AS WE GO TO PRESS........
September 25, 1999:
IN THE STREETS FOR MUMIA
Revolutionary Worker #1024, October 3, 1999
As we go to press, reports are arriving at the RW--describing the many diverse actions taken all across the U.S. and the world during this Mumia Awareness Week--September 19-25.
Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal have worked to take their campaign to a higher level--to make Mumia's name a household word and to make his case a political dividing line.
Refuse & Resist!, an organization deeply involved in this Awareness Week, told the RW that they have already received reports from 96 different cities and towns across the U.S.--and that they expect to hear of even more events from the Week of Awareness in the coming days. The RW will be providing more complete coverage of these actions in our next issue.
But as we go to press, we have some early reports from September 25--the day known as "100 Cities for Mumia," when many citywide rallies and actions took place.
Paris France: According to a brief early report, 2,500 people marched on the U.S. embassy on September 25 to demand freedom for Mumia.
Montreal, Canada: More than 300 rallied at the downtown Parc Berri and then marched--to chants in both French and English--on the Planet Hollywood restaurant & boutique (where the high-priced clothes are made by prisoners in Oregon). Police tried to stop the march, but failed. A huge puppet-pig carrying money bags was then burned to the cheers of the crowd. Thousands of leaflets and posters were distributed. Mumia graffiti appeared across the city.
New York City"I see Black and white people coming together and they're here saying why is the government trying to kill this man?"
A woman in Harlem on September 25
In New York City, hundreds participated in a powerful day of marches, rallies and leafleting for Mumia. As 300 formed up in Harlem, the huge Mumia posters of the Black Power contingent led the four-mile march through Manhattan's Upper West Side to a rally in Columbus Circle. From there over 700 marched south into New York's glittery midtown entertainment district for the rally in Times Square in front of the Condé Nast building. Condé Nast publishes Vanity Fair, the magazine now infamous for Buzz Bissinger's "snuff journalism" article on Mumia. There was strong sentiment in the crowd for freeing all political prisoners and deep feeling for Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier. 60,000 leaflets about Mumia's case were distributed.
Speakers and participants included the December 12th Movement, the New Afrikan Liberation Front, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Refuse & Resist!, the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, the International Action Center, the Campaign To End the Death Penalty, Workers World Party and other organizations.
As darkness fell over L.A., torches lit the way as 400 hit the streets in Westwood--to the beat of young drummers from Watts and the chant, "Ain't no power like the power of the people, and the power of the people don't stop!"
The diverse crowd included youth and students of all nationalities, 30 teachers from the newly formed Justice for Mumia Teachers' Coalition, the Green Party, the Artists' Network of Refuse & Resist! and a contingent from the Watts Committee Against Police Brutality.
In this largely affluent shopping district--that borders the UCLA campus--the torches, chants and marchers were repeatedly greeted by applause and raised fists. At one restaurant, customers and workers alike poured into the street to cheer.
At the closing rally, Mumia's lead attorney Leonard Weinglass explained why the critical period is now approaching in this battle to save Mumia. James Lafferty, Executive Director of the L.A. Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild said, "It's going to take more than courts and more than lawyers. It's going to take us!" Participants repeatedly used words like "amazing" and "incredible" to describe the action.
Earlier that day, in Leimert Park--at the center of a vibrant Black community that includes music clubs and performance spaces--160 people marched and heard Leonard Weinglass and civil rights activist Rev. James Lawson speak on Mumia's case.
To the beat of drums, 300 marchers targeted ABC studios, Chicago Police headquarters, and the Metropolitan Correctional Center in separate rallies--before marching together through Chicago's downtown. Our reporter wrote: "There was a strong edge to the march." People stood strong in the face of police, who thuggishly threatened marchers--"your ass is mine"--and attacked the march twice. Several Mumia supporters were arrested. One was reportedly accused of standing on top of a cop car.
A spirited youth contingent marked the day, and there was a strong presence from activists in the struggle against police brutality in Chicago--including Reverend Paul Jakes of the Christian Coalition for Urban Affairs and attorney Standish Willis of the Chicago Conference of Black Lawyers. And there were many there whose own families have been victimized by police murder and imprisonment, including Gwendolyn Hogan (married to Kelsey Hogan, killed by an off-duty cop); George Morris (October 22nd Coalition activist whose son, Kevin Morris, was shot in the back by an off-duty cop); Jamilla Fields (married to death row inmate Nathson Fields), and Rev. Costella Cannon (whose son, Frank Bounds, died on death row of medical neglect).
Four car caravans moved through the San Francisco Bay Area on September 25--as supporters of Mumia fanned out into many different communities to spread the word about his case. Huge stacks of leaflets went out in three languages--in English, Spanish and Chinese--as honks and fists rose from passing cars.
One caravan traveled through the Fillmore district and onto busy Market Street, which runs through the heart of San Francisco. On this sunny shopping street, the crowds on the sidewalks loudly joined in the chants of the passing caravan. Another went through the Richmond and Haight-Ashbury Districts. A third caravan decked out with banners, flags and posters started out in the Black community of Hunters Point-Bayview and wound its way up through the Mission District, home to many immigrant and Latino proletarians. In the East Bay, a car caravan wound through Black and Latino communities of west Berkeley and Oakland--carrying bold decorations made by students of Oakland high schools.
In the evening 100 gathered for performances and political discussion at University of California Berkeley.
Philadelphia: 100 people demonstrated in front of the offices of the Fraternal Organization of Police--opposing the vicious FOP campaigns that are targeting Mumia and his supporters. Young activists, standing on top of metro stop, led the chants. The day showed the broad support for Mumia, here in his hometown, as passing motorists kept up an almost continuous stream of solidarity honks.
In Atlanta 200 people rallied in Coan Park for Mumia. In Detroit about 100 people demonstrated at rush hour in front of the tunnel to Canada on Friday, September 24. Many passing motorists honked in support. And in Madison, over 200 people rallied for Mumia at the Wisconsin State Capitol and marched to the new County Jail--where prisoners were seen waving support from the upper floors.
More next week
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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