Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rep. Ellison considers resolution in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Go to the site to see the video of Dhoruba and Ellison at the meeting:

Ellison considers resolution in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal
By Jon Collins 3/17/10 11:54 AM

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., isn’t afraid to speak his mind.

He was bold enough to show up at a speaking event of former Black Panther Dhoruba Bin Wahad at Walker Church in South Minneapolis late last month. And after he was called on by Wahad, Ellison went toe-to-toe with the former political prisoner, eventually promising the crowd he’d consider a congressional resolution questioning the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal — who was convicted of murdering a Philadelphia policeman in 1982, although supporters say he didn’t receive a fair trial.

It was an often contentious half-hour dialog that spanned topics from the occupation of Palestine to Jim Crow laws.

After urgings from the sometimes restless crowd, Ellison said he hadn’t previously considered a congressional resolution in support of Abu-Jamal.

“You asked me about Mumia Abu-Jamal. You put something on my mind tonight,” Ellison told the crowd. “You want something done on Mumia Abu-Jamal: Let’s begin that conversation.”

After a long appeal process, the Supreme Court ruled that Abu-Jamal’s conviction could stand last year.

But the main thrust of the debate between Ellison and Wahad revolved around the best method to create social change. Wahad argued that social change comes from actively confronting oppression instead of working in the system.

“Is working to change the system with good intentions futile — yes,” Wahad said during the debate. “I don’t like tyrants, I don’t like oppressors — that’s why I spent 19 years in prison.”

Ellison said people fighting for social change need to get comfortable with acquiring some power.

“You correctly identify American foreign policy as a very dangerous thing for people all over the world — I think you’re right about that,” Ellison told Wahad. “You want to promote cynicism and I’m trying to promote positive social change and economic change for people.”

Ellison said there’s a broad dissatisfaction across racial lines in the United States and that Wahad’s rhetoric created barriers to real social change.

“[It's not productive] to argue there’s some impenetrable barrier between people of different racial groups,” Ellison told the crowd. “The fact is that there’s always been, I think you would agree, a number of interracial collections of people fighting oppression.”

Wahad’s speech was titled, “Political repression and state violence from Minneapolis to Palestine.” He was released from prison after an appeal found prosecutors withheld evidence.

According to the introduction, the event was sponsored by Communities United Against Police Brutality and the RNC8 Defense Committee, which supports eight Minneapolis activists who are facing felony conspiracy charges from their arrests before the Republican National Convention in 2008.

“I’ll get word back to you” on the possible Abu-Jamal resolution, Ellison told the crowd.

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