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.