Sent by Suzanne Ross, Free Mumia Coalition NYC, prior to the November 12 Press Conference:
Many Muslim organizations are supporting the call for a civil rights investigation of Abu-Jamal's case. Representatives of these groups will be present both at the press conference and the subsequent rally at the Justice Department to express support for Mumia Abu-Jamal while pointing out similarities between the due process and human rights violations in his case and those that are perpetrated daily against the Muslim political prisoners and prisoners of war.
This past July, the NAACP passed an emergency resolution at its 100th anniversary convention in New York, asking Mr. Holder to conduct a civil rights investigation. "We're going to ask Attorney General Holder to look into this," said NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, during a broadcast of Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now" on July 20. "As anyone who's followed this case for a number of years knows, similar doubts have been raised about him as were raised about Troy Davis."
Later, Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington office, told The Final Call, "We had a meeting with the attorney general, and the subject of Mumia Abu-Jamal did surface. The attorney general said he was aware of the case and would look into it and get back to us."
Pam Africa, longtime Chair of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, announced that "we are not coming to the Department of Justice looking for justice. We are bringing justice to the Department of Justice!" Dr. Suzanne Ross of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition adds, "At this critical moment in Mumia's case, a civil rights investigation could mean the difference between life and death for Mumia. It could also open the door for his release."
The call for a civil rights investigation follows the April 2009 US Supreme Court acceptance of the Third Circuit's decision that closed all doors for a new trial or the consideration of Abu-Jamal's innocence. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is still considering an appeal by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office to immediately reinstate Abu-Jamal's death sentence.
International legal bodies such as Amnesty International, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the European Parliament, and city councils and national governments around the world have argued for decades that Abu-Jamal was wrongfully convicted in a widely denounced trial and appeals process for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. They point to suppressed evidence, witness intimidation and consequent witness perjury, a very specious confession, an admittedly biased judge and a long string of twisted appellate court rulings as evidence of a continuing conspiracy by the state of Pennsylvania to execute him. Additionally, as actually happened in the Justice Department's overturning of the conviction of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, there is extensive evidence of prosecutorial withholding of evidence from the defense that could have led to Mumia's acquittal-photographs challenging the prosecution's version of what happened on December 9, 1981, and evidence that another person other than Mumia, his brother, and Faulkner were at the crime scene at the time Office Faulkner was shot.
The march to the Justice Department will follow the press conference and is being co-sponsored by International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, National Lawyers Guild (NYC Chapter), WESPAC, Riverside Church Prison Ministry, Iglesia San Romero (UCC), Campaign to End the Death Penalty, International Action Center, Peace and Justice Foundation, Families United for Justice in America, Nat Turner Rebellion, Black August Planning Committee, National Jericho Movement, , and ANSWER, among others. The delivery of the petitions is expected to take place at 1:30 PM. The campaign has been endorsed by a broad range of individuals including Angela Davis, Ruby Dee, Charles Rangel, Cynthia McKinney, Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, and Tariq Ali.
In 1982, Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering a Philadelphia police officer and sentenced to death. His case is one of the most contested in U.S. history. Prosecutors, the Fraternal Order of Police and their supporters, and even the judges involved have always claimed to possess a watertight case justifying Abu-Jamal's conviction and sentence. Yet Abu-Jamal's trial, conviction, and death sentence have prompted jurists and human rights organizations worldwide to denounce the trial and death sentence as a travesty of justice. They cite the open bias of the original judge, who was overheard to have said outside his courtroom, "I'm going to help them fry the n - - - - -".
Not only is this a strong indication of racial bias, a reality minimized by the judge who took over the case, but it clearly identified the absence of the requisite "judicial neutrality" expected of a judge. The racially skewed process of jury selection, furthermore, yielded a disproportionately white jury, the disappearance of key ballistics evidence, and police intimidation of witnesses leading to perjured statements. Amnesty International, in its 2000 report called "A Life in the Balance: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal," stated that, "numerous aspects of this case clearly failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings" and strongly recommended a new trial. Abu-Jamal's defense team identified 29 claims of violation of his constitutional rights, but Abu-Jamal has been repeatedly denied the opportunity to have evidence of his innocence and of police and prosecutorial efforts to frame and convict him seriously considered. Abu-Jamal has always asserted his innocence and his affidavit on this is included in the press packet. Clearly, Mumia Abu-Jamal's race and his political views, as well as his widely recognized enormous talent in communicating those views, have played a key role in his being the object of a 28-year conspiracy to forever silence his voice.