Philly, January 27

Speaking Out for Mumia

Revolutionary Worker #893, February 9, 1997

"Beginning today, Monday, January 27, 1997, and throughout this week, the Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania will convene in the city of Philadelphia. In the very near future the Supreme Court will issue a decision on whether or not Philadelphia's Police Department, District Attorney's Office and Judge Albert Sabo have suppressed exculpatory evidence, coerced witnesses, and prejudicially compromised Mumia Abu-Jamal's constitutional right to a fair trial. Due to blatant and consistent efforts on the part of the presiding Judge Albert Sabo to dismiss any favorable evidence to Mumia Abu-Jamal, the evidence on which this state judicial body will rule is extremely limited.

"The International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal--and a myriad group of supporters from across the United States and around the world--has called today's demonstration to protest and to express our complete dissatisfaction with this ongoing perversion of justice. We are here today to demand that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court do what is right, exercise its power on behalf of what is right, and bring an immediate end to this clear and obvious injustice committed against Mumia Abu-Jamal and others like him."

From a press release for the January 27 demonstration in Philadelphia distributed by International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal


As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court opened its first session of 1997, the growing movement to defend Mumia Abu-Jamal made its strong voice heard in Philadelphia. You couldn't come to city hall this day and NOT deal with the case of Mumia. Pictures of Mumia were everywhere. A giant banner that read "Free Mumia" was hung from poles. People gathered at City Hall to speak out for Mumia and demand that the charges against him either be dismissed or that he be granted a new trial. The crowd of about 200 people included activists from Philadelphia, members of MOVE, a group from the Bruderhof religious communities, Refuse & Resist! activists, anarchists, students, representatives of various revolutionary nationalist groups, and students.

Pam Africa, MOVE member and coordinator of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, opened the rally with: "We want to let them know that we're aware of the injustice that's going down in Mumia's case and people are here from across the United States and outside the United States to let 'em know that we're not gonna sit by and allow them to railroad Mumia..."

Ramona Africa, the only survivor of a police attack on the MOVE house on Osage Avenue on May 13, 1985 in which 11 MOVE members were murdered, introduced five young members of MOVE--Robin, Butch, Rose, Dese and Nimrod Africa. Ramona said: "Our kids are true revolutionaries and everybody's gotta instill that revolutionary fire in our young people."

Julia Wright brought news of the struggle for Mumia in Europe. Kristof Arnold of the Bruderhof community read a statement from Mumia to the demonstration. Brother Zayid Muhammad from the Campaign To Free Black Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War read a powerful poem about the oppression of Black people. And Jeff Hurley, an activist from Vermont, did a blues song called "Free Mumia Abu-Jamal." Other speakers included Father Paul Washington of the Church of the Advocate; Professor Mark Taylor, Coordinator of Academics for Mumia; Carl Dix, national spokesperson for the Revolutionary Communist Party; Consuewella Africa of MOVE; Clark Kissinger of Refuse & Resist!; Minister Rodney Muhammad, Delaware representative of the Nation of Islam; Dave Silver of the Workers Union Network; Basiymah Muhammad of the Black Community Direct Action Task Force; Brother Zayid Muhammad from the Campaign To Free Black Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War; Larry Holmes from the Workers World Party; and Dr. Cecil Taylor, Chairperson, African-American Studies Department, Gettysburg College.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ended its session in the Philadelphia area on January 31. The court can decide on Mumia's case at any time they want. They have no deadline. They could rule on some or all of the evidence. They could grant his appeal for a new trial. They could deny it with no explanation. Or they could schedule oral arguments and make a decision after that. Mumia's attorneys say they expect that some word might come from the court in April.

The situation urgently demands that the movement for Mumia become larger, more diverse and more determined. And it will take struggle to get the word out to millions more about the battle to free Mumia. In the past two months, the mainstream media has almost completely whited out all news of the battle to free Mumia. There was no coverage in the boozhwah press of the successful jazz and poetry benefit last month in New York that drew almost 500 people. And there has been almost no publicity of Mumia's new book, Death Blossoms. No mainstream press came to cover the demonstration on the 27th.

Now is the time to step up the struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Voices for Mumia

The following excerpts are from speeches given at the January 27 Philly rally for Mumia:

Butch Africa: "We're out here today to make a point. We want people to know how corrupt this system is. The Supreme Court is about to make a ruling whether or not they will grant Mumia a new trial, but they don't have all the facts because that corrupt Judge Sabo threw out all the evidence and the reason why he destroyed all the evidence pointing to the fact that Mumia's innocent is because they don't want their lies exposed. And this is what the MOVE organization has been telling people for years. That's the very same reason why on May 13, 1985, the city of Philadelphia attacked MOVE's home and dropped a bomb on my family and killed MOVE's coordinator John Africa....

"If this system thought anywhere in their mind that Mumia was guilty, why in the hell did they photocopy his mail and send it to the governor? That's a clear plan they're trying to stop the truth, stop Mumia from speaking the truth, stop the MOVE organization from speaking the truth. And all we're saying is Free Mumia! Free Mumia Now! Long Live Revolution! Long Live John Africa!

Dese Africa, whose father Raymond Africa was murdered in the police attack on the MOVE house on May 13, 1985: "We are here to let this corrupt god-damned government know that Mumia's innocent. They know Mumia's innocent. That's why they won't give him a new trial. The Supreme Court is about to make a decision whether or not they will give Mumia a new trial. It is very clear about the frameup against Mumia behind this corrupt god-damned government. We have demonstrated, shown powerful evidence pointing to Mumia's innocence yet they still refuse to give Mumia a new trial."

Ramona Africa, Minister of Communications for the MOVE organization: "We ain't gonna sit back and let these kill-crazy officials take another one of our freedom fighters from us under the guise that he's a criminal. Who is more criminal than that god-damned Ed Rendell sitting here in city hall? This is the mayor that conspired and carried out the conspiracy to murder MOVE people, to burn MOVE babies alive. He ain't sitting on death row next to Mumia. We ain't gonna let (DA) Lynne Abraham sit back and act like she is a crime fighter, that she is concerned about crime when that no-good, low-down woman sat back and conspired along with Ed Rendell to kill MOVE people, when she sits back knowing that cops had beat poor people to death, shot poor people to death, unjustly locked poor people up. That 39th District scandal, that is just the tip of the iceberg. That woman knows the crimes that goes on in the Philadelphia Police Department but she don't do a god-damned thing about that. But she's gonna sit back and talk about killing our brother in the name of the people.... This government's got a bloody history. The officials of this system's hands is drenched with the blood of innocent people. Like my sister told y'all, the Supreme Court of the United States said that it was constitutional, it was legal, it was okay to kill, to execute an innocent person, that innocence was not enough to stop an execution. That is insanity and MOVE ain't accepting it and you shouldn't either!"

Julia Wright: "The president of the Republic of France, Jacques Chirac, the president of the National Assembly of France, Mr. Filppe Segund, two European parliaments' emergency resolutions, the Japanese parliament, the highest courts in Italy, the city council of cities like Venice, Palerno, Salerno, the International Commission of Jurists based in Geneva has published a report condemning the racist and anti-poor use of the death penalty in the USA. An increasing number of French groups are going out on a limb for Mumia and since the end of 1996, a great many youth movements have joined--high school children and in southern France, a group of students founded a committee for Mumia and said if in the United States one single hair of his head is touched, we will liberate our university and call it the Mumia Abu-Jamal University."

Wright, whose father was Richard Wright, read from her introduction to Mumia's new book, Death Blossoms: "Over half a century after Native Son, Bigger--my paper brother--still haunts America, because in his premature death at the hands of the State, there was a foretaste of coming rot. Tupac Shakur, another real-life native son in the long chain since decimation. We live and breath this state of recurrent loss! We need to be able to find the right rites to mourn so many thousands gone, if only to prevent Mumia from going. Because those slain in childhood will have no children. It is the healing strength of this book that Mumia, who lives at such mortal risk, can hand us the connective strands of a net to throw far over the great divide, towards generations of children we may never get to know or see or touch. But as he makes clear, we can love them ahead, preventatively. Thank you."

Kristof Arnold, leader in the Bruderhof religious community: "We have to get the news out. We have to gather more people. We have to send them here to Philadelphia and we cannot and will not let them kill Mumia Abu-Jamal this spring! Ona move and thank you."

Mark Taylor, Academics for Mumia Abu-Jamal: "Any society, any nation which would allow the death of Mumia Abu-Jamal to be executed and taken from us is not a nation or a society worth living in, whether you're African-American, Asian, Latino, Caucasian of the many varieties, whatever, it is not worth living in that kind of society. Academics especially, committed not only to justice but to truth, recognize that there is nothing but travesty in this attempt to kill Mumia Abu-Jamal. Isn't that right? Travesty when you ignore evidence suggesting that he's innocent. Travesty when you refuse to even test weaponry that supposedly caused the crime. Travesty of justice when witnesses who could put it right are taken by force out of a courtroom, as Veronica Jones was in the past several months. This is a travesty of justice and truth. Academics and anybody who loves truth of any persuasion ought to be out in testimony and in opposition to what's going on here."

Carl Dix, national spokesperson for the RCP,USA: "From the very beginning, they've been using their criminal injustice system to try to murder Mumia. That's what the deal is around this case. So now, we shouldn't be surprised by that because that's how the injustice system in this country works. It's stacked against poor people. It's stacked against Black people. It's stacked against Latinos and other people of color. It's set up to work that way.... The cops, the courts, the DAs, the judges, the politicians, the CIA and all that, that's part of the machinery that the capitalist class uses to hold us down and beat us down so they can keep on robbing us. This robbery is the very lifeblood of this system. That's how they keep it going. That's why they've got to silence Mumia, because Mumia pulls the cloak on this rotten assed system. He tells people how fucked up it is and how they gotta stand up and resist it....

"We need to learn something from the way we fought to free Mumia. Look at who's out here today. We've had ministers up here speaking. You have different religious persuasions. We've got Refuse and Resist! We've got the Revolutionary Communist Party. We've got other revolutionary activists. We've got young people, we've got old people. I see a few people out here who was in the Black Panther Party. You know, we've got a diverse grouping of people who have all come together because we're standing for justice. We have to build on what we've done in the past. We stopped them from murdering Mumia last year. You know, Mumia's got a damned good legal case and a damned good legal team, but this system don't believe in justice. They railroad people every day. The reason they couldn't take Mumia out is because a powerful movement developed throughout this country and around the world that said you can't have our brother! We forced them to move back then but we can't go to sleep. We got to stay on the case. We've got to build on what we've done in the past to build an even more powerful movement saying you can't have this brother. He ain't what's criminal, you are all that's criminal. We're not gonna let you have him.

And in doing that, we have to learn from the example Mumia himself has set. Mumia doesn't just call out the injustice that comes down on him. He don't even focus on the injustice that's coming down on him and this brother is fighting for his very life. He calls out the injustice that comes comes down on all of us. He has all of our backs, sisters and brothers. We gotta do no less. We got to have his back right now. We got to say Mumia stood up for us. He's given voice for those of us that the system has tried to render voiceless. He has spoken for us. He's represented us. We've got to represent for him. We are not gonna let you have this brother. We are gonna build a movement that's gonna shake the walls of this criminal injustice system. We're gonna get you to do something that you ain't used to doing, because this system ain't used to giving out justice. We gonna make them give out justice. That's what we gotta do around the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia ain't no criminal, it's the system that's criminal! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! The System Is the Problem, Revolution Is the Solution! Free Mumia Now!

Minister Rodney Muhammad, Delaware Valley Representatives of the Nation of Islam: "When they went into the mail of Mumia Abu-Jamal, mail that came from his attorneys, they violated a client-attorney communicative relationship. Thereby, they obstructed due process of law and by doing that, they jeopardized a constitutional right guaranteed not only for Mumia Abu-Jamal, but for you and I also. We've got to realize that today. And any time constitutional rights and guarantees have been jeopardized, then you have injustice prevailing where justice should be reigning. Injustice anywhere, Dr. King said, is a threat to justice everywhere. We are saying to this country, we are saying to Judge Sabo, we are saying to the Supreme Court, if you cannot rest, if you cannot charge, if you cannot try, if you cannot come up with a verdict, if you cannot render a sentence based on the principles of justice, then there's only one just act left for you to do, that is to let Mumia Abu-Jamal go!"

Basiymah Muhammad of the Black Community Direct Action Task Force: "Here in this city where Brother Mumia has given all of his love to the people, to the truth, to the revolution, we're saying that if Brother Mumia is free, then what he could give to the revolution. Brother Mumia has given his life to the revolution and I say that we must take those teachings of that brother and the many other brothers that this corrupt world has locked down in the dungeons and use it to keep the pressure on.... If we sit back and allow this system to kill an innocent man who stood for us--isn't that what my brother writes today, brothers and sisters, he don't write of hisself. He still continues to write of the truth for the people. He still continues to stand on the truth for the people. He believes in us as a people. So we have to stand in some form of unity for my brother as a person, as a human."

Larry Holmes, Workers World Party: "We can see once again that even in Mumia's cell, he's been a catalyst for uniting people who frankly sometimes don't work together, but when there is a need, people come to work together and in this instance, Mumia has created that need. As so many speakers have said before, the struggle to free this brother is not about freeing one man. In a real sense, it's about whether or not there's going to be a revolutionary movement.... We know, as a movement struggling to get strong, and we are getting stronger, if they can kill Mumia, if they can use state-sanctioned murder to kill Mumia, then they can kill a labor leader too. They can kill a communist. They can kill a student leader somewhere on campus and they will come and kill you...."

Dr. Cecil Gray: "We who believe in freedom cannot rest. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes, until the killing of Black men, Black mother's sons, becomes as important as the killing of white men, white mother's sons.... A movement that struggles to work for freedom and fairness and justice, it must be intergenerational. I must do this work as long as I have breath, and I will teach my brothers and sisters and teach my children, teach my grandchildren.

C. Clark Kissinger: We surprised them in 1995. We will not surprise them in 1997. Just as we have learned something, they have learned something. And what that means is that our efforts this year are going to have to be on a qualitatively higher and different plane than we did in 1995. We have to go out even broader. We have to bring in new forces. We have to go into new parts of the society, new geographical areas of this country. We have to form free Mumia committees and coalitions all across this country, at campuses from one end of this country to the other, so that they are faced with the kind of problem that they were faced with in this country when they had the audacity to invade Cambodia--and every major campus in this country went out on strike, people poured into the streets, there was a mass march on Washington where they had to surround the White House with busses bumper-to-bumper because they thought the people were going to storm the White House and climb over the fence. This is the kind of problem they have to be presented with because they will never give up their murderous intent, they will do nothing unless they are forced to do it and it's the power of the people who can save Mumia Abu-Jamal.

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