Taking the Fight to Wall Street: 800 Rally for Mumia

Revolutionary Worker #887, December 22, 1996

December 9, 1996 marked 15 years since the arrest of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia was framed up and railroaded for the murder of a Philadelphia cop and has been on death row ever since. In 1995, the Governor of Pennsylvania signed a death warrant for Mumia, but people around the world rallied and forced the system to issue a stay of execution. An important demand in this struggle now is for a new trial, and on December 9, people in New York took this demand to Wall Street. As stock brokers, executives, secretaries and mail room clerks rushed to work, their morning routine was broken by protesters across from the New York Stock Exchange chanting "Free Mumia!" Earlier in the morning there had been an interfaith prayer service for Mumia.

At noon, over 800 people took part in a rally at the stock exchange. People of many different political perspectives, nationalities and backgrounds came out to support Mumia. One banner read, "Free Mumia, Leonard Peltier and All Political Prisoners." There were signs and banners from the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, activists in the movement to free Puerto Rican political prisoners, Refuse & Resist!, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Worker's World Party, the Partisan Defense Committee.

Students came out to the rally in a big way and many of them spoke throughout the course of the rally. They came from colleges across the northeast and beyond including Kent State University; Howard University; and a number of schools that are part of the CUNY system in New York City, including Borough of Manhattan Community College, Medgar Evers College, York College, Brooklyn College, Hunter College and City College. Three buses of people, most of them students, came from Vermont. Members of Bread and Puppet Theater from Vermont performed a skit about the struggle against oppression, followed by a blues song about the battle to free Mumia.

The rally was emceed by Pam Africa of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia and Safiya Bukhari of the New York Coalition to Free Mumia. Speakers at the rally reflected the diverse and broad character of the movement to support Mumia--including Black and Latino activists, students, revolutionaries, parents organizing against police brutality, people fighting the death penalty, and others.

Speakers included Mumia's attorney, Leonard Weinglass; Mumia's literary agent Francis Golden; members of the MOVE organization whose parents are in jail or were murdered by the authorities in the May 1985 bombing of the MOVE house; a representative of Amnesty International; Mumia's sister, Lydia Wallace and her husband Ishakamusa Barashanga; Carl Dix, national spokesperson of the Revolutionary Communist Party; Iris Baez, Margarita Rosario and Lillian Flores, whose children were murdered by the NYPD; Omowole Clay from the New African Liberation Front; Panama from the National Congress of Puerto Rican Rights; Viola Plummer of the December 12th Coalition; Clark Kissinger from Refuse & Resist!; Juan Rodríguez of ¥eta; King Tone of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation; Christoph Arnold of the Bruderhof religious community; a representative of the Nation of Islam; a representative of the Ogoni people in Nigeria who worked closely with Ken Saro-Wiwa; a member of the Campaign To End the Death Penalty; and Larry Holmes from Worker's World Party.

The rally was followed by a short march through the area. Youth from the Latin Kings and ¥eta street organizations were at the front with students from Vermont colleges and members of Parents Against Police Brutality. Members of Refuse & Resist! carried an "Unleash the Spirit of Resistance" banner with dozens of messages written to Mumia by people in Hawaii.

A number of speakers at the rally pointed out that it was the broad unity and determined struggle of the people that stopped the state from executing Mumia in 1995. The challenge now is to build on the work done so far and spread the movement even further. And there is no time to waste. The legal battle is at a crucial juncture. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is poised to decide whether to grant Mumia a new trial or not, a decision that will probably come next spring.

Mumia's lead attorney Leonard Weinglass recently wrote in Mumia Update: "If Mumia loses his appeal in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, then Governor Ridge might possibly sign a new death warrant. It will then be up to the federal courts to stay that new warrant. Those who support Mumia should remain vigilant throughout 1997 as these critical events unfold."

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