Saturday, November 29, 2008

Benefit for WBAI and Pacifica Radio Sponsored by Long Island Friends of WBAI

Sunday, December 14
Breakfast: 9:30am / Film: 10:30am/
Followed by PANEL DISCUSSION with distinguished guests
IN PRISON ALL MY LIFE: The Mumia Abu-Jamal Story

$25 All Tickets
Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office during theatre hours or by calling Brown Paper Tickets toll free at 1-800-838-3006.

The new movie entitled "In Prison All My Life", an award winning documentary about Mumia Abu-Jamal, authored by William Francome, who was born the day Mumia was imprisoned. The screening of the film is preceded by a bagel breakfast at 9:30am, and will be followed by a panel discussion on Sunday December 14, Cinema Arts Centre 423 Park Ave, Huntington.

In Prison All My Life, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and screened at Urbanworld NYC, London and Rome International Film Festivals, tells the story of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on Death Row for the past 27 years in solitary confinement for the killing of a white police officer. Mumia has consistently denied the charge and claims that his trial was deeply flawed by racism. Amnesty International concluded in a report that Mumia’s original 1982 trial was unfair. Mumia had been a highly regarded journalist, and since l982, while in prison, his commentaries have been broadcast on WBAI and l00 other radio stations. A central figure in the film, Long Islander William Francome, became involved he explained “because Mumia was arrested on the night I was born…so I am going on a journey to find out about the man who has been in prison my whole life.” Highlights of the film are the startling recently discovered Dec. 9, 1981 crime scene photos as well as a first time interview with Mumia’s brother, Billy Cook, who was at the scene of the crime and who has never spoken since the night of the shooting. He was not called to testify and “disappeared” after that. This is the first time he talks about what happened that night. USA; 2007, 90 min.

Panel Discussion Speakers:

JOHANNA FERNÁNDEZ received a B.A. from Brown University and a Ph.D., M.Phil., M.A. in History from Columbia University. She is a professor in the Department of History at Baruch College. She also taught at Carnegie Mellon University, Trinity College and Columbia University. Her Dissertation was "Radicalism in the 1960s: A History of the Young Lords Party, 1969-1974"

SALLY O'BRIEN is a progressive journalist and media activist. Her journalistic career began in 1980 in the WBAI News Department. She has served as street reporter, Associate News Director, Interim Public Affairs Director, and Executive Producer of several programs at WBAI. She also designed and ran a News Department at WOMR-FM in Provincetown, Mass. She has written for The Nation (magazine), The Guardian, The City Sun, and The Advocate, among others. Currently an audio engineer with UN Radio, Sally also reports weekly to Associated Press "Special Edition" and Maryknoll Radio "Voices of Our World," and is currently working with the Peoples Video Network on a monthly cable program "Activist News." A longtime activist and organizer, Sally does media work on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal and other US political prisoners, the Jericho Movement and the Justice Committee of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights.

DR. SUSANNE ROSS Clinical Psychologist and Co-Chair of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, NYC

More about the film:

William Francome is a fairly typical, white middle-class guy. Typical except for the fact that he is about to embark on a journey into the dark heart of the American judicial system; the tangled world of renowned Death Row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The connection between these two characters is a simple one, and the pretext for this film, as Will explains:

"I was born in London on December 9th 1981. Over 3000 miles away Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Black Panther and radical journalist, was arrested for the murder of a police officer in Philadelphia. He claimed he was innocent but was sentenced to death and has been awaiting execution ever since. Over the years, he has attracted massive international support from organisations like Amnesty International and world leaders like Nelson Mandela amongst others. I'm now 24 years old and in that time Mumia has become the most famous and controversial death row inmate in America".

Despite his situation, and against all odds, Mumia has managed to penetrate the consciousness of people like Will. Through his writings and his web and radio broadcasts from Death Row, he has become known to many as "the Voice of the Voiceless".

"In Prison My Whole Life" takes us to some surprising places and brings us into contact with some of America’s most original minds. Never-seen-before footage and brand new evidence create a prevailing case for reasonable doubt while exploring the socio-political climate of America – past and present. Angela Davis, Mos Def, Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Snoop Dogg, Steve Earle, Amy Goodman and many others take us through a decades-old struggle for equality, fairness and respect that so many Americans strive for to this day.

Mumia’s cause has created a political storm but after the politicians have said their piece, after the court papers have been filed and the protestors have gone home, we are left with a film about a man – a father, a son, an inspiration and a pariah - who faces his twenty-fifth year on Death Row.

Extraordinary though Mumia’s story is, he is only one of 3,350 people currently on death row in the United States. This film allows him not only to speak to us, but also on behalf of those others who cannot find a voice.

Response to Final Call Article - ALL OUT IN PHILLY DEC 6th!

The excellent summary below, written by Saeed Shabazz and just published in the Final Call, about the current repression and brutality against our political prisoners is a very accurate and chilling picture. But there is a more positive counterpart to this story, as evidenced in the event on political prisoners the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (FMAJC) and Resistance in Brooklyn held this past Friday night, November 21st, at St. Mary's Church in New York City. The evening was one of education and solidarity with political prisoners, on the occasion of the publication of an important new book on political prisoners, Let Freedom Ring by Matt Meyer. Former political prisoners Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. of POCC, San Francisco 8 defendant Francisco (Cisco) Torres, Tarik Haskins, former BPP and BLA member incarcerated and tortured during a 17 year imprisonment, and Pam Africa of MOVE were among the speakers.

A one hour radio show the preceding night on this same subject was hosted by Suzanne Ross of the FMAJC, who was sitting in for Sally O'Brien on WBAI's Where We Live. Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee and son of the late martyred BPP leader and himself a former political prisoner, Ramona Africa, former political prisoner, incarcerated after she survived Philadelphia's horrific bombing of MOVE headquarters in which 11 MOVE members were killed; Ashanti Alston, former BPP and BLA member and subsequent political prisoner; JR of Block Radio and Minister of Information of POCC; fighting and convicted attorney, Lynne Stewart; Sundiata Sadiq, of FMAJC and formerly President of the now ousted Ossining Chapter of the NAACP; and Matt Meyer -- all engaged in lively dialogue about the importance of the struggle to free our comrades, heroes and sheroes in the US dungeons, and of the need for new focus and strategy in the political prisoner movement.

At the Friday night event, there were many new and young faces, from all ethnic communities but mostly from those of color, and a significant participation from the Political Prisoners Ministry of Iglesia San Romero de las Americas in Washington Heights, including their pastor, Claudia de la Cruz, who also spoke on the panel. Rebel Diaz were present with some of their people, and the Welfare Poets opened the program with their widely loved music of high energy and tribute to our struggles which had the crowd on their feet for at least 30 minutes! There was a sense both nights that there are new initiatives and new energy, as well as creative approaches, that young people ARE interested in participating in this struggle to define our history and make the future struggle possible, which is what freeing our brothers and sisters is about, and that the struggle must continue ... and escalate.

Suzanne Ross, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)




for bus information and details on Dec 6th:

212 330-8029

Angola 3 Member to Be Released On Bail After 37 Years!

Legal Update
25 November 2008

International Coalition to Free the Angola 3

OK, prepare to be excited!! Late this afternoon, Judge Brady granted Albert's request for bail!!! HOOOORAY!!!!! YIPEEE!!! YAZOOOOOO!!!

You will see in the press release below that the ruling was very favorable to Albert. Judge Brady even took the time to comment on the State's new outlandish rape and robbery accusations:

"The State cites numerous arrests occurring more than thirty years ago. Given how long ago these arrests occurred as well as the fact that Mr. Woodfox was never convicted of these crimes, the Court does not consider such alleged behavior occurring so far in the past to be relevant to Mr. Woodfox's current petition for release."

Not surprisingly, sounds like the State will try to get the 5th Circuit to stay the order pending their appeal of the bail ruling, so it could be days or even weeks before he is released. Still, this is the closest to freedom Albert has been in over 37 years....stay tuned!!!

Angola 3 Member to Be
Released On Bail After 37 Years

Conviction Overturned, Judge Rules Albert Woodfox Must be Free During Appeals or Re-trial

Albert Woodfox, who has spent 37 years in prison at Angola Penitentiary, must be released on bail, according to a ruling issued today by United States District Judge James Brady. On September 25th, Judge Brady overturned Woodfox's conviction for the 1972 murder of prison guard Brent Miller. Though the State has announced its intention to appeal that decision, until such an appeal is successful, according to today's ruling, there is no conviction on which to hold Woodfox.

In his decision, Judge Brady wrote:
"[Woodfox] is a frail, sickly, middle aged man who has had an exemplary conduct record for over the last twenty years. At the hearing before this Court on October 14, 2008, testimony was adduced that if released Mr. Woodfox would live with his niece and her family in a gated subdivision in Slidell, Louisiana. Mr. Woodfox has withdrawn that request because of fear of harm to his niece and her family by members... This change was brought about by counsel representing the State of Louisiana contacting the subdivision home owners association and providing them with information regarding Mr. Woodfox. The Court is not totally privy to what information was given to the association but from the documents filed it is apparent that the association was not told Mr. Woodfox is frail, sickly, and has had a clean conduct record for more than twenty years...this Court GRANTS Mr. Woodfox's motion for release pending the State's appeal."

Herman Wallace, who was also convicted in the murder, remains in prison at Angola. He has an appeal pending with the Supreme Court of Louisiana, which is similar in content to Woodfox's successful appeal. The two men were wrongly convicted based largely on the testimony of a fellow prisoner, Hezekiah Brown, a serial rapist who was promised and received a pardon in exchange for his testimony against them. Brown was the sole professed eyewitness to the murder, and none of the physical evidence put Herman or Albert at the crime scene.

Woodfox's legal team is now working with the court to reach an agreement on a suitable release location and plan for Woodfox; once they agree to a plan, Woodfox will be able to leave Angola. The lawyers anticipate the process to take several more days.

Woodfox and Wallace were each held in solitary confinement from the time of the murder until last March, after a federal court concluded that their suit alleging that such confinement for three decades constitutes cruel and unusual punishment could go forward. A third man, Robert King Wilkerson, was held in solitary at Angola at the same time for a different crime; he was released in 2001 after showing that he had been wrongfully convicted. The three are known as the "Angola 3." All black men, they had been organizing nonviolently for an end to gang-enforced sex slavery and for better conditions inside the prison. Angola at the time was known as the "bloodiest prison in the US."

"This is a major victory in a case where justice is long overdue. Albert went into Angola in his twenties, and he's walking out in his 60s. There is no conviction against him now, and the state should not take another day of his life," said Chris Aberle, Woodfox's lawyer.

"In 37 years, Albert never gave up hope that someday he would walk out the gates of Angola. We continue to hope that Herman will join him soon. Neither of these men should have spent a day in Angola for this crime," said Nick Trenticosta, also a lawyer in the case.

The case has attracted attention on the state and national level. Last spring, US House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI) visited the men, along with Louisiana House Judiciary Committee Chair Cedric Richmond (D-101). Richmond has announced his intention to hold hearings on the case, and Conyers continues to monitor developments.

The state had sought a stay of Judge Brady's ruling ordering a new trial until the appeal process plays out. Judge Brady granted that request. The State must now either win its appeals, or will need to either release or retry Woodfox within 120 days of the end of its appeals.

Judge Brady held an initial bail hearing on October 14th; he postponed issuing a decision at that time to allow for additional depositions to be taken from Angola Warden Burl Cain and from a doctor who had examined Woodfox and his medical records. The State has now conducted both of those depositions.

For a copy of the judgment, to speak with the lawyers, or for any additional information on the case, please contact Emma Mackinnon, or 202 302 6920.

Giving Thanks To All Who Fought for this Day

Just a note of thanks to Albert's amazingly talented and dedicated family of attorneys and supporters, who give so much of their time and energy to the pursuit of justice, and who never stopped believing this day was possible....

We give thanks, to all of you!

Tory Pegram
A3 Campaign Coordinator