They came in droves.
Despite the chilly November wind and the callous indifference of a steady rain, and inspite of incredible distances many had come, they came in droves. In a rainbowed wave of humanity, they came to protest the persisting persecution of an incredible human being facing an incredibly inhumane ordeal in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
They came to Washington, DC, the seat of American governmental power and authority, to demand justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the irrepressible ‘Voice of the Voiceless,’ now in his 27th year on death row in Pennsylvania, now with all of his appeals virtually exhausted.
This is not the first time that they have come to Washington, to the Justice Department, for Mumia. They came in the height of the glory days of Bill Clinton’s presidency. They were told by then Attorney General Janet Reno that they had come much too early, that they were too many avenues to pursue within the courts before they, meaning the Justice Department, could give it serious consideration.
Since then, all of those options were pursued with a vengeance, armed with new exculpatory evidence, armed with clear evidence of the blatant racial and political animosity and bias making a fair trial absolutely impossible, and yet still, at every turn, even the U.S. federal court of appeals pathetically overruled their own precedents and turned their backs on Mumia’s bid for freedom and justice.
Most recently, the nation’s top court said that all the new evidence was either too late or too insignificant to make a difference in a trial. They have in fact said that they would even entertain renewed calls for the reinstatement of Mumia’s death sentence.
Just weeks ago, Mumia’s attorney Robert Bryan put it this way to a Dutch audience. “Mumia is now a global symbol against the death penalty. This is the most dangerous time for Mumia since his 1981 arrest.”
So now is indeed the time for the Justice Department to do what a Justice Department is supposed to do.
To drive that home, demonstrators delivered at least 25,000 letters and petitions calling for a civil rights investigation in this incredible case.
While many were from all parts of the United States, a considerable number were from abroad, from places like Japan, Spain, Mexico, Greece, France, Germany and South Africa.
In a press conference before the demonstration and delivery of the letters, Fignole St.Cyr, a trade union leader from Haiti who came to personally deliver nearly a thousand letters, said that “the world should observe American justice because the U.S. is supposed to stand for democracy. Justice should not be twofaced. Justice for Black people and for white people should be equal.”
On the positive side, this enormous demonstration comes on the heels of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization now in its centennial year, passing a resolution at their national convention stating their new interest and commitment.
They were best represented by Marvin ‘Doc’ Cheatam of the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP, the biggest chapter to not only come out for Mumia, put to also come out for other political prisoners. Under Cheatam, the Baltimore chapter has been steadfast in its call for justice for Marshall Eddie Conway, the Baltimore panther now imprisoned on account of a COINTELPRO driven prosecution since 1969.
Internationally, the demonstration also comes on the heels of the City Council of Munich, Germany, one of Europe’s largest, coming out for Mumia.
Dangerously, it comes on the heels of the Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham pursuing to have Mumia’s death sentence reinstated. Philadelphia also just elected its first African-American district attorney, Seth Williams, who vowed to pursue the reinstatement of Mumia’s death sentence.
Serious legal observers believe that the Supreme Court may even use the case of a neo-nazi, Frank Spisak, who is on death row in Ohio with a similar fact pattern, to reinstate his death sentence by ruling against Spivak, and then reinstating Mumia’s death sentence, without even hearing the case directly.
The tireless Pam Africa bottomlined the status of the case in this way.
“Mumia is innocent.They are about to commit out and out murder,” she said emphatically.
Zayid Muhammad, a national official of the New Black Panther Party, joined the New York delegation and personally delivered his organization’s letter and pleaded with Attorney General Holder to not let “political convention” get in the way of delivering justice to Mumia.
“The affirmation of slavery and the property holding rights of slavemasters was once the political convention of the day,” his letter read.
“Jim Crow segregation and the practice of lynch mob terror to enforce that order was also once the political convention of the day. However, on this date, at this incredible hour, in this enormous historical moment, with the eyes of the world upon us all, we, not just as in we, the international human rights community, but we, as in ‘we the people,’ simply can not allow this to happen!”
The most poignant point in the demonstration came at the end, at the actual point of the delivery of the letters and the petitions. The Justice Department sent out a phalanx of African-American officers at the Department’s entrance to prevent the demonstrators entry with the petitions and sent out a Latino representative, Alejandro Mijar, to actually receive them. As they were being delivered, Orie Ross, of Brooklyn, asked them if they were familiar with the case. When they admitted that they were not, Ross, in a straightforward matter of fact manner very reminiscent of Rev. CT Vivian’s confrontation with Bull Connor many years ago on the right to vote, laid out the background to Mumia’s ordeal, especially when detailing the new evidence and the extreme racial bias of the late presiding trial judge Albert Sabo’s “I’m gonna help them fry the nigger,” compelling Mijar to blush with embarrassment.
NATIONAL MINISTRY OF CULTURE
PO BOX 25332, NEWARK, NJ 07101