Emergency National Conference to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
Strategizing to Stop the Execution
Revolutionary Worker #1043, February 20, 2000
"Revolutionaries must not be killed for their beliefs--the people must defend them."
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, USA, July 1995
"Legal pundits would have us believe that everything is decided by judges. But history shows that the courts are greatly affected by voices and actions of the people...."
"A Letter to the Movement: The Next Critical Period
in the Battle to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal,"
from activists in the battle to stop the execution
of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, December 1999
"Hello! This is Rubin Hurricane Carter calling on you to come out to the Emergency National Conference to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal. We MUST save him. Please come out."
--from a taped message by Rubin Hurricane Carter
A very important gathering is shaping up at the Emergency National Conference to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal. Called for Saturday, February 19, 2000 in New York City, this emergency conference is taking place at a crucial moment in the fight to stop the execution of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal--during the run-up to critical hearings this spring at the Federal District Court level.
A major goal of the conference is to provide for a "wide array of social forces to come together and strategize for this next round in the fight." Conference organizers and endorsers pledge to "map out a battle plan to save Mumia's life and provide direction for what role organizations and individuals can and must play in that plan." The conference will make plans for a major mobilization in Philadelphia on the first day of Mumia's hearing in federal court.
The conference promises a full day of strategizing, 411 on the legal case, and orientation for the next phase of the battle to save Mumia's life. The opening session will offer a chance to hear Attorney Leonard Weinglass and Sam Jordan of Amnesty International. Just two days before the conference, Amnesty International will unveil their findings in a new booklet based on a thorough investigation of Mumia Abu-Jamal's case.
The heart of the conference will be a series of workshops, designed to strategize around key constituencies and areas of work. A "public session to remember" in the evening will include an overview of the battle plan and a powerful session on the significance of Mumia's life and his case. As we go to press, some of the provocative voices in the evening session will include Piers Bannister, principal researcher for the Amnesty International investigation into Mumia's case; poet Sonia Sanchez; Tarif Warren; journalist Linn Washington; Rosemari Mealy; poet Jessica Care Moore; Sharrif Simmons; and musician Will Connell.
The RW welcomes this timely and urgent gathering. With the filing of the habeas corpus appeal in federal court--under the shadow of the temporarily stayed death warrant--the struggle to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal has entered an important new stage.
The Federal District Court is the first level of a three-level federal appeals process. Because of new laws supported by the Clinton administration, this first level of the appeals process at the Federal District Court is the only place where all the new evidence that the Pennsylvania state courts refused to allow into the record can be admitted--and therefore be available for examination in higher appeals. Rulings by Federal District Judge William H. Yohn, Jr. may determine whether or not Mumia receives an `evidentiary hearing' to reopen the factual record in his case, or whether all future appeals will be based on the court record of the notorious "hanging judge" Albert Sabo.
Decisions of this Federal District Court can be appealed by either side to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, but these higher courts can outright refuse to hear appeals, or they can rule on them by affirming or overturning decisions of the Federal District Court. For these reasons--the last chance to enter new evidence into the record and the fact that the higher courts can refuse to hear the case at all--this first level of the federal appeals process is extremely important.
As "A Letter to the Movement: The Next Critical Period in the Battle to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal" pointed out, we "need to build the broadest movement possible in order to counter an opposition that remains powerful, dangerous, well organized, and poised to kill Mumia.... The next few months, leading up to the Federal District Court's decision...must feature our best efforts, our strongest measures, our most creative energies." (The letter was reprinted in RW #1038, 1/16/00)
Mumia's appearance at the District Court hearings will put a spotlight on the case and on Mumia's story. And in the coming months, two competing stories will be ranged against each other throughout society.
We can anticipate the story that will be told by the power structure--we've seen its outline already on 20/20, in Vanity Fair, and from the Fraternal Order of Police.
But the people must make known the true story: The story of Mumia is the story of a Black revolutionary and journalist under police surveillance for years; of a police department and court system that stands out for its racism, corruption, and brutality; of a war against Black radicals by powerful forces in the Philadelphia power structure; of a trial so racist and biased that it defiles every standard of fairness and justice; and of a man who refused to bow down or give in--and who, from his cell on death row, made his voice heard against the death penalty, the criminalization of the youth, the inhumanity of the prison system, and the living legacy of white supremacy in this United States of America.
And millions must make it known and unacceptable--through our actions--that the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal is an intolerable injustice. Going into these Federal District Court hearings, it is crucial that the movement to stop Mumia's execution be "heard" in new ways--and with new scope. Throughout the U.S.--and around the world--we need to reach out so that millions of people believe that this execution should not happen and there is a powerful and passionate movement of people for whom "this cannot happen."
So we think the Emergency Conference will be an important site for the movement to develop a unified orientation and strategy for the next round of battle. And we look forward to this conference marking a new level in forging working collectivities and new alliances.
From our revolutionary Maoist point of view, we are in a war with the system, and we see the struggle to save Mumia as a crucial battlefront. There is so much at stake for the people in this fight. If the system succeeds in executing Mumia, the people will suffer a bitter loss that will have heavy consequences for Black people, for the poor, for the youth, for all those unjustly imprisoned, for all those on death row, and for anyone who cares about justice and equality--for years to come. For our part we are determined to stop this execution. And in order to accomplish this we believe that we need to unite all who can be united--and, together, we need to dare to struggle in a way that lets the power structure know that their whole system is on trial in this case.
See you at the conference.
For more information about the Conference, contact the Emergency Conference at: http://rwor.org
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.)