Sunday, May 20, 2012

Our visit with Mumia Abu-Jamal - Monica Moorehead

From the Prison Radio Blog

Our visit with Mumia Abu-Jamal
By Monica Moorehead
Frackville, PA
Monica Moorehead visiting Mumia on death row in 1996.
WW photo: Larry Holmes

Larry Holmes and I have been visiting political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal for 16 years. We started visiting him when he was on death row at State Correctional Institution-Greene in Waynesburg, Pa., which is near the West Virginia border. Our trips there by car from New York City would take at least seven hours, and even longer by bus.

Our first visit with Mumia — in March 1996 — was also the last face-to-face independent video interview of him, thanks to the late Key Martin, a founding member of the Peoples Video Network, who persisted in forcing the prison to grant this three-hour interview.

All of our visits at SCI-Greene gave us a glimpse into Mumia’s almost 30 years on death row — that is, the inhumane conditions that he and others were forced to endure, including spending 23 and a half hours a day in a tiny, poorly lit cell; being deprived of exercise, which caused the swelling of legs and ankles; and inadequate food and medical care.

Before every visit, Mumia was subjected to an invasive strip search. His wrists and ankles were shackled during visits. But when we met with him and discussed world events from a revolutionary perspective, these very oppressive conditions would seemingly melt away. Mumia had the ability to make each visit an illuminating political experience despite the repressive environment.

This past December, following the overturn of Mumia’s death sentence, he was moved to SCI-Mahanoy, a general population prison in Frackville, not far from Harrisburg, Pa. Larry and I had the incredible opportunity to visit ­Mumia on May 6. We were ecstatic to be able to physically hug and shake hands with him for the first time in 16 years. He was in very good spirits, smiling and very animated.

The visiting room had the atmosphere of a large cafeteria, including a commissary to allow family members and friends to purchase food for their loved ones in prison. It was very heartening to see and hear children running and laughing throughout the room, and to see open affection being shown towards prisoners, all of whom were wearing jumpsuits with “DOC” — which stands for Department of Corrections — written on the back. When we asked Mumia what it was like to be off death row after 30 years, he replied, “It is still a major adjustment.”

He told us how surprised he was that so many prisoners knew of his case, and the respect they had for him as a political prisoner. A Mumia activist told me how a relative of a white prisoner had reproduced Mumia’s first book, “Live from Death Row,” for him to read. Mumia’s books are banned outright by the prison.

Mumia also told us how he has become a mentor for a number of prisoners, especially young ones. One prisoner in particular is only 20 years and was sentenced to a 40-year prison sentence for attempted murder, not murder! According to Mumia, the prison population is 60 percent Black, with a large number being Muslim.

‘Profoundly encouraged’ by OWS

For most of the three and a half hours we visited with Mumia, the main discussion focused on the Occupy Wall Street movement. Mumia acknowledged that Occupy Philadelphia forces helped play a decisive role in getting him off of death row by joining forces with veteran pro-Mumia activists like Pam Africa.

Mumia told us that when a number of Black activists expressed to him some misgivings about OWS, his response was to encourage them to recognize OWS as an evolving movement — a dynamic, evolving movement that activists must find ways of engaging, ideologically and strategically.

Mumia spoke about the economic basis for OWS, in that the predominantly white youth-led movement has been cut loose by capitalism, especially in this particular stage of deepening global economic crisis. These white youth are finding out that they have more in common with Black and Brown youth, who have historically known that the only future that capitalism offers is racial profiling and mass incarceration.

These white youth are becoming disillusioned with capitalism because, while they have been told they would have a better life than their parents, in reality they cannot find any good-paying jobs despite their college degrees. They are also finding out, as they face increasing repression, that the police as an armed force are neither their friends nor workers.

Mumia stated: “I am profoundly encouraged by the Occupy movement. It’s good news for revolutionaries everywhere when those who once thought that they were privileged start to rebel against the system and join with those of us who have no illusions about or love for imperialism.”

After we said our goodbyes to Mumia, Larry commented to me: “It was an incredible experience to be able see and touch Mumia without his ankle-to-wrist shackles and enclosed in a small booth behind a plexiglass window, which was the only way he could see visitors on death row. We must not be content or rest until Mumia is free.”

Moorehead, a WW managing editor, and Larry Holmes, Workers World Party’s First Secretary, are both Secretariat members of WWP. To view excerpts from the 1996 PVN interview, go to

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Educate, Agitate, Organize for the MOVE 9 Upcoming Events!

From  Sis. Iresha Picot

May 7 at 5:00pm until May 12 at 3:00pm

Following the shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer James Ramp during the August 8, 1978 police siege on Move’s headquarters in West Philadelphia, MOVE members Janine, Debbie, Janet, Merle, Delbert, Mike, Phil, Eddie, and Chuck Africa were convicted of 3rd Degree Murder, Conspiracy, and multiple counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault. Each was given a sentence of 30-100 years. MOVE and others have contested both the evidence and the fairness of the MOVE 9 trial.

The MOVE organization is planning a week long of events to bring the community out to educate and organize around the MOVE 9 case.

Monday (5/7)
5:00pm, 52nd and Market,
Demonstration to Free the MOVE 9.

Tuesday (5/8)
7:00pm at Calvary Church (801 48th St. St.)
Present day teach-ins of the MOVE organization with Professor Linn Washington, Theresa Shoatz (Human Rights Coalition), and Betsy Petite (International Action Center).

Wednesday (5/9)
6:00pm, A-Space (4722 Baltimore Avenue)
Write-In to the Parole Board and Judicial Committee for the release of the MOVE 9.

Thursday (5/10)
TBA, Film Screening on “MOVE: A Confrontation” with a panel discussion on “Who are the MOVE 9?” featuring Pam Africa (Chairwoman of ICFFMAJ), Dr. Anthony Montiero, (Temple University) MOVE Supporters Pam Africa and Maiga Milbourne.

Friday (5/11)
7:00pm, Black and Nobel (1409 W. Erie Ave)
Teach-in on Frank Rizzo and Police Brutality with Attorney and Activist Michael Coard.

Saturday (5/12)
12-3pm, Abiding Truth Ministries (846 South 57th Street)
Educate, Organize, Agitate! Organizers meeting to strategize to liberate the MOVE 9, facilitated by Ramona Africa.

For more information about these events, please contact and the

LIKE these Facebook pages:

Listen to 13 PPs/POWs statements at the 4/24 DOJ for Mumia!

Listen to our Political Prisoners and POWs speaking at the Dept. of Justice on April 24th:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Now Available | Message to the Movement by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Available now in bilingual English/Spanish edition

BY Mumia Abu-Jamal

Featuring the poem “Occupy Mumia’s Cell” by Alice Walker.

Now available from the Occupied Media Pamphlet Series, published by Zuccotti Park Press, a project of Adelante Alliance |

Also available from Prison Radio

Listen to Mumia read from the pamphlet on Democracy Now and Prison Radio

Saturday, April 21, 2012

4/24 CA Represent! Occupy the Justice Dept - Oakland

From Political Prisoner News:

In Solidarity with the Occupy the Justice Department protest in Washington, DC

on Tuesday, April 24th - Mumia Abu-Jamal's 58th Birthday

End Mass Incarceration!

4PM - RALLY at 14th and Broadway, Oakland

Occupy4Prisoners and supporters will rally at Oscar Grant Plaza, where awareness and understanding regarding the brutality and corruption within the United States INjustice system will begin to rise up.  We will be doing educational outreach about the prison system with music, speakers, a "Truth Mob" and amplifying the voices of people inside of prisons.

5PM - MARCH to Federal Building and Obama Headquarters

We will take to the streets to march as an expression of our solidarity with the 2.5 million people incarcerated in the country.  The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country, with 743 people in prison per 100,000 of national population.  Occupy4Prisoners brings to the attention of the greater Occupy Movement how we cannot forget the bottom 1% of the 99% in our greater struggle for justice and equality.

The march will continue past the Federal Building (13th and Clay) where representatives from the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia and the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal will speak.  Folks from the Bradley Manning Support Network will share information about Bradley‚s plight when we reach the Obama Headquarters (17th and Telegraph.) Then we will march to...

6PM - THE INJUSTICE SYSTEM ON TRIAL - 19th and Telegraph

Once we arrive at the 19th and Telegraph Plaza, we will be putting the Injustice System on trial. Powerful local activists will preside over a trial that is actually about the truth.

The prosecutor will be Anita Wills, (Oscar Grant Committee and Occupy4Prisoners), the defense attorney will be Deborah Small, (Break the Chains), and the judge will be Jerry Elster (All of Us or None). The system will be played by Dan Siegel (National Lawyers Guild). 

The jury will be YOU!

These witnesses will be bringing evidence against the system regarding the following charges:

  1. Targeting youth of color

    Chris M, Occupy Oakland
    Sagnicthe Salazar, Youth Together and Xicana Moratorium Coalition
  2. Allowing murder and assault by police to go unpunished

    Denika Chatman, Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation
    Carey Downs & Dionne Smith Downs, A Mother's Cry for Justice
  3.  Enforcing racism at every level

    Jabari Shaw, Rapper, Laney College Black Student Union
    Manuel La Fontaine, All of Us or None and Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
  4. Holding political prisoners hostage

    Kiilu Nyasha, Independent journalist and former Black Panther
    Aaron Mirmalek, Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee Oakland

  5. Torturing people inside the prisons

    Sharena Curley, Oscar Grant Committee
    Luis Bato Talamantez, California Prison Focus and one of the San Quentin Six
  6. Conspiring to commit mass incarceration

    Linda Evans, All of Us or None and former political prisoner
    Ghetto Prophet, Onyx Organizing Committee and spoken word artist

More information:

Political Prisoner Radio on Mumia!

Please check out the phenomenal Political Prisoner radio show broadcast on April 19 with tons of info very eloquently and passionately delivered by Prof. Johanna Fernandez and Sis. Jamila Wilson, please check out the podcast and broadly repost!!

Video promos for Occupy the DoJ



M1, Amiri Baraka, Cornel West, Michelle Alexander, Pam Africa, Ramona Africa


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Virginia Bus to Occupy the DOJ massive 4/24 event!

From: Kwame Binta (via nattyreb)

There is a bus leaving Richmond, VA on April 24 to Occupy For Mumia Abu-Jamal and all Political Prisoners in Washington DC.

We are Demanding a new trial our the release for a crimes they DID NOT do! If you believe in FREEDOM and what justice to be done join us if you can.

If anyone wants to go, email Wizinty Houston at ASAP!

The money $10.00 is needed by Tuesday April 17th

More on Occupy the DOJ event at


Delaware Teach-In About Mumia Abu-Jamal and MOVE


Teach-In About Mumia Abu-Jamal and MOVE
Organized by Sandra Jones 
at Occupy Delaware, 800 N. French St., Wilmington, DE

Sunday, April 22, 2012
4:00pm until 7:00pm

Please join us for an amazing line up of speakers who will provide information about Mumia Abu Jamal, Pennsylvania political prisoner, to include a legal update on his case, as we build for the April 24th event Occupy the Justice Department.

In addition, the MOVE Documentary will be shown and MOVE members will provide information about the unjust incarceration of the MOVE 9, as we build for the May 12th event in Philly, when the May 13, 1985 BOMBING of the MOVE house occurred.

Speakers include:
  • Pam Africa, from Philadelphia (MOVE Organization)
  • Ramona Africa, from Philadelphia (MOVE Organization)
  • Jack Bryson, from Oakland (family friend of Oscar Grant, murdered by BART police in Oakland three years ago)
  • Sandy Jones (Delaware Chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty)

Who Is Mumia Abu-Jamal?

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an African-American writer and journalist, author of six books and hundreds of columns and articles, who has spent the last 30 years on Pennsylvania's death row and now general population, wrongfully convicted and sentenced for the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer, Daniel Faulkner. His demand for a new trial and freedom is supported by heads of state, nobel laureates, distinguished human rights organizations, scholars, religious leaders, artists, scientists, the Congressional Black Caucus and other members of U.S. Congress, the NAACP, labor unions, and by countless thousands who cherish democratic and human rights – and justice -the world over

They don't just want my death, they want my silence. — Mumia Abu-Jamal

© Copyright 2012 — All Rights Reserved


The MOVE 9 are innocent men and women who have been in prison since August 8, 1978, following a massive police attack on us at our home in Powelton Village (Philadelphia). This was seven years before the government dropped a bomb on MOVE, killing 11 people, including 5 babies. The August 8, 1978 police attack on MOVE followed years of police brutality against MOVE and was a major military operation carried out by the Philadelphia police department under orders of then-mayor, Frank Rizzo, whose reputation for racism and brutality is well known; it followed him up thru the ranks of the police department to the police commissioner's office to the mayor's office. 

During this attack, heavy equipment was used to tear down the fence surrounding our home, and cops filled our home with enough tear gas to kill us and our babies, while SWAT teams covered every possible exit. We were all in the basement of our home, where we had 10 thousand pounds of water pressure per minute directed at us from 4 fire department water cannons (for a total of 40 thousand pounds of water pressure per minute). As the basement filled with nearly six feet of water we had to hold our babies and animals above the rising water so they wouldn't drown. Suddenly shots rang out (news reporters and others know the shots came from a house at 33rd and Baring St., not our home, because they actually saw the man shooting) and bullets immediately filled the air as police through-out the area opened fire on us. 

Officer James Ramp, who was standing above us on street-level and facing our home, was killed by a single bullet that struck him on a downward angle. This alone makes it impossible for MOVE to have killed Ramp, since we were below street level, in the basement. MOVE adults came out of the house carrying our children through clouds of tear gas, we were beat and arrested. 

Television cameras actually filmed the vicious beating of our brother Delbert Africa (3 of the 4 cops that beat Delbert went to trial on minor charges). Despite the photographic evidence, the trial judge (Stanley Kubacki) refused to let the jury render a verdict and himself acquitted the cops by directed order. Nine of us were charged with murder and related charges for the death of James Ramp. 

Within a few hours of our arrest, our home (which is supposed to be the "scene of the crime" and therefore evidence) was deliberately destroyed, demolished, by city officials when they were legally obligated to preserve all evidence, but we were held for trial anyway. We went to trial before Judge Edward Malmed who convicted all nine of us of third degree murder (while admitting that he didn't have "the faintest idea" who killed Ramp) and sentenced each of us to 30 - 100 years in prison. Judge Malmed also stated that MOVE people said we are a family so he sentenced us as a family; we were supposed to be on trial for murder, not for being a family. 

It is clear that the MOVE 9 are in prison for being committed MOVE members, not for any accusation of crime. Three other adults that were in the house on August 8th did not get the same treatment as those that this government knows are committed MOVE members. One had all charges dismissed against her in September of 1978 with the judge saying that there was no evidence that she was a committed MOVE member when the issue was supposed to be murder. The second one was held for trial but released on bail; she was acquitted. The third one was held for trial with no bail, convicted of conspiracy and given 10-23 years; she was paroled in 1994. 

It is obvious that everything depended on whether or not the courts thought it was dealing with a committed MOVE member, court decisions had nothing to do with the accusation of murder. 

It has been 25 years since the August 8, 1978 police attack on MOVE, 25 years of unjust of imprisonment, but despite the hardship of being separated from family-members, despite the grief over the murder of family-members (including babies), the MOVE 9 remain strong and loyal to our Belief, our Belief in Life, the Teaching of our Founder, JOHN AFRICA. We have an uncompromising commitment to our Belief, which is what makes us a strong unified family, despite all this government have done to break us up and ultimately exterminate us.

It will take a massive amount of public pressure to force this rotten corrupt government to release the MOVE 9 and all political prisoners----What can YOU do to add to the pressure?

*Taken from

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Big Brother ‘legal’ in US: Mumia Abu-Jamal exclusive to RT

From RT:

Big Brother ‘legal’ in US: Mumia Abu-Jamal exclusive to RT

Published: 10 April, 2012, 10:28
Edited: 11 April, 2012, 08:38

RT has become the first TV channel in the world to speak to former journalist and Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal since he was removed from death row in January. Abu-Jamal will spend his life behind bars for killing a police officer in 1981.

Considered by many to be a flagrant miscarriage of justice, the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal has gained much attention worldwide. The defense claimed Abu-Jamal is innocent of the charges as the testimony of the prosecution's witnesses was not reliable. For decades, supporters have rallied behind him.

After spending almost 30 years on death row, Abu-Jamal told RT’s Anastasia Churkina that “The truth is I spent most of my living years in my lifetime, on death row. So, in many ways, even to this day, in my own mind, if not in fact, I’m still on death row.”

RT: If you were not behind bars and could be anywhere else in the world, where would you be – and what would you be doing?

Mumia Abu-Jamal: Since my earliest years I was what one would call an internationalist. That is paying attention to what is happening in other parts of the world. As an internationalist I am thinking about life lived by other people all around the world. Of course as an African American I would love to spend some time in parts of Africa. But it is also true that I have many friends and loved ones in France. I would really like to bring my family, my wife and kids to come see our street in Paris.

RT: Being behind bars you seem to be watching world affairs much closer than most people who are free to walk the streets. Which event of the last 30 years would you like to be a part of, if you could?

MAJ: I think the first would probably be the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Because of course once being South African, it was also global, because it was the touch point of white supremacy versus the freedom and dignity of African people. So South Africa would be a logical first choice.

But wherever the people are fighting for freedom, that wins my eye and gets my attention and moves my passion.

RT: You turn 56 at the end of the month, which means you will have to spend more than half of your life behind bars. Most people cannot even begin to imagine that. What is it like? How has it changed you?

MAJ: The point and fact is I have spent most of my life, the bigger percentage of my life on death row. And it cannot but have had a profound effect on consciousness and on the way one sees and interacts with the world. I like to tell myself that I actually spent a lot of that time beyond the bars, in other countries and in other parts of the world. Because I did so mentally. But mental can only take you so far. The truth of the matter is that I spent most of my living years in my lifetime on death row. So, in many ways, even to this day, in my own mind, if not in fact, I am still on death row.

RT: Your story has really become a symbol for many of a flawed justice system. Do you personally have any faith left in a fair and free justice system? Considering your life has been so much affected by it?

MAJ: When I was a teenager and in the Black Panther party I remember I was going to downtown Manhattan and protesting against political imprisonment and incarceration and threats facing Angela Davis… When Davis attacked the prison system, she talked about perhaps 250,000 or 300,000 people imprisoned throughout all the US as a problem to be dealt with, a crisis, a situation that bordered on fascism. Fast forward 30-40 years to the present, today more than 300,000 prisoners in California alone, one state out of fifty. The imprisonment in California alone exceeds that of France, Belgium and England – I could name 4-5 countries combined.

We could not perceive back then of what it would become. It is monstrous when you really look at what is happening today. You can literally talk about millions of people incarcerated by the prisoner-industrial complex today: men, women and children. And that level of mass incarceration, really mass repression, has to have an immense impact in effect on the other communities, not just among families, but in a social and communal consciousness way, and in inculcation of fear among generations. So it is at a level and at a depth that many of us cannot even dream of today.

RT: You talk about so many important social and economic issues in your work; do you have a dream today? If you could see one of those aspects changed which one would you pick? What do you wish you could see happen in the United States?

MAJ: There is never one thing… Because of the system of interconnectedness and because one part of the system impacts another part of the system, and because, what Antonio Gramsci called hegemony of the ideological system impacts other parts of the system. You cannot change one thing that will impact all things. That is one of the lessons of the 1960s, because the civil rights movement was talking about integration and changing the schools. In point of fact if you look at the vast majority of working class and poor black kids in American schools today, they live and spend their hours and their days in the system profoundly as segregated as that of their grandparents, but it is not segregated by race, it is segregated by race and class.

The schools that my grandchildren go to are worse than the schools I went to when I was in my minor years and my teenage years. That’s a condemnation of a system but because former generations only concentrated on one thing or one side of the problem. The problem has really got worse and worse and worse. And while there is a lot of rhetoric about schools, American schools are a tragedy.

RT: You were monitored by the FBI at the age of fourteen, now with laws such as NDAA being passed in the United States when people are watched, detained and can be held, that has become easier than ever, do you think Big Brother has officially shown his face in this country?

MAJ: If you look back it is clear that FBI and their leaders and their agents  knew that everything they did then was illegal and FBI agents were taught and trained how to break into places, how to do, what they called, black bag jobs and that kind of stuff, how to commit crimes. And this is what they were also taught, you’d better do it and you’d better not get caught, because if you get caught you are going to jail and we act like we don’t know you, you are on your own. What has happened in the last twenty and thirty years not just NDAA but the so-called Patriot Act has legalized everything that was illegal back in the 1950s-1970s. They legalized the very things that the FBI agents and administrative knew was criminal back then. That means they can look in your mail, they certainly can read your email, they tap your phone – they do all of that. But they do it in the name of national security. What we’re living today is a national security state where Big Brother is legalized and rationalized.

RT: You have described politicians once as prostitutes in suits giving your apologies to honest prostitutes. It is election season in the US right now and we want to ask who do people trust, who would you vote for?

MAJ: Nobody. I have seen no one who I could in good conscience vote for today. Because most of the people that are out there are from two major political parties and all I hear is kind of madness – a wish to return to days of youth to the 1950s or they talk about the perpetuation of the American empire, imperialism. What is there to vote for? How many people consciously go to the polls voting for imperialism, for more war or voting for their son or daughter or father or mother to become a member of the armed forces and become a mass murderer?

RT:You seem to have endorsed the Occupy Wall Street movement that has sprung out the US this year. Is this the type of uprising that you think could change America and do good to the United States?

MAJ: I think it is the beginning of this kind of uprising. Because it has to be deeper, it has to be broader, it has to address issues that are touching on the lives of poor working class people…It is a damn good beginning, I just wish it was bigger and angrier.

RT: You are the voice of the voiceless. What is your message to your supporters right now, to those who are listening to you?

MAJ: Organize, organize, organize. I love you all. Thank you for fighting for me and let’s fight together to be free.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

600 German Free Mumia Movement Activists Encircle US Embassy in Berlin with 2000 foot Banner!!


Dear all,

Yesterday approxiamately 600 people encircled the US Embassy in Berlin with a 700 meter (appr. 2230 feet) long banner demanding Mumia's freedom, to abolish the death penalty, stop the prison industrial complex and free the political prisoners. This banner has been drawn by hundreds of different people during FREE MUMIA info events all over the country in the last half year.

Here are two videos from the event:

Berlin: 600 fordern Freiheit für Mumia Abu-Jamal! (April 7, 2012)

Berliner Ostermarsch 2012 - Freiheit für Mumia Abu-Jamal! - Occupy For Peace (April 7, 2012)

German media widely covered the event. We even made it into a news programme of Germany's largest TV station for a couple of seconds. We were supported by the peace movement which led a peace demonstration onto the square in order to take part in this action. It was a strong sign of solidarity when the whole march cued up to pick up a piece of the banner and started walkong around the US Embassy.

On April 21 we will take to the streets of Berlin again when we demonstrate through the city center. Mumia's former fellow prisoner Harold Wilson will join us when we march towards the US Embassy once more to demand the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the many other prisoners, who are incarcerated due to racist laws, political repression and the shear greed to exloit them in the prison industrial complex. We will demand a global abolition of the death penalty, too, highlighting the pivotal role the US has in this.

We hope these actions will help to draw attention to the OCCUPY the DoJ in Washington D.C. on April 24 - we wish you lots of success.


In solidarity

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

PA Supreme Court Denies Mumia Abu-Jamal Petition

On Monday, March 26, 2012 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected Mumia Abu-Jamal's appeal of his capital murder conviction.  With a one-page Order, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court decision denying, without a hearing, Mr. Abu-Jamal's claim that a 2009  report by the National Academy of Science -- exposing serious flaws in forensic evidence routinely introduced in criminal trials -- demonstrated that the forensic evidence relied upon by the Philadelphia County District Attorney's Office in its 1982 prosecution of Mr. Abu-Jamal was unreliable.  Because the forensic evidence that was presented at Mumia's trial was untrustworthy and because reliable and potentially exculpatory forensic evidence was never secured or presented by the state, the accuracy of the jury's first degree murder conviction is seriously undermined.

Although this decision concludes all of Mr. Abu-Jamal's pending appeals, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. and Prof. Judy Ritter are actively researching and investigating all options for future legal challenges to Mr. Abu-Jamal's conviction.

NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
Christina Swarns
Director, Criminal Justice Project

Monday, April 02, 2012



On December 31, 2011, William Singletary, a decorated Vietnam Vet who suffered from the effects of Agent Orange and heart failure, died of multiple organ failure. To most of you, he is known as a witness to Mumia’s innocence. Bill came forward in 1990 to testify that he saw another man, not Mumia, shoot Daniel Faulkner and run from the scene. From that time forward, Bill spoke out for Mumia’s innocence and to expose the police brutality directed against Mumia. For that, Bill was harassed by police, driven from Philadelphia, and ostracized by his family and suffered financial problems.

Jeanette Singletary knew when she married Bill that the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal would be an integral part of their life together .She stood with Bill through the 1995 PCRA hearing and as he continued his public campaign. Jeanette nursed and cared for Bill full-time over the past three years. When Bill died after weeks in intensive care, the family income, which was from his veteran’s benefits and social security disability, was slashed. His claims for benefits as a victim of Agent Orange have been denied. Jeanette has no other source of income. Their nineteen-year old daughter Sheadale, Bill’s pride and joy, began college this year. The Singletary home is now in foreclosure, and there are stacks of bills that Jeannette cannot pay. There is no money to keep up a car, which is necessary to get a job and buy groceries.

Please help this courageous family. Any gift of money will help. Your words of support will be appreciated.

Please send your contribution to: Jeanette Singletary, P.O. Box 71452, Durham, N. Carolina 27722-1452.

You can email Jeanette and Sheadale at:

In thanks to William Singletary and his courageous defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal,

Rachel Wolkenstein

A Message from Mumia

From Noelle Hanrahan/Prison Radio

On December 18, 2011, from his solitary cell at SCI Mahanoy, Mumia wrote a message to the men and women with whom he shared death row. We share it with you here: (courtesy of 'Greater Friends' the newsletter of Pennsylvania Prison Society)


It has been barely  a week since I departed Death Row, yet I cannot help but look back, for many of you are in my heart.
I may no longer be on Death Row, but because of you Death Row is still with me. How could that not be so, when I've spent more years of my life on Death Row, than in `Freedom?' Or, more time spent on Death Row, than with my family?

I write to tell you all—even those I've never met—that I love you, for we have shared something exceedingly rare. I have shared tears and laughter with you, that the world will neither know nor see. I have shared your anguish when some judge shattered your hopes and spit disappointment; or when some politician sought to use you to climb to higher office.

We have seen time and disease take some of our people off the Row. We have seen several choose their own date to die, cheating the hangman via suicide (William "Billy" Tilley, Jose "June" Pagan). But, Brothers and Sisters of the Row, I write not of death, but of life.

If I can walk off, so can you. Keep rumblin'; keep fightin'; keep rockin'. Check out your Mills issue.

But, there is more. Live each day, each hour, as if it is the only time there is. Love fiercely. Learn a new thing. A language. An art. A science. Keep your mind alive. Keep your heart alive. Laugh!

Look at each other not as competitors, but as fellow travelers on the same red road of life. No matter what the world says of you, see the best in each other, and radiate love to each other.

Be your best self. If you are blessed to have family, send your love to them all—no matter what. If you have a spiritual family or faith, practice it fully and deeply, for this links you to something greater than yourself. No matter what, Christian, Muslim, Judaism, Hindu, Krishna Consciousness, Buddhism, or Santería (or Move). This broadens you and deepens you.

I have been blessed to have many of you as my teachers, and my students. Some have been my sons; some have been my brothers. Yet I see all of you as part of my family.

Take heart, for the death penalty itself is dying. States and counties simply can't afford it, and politicians who run on it are finding fewer and fewer buyers. Juries (especially in places like Philly) are increasingly reluctant to vote for death, even in cases where it appears imminent.

Sisters on the Row, while we have never met, my heart has felt your tears as you are forcibly separated from your children, unable to hold or kiss them. In many ways, as women, your anguish has been the worst, as your loves and sensitivities are deepest. My words to my brothers are yours as well: keep mind alive. Keep hearts alive. Live. Love. Learn. Laugh!

I know you all as few outsiders do. I've met artists, musicians, mathematicians, managers, jailhouse lawyers, and stockbrokers. I've seen guys who couldn't draw a straight line, emerge as master painters (Cush, Young Buck); I've seen guys come from near illiteracy to become fluent in foreign languages; I've met teachers who've created works of surpassing beauty and craftsmanship (Big Tony).

You are all far more than others say of you, for the spark of the infinite glows within each of you. You are on Death Row, but what is finest in you is greater than Death Row.

So, care for each other. Not in words, but in the heart.
Think good vibes on each other.

Lastly, don't rat. (If ratting was so cool, they would've beat me off the Row).

Keep rumblin', `cause your day is coming.

—Mumia Abu-Jamal, M.A.
Death Row (1983–2011)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


April 24, 11AM
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC -- at the Dept of Justice (DOJ)

Pledge to Occupy the DOJ

International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal : Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal : New York Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal : Occupy Philly : Occupy DC Now : Occupy DC Criminal Injustice Committee : Occupy the Hood : Decarcerate PA : Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change [SPARC] : Millions for Mumia : Dead Prez (Sticman and M1) : T alib Kweli : Immortal Technique : Angela Davis : Danny Glover : Alice Walker : Francis Pixen : Amiri Baraka : Marc Lamont Hill : Cornell West : Vijay Prashad : Norman Finkelstein

Spread the Word: Bring 2, 5 or 10 Friends
To download, right-click on a link and click "Save as..."

NEXT STOP -Mumia's Freedom 

Now that the celebrated, radical journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, is off death row, many dare to imagine the next step--his release from prison. On December 9, 2011 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, where over 1,100 people gathered to mark the 30th anniversary of Mumia's incarceration, Archbishop Desmond Tutu asked our nation to "rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights, and justice" and called for Mumia's "immediate release." And when Frances Goldin--Mumia's literary agent--called on the audience to OCCUPY the Justice Department, the call was met with a roar of excitement.

On April 24, 2012, Mumia's 58th birthday, we will gather at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, DC. A large-scale, vibrant and colorful rally will amplify our formal request that Eric Holder immediately meet with a delegation to discuss police corruption and civil rights violations in Mumia's case and in the cases of hundreds of other defendants in Philadelphia. Some demonstrators will engage in acts of civil disobedience to draw greater attention to these injustices.

I pledge to occupy the DOJ

On April 24, consider joining a group of renowned citizens in an act of civil disobedience, among them Danny Glover, Frances Fox Piven, Norman Finkelstein, and M1 of Dead Prez. Your pledge to engage in an act of civil disobedience will be critical to reaching our goals of enlisting the participation of other activists and ensuring news coverage of the case and of our broader demands. If you cannot commit to civil disobedience, you can pledge to be at the demonstration.

Because Mumia's removal from death row coincides with the dramatic shift in consciousness brought by the Occupy Wall Stree t movement and the execution of Troy Davis, we now have a unique window of opportunity to fulfill one of the most important moral assignments of our time: to build a movement that will link all of the violations in Mumia's case and his fraudulent trial to the crisis of mass incarceration, so as to win this innocent man's freedom. Short term goal: release Mumia. Long term goal: end mass incarceration.

Attorneys will be available to answer questions and to support this important demonstration.

"there is something in the soul...

...that cries for freedom!" Twenty-first century social movements around the world are illuminating the root ca uses of social crises, class inequality, bigotry, human rights violations, and environmental degradation. Here in the U.S. we have seen how, in the face of the growing OCCUPY movements, the state has intensified its campaign to restrain people and silence dissent. From the incarceration of state critics and whistle blowers (Bradley Manning), the pepper spraying of peacefully protesting students in California and the passage of repressive legislation (HR 347 & NDAA) to the warehousing of millions of poor Black and Latino people in American prisons and the increased scapegoating and detention of immigrants -- the state is ramping up repressive measures.

On April 24, we will breath life into the old labor slogan: "an injury to one, is an injury to all." On that day we will say that we are all Mumia, we are all immigrants, we are all Bradley Manning, we are all poor, we are all Palestinian, and we are all Troy Davis.

For 30 years, in a death row cell, Mumia has offered a radical critique of power and injustice through his regular radio commentaries and seven published books. His defiant voice in the face of state repression has taught us all something about courage and the human spirit's inclination toward freedom. His message articulates our highest aspirations as a society. On April 24, make a placard and write on it all of your grievances. They will be welcomed. Above all, on that day, bring your fighting spirit and your desire to live in and create a decent and different world.


The police who shot, brutalized, and arrested Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1980 -- for the shooting death of Officer Daniel Faulkner -- were under scrutiny by a Department of Justice investigation of the Philadelphia Police Department. The probe, which began in 1979, marked the first time in United States' history that the federal government sued a police department for civil rights violations and charged an entire police department, rather than individual officers, with police brutality. The DOJ suit maintained that the Philadelphia police's practices of "shooting nonviolent suspects, abusing handcuffed prisoners, suppressing dissension within its ranks, and engaging in a pattern of brutal behavior `shocks the conscience.'" Only days after the end of Mumia's fraudulent trial and conviction, 15 of the 35 police officers involved in collecting evidence in his case would be convicted and jailed, as a result of this federal investigation, on charges which included graft, corruption, and tampering with evidence to obtain a conviction. Chief among these officers was Alfonzo Giordano, the police inspector who led the crime scene investigation in Mumia's case. The DOJ investigation remains unfinished: it did not provide relief for defendants like Mumia who were convicted by the testimonies and work of these corrupt an d convicted cops.


  • Release Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • End mass incarceration
  • Jobs, Education, & Health Care. NOT JAILS!
  • End solitary confinement & stop torture
  • End the racist death penalty
  • Hands off immigrants
  • Free all political prisoners
For more info on the case:
Dave Lindorff, Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal (Common Courage Press, 2002)
Patrick J. O'connor, The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal (Lawrence Hill Books, 2008)

To donate:
Mail tax-deductible checks to National Lawyers Guild Foundation, 922 Nassau Street #922, New York, NY 10009 (write A24 in subject line)

Stay tuned for pre-event "Teach-Ins" in Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

For more info on A24
email: info at
call: 215-600-6626

To get on the bus:
Philadelphia: 215-600-6626
Occupy the Hood, NY: 718-600-5857
New York Coalition to Free Mumia: 212-330-8029 

--Mumia is Innocent!  Stop the Frame Up!  Free Mumia!--

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, NYC
P.O. Box 16, College Station, NY, NY 10030

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mumia Receives 2012 Frantz Fanon Prize


We are proud to announce that this past Sunday, February 26, Mumia received the 2012 Frantz Fanon Prize in Paris.  Mumia's brother, Keith, accepted the prize at the ceremony on behalf of Mumia.  Below is the link to the powerful 17 minute statement that Mumia recorded for the occasion and which was played for those who attended the ceremony.  

Congratulations, Mumia, on your getting yet another well-deserved honor!  We look forward to the day when you can receive these honors in person.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Mumia's Letter to Princeton Seminary students

From Mark Lewis Taylor of EMAJ –

The commentary/letter by Mumia, below, needs a brief explanation. Mumia sent this to me for my students at Princeton Theological Seminary, in a class I teach, “Incarnation and Incarcerated Bodies.” He wrote it while in “the hole” (Restricted Housing Unit - RHU) at SCI-Mahanoy, before being transferred – after 50 days! – to general population. Before I knew he was going to be in the hole, I had invited him to phone in a spoken commentary to my class, as he has done on two other occasions. Once Mumia went into the hole, I expected to hear nothing. It is testimony to his indomitable spirit and political commitment, that Mumia got this five-page handwritten text, and discerning analysis, out to my class – while in the hole!  Below, you’ll find my typed-out version of the text.

Then, on one of his first days out of the hole, he recorded the letter onto audio tape, only slightly altered from the handwritten text. I found this audio version in my online Dropbox, as “a surprise,” he said. This was made possible, also, by the good efforts of Prison Radio’s Noelle Hanrahan. That audio version will be posted soon this week. His audio tape arrived just in time for me to play to my classes this past week – to great effect!

Enjoy – everyone; post and send as you wish! And now – let’s get Mumia free, so that he is teaching live in our classrooms, helping us all to dismantle “Incarceration Nation.”

Keep on!

[lecture 1/19/12] © 2012 M.A. JAMAL

Fellow students, Dr. Mark Lewis Taylor; I think you for this rare opportunity to join you, if only on paper. For the first time in nearly 3 decades, I join you, free from a death sentence; yet, I write from the nation’s growing public housing population: its prisons.

As Michelle Alexander, Angela Y. Davis, and a plethora of scholar-activists have more than aptly demonstrated, we are in the throes of an imprisonment fever, holding millions of men, women and children in shackles. It is what I call, “Incarceration Nation.”

As I am now in the “hole,” and thus in transition to population (or so I’m told), my access to phone is restricted, so my words and paper must suffice. No matter, I am a writer, and am fully able to use this medium to press my points.

As this is both an academic as well as a theological setting, I intend to share with you voices that may not necessarily be commonly heard or expressed here, but are vital to the mission of institutions such as these, as they arise from the very heart of Black religious practice, albeit of various spiritual traditions. Indeed, the first is drawn from a uniquely artistic tradition, and is therefore, a performance of a performance (you’ll understand more, shortly, I trust).

For the Black preacher has been, since Africans arrived in the nation, the central voice of Black yearning, Black hope and yes, Black resistance to the system of white supremacy and racist terror against black life.

Acclaimed Black dialect poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, in his 1896 poem, “An Antebellum Sermon,” brings out the soul and the satire inherent in the traditions of Black preachers, thus:

                We is gathahed hyeah, my brothahs,
                    In dis howlin’ wildaness,
                Fu’ to speak some words of comfo’t
                   To each othah in distress.
                An’ we chooses fu’ ouah subjic’
                   Dis – we’ll ‘splain it by an’ by;
                “An de Lawd said, ‘Moses, Moses,’
                   An’ de man said, ‘Hyeah am I.’”

                Now ole Pher’oh, down in Egypt,
                   Was de wuss man evah bo’n,
                An’ he had de Hebrew chillun
                   Down dah wukin’ in his co’n’
                ‘Twell de Lawd got tiahed o’ his foolin’,
                   An sez he: “I’ll let him know –
                Look hyeah, Moses, go tell Pher’oh
                   Fu’ to let dem chillun go.” . . .
                But fu’ feah some one mistakes me,
                   I will pause right hyeah to say,
                Dat I’m still a-preachin’ ancient
                   I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout to-day.

                But I tell you, fellah christuns,
                   Things’ll happen mighty strange;
                Now, de Lawd done dis fu’ Isrul,
                An’ his ways don’t nevah change,
                An’ de love he showed to Isrul
                   Wasn’t all on Isrul spent;
                Now don’t run an’ tell yo’ mastahs
                   Dat I’s preachin’ discontent.

                ‘Cause I is n’t; I’se a-judgin’
                   Bible people by deir ac’s;
                I’se a-givin’ you de Scriptuah,
                   I’se a-handin’ you de fac’s.
                Cose ole Pher’oh b’lieved in slav’ry,
                   But de Lawd he let him see,
                Dat de people he put bref in,-
                   Evah mothah’s son was free.  . . .
                But when Moses wif his powah
                   Comes an’ sets us chillun free,
                We will praise de gracious Mastah
                    Dat has gin us liberty;
                An’ we’ll shout ouah halleluyahs,
                   On dat mighty reck’nin’ day,
                When we’se reco’nised ez citiz’ –
                   Huh uh! Chillun, let us pray!

Paul Laurence Dunbar mined the rich mother-lode of Black speech and oration to fund his poetry, and while it may sound somewhat new to some students here, I assure you – as someone who accompanied my mother to a Black Baptist church in his childhood – the rhythms and intonations of Dunbar are as familiar as an old relative.

That said, it was penned over a century ago, and new deliveries, new attitudes and even new religions were inevitable.

By the ‘60s, voices such as Malcolm X’s would ascend to the pulpit, in the name of an American-born Islam (specifically, the Nation of Islam) which would use new cadences and a different message to give voice to the Black spirit.

The following text of one of his sermons is typical:

My brothers and sisters, our slave masters’ Christian religion has taught us black people here in the wilderness of North America that we will sprout wings when we die and fly up into the sky where God will have for us a special place called heaven. This is white man’s Christian religion used to brainwash us black people! We have accepted it! We have believed it! We have practiced it! And while we are doing all of that, for himself, this blue-eyed devil has twisted his Christianity to keep his foot on our backs…to keep our eyes fixed on the pie in the sky and heaven in the hereafter…while he enjoys his heaven right here…on this earth…in this life.

Of course, the differences in tone, in structure, and even in language, are, to say the least, striking. Yet, both forms are reflections of the central concern of Black people. Freedom. Liberty. Here. Now.

(It is noteworthy, too, that both saw America as ‘wilderness.’)

And it might also be said that both forms resulted in the frustration of hopes dashed, for, in Dunbar’s era, Black people were experiencing the Great Betrayal of Reconstruction, where all the promises of the constitution’s 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were sacrificed on the profane altar of white supremacy and Ku Klux Klan terrorism, and ignored for most of the 20th century.

In Malcolm’s time, meanwhile, we were in the opening innings of the mass incarceration period, where, despite declining crime rates, prison populations, with predominantly Black incarcerees, would, literally rise a hundred-fold between 1970 and the 1990s.

Little wonder that the tones would change, until today, when we’re in “Incarceration Nation,” with millions behind bars.

Malcolm knew something of this, for he did nearly a decade in prison, where he experienced his conversion to the Nation of Islam’s teaching. I think that experience steeled him, and made him the outstanding minister he would later become. It deepened and sharpened his critique.

And yet, we’re still in Incarceration Nation, the Prison Industrial Complex – where prisons are America’s sole remaining growth industry.

Thank you!

From Incarceration Nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.


BERRY, Mary Frances and BLASSINGAME, John W.  Long Memory: The Black Experience in America. New York/London: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 104-5; 102.

Legal Update on How Mumia Got Removed From the Hole

Note below how at the final stage of this protracted battle with the state to get Mumia out of the hole, Mumia was pressured to sign an outrageous agreement he refused to sign.  He was then told he would therefore not be released into general population. But with the escalating struggle of the movement he was nonetheless released the following ay.  The powers that be had to back down.  All Power to the People!

The Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition


PA Department of Corrections Gives Up, For Now!

Mumia Abu-Jamal Moved Out of Administrative Custody!

Free Mumia from the Hell Hole of Prison!

By Rachel Wolkenstein

Fifty days after the Philadelphia District Attorney conceded defeat in its attempt to legally lynch Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) was compelled to abandon its efforts to keep Mumia in the tortuous conditions of Administrative Custody (AC) (more commonly known as solitary or "the hole"). In the face of an ever-growing international protest campaign, the threat of legal action and Mumia's courage and political integrity, on Friday morning, January 27, 2012, Mumia was moved into general population at SCI Mahanoy.

For weeks the DOC insisted that Mumia would be held in AC until it received the "paper work" stating he is resentenced to life imprisonment. This bogus rationale is representative of the arbitrariness and abuse of power exercised by the DOC, since its own documents state that the District Attorney agreed Mumia no longer had a death sentence. When Philadelphia District Attorney, Seth Williams, with the backing of the FOP, agreed to life imprisonment rather than trying again for an execution, they threatened to make Mumia's life imprisonment as restrictive and difficult as possible.

Once Mumia was taken off death row on December 8, 2011, he should have been transferred to general population. Instead, days later, Mumia was taken from his cell at 4 a.m. shackled and driven for seven hours across the state with rifles pointed at him and then thrown into the hole at SCI Mahanoy. This precipitous transfer was in response to the howl of rage by the FOP to Mumia's address to an over 1000-strong gathering at Philadelphia's Constitution Center, at which supporters vowed not to accept a life sentence for Mumia, but instead demanded his freedom from prison.

As soon as it was learned that Mumia was in the hole at Mahanoy, without phone calls, his writing materials, books and other property, or adequate commissary, protests flooded the phone lines, fax machines and emails at DOC, SCI Mahanoy and the District Attorney's office.  Mumia appealed his AC confinement stating that the conditions were worse than what he suffered on death row. Legal demands to immediately transfer Mumia to general population were sent to the DOC Secretary John Wetzel stating that Mumia's AC confinement violated his protected liberty interests and his human and civil rights.  Preparation was made to file a federal civil rights lawsuit on Mumia's behalf challenging his continued imprisonment in Administrative Custody.

On Thursday January 26, unbeknownst to each other, two separate struggles were taking place, one inside and the other outside the prison.  Mumia had his weekly Program Review Committee (PRC) hearing, headed up by a Deputy Superintendent at SCI Mahanoy. Before that morning review, Mumia was informed that he would be released into general population. But then a last minute condition was tacked on: signing a "security agreement" that stated (1) Mumia is a former capital case prisoner and therefore an institutional security risk and (2) consent that Mumia would go straight back to the hole if a disciplinary complaint is filed against him.

Mumia rejected this latest coercive measure. Instead he countered that he was being labeled a security risk based on his politics and exercise of constitutionally protected activities.  He maintained that during 30 years of incarceration his only prison infractions were based on his exercise of First Amendment rights. Mumia fought those disciplinary actions using what legal redress was available in the prison and in the courts. In Jamal v Price (1998), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that Mumia has a constitutional right publish his writings from death row free for censorship of its content.  Additionally, during his last five years on death row Mumia was a block worker, given and using tools like shovels in the yard. This would not have been allowed if Mumia was considered a "security risk."  Nonetheless, prison officials told Mumia at the morning PRC meeting and again at a second specially convened meeting in the afternoon that his counter agreement was not acceptable and he would not be moved into general population unless he signed the "security agreement."

During the course of that same day, Mumia's supporters held a Philadelphia press conference demanding his release into general population and highlighting the condition of tens of thousands of prisoners in these torture blocs in the U.S.  Then a delegation drove to DOC headquarters in Camp Hill, PA to present Secretary of Corrections, John Wetzel over 5500 petitions and notice of a complaint filed with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. Despite previous notice of the delegation, Secretary Wetzel refused to meet with them. But the presence of the delegation—and the international support they represented— was unquestionably felt.

The DOC did a complete about-face.  Early Friday morning, January 27, Mumia was brought in from the yard and without being given any explanation, was moved into general population.

This was a confirmation, by the DOC's own actions, that Mumia's confinement in AC, under daily conditions more onerous than death row, was punitive and retaliatory, fed by the Philadelphia District Attorney's office and the FOP, for defeating his death sentence and not bending as "the voice of the voiceless."  It is also confirmation, in the words of Frederick Douglas, that "power cedes nothing without a demand, it never did and it never will."

Book Party, Celebration & Tribute to Pam Africa

On Sunday February 5 the first book party for the Classroom and the Cell was held in Philadelphia, where both authors, Mumia and Mark Lamont Hill, were born and grew up.  This important book party was held in combination with a celebration of our collective victory in getting Mumia not only off Death Row but out of the hole in which the state and prison authorities wanted him to stay in for as long as possible.  The room sizzled with excitement at our recent victory and the remarkable coming together of two such talented and inspired writers and revolutionary intellectuals as Brothers Mumia and Marc.  The three task forces gave presentations on their work, a legal update was presented, family, and friends spoke.  When the program and signing of books were over, people were still talking each other, not wanting to leave the warmth of the event, the moment of victory, and the stimulating discussion.  

One of the highlights of the evening was the chairing of the panel consisting of Ramona Africa,  Michael Coard, and Mark Lamont Hill by Professor Tony Monteira who chose to use that opportunity to pay a very special tribute to Pam Africa.  We say "Que Viva!" to that tribute which follows below:  



By Anthony Monteiro

It's about time AfroAmerica recognized Pam Africa as the great freedom fighter, organizer and Civil Rights heroine that she is. No one has contributed more to the struggle to free Mumia Abu Jamal than she, or worked more consistently and tirelessly than she. No one has more consistently rallied Mumia's supporters worldwide to his defense. Pam Africa by all accounts is a force to be dealt with, a person the ruling class and white supremacist cannot underestimate. As a strategist and tactician of struggle she cannot be taken lightly. She is a modern day Civil Rights icon on par with the likes of Fred Shuttlesworth and Ralph Abernathy, both of whom were leaders of the Montgomery, Birmingham and other civil rights campaigns in the South. As a fearless organizer she is the equal of  Diane Nash and Ella Baker of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Fannie Lou Hamer of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Her accomplishments in fierce battles against police repression, mass incarceration and the death penalty are unsurpassed and in the heroic tradition of the Black Panther Party.

Pam believed when others doubted that Mumia was innocent and that we could win his release from death row . She is convinced  we will win his complete freedom. She stood up to Philadelphia's dreaded and fascist Fraternal Order of Police. She fought several Philadelphia Mayors, District Attorneys, especially the lethal and racist Lynn Abraham (called by the New York Times in 1995 the nation's "most deadly DA" because of the numbers of Blacks and Latinos she put on death row) and at least four Pennsylvania Governors. She fought, cajoled and ultimately won over a good part of the Philadelphia Black establishment. Pam brought moral critique upon Black preachers because of their refusal to condemn the unjust imprisonment of Mumia, as they preached what passed for the Christian doctrine of justice and the sanctity of life. In the course of fighting  civil rights leaders and politicians she redefined the civil rights struggle in the so-called post civil rights era. She preceded by at least two decades Michelle Alexander's recognition of the racist prison industrial complex and the centrality of the death penalty to it. She faced off against that part of the white anti-death penalty movement who wanted to exclude Mumia from their campaigns and not acknowledge the death penalty's racist essence and its roots in slavery and lynchings of Black folk.

Pam is a self identified revolutionary holding no regard, respect or trust in the existing legal and governmental systems or bourgeois institutions period. She is a humble woman who seldom when talking about the movement uses the "I", but always refers to the "we". It's always what "we" have done, or what Mumia said. Never what "I" did or what "I" said. She fought several of Mumia's lawyers whose liberalism and belief in the system inhibited their capacity to fight for his freedom and to see the possibilities of connecting what goes on in the courts to what goes on in the streets.

Most Black preachers, intellectuals, politicians and civil rights leaders are invested in keeping leaders and fighters like Pam Africa unknown to the people and their contributions unrecognized. It seems that to recognize Pam is to draw attention to what they have not done and in fact their ties to the establishments they claim to be fighting. The other thing is  Pam Africa doesn't fit the image they have of African American leaders. She's not a Christian; she follows the teachings of her murdered and prophetic leader John Africa. She believes in life, all life, and not God. The other thing, she's a freedom fighter in a time when too many of us think we're free. Pam Africa is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother. While white media recognized and appointed Black leaders' world views and strategies of struggle are based on the lesser of evils among white folk and the mantras of gradual reform and "git in where you fit in". Pam's world view begins with the belief that evil is evil is evil and that evil in all its forms has to be fought.

They say she's not ready to come into the circles of leadership.She's just too radical, too outside the mainstream, too loud, she curses too much, she doesn't straighten her hair, she doesn't dress right, eat right or live in the right neighborhood. She's not part of petty bourgeois and professional networks, clubs and associations. However, the breadth and significance of her life and work is  a judgement upon their narrowness and hypocrisy. She has led a movement that has won a victory few thought possible, getting Mumia off death row and having his death penalty overturned. This legal victory  would have been impossible without the movement and without Pam Africa herself. Consider the tragic fate of  Troy Anthony Davis and Shaka Sankofa to name just two who were executed although they were innocent.

Overturning Mumia's death penalty might be the signature civil rights victory in several decades. However, the epic struggle to win his complete victory and overturn the system of mass incarceration continues and Pam continues in the vanguard of this struggle. She is a tribute to the Black proletariat of North Philadelphia where she and Mumia's roots are ( Mumia grew up and was socialized and experienced his rites of passage in that part of Philly called the "Original Tenderlines")and where her hatred of injustice was nourished. She is a tribute to the revolutionary leaders and movements that emerged from the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. Pam Africa is a figure that history must and will recognize; increasingly the world acknowledges this daughter of the Black working masses. Pam has never betrayed her roots in Black Philadelphia as she has become an international leader in the fight for human rights. Hopefully in the not too distant future her own people and the city and nation where she was born will also acknowledge her as a great human rights and civil rights leader.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Mumia Abu-Jamal: The Picture

Mumia greets visitors Johanna Fernandez and Heidi Boghosian with a hug

by Dave Lindorff

Something very small and yet enormous happened this past week.

On Feb. 2, two women who have been fighting for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal, filmmaker/professor Johanna Fernandez and National Lawyers Guild Executive Director Heidi Boghosian, visited Abu-Jamal, as each has done in the past, but this time, because he has been moved off of death row, for the first time since 1995, he was able to greet them with a hug--free of the leg shackles and handcuffs gratuitously attached to him during his visit sessions on death row at SCI Greene prison.

For the first time too, since 1995, there is a photo to record that seemingly mundane and deceptively ordinary-looking event.


Sunday, February 05, 2012

Our Contact Visit With Mumia

Comrades, Brothers and Sisters:

Heidi Boghosian and I just returned from a very moving visit with Mumia. We visited yesterday, Thursday, February 2. This was Mumia’s second contact visit in over 30 years, since his transfer to General Population last Friday, Jan 27. His first contact visit was with his wife, Wadiya, on Monday, January 30.

Unlike our previous visits to Death Row at SCI Greene and to solitary confinement at SCI Mahanoy, our visit yesterday took place in a large visitor’s area, amidst numerous circles of families and spouses who were visiting other inmates. 

Compared to the intense and focused conversations we had had with Mumia in a small, isolated visiting cell on Death Row, behind sterile plexiglass, this exchange was more relaxed and informal and more unpredictably interactive with the people around us…it was more human.  There were so many scenes of affection around us, of children jumping on top of and pulling at their fathers, of entire families talking intimately around small tables, of couples sitting and quietly holding each other, and of girlfriends and wives stealing a forbidden kiss from the men they were there to visit (kisses are only allowed at the start and at the end of visits). These scenes were touching and beautiful, and markedly different from the images of prisoners presented to us by those in power. Our collective work could benefit greatly from these humane, intimate images.

When we entered, we immediately saw Mumia standing across the room. We walked toward each other and he hugged both of us simultaneously. We were both stunned that he would embrace us so warmly and share his personal space so generously after so many years in isolation.

He looked young, and we told him as much. He responded, “Black don’t crack!”  We laughed.

He talked to us about the newness of every step he has taken since his release to general population a week ago. So much of what we take for granted daily is new to him, from the microwave in the visiting room to the tremor he felt when, for the first time in 30 years, he kissed his wife.  As he said in his own words, “the only thing more drastically different than what I’m experiencing now would be freedom.” He also noted that everyone in the room was watching him.

The experience of breaking bread with our friend and comrade was emotional. It was wonderful to be able to talk and share grilled cheese sandwiches, apple danishes, cookies and hot chocolate from the visiting room vending machines.

One of the highlights of the visit came with the opportunity to take a photo. This was one of the first such opportunities for Mumia in decades, and we had a ball! Primping the hair, making sure that we didn’t have food in our teeth, and nervously getting ready for the big photo moment was such a laugh! And Mumia was openly tickled by every second of it.

When the time came to leave, we all hugged and were promptly instructed to line up against the wall and walk out with the other visitors. As we were exiting the prison, one sister pulled us aside and told us that she couldn’t stop singing Kelly Clarkson’s line “some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.” She shared that she and her parents had followed Mumia’s case since 1981 and that she was overjoyed that Mumia was alive and in general population despite Pennsylvania’s bloodthirsty pursuit of his execution.  We told her that on April 24 we were going to launch the fight that would win Mumia’s release: that on that day we were going to Occupy the Justice Department in Washington DC. She told us that because she recently survived cancer she now believed in possibility, and that since Mumia was now in general population she could see how we could win. She sent us off with the line from Laverne and Shirley’s theme song – “never heard the word impossible!”- gave us her number, and asked us to sign her up for the fight.

We’re still taking it all in. The journey has been humbling and humanizing, and we are re-energized and re-inspired!!

In the words of City Lights editor, Greg Ruggiero:”

“Long Term Goal: End Mass Incarceration.
Short Term Goal: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!”

–Johanna Fernandez

Mumia: ‘[We've] made one step. We have one more to go'

By Nayaba Arinde
Amsterdam News

"Getting Mumia moved into general population is a victory, but the real victory-and what we are working toward-is to bring him home. We are steadily working on that," said Pam Africa from Philadelphia's MOVE organization.

While supporters mull over the victory of getting Mumia Abu-Jamal off death row and into the general population of the medium-security facility SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, Pa., it is as Abu-Jamal himself said: "One step. We have one more to go."

For almost two months, the worldwide army of supporters of the iconic "political prisoner" waited for news about the Mahanoy prison authority's ultimatum that Abu-Jamal must cut his decades-old locks in order to enter general population.

The movement, being what it is, refuses to be predictable but is always strategic. And so, after having endured nine years in solitary confinement in protest and refusing to cut his hair, Abu-Jamal decided to trim his hair to the shoulder-length requirement and indeed come out of solitary.

"We pick our battles," said Africa, speaking to the AmNews at the 16th annual Political Prisoner Dinner held at 1199SEIU's Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center in Midtown on Saturday. "They had him for nine years in the Restrictive Housing Unit-we got him out of solitary confinement in just seven weeks this time around."

The development came in the wake of prosecutor Seth Williams' decision seven weeks ago that he would no longer pursue the death penalty against Abu-Jamal 10 years after federal Judge William H. Yohn originally overturned his death sentence.

Speaking to Noelle Hanrahan of on Sunday, Abu-Jamal declared, "You know, it's back to the drawing board, as the old saying goes. We have to work and take the next step, which is, of course, not this. So that's the job that has to be done.

"I trust we will do it," he said. "I believe we will do it. Give my love to everybody and tell them I'm thankful for all of our people. They've made one step. We have one more to go. On the move."

Supporters were thrilled that he was able to hug his wife for the very first time in 30 years earlier this week.

"The ideal is to get him home and out of the prison, where he never should have been to begin with," said Herman Ferguson, 91, a former political prisoner and prisoner in exile in Guyana. "Mumia is in prison for a crime they know he did not commit. The real victory would be to get him out of there altogether."

A former Black Panther and journalist, Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence and has said that it was his political convictions and writing that really had him convicted and sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of officer.

Meanwhile, for years, witnesses have recanted their initial "coerced" statements against Abu-Jamal, and an alleged mafia hitman, Arnold Beverly, has even admitted to shooting the officer.

At the dinner on Saturday were families like those of Russell Shoats and Sekou Odinga, who went in to prison as young men and remain behind the wall as grandparents.

Supporters and family members call them political prisoners because they believe that the only reason they are in prison is because of their political beliefs or membership in organizations like the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, MOVE or even Malcolm X's Organization of Afro-American Unity.

"We have to remain forever vigilant for Mumia," said Iyaluua Ferguson, wife of Herman Ferguson. "In many ways, they have greater access to him now, and we have to make sure that they understand that nothing can happen to him."

"John Africa taught us that you never allow the government to misuse your religion against you," said Pam Africa.

"The desire of this government is to keep Mumia in restrictive housing under its tortuous conditions-where he is subjected to body searches and has to sleep under blinking lights so you have no idea what time it is, where they tried to block his communication, where he couldn't do the radio. For nine years, he was in a worse hell than death row-in restrictive housing. They just knew the position would be the same."

Surrounded by the families and supporters of political prisoners, Africa continued proudly, "Mumia has proven his point. He is strong in his religion. He is strong in his beliefs. He is still fighting for all life, and we will not allow the government to use his religion against him. Long live strategic revolution!"

Monday, January 30, 2012

'People Power' Pries Abu-Jamal from Punitive Administrative Custody

by: Linn Washington Jr.

He's out!

Credit `people power' for getting internationally known inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal sprung from his apparently punitive, seven-week placement in `The Hole.'

For the first time since receiving a controversial death sentence in 1982 for killing a Philadelphia policeman, the widely acclaimed author-activist finds himself in general population, a prison housing status far less restrictive than the solitary confinement of death row.

Inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation, telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services, all things denied or severely limited to convicts on death row waiting to be killed by the state.

In early December 2011, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections officials, after the federal courts had removed his death penalty and the Philadelphia District Attorney opted not to attempt to re-try the penalty phase in hopes of winning a new death sentence, placed Abu-Jamal in Administrative Custody (a/k/a `The Hole').

Administrative Custody is confinement in a Spartan isolation cell where conditions are more draconian than even death row.

The release of Abu-Jamal from Administrative Custody into general population on Friday, January 27, 2012 followed with a multi-layered protest campaign by his supporters worldwide that included flooding Pennsylvania prison authorities with telephone calls, collecting petitions containing over 5,000 signatures and a complaint filed with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Public pressure to release Mumia Abu-Jamal from the "Hole" trumped the pressure from those trying to keep torturing him.

Supporters condemned the Administrative Custody placement, calling it retaliation for Abu-Jamal's having successfully defeated the state's efforts to execute him. Abu-Jamal, a model prisoner, did not meet any of the 11 specific circumstances listed in Pennsylvania DoC regulations dictating administrative custody placement.

Prison staff evaluations of Abu-Jamal since his December death row removal, sources said, listed him as "polite [and] respectful." Those positive evaluations did not evidence any of the incorrigibility or other serious misbehaviors that usually trigger AC placement.

"When people are united around an issue they have power. This is the power of the people all races in many places," said Pam Africa, director of the Philadelphia-based International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Abu-Jamal, in a statement released through his wife Wadiya Jamal, thanked his supporters for their hard work. "I am no longer on death row, no longer in the hole, I'm in population," Abu-Jamal's statement noted. "This is only Part One and I thank you for the work you've done. But the struggle is for freedom!"

Media reports quoted Pennsylvania DoC spokespersons confirming Abu-Jamal's placement in general population at Mahanoy Prison, a medium security facility about 100 miles from Philadelphia in central Pennsylvania where he was transferred last December from another prison in western Pennsylvania that houses the state's death row.

DoC spokespersons had previously declined comment on Abu-Jamal's Administrative Custody placement, citing regulations covering inmate privacy.

Prison officials advanced ever-changing rationales for keeping Abu-Jamal in AC at Mahanoy, including the curious claim of that they were waiting for legal clarification that the courts had formally replaced Abu-Jamal's death sentence with life in prison.

That Kafkaesque claim contradicted the DoC's own documents specifically acknowledging that federal courts had vacated the death sentence (thus requiring a default life sentence) and Philadelphia's DA having dropped appeals to reinstate the death sentence.

Typical of the way that Abu-Jamal's long-running case has shone a bright light on grievous abuses within the criminal justice system, his AC placement exposed what independent prison monitors have long contended is a dirty secret of Pennsylvania's prison system: authorities using Administrative Custody isolation to maliciously penalize inmates who are not violating prison rules.

Bret Grote, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Human Rights Coalition, said during a media interview that prison authorities misuse Administrative Custody as repression against inmates for their political activism, their complaining about poor conditions in prison, their roles as jailhouse lawyers and often for racist reasons.

Grote said Pennsylvania's DoC holds approximately 2,500 of its fifty-thousand-plus prisoners in solitary confinement on any given day. That's five percent of the total.

"Andre Jacobs and Carrington Keys, two members of a group of prisoners known as the Dallas 6 [Dallas is a Pennsylvania prison] have been held in solitary for approximately 11 and nine years respectively as a result of their speaking out against torture and other human rights violations inside the state's control units," Grote said during an interview with Prison Radio.

Philadelphian Russell "Maroon" Shoats, a former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member, has spent 30 of his 40 years in prison inside an isolation cell despite not having any prison infractions, said his daughter Theresa Shoats during a press conference in Philadelphia held one day before Abu-Jamal's release.

"Prison officials keep my Dad in solitary instead of releasing him into general population because they say he is a leader. My Dad turns 70 this year and he has medical problems, some from being in solitary for so long. Keeping him in solitary is unfair," Shoats said about her father, who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia policeman.

"My Dad says he encourages young inmates to read to stay sane. Why does that make him too dangerous for general population? He told me that 15 young men hung themselves in SCI Greene during a one-year period."

King Downing, director of the American Friends Service Center's Healing Justice Program, said prison authorities nationwide misuse solitary confinement to "silence political prisoners." Downing hosted the press conference where Shoats spoke alongside other speakers representing Abu-Jamal.

Last October, Juan Mendez, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture, called on all countries worldwide to ban the use of solitary confinement of inmates as punishment and/or an extortion technique, except in very exceptional circumstances.

Mendez cited scientific studies establishing the mental and medical damage arising from prolonged isolation. His report stated that an estimated 20,000-to-25,000 persons regularly occupy solitary confinement cells across America.

Recently a federal jury awarded a New Mexico man $22-million for violations of his constitutional rights arising from his having spent two years in solitary confinement in a county jail in Albuquerque following a drunk driving arrest. Although during that entire time he was never even charged or brought to trial, authorities in Dona Ana County New Mexico vow to appeal that verdict, one of the largest damage judgements in history for illegal incarceration.