Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Crucial Hour In the Battle For Mumia Abu-Jamal's Life (1999)

Editor's Note: This statement posted on BRC-News.

September 16, 1999

Imagine a case in which a person isn't allowed to represent himself...witnesses are threatened or even arrested on the stand...a man charged with killing a cop is tried by a judge who is a lifetime member of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)...[the] appeal is heard and denied by a court where five out of [the] seven judges have either received campaign contributions or campaign endorsements from the FOP...[and] a "confession" was manufactured. I don't have to imagine such a case. It's mine." (Mumia Abu-Jamal in Source magazine, February 1999)

1999 is a crucial year of decision in the fight to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal. And Mumia Awareness Week, September 19-25, is a pivotal hour of outreach and activity, to culminate in marches and rallies in dozens of cities on September 25.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously rejected Mumia's appeal of an unjust conviction. Before the end of October, his lawyers will file his appeal in Federal Courts. This filing will initiate the crucial and FINAL rounds of the legal battle.

To be blunt, unless there is tremendous POLITICAL pressure brought on the power structure, Mumia will be killed within the next few years. It is urgent that we send up a roar that will rattle the cowardly hearts of the powers-that-be with our message: WE WILL NOT LET YOU KILL MUMIA. We weren't able to stop the assassination of Malcolm X or Fred Hampton. But we can and must do everything to stop the government from its legal assassination of Mumia.

Mumia is the only political prisoner on death row.* He's been there since 1982. His railroad typifies how the U.S. government deals with political opponents--especially revolutionaries who connect with those on the bottom of society.

On December 9, 1981, Mumia was driving his cab on a downtown Philadelphia street. He saw a cop beating his brother, and he rushed to the scene. When the smoke cleared, Mumia was shot in the chest. Nearby, Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner lay dying from bullet wounds. Mumia was charged with Faulkner's death. The prosecution suppressed evidence, removed 11 qualified African-Americans from the jury, threatened and
bribed witnesses, and used Mumia's history in the Black Panthers to argue for the death sentence.

As a teenager in Philadelphia, Mumia was the Minister of Information of the Black Panther Party. Later, as a radio journalist he was known as the "voice of the voiceless." He supported the MOVE organization and exposed the racism and police brutality against these Black revolutionaries, and others. At age 26, he was elected chair of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.
But for the past 18 years Mumia has been on death row--locked in a cell 23 hours a day. His mail, including confidential correspondence with his lawyer, has been opened and copied by prison authorities. He was put into punitive detention for writing his book, Live from Death Row. His commentaries have been censored on the radio. As Mumia put it, "They don't just want my death, they want my silence."

In 1995, a worldwide campaign stopped Mumia's execution just 10 days before the government tried to put this brother to death. But the authorities have continued to escalate threats on Mumia's life, intensifying in recent months. To stop his execution now will take a diverse and determined struggle many times more powerful.
The battle for Mumia's life has grown by leaps and bounds, which is very positive and heartening. Our struggle has held up the executioner's hand, but it's not yet strong enough to stop it from coming back down. Recent attacks on Mumia and his supporters make it clear that the death threat still hangs over him. Our ability to stop his execution is based on the solid foundation we have laid in this battle so far, especially the past year. Tens of thousands of people, of all nationalities, from all walks have life, have cried out for justice for Mumia. In particular, the youth have been in the house in a big way. There's been school teach-ins and rock concerts.

35,000 people total marched in the streets of San Francisco and Philly in support of Mumia on April 24th. Ads have been taken out in newspapers, including a full page ad New York Times. Last week as part of an effort called Mumia 911, more than 1,000 artists participated in over 100 events in cities across the US and some in Europe and Africa too. This is very good, and we need a lot more of it, very quickly.

The powers-that-be have responded with an intensive and multi-faceted campaign of lies and threats in order to proceed with his execution. On April 25, the city of Philadelphia launched its attack on the Black United Fund of Pennsylvania (BUF/PA)--by not allowing city workers to donate to this charitable organization. This not only
threatens the very survival of the BUF/PA but also many charities that serve the Black community. The BUF/PA has not even taken a position on Mumia but simply provide a service to the International Friends and Family so people can donate funds to Mumia's defense through the BUF/PA. This is a vicious assault on Mumia by assaulting the entire Black community.

Like the Israeli Zionists who blow up whole Palestine villages to punish the rock throwing youth, the BUF/PA attack is this government's way of collective punishment on the Black community. It is their demand for the Black community to renounce and distance itself from this unrepentant rebel-slave Mumia. In keeping with the all American white supremacist tradition, their message is clear: there's a price to pay for anyone who stands up for (or even just sides with) Mumia, and a higher price still from Black organizations and people. And acting like a lynch mob in blue, the Fraternal Order of Police--this country's largest cops' organization (over 283,000
>members)--have been leading the demand for Mumia's execution. Their August press release launched a nationwide boycott against those businesses and individuals who support Mumia. It ends with the words"[a]nd we will not rest until Abu-Jamal burns in hell." They have harassed artists who stood up for Mumia and posted their target list of artists on the FOP website.

I'm a founder and national organizer of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation. This Coalition has endorsed and taken up the fight for Mumia because he's a victim of police brutality and a fighter against police brutality. His is a CLASSIC case of police brutality against a BLACK, ANY Black man. The frame-up of Mumia concentrates the way Black people are routinely abused by the police, the courts, the prisons, and the media.
>There are high stakes for every person who wants to see justice in the world, and for every person who wants to see an end to the brutal oppression of Black people.
> A sign of the power's murderous intent is the flood of scandalous lies pumped out through the media--rabid calls for Mumia's death were aired on ABC: the first on KGO TV in San Francisco, an ABC affiliate; and then TWO on ABC's 20/20, hosted by Sam Donaldson.

The most recent attack on Mumia was spearheaded by the magazine "Vanity Fair" in a hit piece fabricating yet another "confession." Scores of TV and print media ran this story but none bothered to check the facts check with Mumia, his lawyers, or court documents. Every lie that stokes the execution engine has been blown up into headlines when it comes to their attempt to rush Mumia to the gas chamber. The government's case is so weak that they have to come up with one "Mumia confession" hoax after another over these 18 years. It's a desperate move of conducting a trial by media because they have no legal case that can stand careful scrutiny! Mumia has ALWAYS maintained his innocence, and he has always refused to be tried in the media but demanded he get a new trial. As Tom Morello of the rock band Rage Against the
Machine has said "...if these people are so sure of Mumia's guilt, then why not have a new trial?"

While we step up the most broad, diverse and determined struggle to date, especially during this Mumia Awareness Week, we need a real YOUTHQUAKE in the center. Mumia has given love and inspiration to the new generation to step out to fight the power, to fight for a different future, to fight for a far better world than this dog-eat-dog nightmare. Rebel youth of all nationalities can and must put an exclamation point of
"no justice, no peace" on the end of this millennium by going all out for Mumia, and help to shape the direction of things to come.

What kind of a sick system would brutalize and try to kill a caring and courageous brother like Mumia? It's a system that has shown through their treatment of Mumia, and millions like him, that it cares nothing for truth or justice, or even abiding by their own rules. It's a heartless system that has always used and abused millions here and worldwide, and doesn't deserve to exist another minute. It's my view that
>a hateful system like this will never change and must be overthrown by mass armed revolution when the time is ripe.

Today, the system is building prisons fast and furious. They're criminalizing our youth, sending thousands of them to a lifetime behind bars. Police brutality and murder is epidemic with cops acting like judge, jury and executioner on the streets. The politicians answer to every social problem is more prisons, cops, more repression and executions. The struggle for Mumia is a key battlefront to get involved with if you want to defeat this wholesale assault on the people. It is a
key battle for all who stand for justice and emancipation.