Message to the Fighters for Justice

Shaka, Mumia... and Us

Revolutionary Worker #1061, July 1, 2000
We took it hard when they killed Shaka Sankofa.
We saw him fight with all he had, right up to the end. We heard his courageous last words telling us to "march on" and vowing that "they can kill a revolutionary, but they can't stop the revolution."
We were raw in our mourning and in our anger. We were inspired by Shaka and full of contempt for the ones who murdered him. We felt the weight of the oppressive institutions and the armed power that this system can bring down against the people.
And we are more determined than ever that ALL THIS MUST CHANGE!
Mao Tsetung once wrote in a poem that "bitter sacrifice strengthens bold resolve." The imperialists have sacrificed Shaka Sankofa to their sewer-dwelling gods of Greed, Racism, and Fear and this is truly bitter. Now it falls to us to complete Mao's thought and "dare to make sun and moon shine in new skies."
This blatant injustice must haunt the murdering Bush, the cold-blooded Gore and their whole class, this summer and fall - dogging their heels and exposing the bloody teeth behind their smirking grins. The spirit of Shaka must live, propelling us as we "march on."
Many of those fighting against the execution of Shaka Sankofa have been fighting for justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Some had first stepped into political life on account of Mumia.
Mumia and Shaka -- over a thousand miles apart, but linked by a common opposition to the system, a shared dedication to the people and a life on death row. Two Black revolutionaries - one who was put behind bars for being a revolutionary; one who became a revolutionary behind bars - both locked down and sentenced to die. Mumia had written about Shaka and called on people to support him.
As Shaka fought his last fight, and then as his execution was finally announced, our thoughts and feelings, our hopes and dreams, could not help but leap from one man to the other, and then back again.
We looked at Shaka and saw that the forces that had been drawn to his cause were not enough to defeat the imperialists. All the undeniable right on the side of Shaka Sankofa could not stop the relentless machinery of injustice this time. The morality of his case meant nothing to those whose morals are reckoned in profit and power. The resistance in the streets, courageous as it was, could not raise the specter that could force his killers to back off this time.
But Shaka's brave words, his concern for the masses, his analysis of the system, and his resistance helped to set the tone as millions of people were awakened to the cold realities behind the death penalty in this country - the racism, the class nature of the system, the complete lack of justice in the courts, and the callous enforcers who make life-and-death decisions as easy as pushing a button on the FAX machine. And in the wake of this execution we see fear within the power structure itself that the murderous reality and injustice behind their so-called freedom and democracy has been thrust into the light of day.
Those who want justice for Mumia will learn from this and learn well. We will draw on our grief and outrage at what was done to Shaka Sankofa and then transform it into energy in our fight for justice for Mumia - and our fight to end the whole system of injustice.
The enemy has demonstrated the utter heartlessness of their system to millions of people. And we must redouble our efforts to forge the strategy, movement and organization that can defeat that enemy. This means persevering to unite all who can be united to stop the execution - reaching out to the millions whose eyes have been opened by the murder of Shaka. It means reaching deep among the basic proletarian people who hate this system - respecting, not fearing, the ferocity of those who have nothing to lose. It means reaching wide among the youth - unleashing, not holding back their daring and determination to change the whole world.
In the past several months there have been extremely important gains made by the movement for Mumia. But the execution of Shaka Sankofa makes clear that more -- much much more -- is needed to win. And in order to actually win, we must draw deeply on what has been accomplished and take it higher and further. We will have to pool our creativity, our efforts and daring still more.
We need to persevere to make known the true story of Mumia so that where you stand on this case becomes a dividing line in society. 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 refuses to bow down or give in - and who, from his cell on death row, makes his voice heard against the living legacy of white supremacy in this United States of America. The more people understand this story, the more committed they will be to fight for justice.
And millions must make it known through our actions that the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal is an intolerable and unacceptable injustice. This summer, it is crucial that we continue to let 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 a situation where 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."
Some weeks back, we wrote something worth recalling in the wake of the murder of Shaka Sankofa:
"We Maoists have a basic stand towards the enemy's viciousness: DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO WIN...
"We have defended Mumia, we have learned from Mumia, and we do not intend to let the executioner's hand stop that! As far as we're concerned, this execution CANNOT happen. We're going to continue to fight in this movement, uniting with others who have very different viewpoints to increase its broadness, diversity and determination. We are going to continue to help the people escalate the struggle and do what is needed. And we vow to make every outrage in this battle another nail in the coffin of the imperialists."
C. Clark Kissinger gave a picture at the February Emergency National Conference to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal of some of what that means: "We must raise the specter of high schools and universities across the nation shut down by striking students. We must raise the specter of people of conscience chaining themselves to the White House fence. We must raise the specter of debate and controversy breaking out in every sector of society. We must raise the specter of millions marching in the streets. We must raise the specter of teachers, artists, and influential writers losing faith in the system itself-and communicating their infection to others. We must raise the specters of [the] Los Angeles [1992 rebellion] and [the battle of] Seattle. And we must make the United States a pariah in the international community, a country whose very name is synonymous with racism and legalized murder. [We must create a] situation, in short, where they would have to pay an unacceptable price in every arena of society."
Brothers and sisters, we took it hard when they killed Shaka Sankofa. And now we must give it back in return, ten times harder.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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