Saturday, December 20, 2008

New Appeal - Mumia Abu-Jamal faces US Supreme Court

Mumia Abu-Jamal faces US Supreme Court, as supporters mobilize globally
By Hans Bennett

On Friday, December 19, 2008, death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal filed his appeal to the US Supreme Court, asking it to consider his case for a new guilt-phase trial. One month before, the Philadelphia District Attorney filed its separate appeal to the US Supreme Court asking to have Abu-Jamal executed without a new sentencing-phase trial.

At this critical stage in Abu-Jamal’s case, supporters organized a week of global solidarity actions that began on December 6, the day of the large protest in Philadelphia, almost 27 years after Abu-Jamal was arrested for the December 9, 1981 shooting death of white police officer Daniel Faulkner, and later convicted in a 1982 trial that Amnesty International has declared a "violation of minimum international standards that govern fair trial procedures and the use of the death penalty".

There were solidarity actions inside the US and around the world, including Mexico, Venezuela, Germany, France, England, Switzerland. Several US events screened the new DVD video titled Fighting for Mumia's Freedom: a report from Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, over 200 protesters gathered outside the District Attorney’s office across the street from City Hall. Journalists for Mumia’s new video report from the demonstration features an interview with persecuted Civil Rights Lawyer Lynne Stewart, and footage of Pam Africa speaking outside the DA’s office about the newly discovered crime scene photos taken by press photographer Pedro Polakoff, and the DA’s role in hiding them from the defense. The coordinator of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Pam Africa cited Polakoff’s statements today that he approached the DA’s office with the photos in 1981/82 and 1995, but was completely ignored by them. Subsequently, Polakoff’s photos were never seen by the 1982 jury, or by the defense. Africa presented the evidence to Philadelphia PD Civil Affairs Captain William Fisher to deliver to DA Lynne Abraham.

Protesters marched from the DA’s office to the Federal Court Building where Abu-Jamal had oral arguments on May 17, 2007. The march stopped at the 13th and Locust crime scene where Journalists for Mumia gave a presentation focusing on the photo by Polakoff that shows a blank space where key prosecution witness Robert Chobert testified to being parked in his taxi as he allegedly observed Abu-Jamal shoot Faulkner. An online video of the presentation is available alongside the special presentation flyer.

That week, Journalists for Mumia was featured by Philadelphia’s independent news website I argued in the interview that “those advocating Mumia’s execution show a disturbing lack of concern about the undeniable problems of racism (and all documented police / DA / judicial misconduct) throughout. At the most fundamental level, the ‘Fry Mumia’ campaign’s lack of concern is racist….The FOP is appealing to a racist lynch mob mentality that has long infected the US, so calling this a ‘legal lynching’ is no exaggeration.”

In Mexico City, Mexico, supporters organized a week of actions, including a protest rally outside the US Embassy. Linking Mumia’s case to repression and political prisoners in Mexico, speakers at the US Embassy included ex-Atenco prisoners Edith Rosales and César del Valle, as well as a guitar performance by Atenco survivor Jorge Salinas, whose arms were temporarily paralyzed and hands fractured when he was almost killed by police at Atenco. Survivors Mariana, Edith y Norma who courageously told their story of being raped at Atenco. Solidarity statements were read from Mexican political prisoners Gloria Arenas Agis and her husband Jacobo Silva Nogales, and from the Atenco political prisoners in the Molino de Flores prison at Texcoco, México.

Braulio Alvarez, a member of the Venezuelan parliament and leader of the farmers struggle in Venezuela said in his message written for the week, that Venezuelan supporters had decided “to go the American embassy in Caracas to hand to the ambassador a letter to the governor of Pennsylvania, demanding that he immediately liberate Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

Berlin, Germany’s, week of solidarity culminated in a demonstration where hundreds marched to the US Embassy with slogans like "Freiheit für Mumia Abu-Jamal - Weg mit der Todesstrafe überall" ("Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal - Abolish the death penalty everywhere").

Also demonstrating the international interest in this case, the new British documentary film about Abu-Jamal, titled In Prison My Whole Life, premiered December 8 on the Sundance Channel. Previous interviews with William Francome, and Livia Giuggioli Firth, revealed that In Prison features an interview with Abu-Jamal’s brother Billy Cook, and the newly discovered crime scene photos. Officially endorsed by Amnesty International, Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen said: "We hope that the film's viewers will back our call for a fair retrial for Mumia Abu-Jamal--and also support our work opposing the death penalty in the US and around the world."

Appealing to the US Supreme Court

Both the DA and Abu-Jamal are asking the US Supreme Court to consider their appeals of the March 27, 2008 rulings by the US Third Circuit Court, when the court denied Abu-Jamal a new guilt-phase trial but ruled that there must be a new sentencing- phase trial if the DA still wants the death penalty. Therefore, Abu-Jamal is appealing for a new guilt-phase trial, while the DA is appealing to execute him without a new sentencing-phase trial. On October 6, 2008, the US Supreme Court rejected an unrelated appeal from Abu-Jamal.

On March 27, 2008 the US Third Circuit Court's three-judge panel of Thomas Ambro, Anthony Scirica, and Robert Cowen ruled against three different appeal issues, refusing to grant either a new guilt-phase trial or a preliminary hearing that could have led to a new guilt-phase trial for Abu-Jamal. However, on the issue of racist jury selection, also known as the Batson claim, the three judge panel of split 2-1, with Ambro dissenting.

Abu-Jamal filed his appeal of this ruling with the US Supreme Court today, Dec. 19. Arguably the key issue will be the 1986 Batson v. Kentucky ruling established the right to a new trial if jurors were excluded on the basis of race. At the 1982 trial Prosecutor McGill used 10-11 of his 15 peremptory strikes to remove otherwise acceptable black jurors, yet the court ruled that there was not even the appearance of discrimination. In his dissenting opinion, Judge Ambro wrote that the denial of a preliminary Batson hearing "goes against the grain of our prior actions…I see no reason why we should not afford Abu-Jamal the courtesy of our precedents."

Separately, the DA is appealing to execute without a new sentencing-phase trial, having filed their brief on November 14, 2008. Abu-Jamal’s deadline to respond to this is January 21, 2009.

On March 27, the three-judge panel unanimously affirmed Federal District Court Judge William Yohn's 2001 decision "overturning" the death sentence. Citing the 1988 Mills v. Maryland precedent, Yohn had ruled that sentencing forms used by jurors and Judge Sabo's instructions to the jury were potentially confusing, and jurors could have mistakenly believed that they had to unanimously agree on any mitigating circumstances in order to consider them as weighing against a death sentence.

According to this ruling, if the DA wants to re-instate the death sentence, the DA must call for a new penalty-phase jury trial where new evidence of Mumia's innocence can be presented. However, the jury can only choose between a sentence of life in prison without parole or a death sentence.

The DA is appealing this 2001/2008 ruling to the US Supreme Court, so if the court agrees to consider the DA’s appeal and rules in their favor, Mumia can then be executed without benefit of the new sentencing trial. However, if the court upholds the 2001 and 2008 rulings, then the DA will either request a new sentencing trial or accept life in prison without the chance of parole.

Notably, at the DA's request, during the post-2001 appeals, Mumia has never left his death row cell or been given general population "privileges" such as contact visits with family.

Reacting to the DA’s Appeal

Following news that the DA was appealing to execute without a new sentencing trial, I spoke with Dave Lindorff, J. Patrick O'Connor, and William Francome.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: An investigation into the death row case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. He says that “the obsession of a string of Philadelphia district attorneys, beginning with current Governor Ed Rendell and ending with current DA Lynn Abraham with killing Mumia Abu-Jamal, despite his now having spent 26 years in the living hell of Pennsylvania's death row, is truly repulsive and inhuman. It has ruined the live of Daniel Faulkner's widow whose life has become a pathetic campaign of vengeance. It has cost the taxpayers of Philadelphia and of the state of Pennsylvania untold millions of dollars. And meanwhile, there is every reason to believe that Abu-Jamal was wrongly convicted of first degree murder and should never have been sentenced to death in the first place. The obsession to kill him, which began from the moment police first arrived on the scene in December, 1981, has led to a decades long travesty of and insult to the principles of justice, which is continuing to this day.”

William Francome, from the British film In Prison My Whole Life says that this “shows again the political nature of this case. It is my opinion that their office would not like to have to go through with another sentencing phase of the trial, with the attention that it would receive. They wish that this case would just disappear and that Mumia would be quiet, yet they do not want to face the Fraternal Order of Police who would be outraged if the DA wasn't pushing for a death sentence… The sad thing is that amongst the political battles, a man’s life is at stake and I find the attempt at reinstating the death sentence (which is a completely irreversible and inhumane practice), to be abhorrent.”

J. Patrick O’Connor is the author of “The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal.” Despite several book tours and an important NY Times article when Framing was released in May 2008, it has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media. O’Connor argues that the DA’s appeal is “without merit and represents pure gamesmanship by outgoing D.A. Lynne Abraham…The last thing the Philadelphia DA's Office wants to conduct is a new sentencing hearing, an event it continues to put off by filing this latest appeal. That's really what this latest appeal is all about.”

The Power of the People

At the December 6 protest, Pam Africa stressed that the DA is trying to execute Abu-Jamal despite the strong evidence of both an unfair trial and innocence. Not having any faith in the court system, she argued that justice will only come from popular pressure, and made an urgent plea for supporters to do all they can at this critical hour. In his message recorded for the international week of solidarity, Abu-Jamal thanked his supporters and decried the recent denial of a new guilt-phase trial:

“As you’ve seen, the law is but politics by other means, and the judges but politicians in judges’ robes. It doesn’t matter what the cases say. It doesn’t matter what the so-called rules say. They’ve never followed them from day one. What matters is what you say. What matters is what you do. So I thank you all for being there, for fighting for what’s right, for fighting for life, for fighting for liberty. I thank you all and I love you all.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

December 6 International Week of Solidarity with Mumia Abu-Jamal--A Report from Philadelphia

Legal Update

Date: December 15, 2008
From: Robert R. Bryan, lead counsel
Subject: U.S. Supreme Court developments regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal, death row


Mumia Abu-Jamal remains on Pennsylvania's death row. Last week marked the 27th anniversary of his unjust imprisonment. Racism, fraud and politics have been threads that have run through the case since its inception, and continue today.

We are in extensive litigation on two fronts before the United States Supreme Court. The prosecution is continuing it quest for the execution of my client. In a separate case before the court, I am seeking an entirely new trial and Mumia's freedom. Based upon my experience in having successfully represented numerous people in murder cases involving the death penalty, I am convinced that we can win if I can just get it back before a jury.

U.S. Supreme Court

The following is a brief overview of recent developments and filing deadlines:

Beard v. Abu-Jamal, U.S. Sup. Ct. No. 08-652 On November 14, 2008, the Philadelphia District Attorney filed in the U.S. Supreme Court a petition seeking to overturn the victory we achieved earlier this year in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Abu-Jamal v. Horn, 520 F.3d 272 (3rd Cir. 2008). In that ruling court ordered a new jury trial on the question of the death penalty. Our Brief In Opposition is scheduled to be filed on January 21, 2009.

Abu-Jamal v. Beard, U.S. Sup. Ct. No. 08A299. The Petition for Writ of Certiorari will be filed on December 19, 2008. The issues concern the prosecution's use of racism in jury selection. Relief was denied last spring by a sharply divided federal court. This is of great constitutional significance as reflected by the extraordinary dissenting opinion of Justice Thomas L. Ambro.

Abu-Jamal v. Horn, 520 F.3d at 304-320. He reaffirmed the bedrock principle that everyone is entitled to a fair and impartial trial by a jury of his or her peers, and that excluding even a single person from a jury because of race violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment.

Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense

The legal defense for Mumia needs substantial funds. The legal costs for our litigation in the Supreme Court are considerable and will likely reach six figures. To help, please make your checks payable to the "National Lawyers Guild Foundation" (indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left). The donations are tax deductible, and should be mailed to:

Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 2012
New York, NY 10159-2012

Conclusion This is a life and death struggle to save Mumia. He is in greater danger than at any time since being arrested. Your support and activism is needed. That Mumia remains in prison and on death row is an affront to basic human rights. We must aggressively continue this struggle until he is free.

Yours very truly,
Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117

Week of Mumia Solidarity Actions in Mexico City

by Amig@s de Mumia, Mexico | 12.15.2008

Below is a written report and photos from Amig@s de Mumia, MX, who organized a week of actions (Dec. 6-13) in Mexico City, in solidarity with US journalist and death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Solidarity statements were read from Mexican political prisoners Gloria Arenas Agis and her husband Jacobo Silva Nogales (in english or spanish). Eugenia Gutiérrez, of Women and the Sixth of the Zapatista Other Campaign read an open letter outside the US Embassy (in either english or spanish).

Free All Political Prisoners!
Free Leonard Peltier!

With drums, songs, rap, performance, and a lot of leafleting, the friends of Mumia in Mexico demanded his freedom in the zocalo on Saturday, December 6, in solidarity with the march in Philadelphia. There were also actions and events, starting that day, in San Francisco, New York, San Diego, Baltimore, Portland, Detroit, Cleveland, Missoula, Buffalo, Caracas, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, St. Denis, Marseilles, Bern, Monterrey and San Cristobal de las Casas.

We listened to this message from Mumia:

"My brothers and sisters, onaMOVE! I want you to know that the battle continues. It goes on because it must and it's the right thing to do. As you've seen, the law is but politics by other means, and the judges but politicians in judges' robes. It doesn't matter what the cases say. It doesn't matter what the so-called rules say. They've never followed them from day one. What matters is what you say. What matters is what you do. So I thank you all for being there, for fighting for what's right, for fighting for life, for fighting for liberty. I thank you all and I love you all. OnaMOVE! Long live John Africa! From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal".

On Monday, December 8, the Autonomous Magonista Collective (CAMA) organized a night of film and discussion about the Black Panthers and MOVE to give a context for Mumia's incrimination.

On Tuesday, December 9, 27 years after Mumia's arrest, we held a rally outside the US Embassy. Among us were comrades who have paid high prices for their resistance along with a lot of young, energetic anarchists who are barely beginning to fight.

Mexican political prisoners Jacobo Silva Nogales and Gloria Arenas sent solidarity messages showing their identification with Mumia in the goals of the struggle and their understanding of what it means to spend 27 years in prison. Elizabeth Silva, Jacobo's sister, who visits him every week in the maximum security Altiplano prison (formerly Almoloya) despite all the mistreatment and humiliation designed to keep family members away, summed up a long letter written by Jacobo to Mumia and spoke of the cruel conditions in Altiplano.

There was a common theme between Mumia's life and those of former and current Mexican political prisoners who participated in the rally: In spite of all the physical and psychological torture used to break their spirit and will and suffocate resistance, they are unrepentant for having struggled and have been able to heal themselves and keep on going with force, commitment, and vitality.

The police almost killed Mumia the night Daniel Faulker was shot to death. The state is still trying to kill him, quickly or slowly. The deadly D.A. from Philadelphia, Lynne Abraham, is now petitioning the federal Supreme Court to execute him without so much as a hearing, but Mumia Abu-Jamal keeps on struggling from his cell on death row, with words as his weapon. The police almost killed Jorge Salinas in Atenco, but last Saturday and last Tuesday he was with us, singing Zapatista corridos and songs to Che Guevara and Puerto Rican freedom fighters, holding his guitar in arms once paralyzed and playing with hands once fractured in Atenco.

Mumia endures torture every day of his life, in each and every body search, each and every visit where he can't hold or even touch his loved ones, yet every person who visits him finds him with a smile on his face, a free spirit eager to know how people are doing, how the struggle's doing, and what's happening in different places in the world. Three women who were with us at the rally—Mariana, Edith y Norma—were raped at Atenco but have the courage to speak of their sexual torture and denounce it publicly. You can tell by their smiles, their voices, and the way they walk that, far from feeling humiliated or defeated, they're stronger than ever. They'll go anywhere, to any city, any country, to denounce the crimes of their torturers and get them indicted in international courts.

If the State can't execute Mumia Abu-Jamal, it intends to keep him caged for the rest of his life. It doesn't have the slightest intention of letting him out alive. And the State doesn't intend to let Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Álvarez, and Héctor Galindo out of their cages either. On Tuesday, Ignacio's son, César del Valle, was with us in solidarity with Mumia, also speaking of his father, the other Atenco prisoners in Altiplano and Molino de Flores, and those who are hunted by the State and have not been able to return home since May of 2006. César read Ignacio's powerful message "Never Surrender," a message emphasized in lines sent to us by the MOVE 9 political prisoner, Phil África.

Several people at the rally also marched in supported of Mumia to the Embassy in '99 and some went to jail because of it. They still admire him and see the relevance of his freedom to that of the political prisoners of Mexico.

The freedom songs and poetry of Vicky and Carlos lifted our spirits, and Performákrata dramatized our struggle to free all political prisoners.

From the state of Guerrero, the Collective against Torture and Impunity demanded justice for Mumia from the government of the United States, "where the death penalty and life sentences are evidence of a legal-political-social backwardness and a violation of human rights in the international sphere (Inter-American Convention), where the death penalty is prohibited, but now taken up by Mexican politicians who insist on copying and allowing U.S. impositions."

Eugenia Gutiérrez, of Women and the Sixth of the Zapatista Other Campaign read an open letter to Mumia, speaking of the death penalty as a form of torture and of plans to reinstate it in Mexico. She insisted: "We were born to live and be free." Compañera Fili from the Santo Domingo neighborhood spoke about Mumia's presence here in Mexico, and members of the Anarquist Federation, Radiokupa, CAMA, Anarchist Black Cross, Chanti Ollin and CCH Oriente read Mumia's commentaries and abolitionist and solidarity messages for him. There were also denunciations against the repression in Tiripetío and Oaxaca and against the sentences of the October 2 prisoners. There was a brief blockade on Reforma Avenue and some stayed on the street divider for quite a while with red and black flags, leafleting and chanting.

On Saturday night, December 13, we closed the week with a concert-dance, with the announced groups Al Intifadah, Natty Dread Fyah Attack, Zona Norte Colektivo, Santocho Antifa and Radiokupa, plus several other musicians who showed up to play, including Tiempo y Azeta, el Poeta, Vicky and Carlos, Tambores Rumberos, hip hop sound-maker Carlos, and Machetearte performance troupe who sang out and energized us to gain freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners.

Friday, December 12, 2008

U.S. activists in solidarity with political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal

Philadelphia, Dec. 6, one of many protests in cities around the world. Photo: Audrey Hoak
Published Dec 11, 2008

Dec. 6 was declared an International Day of Solidarity with death row political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal. Events were held in France, Switzerland, Germany, England and Mexico, while in the U.S. events were organized in Detroit, San Francisco, Baltimore, Portland, San Diego and other cities. Mumia’s lawyers are currently appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court for a new guilt-phase trial, while the Philadelphia district attorney is appealing to the same court in an effort to execute Mumia without a new sentencing-phase jury trial. The following are summaries of some of the U.S. events.


Hundreds of spirited and determined demonstrators straddled both sides of a circular drive around Philadelphia’s City Hall across from District Attorney Lynn Abraham’s office on Dec. 6 to confront her attempt to fast track the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abraham, known as “the deadliest DA in the U.S.,” has called on the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, despite mounds of evidence of his innocence. The largely youthful crowd filled the frigid December air with chants of “No Justice, No Peace! Until Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Released!”

The rally opened with a phoned-in solidarity greeting live from Venezuelan campesino leader Braulio Álvarez, a member of the National Assembly representing the Yaracuy states.

Suzanne Ross holds photo of Braulío Álvarez, Philadelphia, Dec. 6. WW photo: Lal Roohk

Álvarez called from a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Caracas where Venezuelans gathered to present a letter to the U.S. ambassador calling for the state in Pennsylvania to immediately liberate Abu-Jamal.

Pam Africa of the MOVE organization and International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal challenged the assertion by District Attorney Abraham that there was no evidence that Abu-Jamal was innocent or denied a fair trial. Africa called on Captain William Fisher, head of Philadelphia’s Police Department of Civil Affairs, to come forward, and she proceeded to pile his arms with mounds of books, files, CD’s and photos containing evidence that has been gathered over the years to take to Abraham.

Noting that in 1981 and again in 1985 both the police and district attorney were given copies of photos taken by independent photojournalist Pedro Polakoff that contradicted prosecution witnesses’ accounts, Africa challenged Abraham’s position that evidence proving Abu-Jamal’s innocence was not timely and therefore could not be admitted to court. Africa noted that the prosecution had these photos, yet kept them from defense attorneys.

The rally was followed by a march past the Union League on S. Broad Street, where earlier in the day President George W. Bush was present to see his portrait hung. Some protesters carried placards with a photo of Bush behind bars for war crimes with the slogan “Jail Bush! Free Mumia!”

At 13th and Locust streets the march stopped for a brief enactment of the 1981 crime scene, where Hans Bennett of Journalists for Mumia outlined the contradictory statements of state witnesses that have since been exposed as lies by Polokoff’s photos and other eyewitness accounts.

Pam Africa presents pieces of the widely acknowledged
evidence of Abu-Jamal's innocence.
WW photo: Lal Roohk

The march concluded with another spirited rally as protesters occupied Market Street outside the Federal Court building, where speakers included Manolo de los Santos of the Iglesia San Romero de Las Américas; Suzanne Ross of the New York Free Mumia Coalition; and Ashanti Alston of the Jericho Movement, who spent more than a decade in prison. Alston spoke of the need to free all political prisoners, including Leonard Peltier and the San Francisco 8.

Monica Moorehead of the International Action Center spoke on Abu-Jamal’s refusal to compromise his principles and his continued political contributions through radio commentaries and weekly columns on issues from imperialist wars abroad to the economic crisis at home. “With almost two million people foreclosed out of homes this year and millions unemployed, we have to link these wars at home when we raise the political struggle against prisons, police brutality and stop and frisk. Mumia would want us to.”

Fight Imperialism, Stand Together organizer Larry Hales remarked that it has been 39 years since the murders of Black Panther members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark by Chicago police. “We don’t want to wait 39 years to observe another anniversary about Mumia. Young people today aren’t being educated about the great social movements, but they are going to be radicalized as they fight back against the conditions they face today, and they’ll come to understand the importance of raising political prisoners’ demands.”

—Betsey Piette


Student and community activists in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal met on Dec. 2 in Missoula, Mont., on the campus of the University of Montana (UM) to hear Larry Hales, an International Action Center organizer, and see the film distributed by the Peoples Video Network, “The Framing of an Execution: Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Media.”

Rachael Carroll, an organizer with the Montana Human Rights Network and Montana Abolition Coalition, a statewide movement against the death penalty, also spoke. The coalition was also a sponsor of the event.

Carroll reported that the Montana component of the prison-industrial complex is part of the racist trend throughout the United States, where members of oppressed nations are imprisoned and receive death sentences far beyond their numbers in the population. She said, “American Indians in Montana are about 6 percent of the population, but Indian women comprise between 42 percent and 75 percent of all women in prison in the state. In addition, Indian men comprise more than 22 percent of both prisoners and those receiving the death penalty.”

Both Hales and Carroll spoke about the need for people to get involved in local and statewide actions against the racist death penalty as well as to support Mumia and demand that his legal lynching be stopped. Both organizers encouraged those present to follow the advice of Mumia to “Organize! Organize! Organize!”

Elisabeth Stoeckel, a UM graduate student, chaired the meeting and represented the Social Justice Action Network, an event sponsor and a UM organization that provides social work graduate students with the opportunity to get involved with social justice activities on campus and in the community. Other UM groups supporting the event included Students for Economic and Social Justice, Students for Peace and Justice and the International Action Center in Montana.

The day before the Missoula event, activists and members of Amnesty International and the IAC gathered In Dillon, Mont., on the campus of the University of Montana Western. They heard Larry Hales speak about Mumia’s case and then engaged in a lively discussion to plan further actions in support of Mumia and the statewide movement against the death penalty in Montana.

The meetings in Missoula and Dillon were the first held in the state by the International Action Center in Montana, and are seen by state organizers of the IAC and other involved groups as stepping stones to building a statewide network to not only oppose the racist death penalty and the unjust imprisonment of oppressed and poor people, but also to engage in other political action against economic and political injustice.

—John Lewis


Activists in the fight to free U.S. political prisoners gathered in Buffalo to watch a new video, “Fighting for Mumia’s Freedom: A Report from Philadelphia.” They also watched a CBS-produced program, “West 57th,” that told so much truth about the case of Leonard Peltier that it outraged the government when it was aired in the 1980s. A lively discussion followed.

— Ellie Dorritie


Nearly 100 people braved a snowstorm in Cleveland on Dec. 6 to protest the 27 years of wrongful imprisonment of Mumia Abu-Jamal and to recommit to the struggle for his freedom.

WW photo: Susan Schnur

Abu-Jamal’s life was put in the context of J. Edgar Hoover’s war against the Black Panther Party by Abdul Qahhar, chair of the Cleveland chapter of the New Black Panther Party. Devin Branch of the Cleveland October 22 Organizing Committee described Abu-Jamal’s frame-up and the important aspects of his legal case.

Rev. Nozomi Ikuta and Yahya Abdussabur spoke about the situation of the Puerto Rican freedom fighters still in prison and the frame-up of Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (the former H. Rap Brown).

Messages of solidarity from prisoners falsely convicted in connection with the 1993 Lucasville prison uprising were read. The audience cheered recent victories in the campaign for the Lucasville prisoners as counted out by Sharon Danann of the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network. Jackie Thomas, spouse of Lucasville prisoner Rasheem Matthews, told how they tracked down the witnesses who testified falsely against Matthews and urged the audience to pack the courtroom during Matthews’ new trial.

Artists from the Hip Hop Workshop, a project aimed at keeping youth out of gangs while creating music without offensive language, provided poetry, dance, rap and hip-hop. The event was seen as a step toward a broader campaign on prison issues.

—Sharon Danaan


On Dec. 7, the African American Artists and Writers hosted an Evening of Solidarity to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal at the Malcolm X Library in Southeast San Diego.

A number of attendees left the Cuba/Venezuela/Mexico/North American Labor Conference in Tijuana early and walked across the U.S./Mexico border to be a part of this gathering. This made the meeting truly international, linking the struggle to free Mumia with the struggles of the many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that were represented at the conference.

Sylvia Telefaro of AAWA opened the discussion by saying, “We are all warriors on the ground—stepping up the struggle to free Mumia.” Speakers included John Parker, Los Angeles International Action Center; Sabrina Green, Free the Move 9 and International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; and Paul LouLou Chery, general secretary of the Federation of Haitian Workers. Dave Welsh of the Haiti Action Committee was scheduled to speak and interpret for Chery, but was delayed at the border to support a Haitian brother, Benissiot Docios, who was detained. (Docios was allowed through Customs only after he paid a “fine” of hundreds of dollars.)

Parker spoke about how important it is to link up the issues of people all over the world, stressing that Mumia’s essays are about this type of solidarity. Parker noted that Mumia rarely writes about himself. Green gave an update on the Move 9 and initiated a phone call to Pam Africa, who applauded the solidarity action. Africa gave an update on Mumia’s case and a Dec. 6 march in Philadelphia. On The Move showed a video by Hans Bennett (see

Elder Eusi Kwayana, a local activist, member of the Langston Hughes Poetry Circle and a native of Guyana, spoke about a letter that he wrote in May to the Brazilian government concerning the disappearance of Haitian civil rights activist Lovinski Pierre-Antoine. Kwayana was central in bringing together Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese people during Guyana’s independence struggle. Kwayana said that what the state is trying to do to Mumia is “a lynching.”

Zola Mohammad spoke of the struggle to free freedom fighters Imam Jamil and Leonard Peltier. Dianne Mathiowetz of Atlanta said, “Let us not forget Troy Davis. We send revolutionary greetings to the Cuban 5 and all political prisoners.”

Jim Moreno, a poet with the Langston Hughes Poetry Circle who attended the Tijuana conference, recited a poem that was inspired when he talked to LouLou Chery. One question in the poem concerned the hunger of the people of Haiti, to which Chery responded that the people hunger for the return of democratically elected president Bertrand Aristide.

Chery spoke of solidarity and unity and the work that is taking place to build the Federation of Haitian Workers (CTH). He said that Haiti is a poor country with a strong and rich history.

A group photo from the meeting will be sent to Mumia.

— Gloria Verdieu

Sunday, December 07, 2008


by: Jamal Hart
(Mumia Abu-Jamal's son)
from: Sis. Monique Code::

“Known worldwide as an almost mythical birthplace of liberty, the hope and freedom acted as a kind of psychic magnet, drawing the poor and oppressed from the class-bound aristocracies of Europe in rivers of emigration as well as Black captives escaping from southern bondage and Black freedmen and women fleeing a humiliating and soul-sapping southern apartheid. The Philadelphia that the stalwart Frederick Douglass beheld with snarled contempt would more than double in size in half a century rising from 650,000 people in 1860 to 1.5 million by 1914.”

-“A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. Quoted from “We Want Freedom” by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Firstly, I would like to take this time to request a moment of silence for all of our fallen heroes and sheroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom against the oppression of this wicked injustice system among innocent people.

I humbly would like to thank each and every one of you who came out in support of this year’s Class-War Prisoners event. Your solidarity is greatly respected. I give the greeting in many tongues to everyone in attendance by saying As-Salaam-Alaikum, Hotep, Ona MOVE, and Greetings to the masses who sacrificed their time to attend this important event. You have been chosen to become informed, abreast and intuned with a constant struggle that connects us all. I thank the Partisan Defense Committee for their massive support and love over the years throughout this atrocious ordeal. I stand in total solidarity with the labor force and with all people who take a stand against injustice and oppression.

I want you all to know that I have been constantly pushing for liberation quite vigorously and many of you inspire me to push harder and remember the words of a great freedom fighter Sis. Harriet Tubman who said, “I started with this idea in my head. There’s two things I have a right to: Death or Liberty.” (Quoted from the book “We Want Freedom” by Mumia Abu-Jamal).

From the beginning, as many of you know all too well, we are fighting for Mumia Abu-Jamal to be exonerated to freedom. We the people here today and abroad will not compromise in the liberation and freedom of him from behind enemy lines. The supporters constantly expressed this urgent message: FREEDOM OVER A NEW TRIAL!

So many times we have witnessed the vile injustice orchestrated in those so-called rooms of justice (AKA the courtrooms). Too many have been unjustly persecuted and railroaded either because of the color of their skin, a poor person or even a combination of both. God forbid they publicly oppose this outright oppression! They will be prosecuted, ridiculed and even have their character defamed to a demoralized state by this mendacious legal system.

By you being here today either to support this movement or join it for the first time, you are showing your awareness and solidarity to expose and demolish the unsavory racist courts the police state and racist Death Penalty Act that feeds off the working poor. We must collaborate and fight to achieve the one goal to free Mumia and all of our freedom fighters including myself from behind enemy lines.

The senseless murders at the hands of these racist rogue law enforcement officers nationwide are robbing the lives of our youth, women and men to feed their taste for blood like vampires. We cannot allow these injustices to go unchecked and accept their lies thereby causing their behavior to be justified.

The Courts from the lower level to the Supreme Court wants to act as if they cannot see that Mumia Abu Jamal is innocent. All of the evidence is clear and convincing and it is either overlook or dismissed by these rogue courts. However, when a rogue police officer opens fire on innocent working class people and immigrants, somehow they get swift justice and are freed of all charges.

As a man who didn’t think twice to become the voice of the voiceless, Mumia stepped up to the plate to expose this demonic system. A system that was and still continues to enforce intense oppression on African Americans throughout this nation by murderous police officers who hide their venomous ways behind their shields. It then allows them to freely practice corruption, extortion and murder among other unpleasantries. A prime example of this is what happened on Osage Avenue on May 13th, 1985 where 11 MOVE members were brutally murdered by this murderous government. Another example is the attempted assassination of my dear father Mumia on December 9th, 1981 in downtown Philly when these rogue police officers not only shot him, but beat him even while inside the emergency room of Jefferson University Hospital. WHAT HAPPENED TO FREEDOM?

Comrades, the only way we will get freedom for our political prisoners who are suffering in the prison hells of this country is to come together becoming a solid force for the poor and working class. We must reach one to teach one and educate the masses on the political history of America’s oppression.

Many of you assisted in change history in America by voting for the first African-American President showing the world that anything is possible in America. As that was an accomplishment, so should the goal of galvanizing the people and educate them on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal and too many more being railroaded by a mendacious legal system.

Comrades, we all know that these are trying times. We must step up to the plate and push harder until my dear father Mumia is ultimately free! At some point we need to get a grip and demand the freedom of this innocent man.

Lastly, I remind all of you as I remind myself everyday that we must not allow our adversaries to wag the tail of a dog and allow them to spoon-feed us with their deceiving lie that America does not have any political prisoners.

I am before you today in spirit to express to you that the only way Mumia will be free is for all of us to mobilize like never before and demand that freedom he and all of our freedom fighters so rightfully deserve. We must let them know that we will never give up! There is NO compromise!


Jamal has been incarcerated since 1996. Please write to show a brother some love at the following address:

Jamal Hart #50597-066
FCI Loretto
P.O. Box 1000
Loretto, PA 15940-1000

Thursday, December 04, 2008

International Days of Action for Troy Davis & Mumia December 6 + 9


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Join a day of International Solidarity to free MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
Saturday, December 6, 2008
at 12 Noon District Attorney Office
2 South Penn Square (East Side of City Hall)
March to Federal Courts 5th St. & Market
Before it's too late, Stop the murder of MUMIA!

San Francisco, California
Stand with Mumia Abu-Jamal and Troy Davis!!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
4:30 to 5:30pm
Federal Courthouse
7th and Mission Streets
(Civic Center Bart Station)

Dear Mumia Supporters -

This December 9th is a historic date -- it marks the 27th anniversary of the attempted murder of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the killing of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner on December 9, 1981, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Events which lead to the framing of Mumia, who has been unjustly incarcerated ever since. For 27 years, the courts, police and politicians have been trying to execute Mumia, who is on Death Row for his politics, courage and wisdom, not because of any crime he committed.

This December 9 also marks an important date and a step towards justice for another innocent person incarcerated on Death Row - Troy Davis. Troy was set to be executed when an incredible international campaign was mounted in his defense, forcing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to agree to hear oral arguments whether Troy can be executed even if he can present evidence proving his innocence. Troy has been on Death Row in Georgia for 17 years, framed for the murder of a police officer. There are many legal and factual similarities in the cases Mumia and Troy, both of whom are not only fighting for their lives but to defend the constitutional rights of everyone. A statement by William S. Sessions, a former district court judge who served as FBI director from 1987 to 1993, is printed below and provides further background into Troy's case.

Join with the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and many other organizations and individuals to Demand Justice and Freedom for Mumia and Troy! End the Death Penalty! Stop Police Brutality!

Join us on Tuesday, December 9, 4:30 to 5:30pm - Federal Courthouse, 7th and Mission Streets, San Francisco! Similar rallies are taking place in many cities around the world - see below.

For more information, call 510/268-9429 or 415/364-9715

In solidarity,
Jeff Mackler and Laura Herrera, Co-coordinators
The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal


From International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Portland, Oregon
The Strugglebration for Mumia, which was planned for Dec. 9, is bring pushed back due to scheduling conflicts. The new date and time will be Jan. 10, from 6 - 9 in the Multicultural Center at PSU, Smith Memorial Union 2nd floor, 1825 SW Broadway.

San Diego, California
Join the San Diego Malcolm X Library with a taped message from Mumia and speakers: Sabrina Green (Baltimore Free the MOVE 9 and ICFFMAJ), John Parker (Los Angeles International Action Center), David Welsh (Haiti Action Committee), Paul Loulou Chery (General Secretary, Federation of Haitian Workers).
Sunday Dec. 7, 3-5 pm, Malcolm X Library, 5150 Market Street at Euclid.

San Francisco, California
The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal has called a demonstration
December 9, 4:30 - 6:00 pm
at the Federal Courthouse at 7th Street and Mission in San Francisco.
We will also include information on the Troy Davis case that is scheduled to be heard on the same day.

We are scheduling two KPFA radio appearances on Friday, December 5 and Monday December 8 to update Mumia's case. We expect to on KPOO radio as well.

Baltimore, Maryland
End the Death Penalty in Maryland and
Build the International Day of Solidarity to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
December 5, 7pm
Cork Gallery Building
Cork Gallery
4th Floor Doorbell #9
302 E. Federal St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
contact: Ameejill, Baltimore Friends of MOVE, (443) 850-2840

Berlin, Germany
December 9
Panel discussion on Mumia Abu-Jamal on the 27th aniversary of his unjust incarceration
@ CLASH, Gneisenaustr.2a, 10961 Berlin

December 10
Benefit Gig for the FREE-MUMIA-campaign in Berlin with BERLIN BOOM ORCHESTRA,
DETREND CITY ROCKERS and others @ SO 36, Oranienstr.190, 10999 Berlin

December 13
DEMONSTRATION: FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL! from Berlin-Kreuzberg to the new US-Embassy

We would like to inform you that we have an internet radio live stream on one ofour events during the FREE MUMIA week of action in Berlin, Germany.

On December 10th, 2008 there will be a benefit concert for the FREE MUMIACampaign in the Berlin Club Collective SO 36 ( ) By now 4 performer groups and bands are confirmed, more are in the planning.

Berlin Boom Orchestra (Ska/Reggae)
Immigranstki Raggamuffin Kollektiv Soundsystem (ROTFRONT)
De.Trend.CityRockers (Breakbeats)

Doors will be open at 8 pm CET. At the US-East Coast that will be 2 pm.

Our "technical department" came up with the idea of an internet live stream viaone of the free radios in town.

Most likely we will be using the internet stream of Radio-Metropolis ( ). In cooperation with them we have
been presenting the FREE MUMIA News every Monday at 6 pm CET for more than a
year now anyway. They still need to check if their server is strong enough.

If you are interested in listening and promoting a world wide FREE MUMIA event /FONT>
on Dec. 10 please let us know. The exact live stream adress will be sorted out

The full programme of the Berlin FREE MUMIA week of action is here

In solidarity,

Berlin FREE MUMIA coalition
Berliner Bündnis Freiheit für Mumia Abu-Jamal!
im HdD
10405 Berlin

Bern, Switzerland
Saturday, December 13th, 2008.
2 pm
start: Neugasse
finish: US-Consulate
The organizers are two local chapters from the FAU CH (Free Workers Union Switzerland, anarcho-syndikalists).

Marseille, France
Décembre 6
Demo in front of the USA Consulate from 3PM to 6 PM
and for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Panel
with Amnesty International Marseille, Human Rights League Marseille (LDH), Christian against Torture and death Panalty, Marseille (ACAT)

Mexico City
Saturday, December 6- 3 pm. Bring drums, acoustical instruments, song, rap, or spoken word to the cultural- political rally in the main plaza; the same day there'll be a big march in Philadelphia and actions in other cities in the world.

Monday, December 8- 7 pm. Come to an evening of film and discussion on Mumia, the Black Panthers, and the MOVE organization at the Ricardo Flores Magón Center .
Tuesday, December 9- 3 pm. Participate with banners, music and messages in the rally in front of the United States Embassy on the 27th anniversary of Mumia's arrest.
Saturday, December 13- 6 pm. Dance for freedom to the rhythm of ska, hip hop and reggae at the Chanti Ollin with the groups Santocho Antifa, Zona Norte Colektivo, al Intifadah, Natty Dread Fyah Attack and Radiokupa.

-Organize another action or event during the week.

We have also received word that St. Denis, France and Paris, France are holding solidarity events though we have not received the details.

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail -
Web -

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370


Subscribe ICFFMAJ email updates list by e-mailing!

[Check out Mumia's latest: WE WANT FREEDOM:A Life in the Black Panther Party, from South End Press (; Ph.#1-800-533-8478.]

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

New Video by Hans Bennett

From Hans Bennett:

Hi folks,

I am writing to share my new 20 minute DVD video, "Fighting for Mumia's Freedom: a report from Philadelphia," pulling together a wide variety of video footage I've gotten this year in Philadelphia. Featuring original footage from 2008 in Philadelphia, this video focuses on the March 27, 2008 denial of a new guilt-phase trial for death row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, the DA's continued attempt to execute him, and the response of Abu-Jamal and his international support network. This features Pam Africa, Linn Washington Jr., Sundiata Sadiq, J. Patrick O'Connor, Ramona Africa, Julia Wright, Veronica Jones, Rebel Diaz, and more.

This DVD was first made explicitly for showing at the Dec. 9 event for Mumia in Portland, Oregon. However, I just put it online for everyone to watch, and so it can be used as an educational tool during the week of events around the world, based on the Dec. 6 International Day of Action. So this video can best be utilized, it is available in several different formats.

I hope you enjoy the video, and please help spread the word about the video, as well as the crucial Dec. 6 demonstration in Philly and elsewhere.

Hans Bennett

You can watch it in full via Google Video:

On You-Tube in two parts:

Lastly, the 1.5 GB file in WMV format can be directly downloaded from here: