Ismail Shabazz charged with felony gun possession

Ismail Shabazz speaks at a 2013 rally protesting the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. (Photo: Dan Barton)

Ismail Shabazz speaks at a 2013 rally protesting the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. (Photo: Dan Barton)

A well-known Midtown Kingston community activist is accused of recruiting gang members into a black radical group, selling illegal guns and advocating violence against police in a case with roots in the four-decades long hunt for an alleged cop-killer from an earlier era of American radicalism.

But friends and neighbors of Ismail Shabazz say they don’t believe the 60-year-old grandfather — despite the sometimes-inflammatory rhetoric posted on his Facebook page — is a violent revolutionary.


Shabazz, previously known as Gary Faulkner, was arrested on Henry Street around 11 a.m. on Friday by FBI agents and Kingston police. A short time later, officers and agents swarmed around his home at 80 Prospect St., where a tattered red, black and green flag associated with the Black Liberation movement of the 1960s and ’70s hung from the porch. Inside, framed photos of ’60s-era black militants adorned the entryway.

It was inside the modest two-story home where, Ulster County prosecutors allege, Shabazz sold six illegal firearms to undercover federal agents. According to the district attorney’s office, Shabazz sold weapons on five separate occasions between May 2014 and May of this year. The sales allegedly included a pair of assault rifles, two loaded handguns, an unloaded revolver and a sawed-off shotgun with a defaced serial number. Cops say FBI surveillance picked up Shabazz discussing training members of the New Black Panther Party to disarm police officers and how the firearms he sold could be used to kill cops.

The alleged gun sales stemmed from an investigation that was, Carnright said, related to the ongoing hunt for 1960s radical and alleged cop-killer Assata Shakur. Shakur, also known as JoAnne Chesimard, was a member of the original Black Panther Party in the early 1970s. In 1977 she was convicted of the May 1973 murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike. In November 1979, she escaped from prison, with help from members of a Black Panther Party offshoot. In 1984, she was granted asylum in Cuba, where she is believed to remain to this day. In 2013, she was added to the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list.

Shakur also became a cause célèbre in radical political circles. According to Carnright, Shabazz — who said he was a member of the original Black Panther Party as a teenager — was among her admirers. On his Facebook page Shabazz frequently referenced the fugitive and his support for the New Black Panther Party. In 2013, Shabazz attended a Harlem rally, organized by the NBPP, to support Shakur.

According to Carnright, it was apparently at this rally where Shabazz made contact with an undercover FBI operative. “They had feelers out in regard to [Shakur] and an FBI informant was introduced to him at a rally,” said Carnright. “Shabazz tried to recruit him into the New Black Panther Party and as a result the feds start an investigation, introductions are made and eventually you have the sale of the firearms.”

Carnright said that his office was involved in the case early on and worked in tandem with the FBI investigation. The probe was ongoing when, Carnright said, he discussed the possibility of bringing state-level weapons charges against Shabazz. Carnright said he was concerned that, given Shabazz’s volatile rhetoric and alleged efforts to recruit members of the Bloods street gang into the Black Panthers, authorities were running out of time.

Police leave Ismail Shabazz's house on Prospect Street Friday afternoon. (Photo: Dan Barton)

Police leave Ismail Shabazz’s house on Prospect Street Friday afternoon. (Photo: Dan Barton)

“You have this person making a lot of noise about overt acts of violence against police officers and selling guns to felons,” said Carnright. “It got to a point where I said [to federal authorities], ‘We’ve got do something — are you going to make the move or am I?’ And they said we should go ahead with a state prosecution.”

On Friday afternoon, Shabazz was being processed at KPD headquarters and awaiting arraignment in Kingston City Court. He’s been charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a Class C felony. Carnright said that Shabazz may also face federal firearms charges.

Shabazz defended

But back at 80 Prospect St., friends and neighbors remained skeptical of the charges. They recalled Shabazz as a relentless critic of local police and an advocate for Kingston youth in their encounters with cops on the street. Several speculated that Shabazz’s militant rhetoric on Facebook may have drawn the attention of authorities.

“He’s very family-oriented, he goes to work, comes home, takes care of his wife and grandkids,” said neighbor Dawn Johnson. “I’ve never heard of him wanting to cause a ruckus with nobody.”

Tony Johnson, who said he was Shabazz’s nephew, said that he suspected that his uncle’s frequent denunciations of Kingston police and accusations of brutality and corruption may have sparked the investigation. Johnson circled the block on a bike shouting “free Ismail” as he passed a knot of cops on the sidewalk outside of 80 Prospect.

“He’s an outstanding citizen,” said Johnson. “He never said to attack any police, he just told us how dirty they are.”

There are 45 comments

  1. ar

    It’s telling that what he is being charged with and what is in the press release do not match up. People are right to be suspicious of charges against a man who has been standing up to the mayor and to the police for a long time.

    1. Liz

      I find this Reallllly Suspect , not what really happened so i cant speak on subject . i will say something in positive about and This man is Guilty of Standing UP to officials that are Most definitely Corrupt anything other than that is Questionable and NEEDS to be handled Correctily so I pray our Community does come together on this Fir so many reasons

    2. Unopinionated

      By their actions, ALL criminals ‘stand up’ to the police by their criminal acts and disregard for the law and community. The Police have a tough job dealing with loud, yelling (why all the yelling, people?!?), evasive, gameplaying, lying citizens in the urban Black community. Out in the suburbs Middle-Class Blacks follow the law, are polite and are treated with respect by the Police.

      If you mean that you are suspicious of the charges based upon the glowing reports of him in the press the statements made by his own loud-mouthed nephew then pardon me but a family member quote is not exactly the gospel truth let alone a Press opinion or finding of fact.

      1. Steven Gottlieb

        How did the NJ state troopers (who were found guilty of racial profiling!) know which Black drivers were from the suburbs? Oh yeah, they did not! Ok, I am not Black but I am also not blind and see that cops treat all Blacks as criminals. I use to live in Brownsville where the cops did their stop and frisk for years and years. A certain percentage of the people in Brownsville carried guns. Do you know that the percentage of people who got stopped by the police was exactly the percentage of people who actually carried guns in the neighborhood. This meant that the police had no idea at all how to identify the gun carriers. Why is this? Because the police considered EVERYONE in Brownsville as criminals. Do you really think this is different in other neighborhoods?

    3. Lucy

      I never heard such baloney in all my life. If anyone accuses the DA of a set up, they are lying. He is a truly honest and wonderful person who is keeping law and order Iin Ulster County. He either had unregistered weapons and sold some or he didn’t. If he did that is breaking the law. I don’t care how ‘nice’ someone is he or or she breaks the law-oh well.

  2. Aa

    Van Allen comes out of hiding and now this man that been telling us all how dirty he is and how the cops are period is now arrested ?!?!?!they are trying to get him off the streets because he knows how dirty they are and this is and was only was they can stand to him

  3. MsKnox2U

    This sounds like a set up. Here is the quote:

    “You have this person making a lot of noise about overt acts of violence against police officers and selling guns to felons,” said Carnright. “It got to a point where I said [to federal authorities], ‘We’ve got do something — are you going to make the move or am I?’ And they said we should go ahead with a state prosecution.”

  4. MsKnox2U

    This sounds like a set up. Here is the quote:

    “You have this person making a lot of noise about overt acts of violence against police officers and selling guns to felons,” said Carnright. “It got to a point where I said [to federal authorities], ‘We’ve got do something — are you going to make the move or am I?’ And they said we should go ahead with a state prosecution.”
    Someone is out to quiet a brother down. I feel like I’m the Freedom Bus

    1. Unopinionated

      No, what this really amounts to is the local government kowtowing to Political Correctness, tolerance and looking the other way for far too long until it has gone beyond simple child’s play and passive-aggressiveness and into the realm of genuine and substantial deadly violence. Ismail Shabazz is not the friendly, harmful grandfather figure who would give cookies to all the kids in the neighborhood that you portray. This one more example of the Black community covering up for and making excuses for one of their own. Somehow, arresting someone selling illegal guns is ‘harassing Blacks’ and Driving While Black. No. It’s arresting while breaking the law.

          1. Lu

            He may be very nice to th children and his neighbors and his relatives, but you don’t have guns unlocked around a child. I can’t understand what he was thinking and why he would even get involved in BLACK panthers-a thing of the past.

  5. wagthedog

    Did anyone mention that Ishmael’s son was a victim of police violence on his own front porch and won a law suit against the Kingston officers that abused him? Or that Mr. Shabaz was a certified paralegal who faught tirelessly for citizens rights, encouraging his community to film local police, report abuse and stand up for their rights. As for the Bloods comment, that comes from a press release from the Feds. This is a well calculated campaign to vilianize a community activist who is shining a spotlight on local corruption which is rampant in the Kingston policeforce.

    1. Steven Gottlieb

      Your statement is right on target. The police/government does not want anyone to sine a light on them. And when someone does, they go down. As a community we need to fight this crap. As an old t-shirt of mine reads-Black and Whites Unite and Fight.

        1. Steven Gottlieb

          In case they do not know I think that you should tell the hudson valley ISO about this crap. Ismail was set up. This is not up for debate. Release all political prisoners now!

  6. Sharon Froehlich

    This is a clearly a move to bring down an outspoken activist, entrapment by authorities. The continued mention of the past Black Panther Party is a clear ruse to paint Ismail Shabazz as a wild gun toting,life-taking radical,a false image created by the government of the Black Panther Party. So he attended a rally for Shakur. That is not illegal. Why is it mentioned so often and how is it connected with what he was arrested for, selling guns(a bogus charge). The New Black Panther Party is not an illegal group, even so this sounds like a campaign to try him in the press for his views,
    which are not a crime. He is a tireless activist, working to help youth, with the wisdom of his own past experiences. Let’s be clear here: he was arrested on the same charges that he continually worked to diffuse. Fishy. #FreeIsmailShabazz

    1. unopinionated

      Sharon Walling Froehlich, you’ve been drinking the koolaid so long you are swimming in it. You’ve gotten so immersed that you can no longer see things impartially and without bias. Having empirical-based training is that much more shocking because you even discard evidence and trial and flippantly state that selling guns is a bogus charge. Why dont you wait for the trial and presentation of the evidence which includes audio and video? What are you afraid of? When proven will you then blame it on being a ‘setup’? Marion Barry also was set up but he also bought drugs and took kickbacks for realz. When does personal responsibility stop at the feet of the person doing the acts instead of blaming poverty, unfairness, ism, police questioning. Doing so just confuses, distracts and obfuscates. It is like trying to get people to play your Shell Game in the middle of an article with propagit, like Pravda.

      Remember this, Ms. Sharon Walling Froehlich, the New Black Panther party leadership under Marcus Zulu Shabazz said in a speech that they blame the Jews for 9/11, for running the Slave Trade and for killing Nat Turner. In other words, stop being the two-faced sniveling nebbish kid in school that thinks that covering for the bullies will buy them absolution and safety. When things get nasty on ‘The Animal Farm’liberal Jews will be the first ones the NBP, Napoleon and his groomed attack dog proteges will turn on, ‘Squealer’. Marx and Lenin may have invented Communism and you may be Shabazz’s wordsmith and manipulator extraordinaire but even Jews died as a result of Communism. Stop being a tool.

      1. Shaton

        Oh please. Empirical evidence has not been presented yet. All we have are allegations. I appreciate being thought of as Ismail’s wordsmith (I am not), but I do not care if the New Black Panther Party blames the Jews for 9/11, I don’t but that is completely irrelevant to me. I stopped drinking the kool aid 30 years ago.

        1. Unopinionated

          Oh, please! Exactly, no empirical evidence has been presented yet so stop being the judge and jury and stating as a fact that the charges are trumped to quiet someone down. Other people are saying that he was arrested because he stood up and was dangerous because he had definitive mud on the administration. Yeah, right.

          In any event, you are among those exonerating him before a trial has even occurred. People like you not caring if the BPP holds you responsible for 9/11 (or for slavery that occurred before you were born) are just like the Gentiles and Jews that looked the other way when Krystallnacht was underway…….and we know how that turned out. You say that the BPP has been twisted around and portrayed falsely. This is like Clinton twisting the definition of the word ‘is’ or Hillary blaming a YouTube video or the Supremes bunting with their judicial activism relying upon a very non-legal redefinition of ‘dignity’.
          If you want the unvarnished truth about the Black Panther Party then go google Malik Shabazz. Better yet, watch him down in Charleston just last week encouraging Blacks to finish Nat Turner’s mission to take over the country and kill all the whites and ‘slave masters’…….of which you are one….in their eyes.

          1. Sharon Froehlich

            You have stated your opinion. I have stated mine. This is a comments page. You are correct, neither one of us has seen the evidence. Let us wait for that.

    2. Steven Gottlieb

      Sharon, I am glad to hear that you are involved in this case. I met Ismail over a year ago and consider him my friend. He is good people and a place like Kingston needs more people like him and a whole lot less racist, stealing criminal cops. Not to mention lying prosecutors!
      Seriously, let me know (let everyone know!)when he as an upcoming hearing as I will be there.
      You friend and comrade,

      There is an entire generation of young people who know nothing about how viciously the fbi attacked the Black Panthers, and why.-Bobby Seale

      1. Lucy

        I lived when the Black Panthers were around. You cannot be civilized and have anarchy. I remember those insane weathermen too who should all be in jail right now. You know what I was doing? Joined the Red Cross and went to the military hospital to visit the poor, wounded soldiers coming back from Viet Nam. I was against the war, but that is what I did and never told those soldiers I was opposed to the war, because they couldn’t do anything about it. Your precious democrat Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy caused that war.

  7. Rsmiro

    Most of these comments are the some of the stupidest I’ve ever read anywhere. If he trafficked in guns illegally he is going down, plain and simple. There’s no way to spin that, sorry.

  8. Lucy Muller

    I am always with Mr. Carnright. He has the people of New York’s interest at heart and if he thought this guy was a bad dude, I believe him.

      1. Steven Gottlieb

        Do you live on earth? Can you see and hear? Obviously you have no brains at all. You really believe that your government is honest? Tell that to the death row 10 in Chicago. What about all the civil right leaders who were assassinated (Megar Evers, Martin Luther King, John Lennon,…)?
        Do you know how many former Black Panther Party members were framed for murder? Does any of the evidence show that Mumia (a former BBP) killed a cop? Maybe you think the gun that Mumia had was enough to convict him. You know, the gun he had that did not match the gun that came out of the dead cop (different sizes!) You really need to stop making these posts as it makes you look ignorant.

        1. Lucy

          I live in a world where people obey the laws. You cannot say,’ well I can just break this one or that a little.’ I do know some police are crooked, but not many and Holly Carnright is the best and would not take on a case without strong evidence. Why not wait and see what happens at the trial.

          1. Steven Gottlieb

            You say that you live in a world where people obey the laws. OK, fine. Then why are so many innocent people in jail?-remember according to your statement you live in a world where people obey the laws. The answer is because of corrupt judges, prosecutors and police.

          2. Lucy

            I do not think they are innocent. I have been to many a court case and I have yet to witness anyone who is innocent of the crime. The reasons for the act may be many and complicated, but almost always the person either says ‘Gulty’ or the jury finds he or she is guilty. I know also that many innocent people have been executed who were innocent, but that is mostly in the past. I respect your right to support your friend, but some geralizations on this page are painting all cops as corrupt. This is not so. I know this DA is not.
            Now, I do think addicted people need a better way than prison, but for that, we have to ask the legislators to change the law.

          3. Liz

            Given the Circumstances , Ismael Has Clearly been calling officials out on Corruption That is NO Secret ! Holly Carnwright being A Main one and Thats Evident its been on going , if The evidence is Strong enough to Charge him WHY would a highly intelligent extremely experienced Seasoned Team such as the FBI (Who Holly Clearly stated was investigating him ) Why didn’t they charge him ? according to Holly , it was Their investigation so I’m not sure Why They didn’t Charge and I’m REALLY not sure how Holly was able to , Given Isnael and his past confrontations on Subjects of Corruption etc In all Fairness friend or no friend Kind or Not this Whole thing is Questionable so as for the I know this one or I know that Moral of the story FACTS are Facts if you don’t have them then you really don’t know ! Support your friend or whoever but without facts it’s just an opinion and not everyone shares it

          4. Lucy

            What I read was that Carnright asked the FBI if they wanted to do the investigation or should he do it and they said for him to go ahead. Not them.
            I understand how upset everyone who likes Mr. Shabazz might be, but Mr. Carnright is NOT CORRUPT. He is a very decent person.
            How do you know Mr. Shabazz was not doing what is charged? Or do you think what he was charged with is ok? Some things are illegal.

          5. Sharon Froehlich

            Lucy how do you know that you’ve never seen an innocent person convicted? Cairnright is human, not god. Our law says innocent until proven guilty. That applies to everyone DA Cairnright indicts.

          6. Lucy

            I know because of the evidence and the judgement of judge or jury. I am sure Carnright has not won every case, but the ones he does win are very carefully ready when trial comes. You see if someone breaks the law, it is not his fault.

      2. Samo

        That’s very funny. People get arrested for nothing all of the time. People get set up all of the time. 73% of cops, under conditions of anonymity, admit to having set someone up, plenty of evidence, altered evidence, or perjured themselves. Some of them all of the above. What planet are you living

  9. Steven Gottlieb

    I have a friend, Lawrence Hayes, who was a BBP in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Lawrence and his brothers did the job that the police would not do. They stole the drugs from the street dealers and flushed it down the toilet. Who do I admire–Lawrence or the cops who did nothing? I will not waste my time responding to that question. So what did get Lawrence for cleaning up hid neighborood? It got him convicted of killing a cop. Fortunately they did away with the death penalty in NYS and Lawrence was released after about 25 years of being in prison. The day after he appeared in the local NYC newspaper for speaking out against the death penalty he was forced into violating parole and sent back to prison for another few years. It was the hard work of the International Socialist Organization along with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty that finally got Lawrence released. Lawrence is my role model. Just like Mumia and Ismail Shabazz.
    Free Ismail Now!!

  10. Lucy

    I want to say here that of course Mt. Shabazz is innocent until proven guilty, but I am upset, because Mr. Carnright is being accused without any knowledge of anything wrong; just people being angry when he does his job.

    1. Steven

      Mr. Carnright got to his position by winning cases. Not winning just and fair cases but just by winning cases at all expense. All prosecutors will do whatever it takes to advance in their position. They sicken me!

      1. Lucy

        You are making a very generalized and immature response. Of course they are not all making up things to win a case. Defense attorneys are more likely to make up lies or hide something. What would we do without our districts attorney? The society would be so much more dangerous. I am partial to DAs, I Admit.

  11. Biscuit

    It’s the truth. Carnright does it, that other creep we had forever, Cavanaugh did it. Turn right works with Van Allen, who uses so-called special informants, paid informers, people who are allowed to prostitute people, people who are allowed to run drugs, people who allegedly then Alan does drugs with…Carnright is filthy just by association with him.

    1. Lucy

      I know these District Attorney’s and you are so wrong. All of them, Kavanaugh, Williams and Carnright are exceptionally fine men and the rest of us should work so hard to get justice for victims and keep the law abiding safe.

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