— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Veda Ajamu, 46, a mother of three, has led a vigorous campaign for the release of her brother, Robert Shipp, who was sentenced to life in prison at age 20 for crack. Her change.org petition has earned more than 140,000 signatures of support. Veda explains what keeps the fire going.
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I live in Memphis, Tenn., where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Each day, I am reminded of his boldness and outspokenness about various inequalities.
Why do I fight for my brother, Robert Shipp?
I FIGHT for my brother because he does not deserve to die in prison for 5 months involvement in a nonviolent drug conspiracy at 20 years old.
I FIGHT for my brother because the life sentence without the possibility of parole imposed upon him is cruel and excessive. (He has served almost 21 years.)
I FIGHT for my brother because his sentence was more than the individuals who supplied the cocaine, and in some cases rapists, pedophiles, and murderers. Our eldest brother’s killer was sentenced to 20 years, but only served 10 years.
I FIGHT for my brother because our family needs him, especially his daughter and grandchildren. (Robert’s daughter was only two years old when he went to prison.)
I FIGHT for my brother because I promised our father on his death bed that I will continue fighting for Robert’s freedom.
Robert has much to offer society. He is compassionate, intelligent, and always eager to learn. It is dreadfully inhumane to rob him of a second chance at life.
I cannot and will not be silent about the injustice that is slowly but surely sucking the life out of my brother each and every day.
— Veda Ajamu
Robert Shipp, 42, a Chicago native, is ranked No. 12 on The Clemency Report’s Top 25 List of prisoners deserving freedom.