I would like to invite to join an urgent campaign I have been working for, organized by the Partisan Defense Committee, on behalf of the American political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
I'm sure that many people on this list will be familiar with the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a prize-winning journalist, former Black Panther, outspoken fighter for black rights in the U.S., and radical critic of American imperialism--an innocent man who was framed up and has spent the past 24 years on death row.
There have been urgent developments in Mumia's case. Mumia is now in a lot of danger, and to save his life a mass, international movement must be built as soon as possible.
For those not familiar with his case: Mumia, who had been under surveillance by the FBI and the notoriously racist Philadelphia police for his militant views from the age of fifteen, was framed up and falsely convicted of the murder of a police officer in 1982. To get him convicted, the police extorted lying testimony from witnesses and pressured others to keep quiet. Several have since bravely recanted or spoken out. The trial was run by a hanging judge known as the "King of Death Row" whose open, racist bias against the defense is succinctly captured in a boast he made at the time, overheard by a court stenographer who later testified to it, that he was "going to help 'em fry the n----r." The prosecutor argued that Mumia deserved to die for his political views, telling the rigged, predominantly white jury that Mumia's having been a member of the Black Panthers proved he wanted to kill a cop. Seven years ago, in a spectacular development, the man who actually committed the murder Mumia was convicted of confessed in a sworn, videotaped affidavit--a confession that is powerfully corroborated by multiple witness accounts, ballistics, physical evidence, and other known facts--but the courts have outrageously refused to even allow this testimony to be heard. In the current right-wing climate in this country, there is a lot of political pressure from the ruling class to kill Mumia--a symbol of resistance to racism and imperialism.
Last December a federal appeals court put the question of Mumia's death sentence on a "fast track" to decision. They have agreed to hear three of Mumia's appeals, but they will also be hearing the state's appeal of the 2001 reversal of his death sentence. While it is possible that the court may uphold one or more of his appeals and grant him the right to further legal proceedings, the reality is it is far more likely that they will reaffirm his death sentence, which would open the way to his execution. This is the outcome Mumia himself has said he expects, and there is little reason to doubt it unless a strong movement in his defense can soon be mobilized. Mumia filed his opening papers in July; a decision could come within a few months
To save Mumia's life, the organization I support--the Partisan Defense Committee--is fighting for mass, international demonstrations of the kind that won a stay of Mumia's execution back in 1995, days before it was to be carried out. Many people on this list may have taken part in that outpouring of protest from anti-racists, civil libertarians, and trade unionists around the world--that is what is needed now, times ten. The PDC is building united-front actions and soliciting statements of support around the slogans "Free Mumia!" and "Abolish the racist death penalty!"
A list of ways to help can be found on the Partisan Defense Committee website at http://www.partisandefense.org/campaigns/mumia.html. Individuals and organizations who want to take part in the campaign to free Mumia can help publicize his case, raise funds for his legal defense, and send statements of support.
The PDC--a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization which has been fighting for Mumia's freedom since 1987--has received statements of support for this current campaign from Nobel-Prize-winning South African author Nadine Gordimer, black scholar and activist Manning Marable, Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery, Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas, and officials from hundreds of unions including the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the CGT, one of the biggest trade union confederations in France.
A partial list of supporters can be found here:
For more information on Mumia and the fight for his freedom, see the campaign brochure
"Mumia Is an Innocent Man: Free Mumia!"
If you would like to help, or if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me or with the PDC directly.