Mumia Abu Jamal is a political prisoner who was falsely convicted of the murder of the Philadelphia cop William Faulkner in 1982, 26 years ago. A member of the Black Panther Party in his youth, he became a radical journalist on the local scene, responsible for effective exposés on racism and police brutality.
His original trial was a parody of justice. He was given a hanging judge, forced to accept incompetent legal defense and subjected to a nearly all white jury – drawn from a city with a large Black population. Despite clear evidence of his innocence and open violations of legality by the prosecution, he was convicted and sentenced to death. (See Defending Mumia: Mass Mobilization is Key and Mumia Abu-Jamal: The Fight for Freedom for background information.)
He has been in isolation on death row ever since, even despite the fact that the death penalty verdict was overturned. The most recent judgment by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Third Circuit (on March 27) gave the prosecution a window of six months in which to initiate a new sentencing trial, which is likely to occur. This will allow a new jury to re-decide whether to execute Mumia or doom him to life imprisonment.
Mumia has been fighting for a quarter of a century for a totally new trial – in order to overturn the original conviction and gain his freedom. By rejecting his right to such a new trial, and even opening the door again to a new legal avenue for execution, the decision represents a serious threat. It must be protested with even greater seriousness. The main reason why Mumia is still alive is because the substantial support he has received around the world has made the U.S. ruling class afraid to execute him in the past, as it would further tarnish their false mantle of “democracy.” While Barack Obama now preaches that racism can be overcome within the system, the case of Mumia Abu Jamal stands out as one more piece of glaring evidence that all such talk is a lie.
While another appeal by Mumia’s lawyers to the full Third Circuit Court should be forthcoming, without substantial protest in the U.S. and internationally, at this stage Mumia will either be executed or left to rot in jail.
Especially in this election year, demands should be placed on union tops, “progressive” politicians and leaders of Black organizations to mobilize for Mumia. Whatever pressure that can be exerted to force more action on Mumia’s behalf would be a gain. At the same time we openly state that the leaders of today’s unions and Black organizations, as well as so-called “progressive” bourgeois politicians, have no desire to be associated with a radical fighter against racism. They are pushing electoralism, not mass action, as the way forward for the working class in general and people of color in particular.
Therefore it is no accident that the unions and other organizations have largely turned their back on this case. The railroading of Mumia Abu Jamal and the failure of the supposed leaders of the workers and oppressed to fight for his freedom is one more proof of our view: such leadership must be replaced by building a revolutionary party dedicated to overthrowing this rotten system altogether.
We urge all readers and friends to join us in Philadelphia for this united action. The gathering is Saturday April 19 at 11 a.m. at the Federal Building on 6th Street and Market. For more info on buying bus tickets and directions to the site, as well as for further updates about the case, also check out www.freemumia.com. The time to unite to defend Mumia is now!