Revolutionary Worker #1003, April 25, 1999
The system says: "This case is about a convicted cop-killer, who has appealed to all kinds of courts and has been unanimously turned down. Now after killing her husband, he and his famous supporters are tormenting the widow of the dead officer. The widow needs closure."
The people answer: NO. This case is about an activist and journalist, a former member of the Black Panther Party--a consistent critic of the Philadelphia Police Department--who was tried, convicted and sentenced to death on the basis of his political beliefs.
Before the incident which left Mumia seriously wounded and police officer William Faulkner dead, Mumia had been singled out and threatened by Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo for his coverage of the police department's war on the MOVE organization. The Philadelphia police department--famous for its murderous brutality and corruption--was out to get Mumia. From the days when then-police chief Frank Rizzo forced the Black Panthers to strip at gunpoint to the 1985 bombing of the MOVE house that killed 11 people and destroyed a whole Black neighborhood--this police department has been known for racist brutality and for being liars and framers. More than 140 cases in Philadelphia have been dismissed in the past several years for prosecutorial and police fabrication of evidence.
In Mumia's case:
THE JUDGE, the most pro-police judge in Philadelphia who has sent more people to death row than any sitting judge in America--refused to let Mumia defend himself, removed Mumia from the courtroom and saddled him with a lawyer he didn't want.
THE JURY was empanelled only after 11 qualified African-Americans were removed by the prosecution--a racist practice that was taught to Philadelphia prosecutors using a special videotape.
THE PROSECUTION suppressed evidence, threatened witnesses, and used Mumia's history in the Black Panthers and his political beliefs as an argument for the death penalty--a practice later condemned as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
What is at stake here is not closure, but justice. In the name of "victim's rights" and "closure," there is a move to rush through the executions of over 3,000 people now on death row with absolutely no regard for justice. Yet in case after case, once attention and resources are brought in, these people are found to be innocent. More than 75 people nationwide have had death row convictions overturned in the last few years. More than 386 homicide cases have been reversed in the past three decades for prosecutorial misconduct.
The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal cannot be separated from the whole history of Black people in this country. It cannot be separated from their situation today. And it cannot be separated from their future.
This society has a tradition of threatening, silencing, exiling, imprisoning and assassinating its Black opponents. In this, the case of Mumia comes in a long line stretching from Nat Turner, DuBois, Garvey and Robeson, through Robert Williams and Malcolm X, down to Fred Hampton, George Jackson, the MOVE family, and countless others. But since the days of slavery, the U.S. government has not dared to legally execute a prominent Black revolutionary.
Mumia has been given a legal death sentence for his activities and beliefs. He has grown to international stature since his death penalty. He has been fearless and steadfast in the face of the death chamber and he has attracted support worldwide. We can't let this system kill Mumia Abu-Jamal.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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