Stop the Persecution of C. Clark Kissinger!
Step Up the Struggle for Justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Revolutionary Worker #1083, December 17, 2000, posted at http://rwor.org
The following statement was issued by the Revolutionary Communist Party, New York Branch
The issue of the rights of revolutionaries to speak their views has been at the heart of Mumia's case in many ways--from the attempts to silence Mumia's revolutionary journalism to the imposition of the death penalty based on a statement made by Mumia when he was a member of the Black Panther Party that "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." The police-state atmosphere at the conventions and the political repression of activists for Mumia have only underlined that reality, and the unjust jailing of Clark Kissinger has brought it home all the more clearly.
On December 6, 2000, C. Clark Kissinger--a contributing writer for the Revolutionary Worker, a founding member of Refuse & Resist! and a leading organizer in the movement to win justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal--was sentenced in a Philadelphia courtroom to 90 days in jail!
His crime? Giving a speech during a protest at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. A speech that exposed the "Executioners' Ball" then gathered in Philadelphia...that called on people to step up their efforts in defending Mumia...and that boldly set out Clark's revolutionary Maoist convictions.
Such a speech, according to Judge Arnold Rapoport, violates the terms of Clark Kissinger's probation. Such a speech must be punished and Kissinger must be silenced, according to this judge. So he sentenced Clark to 90 days, ordered him immediately taken to prison, extended his probation for another year, and then for good measure unleashed U.S. Marshals against Clark's supporters in the courtroom, arresting two people and manhandling others.
Clark's probation was an outrage in itself. For the "crime" of refusing to cop a plea for the July 1999 protests around Mumia at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Clark and six other people were given a year's probation for "refusing to obey a lawful order." In Clark's case, the probation conditions forbade him from traveling without permission and from contact with felons--both conditions being calculated to cripple his participation in the movement to win justice for Mumia.
Now the powers-that-be have made clear the political point of these conditions. For the crime of daring to speak in a venue not approved by his probation officer, for the crime of bringing the issue of Mumia and Clark's own revolutionary politics into the politically charged situation of the Republican convention, Clark Kissinger is to be imprisoned for 90 days.
This is an outrage and it must not be tolerated; it must be resisted and defeated. If this goes down without a major political response from the people, it will remove a key activist at a crucial time in the fight for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and it will have a chilling effect on others stepping forward in this movement and on dissent and resistance in general. Justice-minded people need to get the word out everywhere and activate your organizations.
Why have they made this move against Clark Kissinger?
Not because he is a "danger to the community." No, the main reason for this attack has everything to do with his activity in the battle for justice for Mumia. Clark has fought to bring the battle for Mumia to the broadest sections of people, without ever watering down either Mumia's stance as a revolutionary or the high stakes of this battle for the people. He's fought to not only bring Mumia's case to the people, but to "bring the people to the case"--to involve and to activate individuals and organizations from the most diverse viewpoints and backgrounds in this hugely important struggle.
To get a sense of this, read this excerpt of the speech for which Clark is now serving 90 days:
"Why [speaking of the police intimidation at the convention] do they have to bring out this intimidation, the mounted police, the helicopters, the clubs? Why do they have to stage boycotts of performers who come out and help Mumia? Why are we constantly subjected to these kinds of threats? Are they afraid that the people will actually learn what happened in Mumia's trial? Are they afraid that people will learn what was said between the judge and the lawyers in the secret meeting in the judge's chambers to which Mumia was not invited? Are they afraid that people will learn about the phony confession story? Are they afraid that people will learn what Mumia actually stands for? And are they afraid that people will see in Mumia a champion of the oppressed as well as a victim of the system? Do they worry that their whole reactionary agenda may be put at stake? Yes, I think they do worry about that. . .
"Dare to struggle, dare to win! We have defended Mumia and we have learned from him. We do not intend to let the executioner's hand take him from us. As far as we are concerned, this is one execution that will not happen. We are going to fight this fight to win, and unite with people of all different viewpoints from all different communities, expanding our broadness, our diversity and our determination. We are going to continue to escalate this struggle using whatever means are necessary and needed to do that. And we vow to make every outrage they throw at us yet another nail in the coffin of their vicious system."
Now is a crucial time in the movement to win justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal. The very important hearings on Mumia's motion for habeas corpus in Federal District Court could be set at any time. This will be the last chance to enter new evidence in Mumia's case. The movement has important plans to mobilize thousands for that first day of hearings, and to shine a worldwide spotlight on Philadelphia. The outrageous sentence of Clark Kissinger is both a general attempt to silence Kissinger and prevent him from playing his overall role in the struggle for Mumia, as well as a particular effort to hamstring the ability of the movement to mobilize for that crucial juncture in Federal District Court.
We must go all out to make that attempt backfire. We must build opposition to this jailing and defeat it, and we must do that as a springboard to take the issue of Mumia's case to millions--to broaden the ranks of those who oppose Mumia's execution and to build up the core of those who are determined that it MUST NOT happen.
Revolutionary Communist Party--
New York Branch
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