Kupigana Ngumi-The New Afrikan Combat System, which is an eclectic system that can be utilized by security and law enforcement personnel, as well as individuals seeking basic skills in personal protection. Mr. Tyehimba is available for seminars, workshops and panel presentations; as well as speaking engagements. More info:


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