Te Aro Demonstration: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Abolish the racist death penalty!
Saturday 12 May
Te Aro Park
Corner of Dixon and Manners Streets
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man who has been on death row in the United States for nearly twenty years. He is an award-winning black journalist and author, targeted because of his opposition to racism in the United States-especially the racism of the Pennsylvania police.
The FBI and the police have hounded Mumia since the late 1960s, when at the age of 16 he was Lieutenant Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party. He went on to a career as a journalist exposing the brutality of the police through the 1970s, becoming an eloquent and outspoken opponent of racism and injustice. One night in late 1981 there was an incident in which Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and Mumia were both shot. Faulkner died and Mumia was hospitalised, and later charged with Faulkner's murder. Police attempted to suppress evidence from at least five witnesses from different vantage points that another man had run from the scene of the shooting. The police claim that the bullet that killed Faulkner came from Mumia's legally registered gun, but there is no evidence for that-or even that Mumia's gun was actually fired that night. And they claim that Mumia confessed to the shooting while in hospital later that night, a claim that has likewise been fully exposed as a lie. Indeed, there was no report of such a confession until more than two months after the shooting.
The defence counsel appointed in the original trial admits to his incompetence, the jury selection was biased, and Mumia was not allowed to defend himself and was excluded from much of the proceedings. The presiding judge, Albert Sabo, has sentenced more people to death than any other sitting judge in the United States, and was manifestly prejudiced.
Since then there have been many different legal proceedings in the Pennsylvania courts, mostly presided over by judge Sabo. There has never been a real trial. Right now there is a writ of habeas corpus before the federal courts, but under a 1996 law the United States federal courts must presume the correctness to the state court's findings of fact.
The political and judicial climate is not good for a black American political prisoner on death row. The new President of the United States, George W Bush, led the way in the implementation of death sentences when he was Governor of Texas.This is a critical time.
There is a chance to save Mumia's life-but not if we rely on legal processes alone.
A massive international campaign has already been effective in Mumia's struggle. In 1995 action around the world-including by trade unions from Italy to South Africa-led to a temporary stay of execution. It is again urgently necessary to fight. As Mumia himself once said:
"They have ignored all evidence of innocence, overlooked clear instances of jury taint, and cast a dead eye on defense attorneys' ineffectiveness. What they have done in my case is par for the course.. I am not surprised. Every time our nation has come to a fork in the road with regard to race, it has chosen to take the path of compromise and betrayal.. Even after this legal legerdemain I remain innocent. A court cannot make an innocent man guilty. Any ruling founded on injustice is not justice. The righteous fight for life, liberty, and for justice can only continue."
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