Penn Supreme Court Refuses to Review
Denial of Mumia's Appeal
We Can't Let Them Kill Mumia Abu-Jamal
Revolutionary Worker #986, December 13, 1998
On October 29, 1998 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously ruled to deny political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal a new trial. Five days later Mumia's attorneys filed an application for reargument with the court. The application was based on Mumia's claim that he should be granted a new trial because he was barred from most of his original trial by Judge Albert Sabo. Sabo ordered that a court appointed attorney take over Mumia's defense against his wishes and banned Mumia from the courtroom. In their application for a reargument, Mumia's attorneys wrote that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision to deny Mumia's appeal, despite the fact that he was removed from his own trial, "overlooks and misapprehends the clear United States Supreme Court precedent holding that the right to be present in capital proceedings, such as here, is not waivable." On December 2 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied this petition for a rehearing with a one sentence ruling.
The State Supreme Court's ruling to deny Mumia's appeal and this most recent decision to reject a reargument 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!
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.
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 situation demands that the battle for Mumia leap to a whole new level and become even more broad, diverse and determined. 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. 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.
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.
As Attorney Leonard Weinglass said at a November 7 demonstration, "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 Peoples movement was strong."
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.
The signing of another death warrant would be a major turning point in Mumia's case. This must be met with massive and international protests.
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal have called for supporters to activate their emergency response networks. If a death warrant is signed, there will be protests the day after in Philadelphia and other cities around the country. If a warrant is signed Monday through Thursday, there will be a demonstration on Saturday in Philadelphia at noon at the State Office Building, Broad and Spring Garden Streets. If it is signed Friday there will be a demonstration at the State Office Building in Philadelphia the following Saturday. For more information contact ICFF at (215) 476-8812.
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