Stop the Execution:
Voices of Resistance

Revolutionary Worker #1027, October 24, 1999

Pennsylvania Gov. Ridge's signing of the death warrant sparked widespread outrage and expressions of support for Mumia. The following are excerpts from some of the statements:

Pierre SanÚ, Secretary General of Amnesty International:

This death warrant serves no purpose except to put Mumia Abu-Jamal on "death watch"--causing him unnecessary suffering. This is playing politics with a man's life. The unnecessary infliction of suffering upon a prisoner by a government official constitutes torture.

The vast majority--or almost all--of the death warrants signed by Governor Ridge have had two effects: forced the prisoner concerned to undergo the harsh regime of "death watch"; and forced the prisoner to file his appeals earlier, when the appeal may be insufficiently prepared. The unnecessary signing of death warrants is an attempt to rush death row prisoners through appeals that are guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution.

From the Oct. 13 news release from the office of Chaka Fattah, Democratic Congressman from Philadelphia:

Justice can only be served through a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal, concluded Congressmen Chaka Fattah and John Conyers, speaking on behalf of the entire 38-member Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Congressman Fattah, a Philadelphia Democrat, has been closely monitoring the Abu-Jamal case for almost two decades and has concluded that a new trial is necessary in order to carry out Abu-Jamal's constitutional right to due process. Congressmen Conyers, the leading Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, agrees....

There are many reasons for the CBC's reservations in the Abu-Jamal case. Even if he were guilty, there should be a more solid assurance of fact before he is put to death. If he is innocent, putting him to death on the basis of the current evidence makes the government guilty of the very thing for which it is accusing Abu-Jamal.

"The only thing we know for sure is that he has not been given due process and that alone is enough for a new trial," said Congressman Fattah.

Jesse Jackson Sr., president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition:

The decision to kill Mumia should be repugnant to the people of Pennsylvania and throughout our nation.... I am disappointed that Gov. Ridge would seek revenge through capital punishment. There are still too many unanswered questions in this case. We support the attorneys and people of good will everywhere who are working on Abu-Jamal's appeal.... In far too many cases, the issuing of death sentences fall disproportionately on African Americans, Latinos and, in general, the poor who are unable to afford an adequate defense. This lopsided form of justice should cast a foul smell throughout our criminal justice system. Until this broken system is corrected, there will be no closure for Mr. Faulkner's widow and no justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Sam Jordan, Director of Program to Abolish the Death Penalty, Amnesty International USA

Amnesty International calls on Governor Ridge to immediately rescind the death warrant for Abu-Jamal and to cease issuing further death warrants while inmates have appeals pending. We hope that the appellate court, once it receives the appeal, will order an immediate and thorough review of the fairness of Abu-Jamal's trial and sentencing hearing.

Amnesty International unconditionally opposes the death penalty, which is applied disproportionately on the basis of race, ethnicity and social status...

Howard Zinn, historian:

There is one powerful reason why the judicial system should not permit the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal. The evidence is now overwhelming that there have been deadly errors made in sending prisoners to the death chamber. Again and again, it has turned out that prisoners pronounced guilty and sentenced to death have proved later to be innocent. In the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the evidence is conflicting, and there is certainly more than a reasonable doubt of his guilt. The history of executions in this country shows the system biased against poor people, people of color, and political activists. Mumia Abu-Jamal fits all three categories. To allow Mumia Abu-Jamal to die at the hands of the judicial system would be a terrible commentary on a system that claims to dispense "equal justice before the law." The whole world is watching to see if our country will live up to that claim.

Mike Farrell, actor:

Governor Ridge's death warrant for Mumia Abu-Jamal is yet another example of the misplaced zeal in this case. If the energy and resources expended trying to kill Mr. Abu-Jamal were instead used to root out racism and corruption in the criminal justice system, Americans could once again pray for a day when the behavior of their government would finally be consistent with their fundamental beliefs. Instead, the governor postures, authorities beat their breasts and justice goes wanting. With it, sadly, goes the faith of those who want to believe in the American ideal.

Adrienne Rich, poet:

More and more citizens of conscience are looking at Mumia Abu-Jamal's case in the light of our deep concern about racist bias and unfairness in the criminal justice system, a national pattern of abuses of police authority, and efforts to censor strong dissident voices. More and more of us see this denial of due process as our own cause, threatening our own human and constitutional rights. The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal will not go away.

Steve Hawkins, Executive Director, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty:

Did the Scottsboro Boys receive a fair trial? Did Sacco and Vanzetti? Did Julius and Ethel Rosenberg? No, of course not. Their cases loom as the hallmarks of injustice in this century. The Pennsylvania courts, in their denial of the most basic and fundamental rights to Mumia Abu-Jamal, have sought to add him to this saga of shame. The federal courts are now presented with the opportunity to correct a terrible wrong--or else add Mumia's name to a tragic legacy.

Arnold Mesches, visual artist, and Jill Ciment, author:

Mumia Abu-Jamal deserves a new trial because of new evidence. The treatment of Mumia is totally unfair. Let's end the death penalty.

Stan Willis, Chicago Conference of Black Lawyers, African American Committee to Free Mumia and Aaron Patterson:

30 years ago, on December 4, the government carried out its plan to murder Fred Hampton...to destroy the freedom movement in the African American community, to destroy the leadership of the freedom movement. And Mumia is a victim of that thinking. He is a victim of the COINTELPRO thinking and the COINTELPRO infiltrations. And that is clear now--that Mumia was framed, that the FOP, the reactionary police and the police community want to move into the next century with a moral victory for reaction.

JosÚ Lopez, executive director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Chicago:

I stand here in solidarity with the African American political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Today is a sad day. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its unwillingness to hear the case of Mumia and the Pennsylvania injustice system in condemning this innocent man to death, clearly harkens us back to the memories of the illegal lynchings in this country. It reminds us of the fact that hundreds of Mexicans, Blacks and Native Americans were lynched during the 19th and 20th centuries... We should call upon people of good will and conscience to support Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Black Liberation Struggle.

Rev. Michael Yasutake, Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Project:

I speak as an Episcopal priest in the diocese of Chicago--and also as one who had introduced [a resolution which] was accepted at the Episcopal general convention. We met in Philadelphia last time, and we passed a resolution saying that the whole judicial system in the U.S. is racist, that Mumia Abu-Jamal's case is a classic example of miscarriage of justice, and that he should have a new trial... Our faith mandates us to preach good news to the poor and to proclaim release to the captives. Mumia is a living example of one who is living this mandate.

Amy Ray, musician, Indigo Girls:

Mumia is just one of many whose criminal convictions arise out of unjust conditions and complex situations.... The full evidence has not been heard. The Jury should still be out. The State has no business executing Mumia. The State has no business killing anyone.

*****

The following are from statements made at the October 15 press conference at the national headquarters of the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia. Pam Africa, (International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal), and C. Clark Kissinger (Refuse & Resist!, contributing writer to the RW) also spoke.

Pat Clark, national criminal justice representative for the American Friends Service Committee:

When you think of Mumia, think of the millions of other people who are incarcerated and the 3,600 other people who are on death row. And think about a criminal justice system that is overwhelmingly incarcerating people of color. And ask yourself: Can we ever, ever just sit by idly and say things can continue the way they are?

Jeff Garis, executive director of Pennsylvania Abolitionists Against the Death Penalty:

Those of us who are concerned about the death penalty are also deeply concerned about this particular case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.... If these courts can ignore the overwhelming international outcry, the outcry of people across this country who are concerned about basic issues of justice, then what will happen to other people in this state on death row who do not even have that kind of support?

Kenny Henderson, activist from Germany:

I got a phone call last night from Berlin that there was a demonstration yesterday. There will be a demo tomorrow. There are posters all over the city of Berlin about Mr. Jamal in Turkish and German. There are cities all across Europe where people are taking to the streets and fighting... People across Europe are demanding Mr. Jamal's release.


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