Mumia Abu-Jamal Must Be Heard at Kent State & Antioch
Revolutionary Worker #1051 April 23, 2000
On April 6, the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer declared: "The life-and-death contest over Mumia Abu-Jamal has arrived in Ohio."
At the end of March, seniors at Antioch College announced that they had asked political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal to deliver their commencement address on April 29. A few days later, students at Kent State University said Mumia would be a featured speaker at the May 4, 30th anniversary commemoration honoring the students killed by National Guard troops during protests against the Vietnam War in 1970.
This has sent all kinds of reactionary forces into a frenzy. The National FOP, Maureen Faulkner (the widow of the cop Mumia is convicted of killing), and the National Association for the Advancement of White People (!!) are saying they will mobilize 2,000 people to protest the commencement. The media in Ohio has run front page articles, attacking the students and repeating worn out lies about Mumia's case. The president of Kent State University has criticized the students for including Mumia in the commemoration.
This controversy is raising the issue of Mumia to tens of thousands more people and many are shocked at the vicious attempts to censor Mumia's voice. A high school student reported that two of her teachers told their classes that Mumia had every right to speak. Dozens of people have sent letters to the press supporting Mumia's right to speak (although few have been printed so far). A Vietnam vet in southern Ohio called the dean of Antioch College three times expressing his support. A student from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland said, "Mumia has taught our generation to stand up for the people in the face of apathy, ignorance, and attacks. And the second we stand up against this injustice system, from the L.A. Rebellion, the WTO protests, to our movement for Mumia, the rulers of this country tremble."
At Antioch College, students held five teach-ins about Mumia's case in high school classes and a march in support of Mumia and calling for the abolition of the racist death penalty. The students sent out an e-mail saying: "We are looking for supporters to attend the commencement, for press releases to be sent out in support, for editorials to be sent to newspapers, for resources such as posters to be sent to our support committees... Our show of unity will be a major blow to the attempts to murder Mumia and kill radical spirit. Also, please send support to those having to endure the violent harassment by reading e-mails and getting obscene phone calls. Call and e-mail expressing support, we need it... Please call to express your support; they are being inundated with hate mail from cops and the like. The number is 937-767-6490. e-mail can be sent to email@example.com (Antioch Commencement Committee) and Warren@ antioch-college.edu (Dean of Students)."
At Kent State University, the May 4 Task Force and Kent Anti-Rascist Action students held a press conference on April 4 to announce that Mumia would speak (through a taped message) at the historic 30th Commemoration of the May 4, 1970 shooting of four Kent State students. Other people scheduled to speak include Noam Chomsky, Ramona Africa, and Vernon Bellecourt. Alan Canfora, who was wounded by National Guard bullets at Kent State in 1970, issued a statement saying:
"As one of those shot and wounded at Kent State University in 1970, I have remained as an active opponent of American injustice for many years. There are many political prisoners in America today in the year 2000. Many deserve a re-examination of their harsh prison terms, which have clearly resulted from political bias and antagonism shown by powerful conservative politicians and judges and law enforcement officials.
"The time has come for the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal to serve as a shining example of the overwhelming need to reverse a very grave injustice. I strongly urge all Americans with a sense of history and dignity to consider the facts in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal and raise your voices to demand freedom for this determined political prisoner. An innocent man deserves support.
"At the same time, on behalf of the Kent May 4 Center and our thousands of supporters across America, I encourage the American people to join us publicly and write letters of support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, join public demonstrations to demand his freedom and join us at Kent State University on May 4, 2000, to hear a taped solidarity message from Mumia in jail.
"Since 1970, we have raised our voices for truth and justice at Kent State University. Like the Kent State victims, Mumia Abu-Jamal deserves a better fate than the gross injustice too often perpetrated by the American system of justice. At Kent State, we have learned that we must raise our voices together to be more effective in opposition to injustice. In 2000, as in 1970, we lend our support to Mumia Abu-Jamal and all victims of injustice and abuse of political and legal power."
After the press conference students held a rally and march as part of a national day of student walkouts for Mumia. The group of protesters included members of Black United Students, Amnesty International, the May 4 Task Force, Anti-Racist Action and others. Leonard Weinglass, Mumia's lead attorney, is scheduled to speak at Kent State on April 26.
Students at Kent are asking people to sent letters of support to: May 4 Task Force c/o OCL Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242; Student Anti-Racist Action, c/o OCL Box 9, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242; Daily Kent Stater c/o letters to the editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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