We Can't Let Them Kill Mumia Abu-Jamal

December 9: March on Wall Street
Mumia Must Have a New Trial

Revolutionary Worker #884, Dec. 1, 1996

Over 14 years on death row.
Locked in a cell 22 hours a day.
Over a decade of thick glass between you and your wife.
Your kids go from small to tall.
You see them, but no touching allowed.
Caged, you live the complete opposite of freedom.
But your revolutionary words fly through steel bars.
Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal gives it to the people: Live From Death Row.


In 1982, Mumia Abu-Jamal--Black journalist, revolutionary activist, and political prisoner--was framed for killing a Philly cop, convicted and sentenced to death in a blatantly unjust trial. In 1995, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge signed a death warrant setting Mumia's execution date for August 17, 1995. But across the U.S. and around the world, people rallied hard to Mumia's defense and forced the government to issue a stay of execution.

The power of the people stopped the government from killing Mumia on August 17. But Mumia still faces a death sentence and the government is still using its legal system to try and execute him.

Mumia has dedicated his life to the people--especially those in the ghettos, barrios and prisons. He has used his talents to expose and oppose oppression. He has been been shot, tortured, imprisoned, isolated, slandered, and censored by the power structure. But he has emerged unbroken, with his consciousness and commitment intact.

The facts in Mumia's case reveal, unmistakably, that he has been railroaded-- that a profound injustice has taken place. And this is much more than just the story of one man: The railroad of Mumia concentrates the way Black people are routinely mis-treated by the police, the courts, the prisons, the media...in fact by the whole system in this country.

The railroad of Mumia Abu-Jamal reveals how the U.S. government deals with political opponents--especially revolutionaries whose voices connect with those at the bottom of society. A climate is being manufactured that demands more prisons, more punishment and speedier execution. For all who want to defeat this police-state tide--the struggle for Mumia and other political prisoners is a key battlefront.


In May 1996 Mumia's lawyers, headed by Leonard Weinglass, announced new evidence in the case. Originally, in 1981, Veronica Jones told the police she saw two men fleeing the scene where the cop William Faulkner was shot. But later, in Mumia's trial, she changed her testimony and this was used to convict Mumia. Now Jones admits she lied on the stand after being threatened by the police.

Mumia's lawyers submitted Jones' statement to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, along with a motion to reopen hearings on Mumia's appeal for a new trial. The State Supreme Court then sent the case back to Albert Sabo--the same judge who presided over Mumia's 1982 trial and colluded with the prosecutors to prevent Jones' real story from coming out!

In early October, Veronica Jones bravely appeared in Sabo's courtroom and recalled how two police detectives appeared in her jail cell before Mumia's 1982 trial: "I was to name Mr. Jamal as the shooter.... They kept stressing don't forget 5 to 10 years [in jail], that's a long time. All I thought about was my kids...."

Sabo threatened Veronica with up to seven years in jail for perjury if she asserted that she had lied in Mumia's trial. And the prosecution had her arrested in the courtroom for failing to make a court appearance two years ago. But in the face of these blatant attempts at intimidation, Veronica Jones stood strong. After the D.A. produced a warrant for her arrest, Veronica declared: "I'm being railroaded.... You done drug me through the damn mud. If you think that's going to make me change my story, it's not."

Getting Veronica's testimony into the record on Mumia's case is critical, especially in light of the new Clinton/Republican "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act" which puts severe limits on the ability of prisoners to appeal their cases in federal courts. The new law requires federal courts to accept all "findings of fact" made by state courts.

On November 1, Sabo handed down his latest outrageous ruling in Mumia's case. He ruled that the new testimony by Veronica Jones could not be entered into the record of the 1995 hearing on Mumia's motion for a new trial.

Mumia's case now goes back to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for a decision on the appeal of Sabo's denial of Mumia's demand for a new trial. It took a broad, diverse and determined mass movement to force the system to grant a stay of execution for Mumia. Now the power of the people needs to come into effect again to demand: The evidence must be heard. Mumia must have a new trial!

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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