[Ppnews] Reports on Mumia Solidarity

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 12 10:41:51 EST 2008


http://phillyimc.org/en/us-activists-solidarity-political-prisoner-mumia-abu-jamal



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. Mumia’s 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.

PHILADELPHIA

Hundreds of spirited and determined demonstrators 
straddled both sides of a circular drive around 
Philadelphia’s City Hall across from District 
Attorney Lynn Abraham’s 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-Jamal’s 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-Jamal’s 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 Philadelphia’s Police Department 
of Civil Affairs, to come forward, and she 
proceeded to pile his arms with mounds of books, 
files, CD’s 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 Abraham’s position 
that evidence proving Abu-Jamal’s 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 
Polokoff’s 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-Jamal’s 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 don’t want 
to wait 39 years to observe another anniversary 
about Mumia. Young people today aren’t 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 
they’ll come to understand the importance of 
raising political prisoners’ demands.”

—Betsey Piette

MONTANA

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 Mumia’s 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.

—John Lewis

BUFFALO, N.Y.

Activists in the fight to free U.S. political 
prisoners gathered in Buffalo to watch a new 
video, “Fighting for Mumia’s 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.

— Ellie Dorritie

CLEVELAND

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-Jamal’s life was put in the context of J. 
Edgar Hoover’s 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-Jamal’s 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.

—Sharon Danaan

SAN DIEGO

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 
ground—stepping 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 Mumia’s 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 Mumia’s 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 Guyana’s 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.

— Gloria Verdieu



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