Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mumia Birthday/US PP Amnesty at Geneva Conference!

via sister marpessa kupenda (

(Many thanks to Strong Bro. Sourakhata for making these images "user friendly" so i could resend them out :-)


Marianne BALLE (germany) coordinates the drafting comitteefanta

via: Bro. Sourakhata

Here are also some photos that I've taken just last week. It was a demonstration in Paris organized by the French Defense Committee of Mumia for his birthday & to protest against the fact the brother has been denied a new trial:

They've been rallying in Place de la Concorde in Paris (just near the US Embassy & France Presidential Palace) every wednesday since 1996.


This Friday, May 1st, there will be a planning meeting for our May 8th emergency rally for Mumia (at the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building at 4 PM). We are calling on our New York City elected officials to speak out at this moment of peril for Mumia. There has been a deafening silence. Please come to this important planning meeting so that we can turn out the largest number of people possible on the 8th.

Come with your ideas and commitments on outreach and media work!

The meeting will be held at 7 PM at St. Mary's Church, 521 West 126th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam.

We need your help!

The Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

VIDEO: Angela Davis Speaks for Mumia Abu-Jamal, May 8 Rally for Mumia in Harlem

VIDEO: Angela Davis Speaks for Mumia Abu-Jamal

On April 24, in Oakland, CA, former political prisoner Angela Y. Davis spoke in support of death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, at an event marking Abu-Jamal's 55th birthday and the release of his new book: Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. The USA. Recently interviewed by The SF Bay View Newspaper, Davis wrote an introduction for Jailhouse Lawyers and she is also the author of Are Prisons Obsolete?.

On April 6, 2009, the US Supreme Court rejected Mumia Abu-Jamal's appeal for a new guilt-phase trial. In response, Abu-Jamal will be filing a "petition for re-hearing" by the end of April. The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to consider the Philadelphia DA's separate appeal, through which, the DA wants to execute Mumia WITHOUT a new sentencing hearing.

Please read the SF Bay View Newspaper report for more information, and be sure to sign the ONLINE PETITION.

As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer and UPI, supporters are calling for intervention by the US Justice Department. Please contact the White House online, by phone: (202) 456-1111, and at


Despite mounds of evidence of his innocence, and ample legal basis for overturning his conviction, and after 27 years of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct, Mumia has been denied a new trial by the US Supreme Court. He now faces execution or life in prison without parole. All indications are that the Attorney General of Philadelphia, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the media supporters of both will be relentless in continuing to seek Mumia's execution. We are demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder conduct a civil rights investigation of this case based on the ongoing conspiracy to deny Mumia his constitutional rights. Go to to sign this letter. Our elected officials must actively support this campaign!

4 -6 PM
163 West 125th Street


Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, International Action Center/Millions for Mumia, Harlem Tenants Council

For more information: Hotline: 212 330-8029 or

Saturday, April 25, 2009

In Her Own Words: An interview wit' Angela Davis

via: Greg Ruggiero
Source: The Liberator Magazine
[2-day featured story]

JR Valrey is the Minister of Information for the Prisoners Of Conscience Committee, an Oakland based organization founded by Fred Hampton, Jr. with the mission to liberate the minds and hearts of African and colonized people. The POCC takes the stand that all prisoners are political. JR is a regular contributor to The Liberator.

In Her Own Words. An interview wit' Angela Davis: Angela Davis is a legendary political activist professor in the U.C. System who has a history of resistance. She is a former political prisoner who has done work with the Communist Party, and she is also author of 8 books analyzing race, class, and gender. She also is a cofounder of the prison abolitionist group, Critical Resistance. She recently wrote a foreword to political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal's new book “Jailhouse Lawyers”, in which the Block Report did an interview with her to help promote.

I was first taught about Angela Davis being a political prisoner, later on the first jailhouse lawyer that I met through the mail was her codefendant who is still locked up, Ruchell Magee, whom I used to write occasionally. So this book gave me a better insight into what life as a jailhouse lawyer really is like. I dug the fact that Mumia picked a subject that is rarely discussed on this side of the walls. I learned a lot and it wet my appetite to wanting to learn more about these legal warriors. Check out Angela Davis as she talks about her foreword in Mumia's new book, in her own words...

M.O.I. JR: I want to talk to you today about your foreword in Mumia Abu Jamal's new book, Jailhouse Lawyers. Since I know a lot of readers do not have the book, I want to start off with reading a few quotes, and I will ask you questions in relation to the quotes. You say in your foreword, “Mumia points to me what was for me a startling revelation. Jailhouse lawyers comprised the group most likely to be punished by the prison administration, more so than political prisoners, Black people, gang members, and gay prisoners whereas jailhouse layers are punished by what Mumia calls 'cover charges'. Historically they could be charged with internal violations for no other reason that they used the law to challenge prison guards, prison regimes, and prison conditions. In your opinion what is the importance of Mumia choosing jailhouse lawyers to be the subject for his new book?

Angela: Well first of all, this is an amazing book. Everyone should read this book. And I was extremely excited to learn that he was working on a book on jailhouse lawyers because the story of jailhouse lawyers is a hidden story. Most people in this country are not aware of the extent to which resistance to the regimes of prisons, state prisons, federal prisons all over the country, has been shaped through the work of jailhouse lawyers. There is a long tradition of resistance. And Mumia, himself, is a jailhouse lawyer. And if one thinks about how many men and women have used the law in order to challenge the prison regimes, one gets a sense of what a powerful legacy that resistance is.

M.O.I. JR: In another quote in your foreword you say, “Mumia argues that the passage of the Prison Litigation Reform Act is a violation of the Convention Against Torture for in ruling out psychological or mental injury as a basis to recover damages such sexual coercion that was represented in the Abu Ghraib photographs if perpetrated inside of a U.S. prison, would not have constituted evidence for a lawsuit. Why did you point this out in your foreword?

Angela: Many people assume that the the P.L.R.A., the Prison Litigation Reform Act, as I tried to point out in the foreword, simply prevents prisoners from engaging in frivolous lawsuits. But as Mumia points out, it is a pointed attack on the capacity of prisoners to use the law itself. It is not about frivolity at all, it is about taking away from prisoners one of the only instruments that they've been able to develop to challenge the whole system. So we can't assume that under the Clinton administration the P.L.R.A. was passed, and that put prison lawsuits to rest. It's important for those of us on the outside to support the rights of prisoners to use the law to resist the violence of the state.

M.O.I. JR: Again to quote you, you say in the foreword of Jailhouse Lawyers, “The way he situates the P.L.R.A. historically as an inheritance of the Black Codes, which were themselves descended from the Slave Codes, allows to recognize the extent to which historical memories of slavery and racism are prescribed in the very structures of the prison system, and have helped to produce the Prison Industrial Complex.” Can you discuss the importance of Mumia making this connection in Jailhouse Lawyers?

Angela: Well this is one of the things that I really loved about Mumia, he knows how to make these historical connections. He makes connections with what might appear to be very dispirit and different kinds of phenomenon, for example he points out that the P.L.R.A. was passed at the same time as the disestablishment of the welfare system, and that there is a connection between preventing women primarily from having access to safety nets for their families, and this assault on prisoners being able to defend themselves. So I really like the way that he makes those connections with slavery. I think of the prison system today in this country, and especially the system of capital punishment, I think of it as a historical memory of slavery, as a palpable inheritance of slavery. And as a matter of fact, the existence of those systems provide us with real evidence of the fact that slavery was not fully abolished. So I like the way in which he can show us the similarities between the Black Codes, that were produced in the aftermath of slavery to basically replicate the system of slavery after slavery was allegedly abolished. And the P.R.L.A. serves a similar contemporary purpose.

M.O.I. JR: Again, you write in Jailhouse Lawyers, in the last sentence, “He (Mumia), allows us to reflect on the fact that transformational possibilities often emerge where we least expect them.” Why did you end your foreword with that statement in this book?

Angela: Well you know because people don't usually think of prisoners in general as defending democracy. They think of the prison as the underside, the underbelly, of democracy; as the place where you send people who no longer have the right to be citizens. But I think that what Mumia does, he manages to portray jailhouse lawyers in such a ways as to persuade us regardless of what our political persuasions might be, the jailhouse lawyers have been, in a sense, on the front line of the defense of democracy. I'm not talking about capitalists democracy. I'm not talking about neo-liberal democracy. I'm talking about the kind of democracy that would also tend to not only political equality, but racial equality, economic equality, and sexual equality as well.

M.O.I. JR: What is the importance of us recognizing that Mumia is facing deathrow right at this second, right when he released such an eloquent book on jailhouse lawyers? You also pointed out in this foreword that he rarely speaks of himself, so in the midst of this being a time of the first Black president of America, what does Mumia's imprisonment, with all the flaws in his case, say about the real political climate in America?

Angela: Well, first of all, Mumia's case is so important for us to get involved in. We have to save his life. We have to free Mumia. And yeah, as many people acknowledge he rarely uses his amazing talent and capacities to advocate for himself. He's always advocating for others, and that is all the more reason to be passionate advocates for him. I have traveled in other parts of the world a great deal, and there are movements to free Mumia all over the world. Sometimes I feel very embarrassed that we have not managed to overcome the power of the Fraternal Order of Police for example and the other conservative forces that are determined to put Mumia to death. But this book is yet another reason why we need to defend him, and why we need to use whatever is available to us, whatever knowledge, whatever instruments are available to us to guarantee that his life is saved and that he is eventually set free.


Excerpts from Mumia's book Jailhouse Lawyers, including Angela Y. Davis's complete foreword can be downloaded as a PDF for free from the City Lights Web site.


Write the Department of Justice for a Civil Rights Investigation on Mumia's case

Write to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that he immediately initiate a civil rights investigation addressing a 27-year history of prosecutorial and judicial violations of Mumia Abu-Jamal's constitutional and international rights. If the Justice Department can guarantee justice for Senator Ted Stevens, it should do the same for noted journalist and multiple-award recipient, and international honoree Mumia Abu-Jamal. Demand that your elected officials endorse this campaign!

Initiated by the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)

On April 6, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Mumia's appeal for a new trial based on evidence of racist jury selection on the part of the prosecutor during the original 1982 trial in Philadelphia. This appeal was based on the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court "Batson decision", a legal decision that says that prospective jurors cannot be selected based on their race.

This issue was considered the strongest basis for overturning Mumia's conviction, though certainly not the only one. According to Amnesty International's detailed review of the case, Mumia was denied at his trial in 1982 the right to a fair judge and unbiased jury, the right to represent himself and the right to adequate resources to prepare his defense. In addition, the prosecution withheld critical evidence from the defense, judge and jury; suborned the perjury of its chief witness; and intimidated at least one other witness to perjure herself. Since the AI report, more evidence has emerged of an ongoing conspiracy by the prosecution and members of the judiciary to keep out of the legal record evidence that points to Mumia's innocence. At the very least, this evidence indicates serious misconduct on the part of the prosecution and judiciary. It was precisely this kind of misconduct that led to the overturning, just two weeks ago, of the conviction of Senator Ted Stevens.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals' rejection of Mumia's appeal on the basis of the "Batson decision" shocked many legal observers, as the court set new and higher standards of appeal in complete violation of its own precedents. One of the members of the three-judge panel that arrived at this decision wrote a scathing 41-page dissent pointing to how Mumia was not granted the same rights that previous appellants were given by this very same court.

Please take a few minutes to read, sign and circulate widely the important letter below to Attorney General Eric Holder. Send copies to other officials demanding that they, too, demand a civil rights investigation. Only a powerful, international campaign can win long-overdue freedom for this outspoken, award-winning journalist and stop a 27-year-old conspiracy to silence him with legal lynching or life in prison without parole. Both options are outrageous violations of Mumia's human and constitutional rights, and we will not allow them to stand. Mumia needs our movement and our movement needs Mumia.


US Department of Justice
Washington, DC

April 2009

To Eric Holder, US Attorney General:

We write to you with a sense of grave concern and outrage about the US Supreme Court's denial of a hearing to Mumia Abu-Jamal on the issue of racial bias in jury selection, that is, the "Batson issue". Inasmuch as there is no other court to which Abu-Jamal can appeal for justice, we turn to you for remedy of a 27- year history of gross violations of US constitutional law and international standards of justice as documented by Amnesty International and many other legal groups around the world.

We call on you and the Justice Department to immediately commence a civil rights investigation to examine the many examples of egregious and racist prosecutorial and judicial misconduct dating back to the original trial in 1982 and continuing through to the current inaction of the US Supreme Court. The statute of limitations should not be a factor in this case as there is very strong evidence of an ongoing conspiracy to deny Abu-Jamal his constitutional rights.

We are aware of the many differences that exist between the case of former Senator Ted Stevens and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Still, we note with great interest the actions you have taken with regard to Senator Stevens' conviction to assure that he not be denied his constitutional rights. You were specifically outraged by the fact that the prosecution withheld information critical to the defense's argument for acquittal, a violation clearly committed by the prosecution in Abu-Jamal's case. Mumia Abu-Jamal, though not a US senator of great wealth and power, is a Black man revered around the world for his courage, clarity, and commitment and deserves no less than Senator Stevens.

(Your signature will be appended here based on the contact information you enter in the online form)


International Campaign for Justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Sponsored by:

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)
P.O. Box 16, College Station
New York, N.Y. 10030
(212) 330-8029

International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 476-8812

Millions for Mumia

International Action Center
c/o Solidarity Center
55 West 17th St 5C
New York, NY 10011
For further information call: (212) 633-6646

The Free Mumia Five Point Plan

via: + The Black List

The Free Mumia Five Point Plan
If Not Now, When?
By U-Savior Guest Commentator

Instead of bailing Out Mega Corporations that have sucked the life blood from the community, endorsed slavery, raided pensions, decimated savings, created the perfect environment for scams and put home owners, renters and their families out on the street - FREE MUMIA!

The Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, handed George W. Bush the election despite the democratic popular vote to the contrary and as a direct result of that court's decision we witnessed the erosion of civil liberties, scandals, torture and illegal wars that have killed hundreds of thousands. The world suffered greatly. Today this same court will not hear the case of Mumia Abu Jamal, an innocent man who has served over 25 years in prison on death row- in effect letting his conviction stand. This is not surprising! But this IS outrageous! This is disrespectful not only to Justice everywhere but to the Black Community in particular. What are we going to do about it?’s a thought:

The Free Mumia Five Point Plan:

1. Tell Your Mama AND Obama: To all the supporters of the Obama Administration: make this a central issue. If he's unwilling FORCE him to use every ounce of his reach and influence from presidential pardons to civil and human rights investigations to demand justice. Challenge his position and prepare to expose to the world where the real power is.

2. Shame Weak Leadership: Those in “leadership” in the Black community who do not step up to fight, speak, write, divest, protest, ignite, bite, spit and curse, throw stares and misbehave on behalf of our brother should be shown the door. Forever!

3. The Symbol: To my friends and family connected to street tribes: Let Mumia be your flag and symbol for a real political, social and positive movement that turns necessary attention back to Mumia's plight.

4. One Hour Pledge: If every justice-loving, peace-seeking , freedom-fighting, consciousness-bringing individual pledges and dedicates at least one hour every day to fight, speak, write, divest, protest, ignite, bite, spit and curse, throw stares and misbehave, we can shake up this world and shake Mumia free from those cold white walls, steel doors and shackles.

5. Promise to never Say "I’ve done enough": It’s not enough that in every Ghetto Chronicles episode that I direct that I place a promo about the Mumia coalition.

It’s not enough that every year I put his name on my Birthday cake because we share the same birthday.

It’s not enough that after every film I place a FREE MUMIA TAG!

It’s not enough that I wrote this article.

It’s not enough to say I wrote, visited or listen to Mumia on Prison Radio.

Never say we’ve done enough or we’ve done all we could until our true symbol of hope, change and justice is where we want him to be. Home, with us!

Let’s not forget that Mumia Abu Jamal has done more work from death row than many “inactivists”, movement folk and “webolutionaries” to bringing attention and clarity to our struggle than those outside of prison. Mumia was an activist, photographer and writer dedicated to real justice before being arrested and charged with the murder of a Philadelphia policeman. Mumia Abu Jamal like so many other political prisoners deserves our commitment. If we don’t take care of the best of us right here and right now it will send the wrong signal to activist all over the world. The fight for Mumia’s Justice and Freedom is a fight for our very own and a Fight we must win. IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

Revolution, then peace!

On The Move! Guest Commentator, U-Savior Washington, was born in Harlem and raised in East New York Brooklyn. U-Savior Washington is an author, video journalist and film director. He is the executive producer of The Ghetto Chronicles hosted by Nana Soul and the director of the documentary film “Confessions of a Liberal Actor-vist” which is distributed by Black Waxx Multimedia,

!Mexico City Activists Use Obama Visit to Fight for Mumia!

Hey all,

yesterday we improvised a small action in support of Mumia that got a fair amount of mainstream radio coverage. Obama is here, visiting with Calderón, and we went to the National Auditorium, right by the gates of Campo Marte, the military camp where his helicopter landed to deliver a letter urging him to take a stand for justice and freedom in the case of Mumia and other pps. Of course they didn't let us in to deliver the letter, and who knows if Obama will ever find out we were there, but we put it up on the independent media sites and did get an abbreviated version in the "letters to the editor" section of the mainstream, semi-leftist La Jornada newspaper. There's been so much hype in the press for the last week about all the heavy duty security measures that it was hard to figure out where we could be, or if were were going to be able to get through the police /military lines at all. And all the propaganda about 6,000 police and soldiers, sharpshooters, helicopters, searches of anyone in the zone, etc. definitely had a chilling effect on the turnout. There were only thirteen of us, but to our surprise, the access was pretty easy, and we got a kick out of it because the press never comes to our demonstrations, but today we got there early and they were hanging around waiting for Obama, so they all came over to talk to us. As we pretty much expected, the mainsteam tv stations and newspapers ended up doing official promo, but for a while some of our interviews were buzzing around on the radio stations. So we ended up feeling pretty good about it. Will send some pics as soon as I get them.


Here goes the English version of the letter, followed by the Spanish.

Dear President Obama:

On your first visit to Mexico, today April 16, we are writing to urge you to take a stand for justice and freedom in the case of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. It’s shameful that this acclaimed journalist and writer is still held in degrading, inhuman conditions on death row 27 years after his arrest on December 9, 1981! And it’s even more shameful that the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of the United States, just broke its own precedents in its zeal to deny him the new trial he was seeking to establish his innocence in the killing of police officer Daniel Faulkner!

We are among hundreds of thousands of people in the world who share Mumia Abu-Jamal’s struggle for a better world. We greatly appreciate his weekly columns and the six books he’s written during his time on death row. We admire his dignity and steadfastness and want to see him free.

As of now, the Supreme Court has not responded to the District Attorney’s petition to reinstate the death penalty, thrown out in 2001 by federal Judge William Yohn, who ruled that it would be necessary to hold a sentencing hearing in the event that the DA moved to reinstate the death penalty. His ruling was sustained by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in May of 2008. But now the Philadelphia D. A. intends to kill him without even so much as a hearing, in collaboration with the Fraternal Order of Police and public officials who will only be satisfied with his head. What do you think about the threat of a modern-day lynching, President Obama?

President Obama, your victory was celebrated all over the world as a great step against racism, but as of yet, you haven’t denounced the fact that 41% of all the prisoners in the United States and 41.9% of those on death row are African Americans although they only represent 12.3% of the total population. Of all the political prisoners held in your country, over half are African Americans. In their political trials, racism was a major factor. This was definitely true in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, where D. A. Joseph McGill used 10 of his 15 peremptory challenges to exclude black candidates from the jury, and where Judge Albert Sabo was overheard commenting to his clerk, “I’m going to help them fry the nigger”!

During your campaign, you promised to put an end to torture and civil rights violations. You also took a stand for the freedom of political prisoners in Burma, including that of political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi. But we haven’t heard you utter a single word of support for Mumia Abu-Jamal or more than a hundred other political prisoners who have spent decades of torture, isolation, and denigrating conditions in the dungeons of your own country, condemned for their political activism. There they are-- Leonard Peltier, the MOVE 9, the San Francisco 8, the Angola 3, the Puerto Rican independence fighters, “los Cinco”, the anti-imperialists, the Chicano activists, the environmentalists, the animal rights defenders, and the opponents of the terrible School of the Americas, along with so many more. Neither have we heard you make a call for the freedom of more than 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners who endure constant torture in Israel’s extermination camps.

As a matter of fact, when the right wing columnist Michael Smerconish asked you about Mumia Abu-Jamal during your campaign, you said you didn’t know much about his case, but that anyone who kills a cop deserves the death penalty or life in prison. (Philadelphia Inquirer, October 10, 2008). Are we to believe that a defender of human rights like yourself knows little or nothing about the case of one of the most widely supported political prisoners in the world and is not aware of all the violations of his constitutional rights during his trial, which have been duly registered by a long list of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International?

Please don’t tell us that you agree with the political motives of the Fraternal Order of Police and politicians like Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell, District Attorney Lynn Abraham, and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille. These public officials who incriminated Mumia Abu-Jamal of homicide are the very people who are still in power and block every attempt to achieve justice and freedom in his case. You couldn’t possible believe that his membership in the Black Panther Party in the ‘60s and his sympathy with the MOVE organization constitute a crime, could you?

President Obama, you have a great opportunity to act on behalf of justice and freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal and all the political prisoners in your country. What do you intend to do?

Amig@s de Mumia, México

Estimado presidente Obama:

Aprovechamos su visita a México el 16 de abril, para instarle a pronunciarse por la justicia y libertad en el caso del preso político Mumia Abu- Jamal. Es vergonzoso que este aclamado periodista y escritor sigue en el corredor de la muerte 27 años después de su detención el 9 de diciembre de 1981, bajo condiciones inhumanas y denigrantes, y aún más vergonzoso que la corte más alta de la nación, la Suprema Corte de Estados Unidos, acaba de romper su propios precedentes en su afán de negarle un nuevo juicio para comprobar su inocencia en el asesinato del policía Daniel Faulkner.

Somos cientos de miles de personas en el mundo que compartimos la lucha de Mumia Abu-Jamal para un mundo mejor. Apreciamos sus columnas
semanales y los seis libros que él ha escrito desde el corredor de la muerte. Apreciamos su dignidad y congruencia, y queremos verlo libre.

Hasta la fecha, la Suprema Corte no ha respondido a la petición de la fiscalía para reimponer la pena de muerte, rechazada por el juez federal William Yohn en el 2001, quien había dictado que sería necesario celebrar una audiencia para determinar su sentencia en el evento de que la fiscalía quisiera reimponer la pena de muerte. Su dictamen fue avalado por el Tribunal Federal de Apelaciones del Tercer Circuito en mayo del 2008. Pero ahora la fiscalía de Filadelfia pretende ejecutarlo sin audiencia alguna con el respaldo del sindicato de policías y de las autoridades públicas que=2 0piden su cabeza. ¿Qué opina de la amenaza de un linchamiento moderno, presidente Obama?

Presidente Obama, su victoria fue celebrada en todas partes del mundo como un gran avance contra el racismo, pero hasta ahora usted no ha denunciado la situación de que 41% de todos los presos en Estados Unidos y 41.9% de los condenados a la muerte son africano-americanos aunque representan sólo 12.3% de la población total del país. De los presos políticos, más de la mitad son de la población africano-americana. En sus juicios políticos, el racismo fue un gran factor. Éste también fue el caso en el juicio de Mumia Abu-Jamal, en el cual el fiscal Joseph McGill usó 10 de sus 15 vetos perentorios para excluir a los candidatos negros del jurado y el juez Albert Sabo dijo: “Les voy a ayudar a freír el nigger”.

Durante su campaña electoral, usted se pronunció por un fin a los abusos de las libertades civiles y al régimen de tortura. También se pronunció por la libertad de los presos políticos de Burma, inclusive la presa política Aung San Suu Kyi. Pero no escuchamos una sola palabra suya en apoyo a Mumia Abu-Jamal o más de cien otros presos y presas políticos que han pasado décadas de tortura, aislamiento y condiciones denigrantes en las mazmorras de Estados Unidos, condenados por su activismo político. Ahí están Leonard Peltier, “los 9 de MOVE”, “los 8 de San Francisco”, “los 3 de Angola”, los independentistas puertorriqueños, “los 5 cubanos”, los anti-imperialistas, los activistas chicanos, los ecologistas, los defensores de animales, los opositores al terrible Escuela de las Américas, y tantos otros. Tampoco escuchamos un llamado suyo por la libertad de más de 10,000 presos políticos palestinos que aguantan las torturas en los campos de exterminación de Israel.

De hecho, cuando el columnista derechista Michael Smerconish le preguntó sobre Mumia Abu-Jamal durante su campaña, usted dijo que no sabía mucho sobre el caso, pero que “si alguien mata a un policía, él merece la pena de muerte o cadena perpetua” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 10 de octubre, 2008). ¿Debemos creer que un defensor de los derechos humanos no conozca el caso de uno de los presos políticos con mayor apoyo popular en el mundo y que no conozca las múltiples violaciones de derechos constitucionales en su proceso, señaladas por una larga lista de grupos de derechos humanos, inclusive Amnistía Internacional?

¿Usted está de acuerdo con los motivos políticos de la Organización Fraternal de Policía y de oficiales como el gobernador de Pennsylvania, Edward G. Rendell, la fiscal Lynn Abraham, y el juez principal de la Suprema Corte del estado de Pennsylvania, Ronald D. Castille para incriminar a Mumia Abu-Jamal del homicidio? Ellos son los que siguen en poder y obstaculizan cualquier esfuerzo para lograr justicia y libertad en su caso. O ¿a caso cree usted que su militancia en los Panteras Negras en los años ’60 y su simpatía con la organización MOVE constituyen un crimen?

Presidente Obama, usted tiene la gran oportunidad de promover justicia y libertad para Mumia Abu-Jamal y todos los presos políticos de su país. ¿Qué piensa hacer al respecto?

Amig@s de Mumia, México

Friday, April 24, 2009

Birthday Greeting to Mumia Abu-Jamal

It is an honor to honor you on your birthday. You who give so much, you who receive so little, deserve all the love and respect that we are capable of. The amount and the quality of the work you have produced would be an amazing feat for any human being. But since most of your work has been completed on the bleeding corridors of death row, your accomplishments are almost super-human. Through your books, articles and speeches, you have taught us many lessons, exposed many untruths and constantly reminded us of the glaring contradictions of this world we live in. You have taught us about the horrors of U.S. imperialism in its many deadly forms and you have consistently denounced war and military intervention. You have taught us about the brutal racism and systematic injustices embedded in the U.S. justice system, and the conveyor belt exploitation of the prison-industrial complex. You have educated us about political repression in the United States and about the railroading of political prisoners. You have written about the profit motivated, undemocratic nature of U.S. democracy. You have written about the inhumane priorities of this government, hell-bent on spending trillions of dollars on the war machine, cutting taxes for the rich and cutting public funds for education, health-care and public services. You have written about modern forms of racism and exploitation and encouraged us to build a broad-based movement for social justice.

But now, more than any other time in history, we anxiously await your words, treasure your articles, because in this 21st century, truth has become almost extinct. We are trapped in an Orwellian nightmare of doublespeak, manicured lies and deliberate distortions. An international system of state terrorism has been put into place in the name of fighting terrorism. Any dastardly deed or vicious act can be justified, in the name of fighting terrorism. We are asked to look the other way in the face of torture, arbitrary imprisonment, and massive bombings of civilians. We are asked to look the other way in the face of shameless violations of human rights and international law. The Homeland Security Act and other repressive laws have eliminated most of the so-called constitutional guarantees that once existed inside the United States. Brazen lies are used to justify war, military occupation and genocide.

Your voice has always been strong and unwavering, and you have indeed been the "voice of the voiceless." But at this moment in history, the name Mumia Abu-Jamal means so much more to me and so many others. i was not alive during the rise of fascism in the 1930s, but i am sure for many people, Hitler and Mussolini must have seemed invincible. Today's fascists are even more dangerous and they are present at the highest levels of the U.S. Government. They have virtually unlimited funds, highly sophisticated technology, and control an awesome propaganda machine. They manufacture and export a bellicose made-in-Hollywood culture, where violence is the rule, not the exception. In this turbulent political climate many people feel confused, powerless and overwhelmed. The imperialist powers that rule this planet are vicious, evil, and powerful, but they can, and they will be defeated.

For so many of us today, Mumia, you represent not only truth, not only resistance, you represent the purest form of hope. As hard and as painful as life must be for you at times, you refuse to give up, and you refuse to be defeated. In the midst of so much ugliness and violence, you insist on being kind, on being humane, on being loving, on being a beautiful human being. Let us follow your example, and for the sake of our children, and our grandchildren, and the future of this planet, let us refuse to be discouraged, let us refuse to be disheartened.

On this day let us celebrate our hope for the future. Let us celebrate our hope for peace and our hope for social justice. Let us celebrate our desire to end all forms of terrorism - including the terrorism of hunger, the terrorism of underdevelopment, and the terrorism of exploitation. On this day let us celebrate our commitment to freedom. Let us celebrate our commitment to freeing you, to freeing all Political prisoners and to freeing this world. Let us have faith in our power, in our creativity and in our ability to make freedom real.

Free all Political Prisoners,
I send you Love and Revolutionary Greetings
From Cuba, One of the Largest, Most Resistant and Most Courageous Palenques (Maroon Camps) That has ever existed on the Face of this Planet.

Assata Shakur

April 24, 2004

Monday, April 20, 2009

Democracy Now Interviews Mumia!

Check out the April 16 interview with Mumia on Democracy Now!

Send Letters to Barack Obama for Mumia!

from Sis. Fatirah Aziz:


Please, please continue to send letters/emails to President Barack Obama on Mumia's behalf. He is the President of the United States, and even if he doesn't directly pardon Mumia, he certainly has the power to initiate an investigation, or other executive action!

NOTE: This is a sample letter, you can replace Mr. Obama with Eric Holder or further personalize it and send it out!

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

I am writing to request that you grant an Executive Pardon, or at the very least, insure that the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal is reviewed by impartial entities. If you or Mrs. Obama investigate this case,you will find innumerable instances of judicial misconduct, evidence tampering and racism. The Governor of Pennsylvania, Edward G. Rendell, the District Attorney Lynn Abraham, and the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Ronald D. Castille, all had a part in rail-roading Mumia. These are the people who are still in power and who thwart every attempt at justice for Mumia.

Mumia is an innocent man. He is a sought after speaker (via audio tapes) at commencements in prestigious universities and other events. He is the author of weekly columns and several best-selling books. Many in the entertainment and educational field have taken up his cause as they realize the injustice being carried out. It is a disgrace and a shame that this wonderful man has been incarcerated for more than thirty years, based on the agenda of those in power.

Realizing that you have a platform for Change and Fairness, I appeal to you and Mrs. Obama to please see that justice is realized in this case. These are his specifics:

Mumia Abu-Jamal # AM 8335
SCI Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15730

Thank you

Contact info

Pittsburg 4/24 Film Showing + Honk for Mumia Info

WHAT: Film Screening of In Prison My Whole Life, documentary on the life and case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, political prisoner and journalist who has spent 27 years on Pennsylvania's Death Row after being framed for the murder of a police officer.

WHEN: 7:00PM Tuesday, April 21st

WHERE: The Shadow Lounge, Blue Room, 5972 Baum Boulevard, East Liberty

WHY: The U.S. Supreme Court recently denied Mumia's request to rule on his appeal in a decision that makes a mockery of the constitution, due process, and racial equity. View the film and get involved in the movement to free Mumia in Pittsburgh.

WHO: Pgh. Commmittee to Free Mumia

Attention: On Friday, April 24, Mumia's 55th birthday, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal are calling for worldwide "Honk for Mumia" celebrations of resistance. Pick as many sites as you can in your local area at 12 noon or after work with signs and banners at intersections saying "Honk for Mumia"!

Here are some suggestions for your local Honk:
  • If findable, use that foam-core poster board material. Easy to paint or use Markers on, and it's light, won't get bent easily in the wind, and water resistant. Collect that foam core from behind stores that throw it out after using it for displays, etc.
  • Acrylic paint, often findable in half-used cans in the trash, is best. Dries very quickly. Easy water clean-up of brushes etc.
  • Remember not to put lettering up to edges too much. Leave room for your hand to hold the sign without covering the words.
  • Using tape to mount signs can ruin the sign when tape peeled off. Careful.
  • Signs can be Two-Sides...different slogan on each side if wanted.
  • Some signs ought announce Mumia Support Web Sites.
  • Don't overlook that this is about ALL Political Prisoners. Some signs need to mention that.
  • For balance, Signs ought be not only FOR Justice for MAJ and Others...but AGAINST the InJustice System.
  • Best to aim the signs at drivers as they approach....instead of just holding them facing the street in one direction.
  • Eye contact with the drivers is important. Interact. YOU are asking them to support. It can be quite personal.
  • Some drivers have been persuaded that Mumia activists are bad news. They may be afraid. Don't push them. Let them go.
  • Hold signs high, if possible. Motion is good.
  • Spread 'em out. Not all in one cluster. Cover all corners of intersections.
  • If drivers honk....salute them or thank them any way you think of. Acknowledge them.
  • Accompanying banners and waving tassels and pom-poms and drums really complete the scene.
  • Keep fliers handy for those who look receptive.
  • Do not give fingers back to the "fry Mumia" types. They don't know any better.
  • Don't cause accidents or get run over.
Result can well be a Symphony of Horns, with sign holders as Leaders of the drivers are much more prone to honking in support if they are among others. Result can be intensified curiosity by passers-by who want to know what the heck is going on. Result is that many find that they are not alone in support for Mumia and other political prisoners.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Abu-Jamal supporters meet, to seek White House help

By Susan Snyder
Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted on Sun, Apr. 12, 2009

Stung by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week denying a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal, supporters of the internationally known death-row inmate met yesterday at a church in West Philadelphia and said they planned to seek some type of presidential intervention on his behalf.

The gathering of about 50 people, led by MOVE member Pam Africa, began signing a petition to present to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., asking for action in the 28-year-old case, in which Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

They also said they would ask Rep. Chaka Fattah to take their plea to President Obama and his wife, Michelle, both lawyers.

Fattah (D., Phila.) did not return calls for comment yesterday.

"This is a new administration, and we are looking for honesty and fairness," Africa said shortly before the meeting at Abiding Truth Ministries, 57th Street and Washington Avenue.
The meeting lasted more than two hours and drew supporters from New York, Baltimore, and as far away as Chicago.

Monday's Supreme Court ruling virtually guarantees that Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and radio reporter, will never be freed by the courts.

Now his best hope is to avoid execution.

The court is still weighing a petition by prosecutors to reinstate Abu-Jamal's death sentence, and the justices have agreed to review a capital case from Ohio that involves the same legal issue that is a key focus in Abu-Jamal's appeal.

Africa at first expressed concern about seeking a presidential pardon, wondering if it would imply guilt.

"He's not guilty!" she argued.

But Darby Tillis, a former death-row inmate from Chicago who was freed in 1987 after new evidence emerged, said at the Abu-Jamal meeting that his gubernatorial pardon "was based on innocence, and I received it."
Abu-Jamal supporters previously appealed to the Clinton administration's attorney general, Janet Reno, but were turned down.

Africa said she hoped Holder and the Obama administration would react differently.

"It's clear Mumia did not have a fair trial," she said. "Evidence was most definitely withheld. This is a test for this new administration right here."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

NY & Philadelphia: April 11: Emergency Strategy Meetings!


Emergency Meeting in Response to the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

On April 6, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Mumia Abu-Jamal's appeal for a new guilt-phase trial. TheSupreme Court has not yet decided whether to consider the Philadelphia DA's separate appeal, which is attempting to execute Abu-Jamal WITHOUT a new sentencing hearing. In response to yesterday's rejection, Abu-Jamal's lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan, will be filing a "petition for re-hearing" in the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Saturday, April 11, 2009 at 6:00 p.m., there will be an open strategy session to determine our next steps forward.This isn’t the first time the Supreme Court chose not to look into this case. It’s quite obvious that they don’t want to look into the case because of its political implications. They clearly are holding fast to the rule that “the Black man has no rights which the white man is bound to respect.” We must not let them get away with it.Since the highest court in the land didn’t even bother to explain why they turned down the case, it’s our job toanalyze the situation and respond strategically and forcefully.

After the strategy meeting, we will watch the recently released documentary, In Prison My Whole Life, shown at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and in the British Parliament this year. The film provides a comprehensive overview of the case and includes the recently released photos showing how Philadelphia police tampered with crime scene evidence.

Dinner will be available for $5, and it will be served promptly at 6:00 p.m.

What: Open Meeting in Response to the Outrageous and Racist Ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court

When: Saturday, April 11, 2009, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Where: Solidarity Center, 55 West 17th Street, 5th Floor
(btw. 5th & 6th Avenues)

Directions: 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, F, or V to 14th Street

Sponsored by: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC) • 212-330-8029

Free All Political Prisoners! •



When: Saturday, April 11, 2009
10 am – 12 noon

Where: Abiding Truth Ministries Church, 5701 Washington, Ave. Philly

Contact: 215 476 8812 or

Given the decision April 24th is taking on a new urgency and importance!!!

PLEASE CONTACT to receive the two new flyers: one details April 24th and the other lists the Revolutionary Week of events in Philly and NYC. Please print these out and copy them double-sided.

If you can donate copies to ICFFMAJ call 215 476 8812 or email Please make it a priority to attend events and distribute flyers!

Newark: April 29: Emergency Community Forum and Book Party

On Wednesday Evening,
April 29th2009

Come and Participate in an Emergency Community Forum and Book Party!


And the Release of his latest book

This event comes just after the US Supreme Court denies his attorneys’ appeal while acknowledging the right of the prosecution to be heard on the reinstatement of his death sentence!

This event is a part of International Freedom Week for Mumia
where actions are taking place around the world in support of Mumia

Investigative Reporter Hans Bennett who uncovered photos revealing that Philadelphia Police tampering with the crime scene calls the Supreme Court decision a “terribly dark day for justice in the U.S.”

This special event will feature:

Pam Africa-Intl Con. Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Lawrence Hayes-Black Panther Party formerly on Death Row in New York State
Dr. Matthew Johnson-New Jerseyans For A Moratorium on The Death Penalty
& The Peoples Organization for Progress
Delacy Davis-Black Cops Against Police Brutality


Newark Public Library-4thFloor Auditorium
5 Washington Street, Newark

6-8pm/Free Admission

For more information, please call 201-602-0780

Sponsor-Frontline Artists
Other endorsing and cosponsoring organizations include
The Peoples Organization for Progress and The New Black Panther Party

NY: April 11: In Prison My Whole Life

The Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition NYC and Millions 4 Mumia/International Action Center present: In Prison My Whole Life, a new British documentary about the world renowned journalist who wrongfully sits on Pennsylvania’s death row at SCI Greene. This film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year as well as appearing on that channel, December 8, 2008.

When: Saturday, April 11, 2009 @ 6:00PM
Where: International Action Center
55 West 17th Street 5th Floor (btw. 5th & 6th Ave)

Directions: take 1,2,3, F,V,A,C,E to 14th Street

Dinner will be served

Admission: $10, no one turned away for lack of funds

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".

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 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.

Note: Mumia’s new book “Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners vs The USA" will be on sale for $15 and if you can’t pick it up then, come to our book party, on Saturday, April 25 at Riverside Church 120 Claremont Avenue 4PM MLK Room

For further information call 212 330-8029 or 212 633-6646 or visit or

Oakland: Celebrate the Release of Mumia's New Book

Celebrate the Release of

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Angela Y. Davis
POCC Min of Info JR
Mistah F.A.B.
Chela Simone
Lynne Stewart
Tony Serra
Ed Mead
Kiilu Nyasha
Trycky the Annihilator
Adimu of Hairdoo
POCC Ambassador Franco
POCC Coordinator Jay
Tiny AKA Lisa Gray-Garcia
Molotov Mouths

Friday, April 24, 2009 (Mumia's Birthday)
6:30 PM at Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street, Oakland

$25 Donation, or what you can afford

For more info call: 415-648-4505

Prison Radio & Prisoners of Conscience Committee

Beating Back Batson

From Sis. Marpessa:

Check this short excerpt of Assistant DA McMahon's training video and then please re-read this piece Bro. Mumia wrote last year:

Beating Back Batson
[col. writ. 9/6/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

For those who read court opinions, few can ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's 1986 Batson v. Kentucky decision.

Essentially, it prohibited the State from removing Black jurors for racial reasons. It re-wrote the rules from the Swain v. Alabama ( 1965) case, where the court required systematic discrimination over a number of cases, over a period of years. Needless to say, such a challenge was clearly beyond the resources of most people, and relatively few were made, and even fewer successful. It is hard to resist the suspicion that this was merely judicial lip service to a principle that was easily ignored, in the breach.

For, it took over a generation, over 20 years, for Swain to be overruled by Batson, and now, Batson is beginning to bear an eerie resemblance to its unworkable parentage, because courts have been loathe to grant relief, and have either created new rules, or simply ignored its dictates.

We see this at work recently in a number of cases, among them Com. v. (Robert) Cook, WL 284060 (July 24, 2008). In this case, the DA used 74% of his strikes to remove 14 Black jurors. Incredibly, the Phila. Court of Common Pleas initially found that even this didn't constitute a prima facie case of discrimination. Later, it found a prima facie case, but ruled that the DA put forth sufficient race-neutral reasons for exclusion, and therefore not a violation of Batson.

Recently, the PA Supreme Court agreed, even though the DA couldn't recall why he removed 2 Black jurors -- or, in other words, couldn't articulate a justification.

Now remember -- Batson states that the improper removal of one juror violates the constitution. One -- not 14.

But here's the kicker. The DA in Mr. Cook's case made a video training tape, where he taught his fellow prosecutors how to violateBatson - and how to lie about it to judges.

But perhaps the then prosecutor, Jack McMahon, didn't need to work that hard, for courts would take up the slack. For where the DA can't remember a reason, the court will invent one.

This is especially egregious in this case, for the man who wrote the opinion was the DA when McMahon made the tapes, but now sits as Chief Justice of the court. Can you spell 'conflict of interest?' Did he recuse himself? (What do you think?)

For over a decade, Pennsylvania courts have painted McMahon as the bad guy, a kind of rogue prosecutor, and most of his convictions have been reversed (except Cook's), but McMahon wasn't, and never should've been, the issue. For he was simply describing the pattern and practice of the office, and training his colleagues in techniques used over years of trials.

Mr. McMahon was putting into words what DAs did to get convictions. Does that mean his office sought a fair and impartial jury? In McMahon's words, " Well, that's ridiculous. You're not trying to get that." In fact, McMahon explained, their jobs were to get the most "unfair" jury possible. And, in many cases, that meant getting as few Blacks to serve on the jury as possible.

Batson is as empty as Swain was, for if they don't want to give it up, any reason will do.

They proclaim ideals of fairness that bear no relationship to the real process happening daily in courtrooms all across America.

That would be, to quote McMahon, "ridiculous."

-- (c) '08 maj

Speaking Truth to Power

From Political Prisoner News

Speaking Truth to Power
by J. Patrick O'Connor, April 5, 2009

Mumia Abu-Jamal's 27 years on Death Row for a murder he did not commit would have turned almost anyone else into an embittered, defeated man. Instead, he has remained what he always was, "the voice of the voiceless," as he demonstrates yet again in his most recent book, Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. (City Lights Books, 2009.)

Through hundreds of essays, radio commentaries and now six well-written, meticulously researched books, he has defied the walls that encase him to speak out against oppression. His voice his heard weekly throughout the United States on Pacifica Radio and his writings are read and admired throughout much of the world. From the bowels of Death Row, where 3,600 others languish in the United States, Abu-Jamal presses on for justice, day after day, year after year.

Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. opens a tightly shut door into the operations of the U.S. penal system by chronicling the exploits of dozens of jailhouse lawyers – both men and women – who have fought the injustices the courts and the prisons have dealt them and their fellow prisoners. Their accomplishments, against all odds, have been incredible. Their story is a story never before told.

For the vast majority of the 2.3 million prisoners in the United States and for Abu-Jamal himself, the overriding, inescapable reality about the U.S. justice system is that the law is only what a judge says it is.

As Abu-Jamal has found out through his long and tortuous appeal process, "What published opinions claim, in all their legal niceties, matters little." Although he does not reference his own case in this or any other book he has written, valid constitutional legal claims that have won others new trials have done nothing for him. It did not matter to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, a federal district court, or a U.S. court of appeals that the prosecutor at his 1982 violated his constitutional right to a fair trial by using peremptory challenges to purge 10 otherwise qualified blacks from sitting on his jury. It didn't matter even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Batson in 1986 that racial discrimination in jury selection was grounds for a new trial. (Abu-Jamal currently has a request for a Writ of Certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court on his Batson claim, a request that marks his final legal recourse. If Cert is denied, he will remain in prison for life barring clemency by a future governor of Pennsylvania.)

Abu-Jamal himself is a jailhouse lawyer, who wryly notes that it is "the bane" of the vast majority of jailhouse lawyers "to be able to help everybody but themselves." He references a Pennsylvania case where he and another jailhouse lawyer won a new trial for an inmate sentenced to death. Given this new chance, the inmate copped a plea and had his sentence reduced to life, a reduction that got him off Death Row into the general prison population.

Becoming a jailhouse lawyer has long been met with retaliation by prison guards and prison administrators. Even to this day, jailhouse lawyers are the most discriminated against and punished by prison authorities. Abu-Jamal cites a 1991 nationwide study led by scholar Mark S. Hamm entitled "The Myth of Humane Imprisonment" that "found that no segment of the modern prison population – not blacks nor gays nor AIDS patients nor gang members – outweighed jailhouse lawyers when it came to prisoners who were targeted by the prison administration for punishment."

The report noted that guards and administrators "had a standard practice of singling out jailhouse lawyers for discipline and retaliation for challenging the status quo." Abu-Jamal finds it telling "that those who, for the most part, are most apt to use pen and paper – rather than, say, a 'lock in a sock' – to address and resolve grievances, are the most targeted of all prison populations." To this day, in every "hole" in every prison, Abu-Jamal writes, "you will find some jailhouse lawyers who are there on pretextual – and frequently false – disciplinary reports," even though since 1969 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to discipline prisoners for representing themselves or other prisoners.

In that case, Johnson v. Avery, the high court rejected Tennessee's punishment against an inmate for assisting a fellow prisoner with his legal work.

No nation in the world incarcerates as many of its citizens as does the United States. Right now one in every 99 people in the country is behind bars. More staggering is that one in every nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34 is in prison. Because blacks are so overrepresented in U.S. prisons, Abu-Jamal sees the prison system as nothing more than a modern day extension of the Slave Codes that prevailed before the Civil War and the Black Codes that took their place in the South right after it. For the newly emancipated blacks living below the Mason-Dixon Line, the Black Codes criminalized various behaviors for which only blacks could be "duly convicted." Black Codes made crimes of vagrancy, breach of job contracts, absence from work, the possession of firearms, and insulting gestures or acts.

President Clinton, a former constitutional law professor, signed into law in 1996 two draconian measures that undermined what little recourse prisoners have to post-conviction justice. One was the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act that made it far more onerous and difficult for prisoners to file wrongful convictions claims in Federal Courts; the other was the Prison Litigation Reform Act which limited the number of suits prisoners could file in federal courts and flat out barred suits against the state for mental or emotional injury. No longer could a prisoner seek redress or compensation for psychological damages inflicted by sociopathic guards who make sport of demeaning prisoners. Ironically, the ringleader of the Abu Ghraib guards in Iraq was a former guard at SCI-Greene in Pennsylvania where Abu-Jamal is incarcerated. "Long before U.S. Army Reserve Corporal Charles Graner brought pain, humiliation, and torture to Iraqi people detailed in Abu-Ghraib outside Bagdad, he was giving the blues to prisoners in Pennsylvania, where he was known as a brutal, sadistic, racist guard," Abu-Jamal writes.

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the acts of mental torture committed at Abu Ghraib, if committed in U.S. prisons, would have no standing.

"Is it surprising," Abu-Jamal asks, "that a nation that began its existence with Slave Codes, then continued for a century with an equally repressive set of Black Codes, would institute, by hook or crook, Prisoner Codes?"

Despite the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Abu-Jamal estimates there are tens of thousands jailhouse lawyers practicing pro se for themselves and their fellow inmates. They do this out of need, particularly when it comes to challenging unfair prison conditions, and because the great majority of prisoners are not entitled to court-appointed counsel post-conviction. In the first instance, real lawyers are banned from representing inmates in suits against prisons and prison authorities in every state but Arizona. In the second instance, court-appointed attorneys – for a myriad of reason, but mostly relating to money – have failed miserably in representing the legal and constitutional rights of indigent defendants at their original trials.

As Clarence Darrow stated over a hundred years ago, "…the courts are not instruments of justice. When your case gets into court it will make little difference whether you are guilty or innocent, but it's better if you have a smart lawyer. And you cannot have a smart lawyer unless you have money. First and last it's a question of money…We have no system for doing justice, not the slightest in the world."

Darrow said that if the courts were organized to promote justice "the people would elect somebody to defend all these criminals, somebody as smart as the prosecutor – and give him as many detectives and as many assistants to help, and pay as much money to defend you as to prosecute you."

Because the justice system in the United States has become so politicized around "law and order" and has erected an entire industry to house those convicted, the United States – which represents 5 percent of the world's population – now incarcerates 25 percent of the world's prison population. That would go a long way in explaining why there are tens of thousands of jailhouse lawyers working pro se for themselves and other inmates and why Abu-Jamal's latest book is such an important one.

--J. Patrick O’Connor is the editor of Crime Magazine ( and the author of 'The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal', published by Lawrence Hill Books in 2008.

Solidarity events will be held in the US around April 24, to mark Mumia's birthday and the release of Jailhouse Lawyers. Read more about events in: Philadelphia,
NYC, Oakland, Boston, Portland, Washington, DC, and Baltimore.

Read reviews by: Linn Washington, Jr. and Kiilu Nyasha

Read the foreword by former political prisoner Angela Y. Davis and an interview with Mumia about his new book. Also read the previous PhillyIMC feature.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Supreme Court lets Mumia Abu-Jamal's conviction stand
By Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court has let stand the conviction of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was sent to death row for gunning down a Philadelphia police officer 28 years ago.

He contends blacks were unfairly excluded from the jury, and has been an outspoken activist from behind bars.

The justices made their announcement Monday.

A separate appeal over whether Abu-Jamal deserves a new sentencing hearing has not been taken up by the high court.

Prosecutors are appealing a federal appeals court ruling in Abu-Jamal's favor last year on the sentencing issue. The case has attracted international attention amid charges of prosecutorial misconduct and the inmate's outspoken personality.

Abu-Jamal, a former radio reporter and cab driver has been a divisive figure, with many prominent supporters arguing that racism pervaded his trial. Others countered Abu-Jamal is using his skin color to escape responsibility for his actions. They say he has divided the community for years with his provocative writing and activism.

He was convicted for the December 9, 1981, murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner, 25, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Faulkner had pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother in a late-night traffic stop. Witnesses said Abu-Jamal, who was nearby, ran over and shot the policeman in the back and in the head.

Abu-Jamal, once known as Wesley Cook, was also wounded in the encounter and later confessed to the killing, according to other witnesses testimony.

Abu-Jamal is black and the police officer was white.

Incarcerated for nearly three decades, Abu-Jamal has been an active critic of the criminal justice system.

On a Web site created by friends to promote the release this month of his new book, the prisoner-turned-author writes about his fight. "This is the story of law learned, not in the ivory towers of multi-billion dollar endowed universities but in the bowels of the slave-ship, in the hidden, dank dungeons of America."

His chief defense attorney, Robert Bryan, had urged the justices to grant a new criminal trial, but the high court offered no explanation for its refusal to intervene.

"The central issue in this case is racism in jury selection," Bryan wrote to supporters last month. Ten whites and two blacks made up the original jury panel that sentenced Abu-Jamal to death.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals a year ago kept the murder conviction in place, but ordered a new capital sentencing hearing. That court ultimately concluded the jury was improperly instructed on how to weigh "mitigating factors" offered by the defense that might have kept Abu-Jamal off death row.

Pennsylvania law at the time said jurors did not have to unanimously agree on a mitigating circumstance, such as the fact that Abu-Jamal had no prior criminal record.

Months before that ruling, oral arguments on the issue were contentious. Faulkner's widow and Abu-Jamal's brother attended, and demonstrations on both sides were held outside the courtroom in downtown Philadelphia.

Many prominent groups and individuals, including singer Harry Belafonte, the NAACP and the European Parliament, are cited on his Web site as supporters. Prosecutors have insisted Abu-Jamal pay the price for his crimes, and have aggressively resisted efforts to take him of death row for Faulkner's murder.

"This assassination has been made a circus by those people in the world and this city who believe falsely that Mumia Abu-Jamal is some kind of a folk hero," said Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham last year, when the federal appeals court upheld the conviction. "He is nothing short of an assassin."