[Ppnews] Reports on Mumia Solidarity
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 12 10:41:51 EST 2008
U.S. activists in solidarity with political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal
Published Dec 11, 2008
Dec. 6 was declared an International Day of
Solidarity with death row political prisoner,
Mumia Abu-Jamal. Events were held in France,
Switzerland, Germany, England and Mexico, while
in the U.S. events were organized in Detroit, San
Francisco, Baltimore, Portland, San Diego and
other cities. Mumias lawyers are currently
appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court for a new
guilt-phase trial, while the Philadelphia
district attorney is appealing to the same court
in an effort to execute Mumia without a new
sentencing-phase jury trial. The following are
summaries of some of the U.S. events.
Hundreds of spirited and determined demonstrators
straddled both sides of a circular drive around
Philadelphias City Hall across from District
Attorney Lynn Abrahams office on Dec. 6 to
confront her attempt to fast track the execution
of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abraham, known as the
deadliest DA in the U.S., has called on the U.S.
Supreme Court to reinstate Abu-Jamals death
sentence, despite mounds of evidence of his
innocence. The largely youthful crowd filled the
frigid December air with chants of No Justice,
No Peace! Until Mumia Abu-Jamals Released!
The rally opened with a phoned-in solidarity
greeting live from Venezuelan campesino leader
Braulio Álvarez, a member of the National
Assembly representing the Yaracuy states.
Álvarez called from a protest outside the U.S.
Embassy in Caracas where Venezuelans gathered to
present a letter to the U.S. ambassador calling
for the state in Pennsylvania to immediately liberate Abu-Jamal.
Pam Africa of the MOVE organization and
International Concerned Family and Friends of
Mumia Abu-Jamal challenged the assertion by
District Attorney Abraham that there was no
evidence that Abu-Jamal was innocent or denied a
fair trial. Africa called on Captain William
Fisher, head of Philadelphias Police Department
of Civil Affairs, to come forward, and she
proceeded to pile his arms with mounds of books,
files, CDs and photos containing evidence that
has been gathered over the years to take to Abraham.
Noting that in 1981 and again in 1985 both the
police and district attorney were given copies of
photos taken by independent photojournalist Pedro
Polakoff that contradicted prosecution witnesses
accounts, Africa challenged Abrahams position
that evidence proving Abu-Jamals innocence was
not timely and therefore could not be admitted to
court. Africa noted that the prosecution had
these photos, yet kept them from defense attorneys.
The rally was followed by a march past the Union
League on S. Broad Street, where earlier in the
day President George W. Bush was present to see
his portrait hung. Some protesters carried
placards with a photo of Bush behind bars for war
crimes with the slogan Jail Bush! Free Mumia!
At 13th and Locust streets the march stopped for
a brief enactment of the 1981 crime scene, where
Hans Bennett of Journalists for Mumia outlined
the contradictory statements of state witnesses
that have since been exposed as lies by
Polokoffs photos and other eyewitness accounts.
The march concluded with another spirited rally
as protesters occupied Market Street outside the
Federal Court building, where speakers included
Manolo de los Santos of the Iglesia San Romero de
Las Américas; Suzanne Ross of the New York Free
Mumia Coalition; and Ashanti Alston of the
Jericho Movement, who spent more than a decade in
prison. Alston spoke of the need to free all
political prisoners, including Leonard Peltier and the San Francisco 8.
Monica Moorehead of the International Action
Center spoke on Abu-Jamals refusal to compromise
his principles and his continued political
contributions through radio commentaries and
weekly columns on issues from imperialist wars
abroad to the economic crisis at home. With
almost two million people foreclosed out of homes
this year and millions unemployed, we have to
link these wars at home when we raise the
political struggle against prisons, police
brutality and stop and frisk. Mumia would want us to.
Fight Imperialism, Stand Together organizer Larry
Hales remarked that it has been 39 years since
the murders of Black Panther members Fred Hampton
and Mark Clark by Chicago police. We dont want
to wait 39 years to observe another anniversary
about Mumia. Young people today arent being
educated about the great social movements, but
they are going to be radicalized as they fight
back against the conditions they face today, and
theyll come to understand the importance of
raising political prisoners demands.
Student and community activists in support of
Mumia Abu-Jamal met on Dec. 2 in Missoula, Mont.,
on the campus of the University of Montana (UM)
to hear Larry Hales, an International Action
Center organizer, and see the film distributed by
the Peoples Video Network, The Framing of an
Execution: Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Media.
Rachael Carroll, an organizer with the Montana
Human Rights Network and Montana Abolition
Coalition, a statewide movement against the death
penalty, also spoke. The coalition was also a sponsor of the event.
Carroll reported that the Montana component of
the prison-industrial complex is part of the
racist trend throughout the United States, where
members of oppressed nations are imprisoned and
receive death sentences far beyond their numbers
in the population. She said, American Indians in
Montana are about 6 percent of the population,
but Indian women comprise between 42 percent and
75 percent of all women in prison in the state.
In addition, Indian men comprise more than 22
percent of both prisoners and those receiving the death penalty.
Both Hales and Carroll spoke about the need for
people to get involved in local and statewide
actions against the racist death penalty as well
as to support Mumia and demand that his legal
lynching be stopped. Both organizers encouraged
those present to follow the advice of Mumia to Organize! Organize! Organize!
Elisabeth Stoeckel, a UM graduate student,
chaired the meeting and represented the Social
Justice Action Network, an event sponsor and a UM
organization that provides social work graduate
students with the opportunity to get involved
with social justice activities on campus and in
the community. Other UM groups supporting the
event included Students for Economic and Social
Justice, Students for Peace and Justice and the
International Action Center in Montana.
The day before the Missoula event, activists and
members of Amnesty International and the IAC
gathered In Dillon, Mont., on the campus of the
University of Montana Western. They heard Larry
Hales speak about Mumias case and then engaged
in a lively discussion to plan further actions in
support of Mumia and the statewide movement
against the death penalty in Montana.
The meetings in Missoula and Dillon were the
first held in the state by the International
Action Center in Montana, and are seen by state
organizers of the IAC and other involved groups
as stepping stones to building a statewide
network to not only oppose the racist death
penalty and the unjust imprisonment of oppressed
and poor people, but also to engage in other
political action against economic and political injustice.
Activists in the fight to free U.S. political
prisoners gathered in Buffalo to watch a new
video, Fighting for Mumias Freedom: A Report
from Philadelphia. They also watched a
CBS-produced program, West 57th, that told so
much truth about the case of Leonard Peltier that
it outraged the government when it was aired in
the 1980s. A lively discussion followed.
Nearly 100 people braved a snowstorm in Cleveland
on Dec. 6 to protest the 27 years of wrongful
imprisonment of Mumia Abu-Jamal and to recommit
to the struggle for his freedom.
Abu-Jamals life was put in the context of J.
Edgar Hoovers war against the Black Panther
Party by Abdul Qahhar, chair of the Cleveland
chapter of the New Black Panther Party. Devin
Branch of the Cleveland October 22 Organizing
Committee described Abu-Jamals frame-up and the
important aspects of his legal case.
Rev. Nozomi Ikuta and Yahya Abdussabur spoke
about the situation of the Puerto Rican freedom
fighters still in prison and the frame-up of Imam
Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (the former H. Rap Brown).
Messages of solidarity from prisoners falsely
convicted in connection with the 1993 Lucasville
prison uprising were read. The audience cheered
recent victories in the campaign for the
Lucasville prisoners as counted out by Sharon
Danann of the Lucasville Uprising Freedom
Network. Jackie Thomas, spouse of Lucasville
prisoner Rasheem Matthews, told how they tracked
down the witnesses who testified falsely against
Matthews and urged the audience to pack the
courtroom during Matthews new trial.
Artists from the Hip Hop Workshop, a project
aimed at keeping youth out of gangs while
creating music without offensive language,
provided poetry, dance, rap and hip-hop. The
event was seen as a step toward a broader campaign on prison issues.
On Dec. 7, the African American Artists and
Writers hosted an Evening of Solidarity to Free
Mumia Abu-Jamal at the Malcolm X Library in Southeast San Diego.
A number of attendees left the
Cuba/Venezuela/Mexico/North American Labor
Conference in Tijuana early and walked across the
U.S./Mexico border to be a part of this
gathering. This made the meeting truly
international, linking the struggle to free Mumia
with the struggles of the many countries in Latin
America and the Caribbean that were represented at the conference.
Sylvia Telefaro of AAWA opened the discussion by
saying, We are all warriors on the
groundstepping up the struggle to free Mumia.
Speakers included John Parker, Los Angeles
International Action Center; Sabrina Green, Free
the Move 9 and International Concerned Family &
Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; and Paul LouLou
Chery, general secretary of the Federation of
Haitian Workers. Dave Welsh of the Haiti Action
Committee was scheduled to speak and interpret
for Chery, but was delayed at the border to
support a Haitian brother, Benissiot Docios, who
was detained. (Docios was allowed through Customs
only after he paid a fine of hundreds of dollars.)
Parker spoke about how important it is to link up
the issues of people all over the world,
stressing that Mumias essays are about this type
of solidarity. Parker noted that Mumia rarely
writes about himself. Green gave an update on the
Move 9 and initiated a phone call to Pam Africa,
who applauded the solidarity action. Africa gave
an update on Mumias case and a Dec. 6 march in
Philadelphia. On The Move showed a video by Hans
Bennett (see <http://www.abu-jamal-news.com>www.abu-jamal-news.com).
Elder Eusi Kwayana, a local activist, member of
the Langston Hughes Poetry Circle and a native of
Guyana, spoke about a letter that he wrote in May
to the Brazilian government concerning the
disappearance of Haitian civil rights activist
Lovinski Pierre-Antoine. Kwayana was central in
bringing together Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese
people during Guyanas independence struggle.
Kwayana said that what the state is trying to do to Mumia is a lynching.
Zola Mohammad spoke of the struggle to free
freedom fighters Imam Jamil and Leonard Peltier.
Dianne Mathiowetz of Atlanta said, Let us not
forget Troy Davis. We send revolutionary
greetings to the Cuban 5 and all political prisoners.
Jim Moreno, a poet with the Langston Hughes
Poetry Circle who attended the Tijuana
conference, recited a poem that was inspired when
he talked to LouLou Chery. One question in the
poem concerned the hunger of the people of Haiti,
to which Chery responded that the people hunger
for the return of democratically elected president Bertrand Aristide.
Chery spoke of solidarity and unity and the work
that is taking place to build the Federation of
Haitian Workers (CTH). He said that Haiti is a
poor country with a strong and rich history.
A group photo from the meeting will be sent to Mumia.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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