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.