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Nation of Islam Activist Charged

January 12, 2001

PLAINFIELD, N.J. (AP) _ A Nation of Islam leader was being held without bail Friday after he was charged with murder in a 10-year-old case.

Mustapha Muhammad, who helped organize last year’s ``Million Family March,″ was arrested Wednesday by members of a cold case squad after attending a community meeting.

He faces murder, weapons and conspiracy charges in the Aug. 22, 1990, death of Reynaldo Lopez, who was found shot to death in Newark. Two others also suspected in the killing are in custody already. Newark Police spokesman Sgt. Amilkar Velez refused to say how police connected Muhammad to the killing.

The county public defender’s office, which is representing Muhammad, said no one would be able to discuss the case until next week.

Muhammad, 44, often spoke openly of his troubled past, including a prison term for armed robbery in the 1970s when he was known as Wallace Lane.

``He uses that; he does not deny that,″ his wife, Janetta Muhammad, told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday editions.

Muhammad often talked to children about drugs and crime, and used his own past as an example of what not to do, the chief said.

``He was quite up front with them about the mistakes he made and tried to steer them away from making the same kinds of mistakes themselves,″ said Plainfield police chief, Edward Santiago. ``He was very involved in community events and activities.″

Muhammad helped organize last October’s ``Million Family March,″ a gathering at the National Mall called for by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to celebrate racial and religious unity and the central role of the family in American life.

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