[News] NAACP supports Mumia

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 20 17:16:44 EDT 2004

Submitted by: Sis. Fatirah
(Actual text of Resolution follows this article)
Monday, 19 July 2004

NAACP Approves Resolution Supporting Abu-Jamal
Written by Linn Washington, Jr.

Monday, 19 July 2004

Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Linn Washington Jr.

Philadelphia, Pa - Hours after Democratic presidential
candidate John Kerry addressed the NAACP’s 2004 annual
convention in Philadelphia, the nation’s largest civil rights
organization approved a resolution calling for a new trial
for internationally known death row journalist Mumia Abu-

Passage of the emergency resolution reaffirming the NAACP’s
previous opposition to the death penalty prompted a statement
of praise from Abu-Jamal, who grew up in a Philadelphia
public housing project located about a mile from the site of
the NAACP’s convention.

"I am humbled by and very grateful for the NAACP’s passage of
this resolution," Abu-Jamal said in a statement released
through his lawyer. Abu-Jamal is currently on Pennsylvania’s
death row located in a maximum-security prison on the
opposite end of the Keystone State.

"The NAACP has taken stands through the years on behalf of so
many people who have been victimized in society because of
their race," continued Abu-Jamal, who began his award-winning
career in journalism as a teen in Philadelphia. "I hope this
resolution will help many others in a similar situation to

Alarming facts about application of the death penalty in
Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania made passage of the anti-
death penalty resolution appropriate for a NAACP convention
held in the so-called City of Brotherly Love.

Philadelphia has the largest and highest concentration of
black defendants on death row of any major city in America.

Repeated studies have documented that blacks in Philadelphia
are more likely to face a death sentence than whites in the
city where appellate courts have repeatedly condemned police
for falsifying evidence and prosecutors for engaging in
misconduct including excluding blacks from capital case

Further, Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of ranking
third among jurisdictions in America with the highest
percentage of minorities on death row. Nearly 150 of Pa’s 232
death row inmates are black and the vast majority of that
black death-row population received their sentences in

The resolution, reaffirming anti-death penalty stances
approved during the 1975 and 2001 NAACP conventions, included
the NAACP’s first-ever convention approved support "of the
international movement for a new and fair trial for Mumia Abu-

The resolution also called on NAACP branches "throughout the
United States and the world to support the international call
for Mumia Abu-Jamal to be released from death row."

Abu-Jamal’s attorney, California based death penalty expert
Robert R. Bryan, said, "I think to have the support of the
oldest and largest civil rights organization in the US is of
enormous importance to this case. Along with my client, I am
very grateful to the NAACP for taking this stand."

While Abu-Jamal and Bryan extended praise to the NAACP for
passage of the resolution, interestingly, top NAACP national
officials began the Philadelphia convention seemingly intent
on sidestepping the Abu-Jamal injustice issue.

NAACP officials had cancelled a planned anti-death penalty
panel at the convention where some members and outside
activists intended to raise the Abu-Jamal issue.

NAACP board chairman Julian Bond and NAACP CEO Kweisi Mfume
found themselves on the receiving end of criticism for this
side-stepping stance from critics’ inside and outside of
their organization.

In 2003, powers-that-be within the national NAACP used
parliamentary procedures during the national convention to
bottle-up a resolution calling on the organization to "work
with the legal defense team of" Abu-Jamal and strongly urge
local NAACP branches "to participate in activities to secure
[Abu-Jamal’s] release."

This parliamentary put-down upset many NAACP members
supportive of a fair trial for Abu-Jamal, including the
resolution’s sponsor Sundiata Sadiq, past president of the
Ossining, NY NAACP branch.

This year when the chains of convention rules appeared to
roadblock introduction of the resolution for a second
straight year, Sadiq fired off a June 4th letter to Mfume
complaining about the resolution being "derailed on
grounds" urging the NAACP "finally to show what side it’s on
in the city where the sick joke of justice has taken place."

California NAACP member Mel Mason, during an interview early
in the convention, said that since the Abu-Jamal
case "encapsulates all the flaws in the justice system that
the NAACP opposes" failure to approve the Ossining resolution
would sabotage the organization’s civil rights and human
rights standing.

The adopted resolution condemned death penalty practices
like "police and prosecutorial misconduct
inadequate defense
and fabricated testimony
" ­ all elements in
the Abu-Jamal case.

A 2001 Amnesty International report on the Abu-Jamal case,
concluding that he was denied a fair trial, analyzed and
condemned layers of official misconduct from arresting
officers through excluding black jurors to actions by state
appellate court judges.

This year’s seeming road blocking of the Ossining resolution
sparked a critical letter to Bond from the son of W.E.B.
DuBois, the legendary Black leader and NAACP founding member.

University of Massachusetts Professor David Graham DuBois
reminded Bond in a July 7 letter: "it is incumbent upon the
organization to take this opportunity to mobilize Americans,
and especially black Americans, to speak out against this
pending injustice
the possibility of [Abu-Jamal’s] execution

In the face of worldwide criticism, Bond and Mfume lent their
personal support to a revised resolution "Reaffirming"
opposition to the death penalty that included language on Abu-
Jamal’s case. The convention approved the resolution with
just one dissenting vote.

This revision of the Ossining resolution was brokered through a
series of intense discussions spearheaded by leading Abu-
Jamal activist Pam Africa, with the assistance of NAACP
members like Sadiq and Mason, plus last minute intervention by
Mayor Street, who is a NAACP member.

Pam Africa and others had picketed the NAACP at the beginning
of the convention, blasting cancellation of the death penalty
panel. Africa and others had discussed attempting to crash
the closing session holding a white flag if NAACP officials
continued to sidestep action on the Abu-Jamal case.

"We cannot allow them to come into Philadelphia and ignore
both the death penalty and Mumia
this is unacceptable," Pam
Africa told a reporter before the convention’s opening day.

Investigative journalist Dave Lindorff recently wrote that
only "Pam Africa’s tactical skill at holding NAACP leaders’
feet to the fire by threatening them with an embarrassing
incident" on the day of Kerry’s visit "managed to win the day
and get the resolution to the floor."

Lindorff is the Philadelphia-area author of "Killing Time: An
Investigation Into The Death Row Case Of Mumia Abu-Jamal" ­
the most comprehensive and non-partisan book published to
date about this controversial case.

Abu-Jamal attorney Bryan, a few days before passage of the
resolution, filed legal papers with the Third Circuit federal
appeals court seeking delay of that court’s review of Abu-
Jamal’s case until renewed state appeals are complete.

One of the state appeal issues is damning evidence that the
judge presiding at Abu-Jamal’s 1982 death penalty trial ­ the
late Albert Sabo ­ exhibited bias at the beginning of the
trial when he was overheard saying he was going to help
prosecutors "
fry the nigger."

Attorney Sam Jordan, former director of Amnesty
International’s US Death Penalty project, says Sabo’s
statement alone is grounds for a new trial ­ a stance thus
far rejected by Pa courts.

"Sabo was in fact assuming the role of the prosecutor instead
of that of an impartial judge inflicting irrevocable damage
upon Mumia’s legal right to present his defense before a
judge who would conduct the trial without bias," Jordan said
listing a number of convictions overturned due solely to
judicial bias.

Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, five years before the founding of the
NAACP in 1909, shepherded issuance of an anti-
racist "Declaration of Principles" that included the demand
for, "upright judges in courts [and] juries selected without
discrimination on account of color

(forwarded from jejonik)

Actual Text of NAACP Resolution for New Trial for Mumia and a
National Death Penalty Moratorium

(Adopted at NAACP National Convention, Philadelphia, PA, July 15,


WHEREAS, the NAACP adopted a resolution in 2001 re-affirming our
opposition to the death penalty due to its racially disparate
application; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP has re-affirmed its 1975 resolution opposing the
death penalty on the grounds that it constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States
Constitution; and

WHEREAS, many people, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, are incarcerated
on death row and face possible execution; and

WHEREAS, more than 320 people on death row have been exonerated;

WHEREAS, though African Americans make up only 12.4% of the U.S.
population, we make up 38% of all the Americans that were sentenced to
death and later freed after being found innocent; and

WHEREAS, African Americans make up 35% of those being found
innocent after being executed; and

WHEREAS, African Americans make up over 80% of those awaiting
execution on federal death row; and

WHEREAS, 145 people have been exonerated based upon DNA evidence;

WHEREAS, there is no possible way of restoring the life of an
innocent person killed by the death penalty; and

WHEREAS, the implementation of the death penalty raises concerns
regarding bias identification, police and prosecutorial misconduct,
judicial apathy in protecting the rights of the accused, faulty evidence,
inadequate defense representation, coerced confessions, and fabricated
testimony, and,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People reiterates its strong opposition to the
death penalty; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls on its units throughout
the United States and the world to support the international call for
Mumia Abu-Jamal to be released from death row; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP reiterate its support of the
international movement for a new and fair trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP renew its call for new nation
wide studies on racial discrimination, the adequacy of counsel, access to
modern research technology such as DNA analysis, the sentencing of
children and women to the death penalty and that the NAACP reiterate its
call for a national moratorium on all executions.

ss: Kweisi Mfume, President and CEO; Julian Bond, Chairman of the
Board of Directors

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