Pennsylvania Supreme Court Denies New Trial

Crucial Moment in the Battle to Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Revolutionary Worker #981, November 8, 1998

Revolutionaries who embody the highest interests of the people and inspire the masses in fighting for these interests, are very precious to the people. And, particularly where revolutionaries hold firm to their principles in the face of persecution at the hands of the oppressors--including long years in jail and the threat of execution--it is extremely important for the people to rally to the defense of such revolutionaries and to refuse to accept the "right" of the oppressor to carry out this persecution and "legalized murder." This is the case with Mumia Abu-Jamal whom the government is moving to execute in the near future on the basis of another frame-up and cover-up.

Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, USA, July 1995

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a revolutionary who has dedicated his life to the people. He has used his talents to expose injustice and inspire the people to fight against oppression. He has been jailed in the system's dungeons for over 15 years--up against isolation, censorship and brutal punishment. But still, he remains defiant and unbroken. His connection to the people has stayed strong.

The power structure and their enforcers hate Mumia. They have framed him up for the murder of a cop and they want to kill him. But Mumia is precious to all those who hunger for a better world. And it is up to the people to defeat the government's execution plans. It is no exaggeration to say that what happens in this battle will have a huge effect on society and on this generation.


The battle to save the life of Mumia is now at a new and urgent juncture.

On October 29, 1998, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously ruled to deny Mumia a new trial. Governor Tom Ridge has already said he will quickly sign a new death warrant in response to such a ruling.

Mumia's lawyers have clearly documented that Mumia never got a fair trial--that he was railroaded and sentenced to death for his political beliefs. But the PA Supreme Court has now rejected all the evidence brought forward by Mumia's lawyers in over two years of hearings--the new witnesses, recanting of testimony by key witnesses in the original trial, testimony of police coercion of witnesses, perjury and obstruction, evidence of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct.

This ruling is a dramatic indication that the government has made a political decision to press ahead with its plans to execute Mumia. The government has delivered a message. They have made it clear what they intend to do and have pushed things to another level.

Now, the people need to deliver a powerful response. The situation demands that the people deliver our own message, and make it clear: WE WILL NOT LET THEM KILL MUMIA ABU-JAMAL!

Much is at stake in this battle. The railroad of Mumia concentrates the way Black people are routinely mistreated by the system's police, courts, prisons, and media. It brings into focus how the government is pressing, full steam ahead, to take away the most basic rights of death row prisoners in order to carry out more and faster executions. It reveals how the U.S. government deals with political opponents--especially revolutionaries whose voices connect with those at the bottom of society. It is vivid proof of why this government and this legal system should not have the power to execute human beings.

The ruling of the PA Supreme Court represents the beginning of a new round in this battle. A death warrant will be signed in Pennsylvania within 30 days ordering an execution within 60 days. When a warrent is issued, Mumia will be moved to "Phase II" and stripped of whatever is left of his legal materials and possessions, and he will be denied access to visitors. In order to stop the execution Mumia's lawyers must file a federal appeal--under the federal habeas corpus law, the federal court must then grant a stay of execution while it considers Mumia's federal appeal. But the signing of a death warrant would represent a major turning point in Mumia's case and a stay is nothing but a temporary postponement.

Also, there are now new restrictions on how federal courts review appeals from the state courts. In April of 1996, the Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996" (EDPA). One purpose of this law is to severely restrict the ability of federal courts to overturn death sentences handed down in state courts. Not all of the elements of the EDPA apply in Mumia's case. But the very existence of the EDPA reflects the current climate and policy being set by the courts--to encourage the states to more strictly enforce the death penalty.

By rejecting Mumia's appeal, the PA Supreme Court has sent this case onto a new, faster and more dangerous track.

What will it take to save the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal?

The situation demands that the battle for Mumia leap to a whole new level and become even more broad, diverse and determined. Throughout society, opposition to the execution of Mumia needs to be built so powerfully that the U.S. power structure feels compelled to overturn the Pennsylvania State decision.

Over the last year, the movement to save the life of Mumia has continued to grow. Thousands of people, from many walks of life have manifested in the streets, on concert stages, on campuses and in the community. Hundreds of prominent people recently signed a full-page ad that appeared in the New York Times, demanding a new trial for Mumia.

But now, the people need to find the ways to put the enemies of Mumia ON THE RUN.

Not enough people know Mumia's story. Not enough people understand what is at stake in the battle for his life. Mumia's name must now become a household word and his story needs to reach the conscience and consciousness of millions of people.

In waging this new round of battle, we need to return to the question: What will it take for the people to exert a more powerful compulsion on the government against executing Mumia, than what exists for them to go forward with their murderous plans?

It is important to fight this battle through in the courts and Mumia and his lawyers are waging a critical legal battle. But this is an arena of struggle run by the enemy's rules. So the people need to fight in a determined way where we set some of the rules. IT IS UP TO THE PEOPLE TO MAKE JUSTICE HAPPEN IN THIS CASE.

To win this battle, we must unite all who can be united. Millions need to ask themselves: "Can I stand by and do nothing while the government kills Mumia Abu-Jamal?" And all those who oppose this execution, for whatever reasons, must be challenged to do everything they can to actually stop the government's execution plans.

We cannot afford to lose this battle. We cannot afford to let the powers-that-be take Mumia from us because he is precious to the oppressed and all those who hunger for justice.

Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Demonstrations are expected throughout the U.S. and internationally in response to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's outrageous decision. Look to the RW (and it's website: for coverage of on-going developments in the struggle to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)