Revolutionary Worker #1115, August 19, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
On Friday, August 17, political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is scheduled to appear in open court for the first time in four years--and people are mobilzing coast-to-coast to stand with Mumia!
Recent developments have made clear once again the power structure’s deadly intent to execute this revolutionary brother. And the people must respond by stepping up the struggle to stop the enemy from railroading Mumia into the death chamber.
The August 17 court appearance is in connection with the reopening of the PCRA (Post Conviction Relief Act) process in the Pennsylvania state courts. The first PCRA was turned down by Judge Albert Sabo in 1997, a decision upheld by the state supreme court in 1998. Mumia’s lawyers recently filed a legal brief with the Pennsylvania court asking for a second PCRA hearing to present new evidence that Mumia was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the 1981 shooting of Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner.
The August 17 hearing is slated to be a "status hearing," dealing with specific legal matters in Mumia’s case in the state courts. But this is clearly an important moment in the fight for Mumia, particularly because it is Mumia’s first court appearance in four years. The state court hearing also takes place a month after an outrageous ruling by Federal District Court Judge Willaim H. Yohn. Yohn is the judge in Mumia’s ongoing federal habeas corpus appeal, which was filed in 1999 after the denial of Mumia’s first PCRA in the state courts.
In the July 19 ruling, Yohn refused to accept testimony from a man named Arnold Beverly, who has stated that he is the person who actually shot Faulkner. Significantly, in denying the Beverly testimony, Yohn deliberately launched into a detailed citation of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act--a federal law aimed at directly cutting off the ability of people wrongfully convicted in the state courts to seek the overturn of their convictions and sentences in the federal courts. Furthermore, Yohn specifically advised the Pennsylvania state courts to reject the Beverly testimony. Yohn even suggested what sections of the Pennsylvania law the state courts should cite in rejecting Mumia’s petition for a new PCRA.
During the previous round of the PCRA in the Pennsylvania courts, Sabo and the state supreme court rejected or simply refused to hear evidence gathered by Mumia’s defense that was not available during Mumia’s original trial. The evidence included new witnessess for Mumia; recanting of testimony by key prosecution witnesses; testimony about coercion of witnesses, perjury and obstruction by the police; evidence of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct.
The recent legal brief filed by Mumia and his lawyers presents additional new evidence that Mumia was railroaded. Among this new evidence are three important statements: by Mumia himself, describing in his own words--for the first time--what happened on the night he was shot and arrested for the murder of Faulkner; by Mumia’s brother William (Billy) Cook, giving his description of what happened that night; and by Arnold Beverly.
It would be unconscionable and deeply unjust for the Pennsylvania courts, in line with Yohn’s ruling, to refuse to even consider this new evidence in the case. What is at stake is the life of a man, a revolutionary who represents the aspirations of the people. The people must demand that the courts hear this new evidence.
In the days leading up to the August 17 state court hearing, the Pennsylvania state government and the media launched a new attack on the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (see accompanying article). Along with the Yohn ruling, this latest attack on the movement to support Mumia shows the seriouness of the struggle--and the need for the people to step up broad and determined resistance.
On August 17-18, the people will be out in the streets in Philadelphia and San Francisco to stand with Mumia--to demand that the courts hear crucial new evidence in his case and to denounce Yohn’s ruling. A strong mobilization will help build for the major struggles and protests ahead--including the long-anticipated appearance by Mumia at the federal district court in the habeas case, as well as the new PCRA in the state courts.
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 notorious for their 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 went against 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 injustice and oppression in this country and around the world. The true story of Mumia must become so widely known that where one stands on this case becomes a dividing line in society.
The masses of people must make it known through their actions that the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal is an intolerable and unacceptable injustice. We need a situation where millions of people believe that this execution should not happen--a powerful and passionate movement of people who are determined that this execution will not happen.
Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Overturn the Conviction!
As we go to press, the plans for mass actions on August 17-18 include the following:
Mass Rally: Stand with Mumia!
Friday, August 17, 9 a.m.
East side of City Hall
Rally while Mumia is in court and then march to the federal building.
Informative program on the MOVE 9
and Hip Hop Show to benefit MOVE
August 17, 6 p.m.
1515 Cherry Street
March for Mumia
Saturday, August 18
(time and place in planning)
For information contact: International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, 215-476-8812
Press Conference and Stand with Mumia Picket Line
August 18, 12 p.m.-2 p.m.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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