November 7th Actions Denounce Pennsylvania Court Decision

In the Streets for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Revolutionary Worker #983, November 22, 1998

On November 7, 2,500 people demonstrated in Philadelphia to protest the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's denial of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal's appeal. Contingents were organized by students and youth from many places, including the University of Pennsylvania; anarchists from Philadelphia; Antioch College; Richmond, Virginia; Maine and New Hampshire. There were large contingents from Refuse & Resist! and the December 12th Movement. MOVE members carried a banner with a quote from their founder, John Africa. There were also members of Pro Libertad, an organization fighting to free Puerto Rican political prisoners; Academics for Mumia Abu-Jamal; the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality; the Eddie Conway Support Committee; the Black Panther Collective; a number of groups who oppose the death penalty; and Worker's World Party. The International Action Center made hundreds of signs with Mumia's picture which were carried in a march that wound through the streets of downtown Philadelphia.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, 1,000 people took to the streets on November 7 in an action organized by the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal coalition. The urgency of Mumia's case drew a diverse crowd of youth, revolutionaries, activists and others. A high school teacher brought her class of 30 from an Oakland high school; people from the nearby projects joined in the march; carpools from Santa Cruz, San Jose, Fresno came. Speakers on this day included: Angela Davis; a member of Third Eye who read a statement from Assata Shakur; Amira Baraka (LeRoi Jones); Walter Johnson, secretary treasurer of the San Francisco AFL-CIO who is proposing a work stoppage for Mumia; Anna Brown, from Academicians for Mumia Abu-Jamal; Jeff Mackler, Socialist Action; Campaign to End the Death Penalty; a representative of the Black Radical Congress; International Socialist Organization; Richard Becker (Workers World); statements were read from the Irish Socialist Party in Ireland and poet Adrienne Rich.

Demonstrations for Mumia took place on November 7 in many other cities including: Chicago IL, Ann Arbor MI, Austin TX, Bangor ME, Bloomington IN, Burlington VT, Gainesville FL, Louisville KY, Los Angeles CA, Madison WI, Missoula MT, Nashville TN, Portland OR, San Diego CA, San Francisco CA, Seattle WA, Calgary (Canada), Volta Redonda (Brazil), Amsterdam (Holland), Besangon (France), Hamburg (Germany), Marseille (France), Paris (France), Rome (Italy), Oslo (Norway), Strasbourg (France) and Cape Town (South Africa).

The following are excerpts from state- ments given at the rally in Philadelphia:

"I want to tell you first the good news. On the eve of this demonstration, and probably because of it, we heard yesterday from the governor's office that despite his public statements that he will sign a warrant for Mumia's execution as soon as the Supreme Court rules he's now stating that he's really in no hurry. And that warrant will not be signed, we feel, immediately. But then there's the bad news and the bad news is this. Back in 1995 as we were about to go into court to seek a new trial, the governor's office contacted us and said they would not sign a warrant for Mumia's execution so long as we go into court. And on our way to court, Governor Ridge signed a warrant for his execution. So we can't trust the word of this governor. We can't believe whatever they're saying in Mumia's case and we have to remain vigilant...

"Where we go now--we will wait for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to reconsider their decision. We've asked them to take another look at it, that it is so obviously wrong they must re-examine the record and they will do that this month. And we will have a new decision before the end of November. And if they reject our position now, then we believe the governor very well might issue a warrant for Mumia's execution. If that happens, we will go into federal court and we will seek a stay of that warrant until we litigate in the federal courts of the United States.

"These courts have overturned 35 percent of all of the death cases coming out of the states in the United States. There would be over 5,000 awaiting execution in the United States instead of 3,500. And the pro-death penalty forces knew this and in 1996 after the Oklahoma City bombing case they restricted these federal judges. So now they can't conduct the indepen- dent review that Mumia's case needs. And we're going to argue that that law is unconstitutional. And we're going to wait and see what a federal court will do.

"But your presence, your strength, your outcry is going to be very critical to what happens when we're in federal court. Don't think you don't matter. In 1972, the United States Supreme Court threw out the death penalty and 600 people who were waiting for execution were freed from death row. Why did it happen in '72? It happened in '72 because the civil rights movement was strong, the anti-war movement was strong, the women's movement was strong, the environmental movement was strong and the Native People's movement was strong.

"Your voice in the case of Mumia is going to be a very critical voice in the '90s as we seek once again to stop the insanity of the state killing and halt the executions not just of Mumia, but all 3,500 on death row. And we should be mindful today as we stand with Mumia that Brother [Tyrone] Gilliam in Delaware faces execution within the next 10 days and he, like Mumia, never received a fair process. His execution must be stopped as well. So it's important that we come together. It's important that our strength grow. It's important that we remain united. And it's important, above all, that we free Mumia. Thanks for your support."

Leonard Weinglass, Attorney
for Mumia Abu-Jamal

"As long as the people have not accepted defeat, neither will we. So I would like to encourage you to stay strong and to continue the fight until Mumia is victor- ious. It is an outrage that the courts con- tinue to ignore blatant evidence, continue to play legal games with our lives. This insanity is a huge insult not only to those of us who remain unjustly imprisoned but to all of you who dedicate your life to our freedom and are ignored by the corporate owned justice system and media.

"I want to encourage supporters to intensify the struggle for Mumia's life. I know that you can stop this execution because no matter how evil a government may be, they cannot defeat the power of the people. Your work and help is needed more than ever. We must now live and breathe Mumia's case 24 hours a day. If we are able in unity to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, we are not only saving the life of a man who speaks for those who are not often heard and whose stories are rarely told, but you are saving all of us who remain unjustly behind bars from the depths of hopelessness.

"Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! In the Spirit
of Crazy Horse, Leonard Peltier"

Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier

"We're going past the site where police brutality happened to Mumia. And like Mumia says, the only reason why he's on death row now is because he survived. The only reason why my sister Ramona Africa did seven years in jail is because she survived. The only reason why I've got brothers and sisters doing 30 to 100 years in jail is because they survived. But what we're here to say to this govern- ment, you ain't surviving.... We are organizing, and again, you ain't got enough goddamn jails. You ain't got enough darned graveyards to stop this movement."

Pam Africa, MOVE and
International Concerned Family and Friends
of Mumia Abu-Jamal

"The fact that the state will once again seek to take your life sickens me. I remember the descriptions of the terrible treatment prisoners receive when placed in Phase II. Amnesty International will be calling upon its members worldwide, a million of them, to campaign to stop your execution."

From a letter to Mumia written
by Pierre Sanñe of Amnesty International, read by Julia Wright

"I watched you gazing pensively a few months ago through the bars of President Mandela's former political prisoner's cell....Mr. Clinton, there is a man in your shadow, a man past your quality, a leader as beloved as Martin Luther King, as beloved as Malcolm X. He stands in the same cell, only it is not on Robben Island, it is here. That man was presumed guilty simply because he was of color, because color is the open sesame for death row."

Julia Wright, daughter of
author Richard Wright

"It was a political decision, a political decision made at the highest levels in this country to attempt to carry through the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal. And we have to seriously understand that. They have thrown the gauntlet down. They are saying we are going for it. And therefore that means that our movement has to go to a new and higher level...In the words of the late Mario Savio, who led the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley in the 1960s, sometimes the operation of this system becomes so odious to people of conscience that they have no choice but to throw their bodies into the gears of the machinery and bring it to a halt!"

Clark Kissinger, Refuse & Resist!,
contributing writer for Revolutionary Worker

"Mumia's been on death row since 1981 but he hasn't stopped struggling. Mumia has continued to give voice to the people who are under attack from this system. Mumia has continued to speak out against police brutality, against racism, against homelessness, against people being impoverished under this system. We need Mumia out here with us helping to organize people to resist the abuses of this system. Look at how much Mumia has accomplished from under the bowels of death row. Look at how he continues to speak out. Think of how much more he can do when we get him out here with us, when we free our brother from jail, when we stop this execution and when we bring Mumia back out on the streets...Sisters and brothers, we have a responsibility here. This system has signaled its deter- mination to try to go ahead and murder Mumia. We have to be just as determined that we ain't gonna let 'em get away with that because that would be another crime by this criminal system. So I say to you sisters and brothers, Mumia ain't criminal. It's this system that's criminal. Free Mumia! The system is the problem and revolution is the solution!"

Carl Dix, National Spokesperson,
Revolutionary Communist Party

"I am the father of the 13-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a housing police officer. He was playing with a toy gun. I am here today to support free Mumia. And it's important that we organize and get ourselves together. I have been fighting and struggling for my son for the last four years. There is no justice in this system. There is none at all. The justice that is in this system is between us ourselves. We have to fight ourselves for justice for our children and for our families.... It is important that we get this brother Mumia free because he has a powerful voice in society today and his voice is nothing but truth. And truth is power and that's why they are refusing to release this man."

Nicholas Heyward, Parents Against Police Brutality and
October 22nd Coalition Against Police Brutality, Repression
and the Criminalization of a Generation

"This man has spent his life fighting for us. Since before many of us were even born, Mumia Abu-Jamal has been speaking for us, fighting for us, looking out for us, and people deserve to know that. And people deserve to know that there's a highly organized, well financed movement that's trying to take this man's life from us. They deserve to know this because most of all they deserve to have a say in this. They deserve to have a chance to fight for Mumia Abu-Jamal like we've already seen so many young people do once they find out what he's about. They need to know that this man stood for them and that his face is the true face of justice."

Jana, Refuse & Resist! Youth Network

"I bring with me the demand of the Hon- orable Louis Farrakhan that Mumia Abu- Jamal get a fair trial, that Mumia Abu-Jamal be freed today because to keep him in the jail only points out the real criminals that you and I are dealing with today."

Representative from
Nation of Islam in Philadelphia

"I was fortunate enough to go up to the prison on last Sunday to see Mumia and he is strong. He is strong because he knows that you're here. He's strong because he knows that you'll carry on the struggle for him when he cannot.... The family is here that can be here. We're here to walk with you and march with you, but we couldn't do it without you. We appre- ciate you. We respect you. Thank you."

Lydia Barashanga, Mumia's sister

"All we're asking is justice. If we can't get justice, we gonna do what we gotta do to get it."

Lateefa, Mumia's daughter

"We have to close the door on executions in this country. We have to close the door on their moves to execute Mumia Abu- Jamal. And we can't just continue to just talk about it, we must do something about it. And we're going to make it heard and un<%-1>derstood clearly that this will not happen. That they will not execute Mumia Abu-Jamal. And they need to think before they do something that they cannot undo. Justice has to be served, the death penalty has to be fought and Mumia Abu-Jamal has to be freed!

Safiyeh Bukhari, co-chair,
New York Coalition to Free 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.)