Int’l teach-in builds support for Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Audrey Hoak
Philadelphia

Activists from Philadelphia, across the U.S. and around the world participated in a video conferencing and live teach-in Feb. 13 to take up the next stage in the struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. The hall at the Abiding Truth Ministries Church was full despite nearly 50 inches of snow that hampered public transportation and put parking in the city at a premium.

The resounding message from all fronts was to keep the pressure on and fight harder than ever before to free Abu-Jamal.

Feb. 13 teach-in.
Feb. 13 teach-in.
Photos by PVN and Lal Roohk

Pam Africa of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal opened the event by reminding people that we overturned the death penalty for Mumia under Gov. Tom Ridge and now we must do it again. She stressed the need to educate people, particularly youth, about this case and its relevance to the struggle for Black Liberation and against the death penalty.

Journalist and Temple University professor Linn Washington Jr., who has been investigating this case since the day of Abu-Jamal’s arrest on Dec. 9, 1981, said, “The focus shouldn’t be whodunit, but on exactly how corrupt the proceedings have been starting with police and judicial misconduct and courts that have consistently ignored their own laws and rulings, creating what is now called the ‘Mumia exception’ for those standards which apply to everyone but Mumia.”

Pam Africa
Pam Africa

Washington noted, “If not for the fact that Abu-Jamal’s very life is at stake and the many future cases that hinge on its outcome, the state’s antics would be laughable. But they are deadly because Abu-Jamal is a revolutionary facing execution who has become the symbol of justice to people all over the world.”

Many refuse to stand by and let the state take his life. Ernesto Luisa, an Afro-Venezuelan leader in Caracas, Venezuela, called in to extend support for Abu-Jamal and for the eradication of the death penalty, which is so often applied to African Americans. Luisa demanded the Justice Department listen to the international community regarding this case.

Linn Washington
Linn Washington

Unable to join the session by phone, Abu-Jamal sent a message read by Johanna Fernandez of Educators for Mumia, who had visited him that morning. He said, “This is an intense time for me and for all of us. It’s a time to struggle more, not less. As you know, in my case law isn’t law and precedent is not precedent. I encourage you to look at Amnesty International’s case for me and ORGANIZE! ORGANIZE! ORGANIZE!”

Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General and a founder of the International Action Center, sent a statement, saying, “Don’t fail or falter, we need maximum effort now. We stand no chance to dump U.S. militarism if we can’t save Mumia.”

Speakers addressed how Abu-Jamal’s life is threatened because he defends those in prison and speaks out against the U.S. wars against Afghanistan and Iran, military bases in Colombia, the coup in Honduras and the U.S. invasion of Haiti. His is a voice for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, on behalf of Palestinian people, in solidarity with Cuba, and against attacks on immigrants and other forms of racism and legal lynching.

Nana Soul of Black Waxx Recordings and Artists & Activists United for Peace streamed in with a poem telling Mumia that he cannot be extinguished or contained.

Suzanne Ross
Suzanne Ross

While citing that courts are not the answer, Ramona Africa, one of only two survivors of the state’s murderous attack on the Philadelphia home of MOVE in 1985, described plans to use the courts as a tool to keep the pressure on the authorities. To mark the 25th anniversary of the Osage Avenue bombing on May 13, Africa and the MOVE organization will be filing murder complaints with District Attorney Seth Williams against those responsible for the death of their family members.

The program was dedicated to the late Veronica Jones, who courageously stood up to menacing cops and a threatening judicial system when she recanted a false statement forced out of her to incriminate Abu-Jamal. Her sister, Valerie Sundail, reported that Jones wrote a book that will soon be released.

Ramon Africa
Ramon Africa

Time to act is now

Various proposals for action were raised at the event. One prong in the fight is to demand a civil rights investigation as well as an investigation into the role of the federal COINTELPRO program that targeted Abu-Jamal since he was a young student activist. Petitions addressed to both U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and to President Obama will be followed up with a phone campaign to congressional leaders on Feb. 26 and in-person meetings on April 26.

Victor Toro
Victor Toro

Miya Campbell of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together was streamed in from Boston. She encouraged people to come out, teach and make Mumia accessible to everyone. FIST is proposing the formation of Students and Young People for Mumia, and will raise Abu-Jamal’s case during nationwide student actions March 4.

Plans are also underway to raise Abu-Jamal’s case at the upcoming U.S. Social Forum in Detroit in late June and for demonstrations in Philadelphia July 3 and again on July 4 when President Obama will be in town.

A solidarity message from incarcerated human rights lawyer, Lynne Stewart, was read by her partner, Ralph Poynter. Despite health problems stemming from her incarceration, Stewart insisted the case for Mumia needs to come before everything and everybody, and stressed that people need to act, not just plan or pledge. Poynter acted by raising $400, which he delivered in person to Pam Africa.

A highlight of the program came when Victor Toro, a Chilean leader who faces deportation, said, “Mumia is a symbol and an extraordinary man. He is a 21st century Mandela. His resistance is that of immigrant people. Social activists of South America join to get Mumia out of jail. He is ours.”

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2 Comments

  1. We must do everything we can to save Mumia Abu Jamal, this includes writing an appeal briefs, demanding the Supreme Court review evidence, ask President Obama to give him a pardon. Educating the public about his case, and organizing marches.

  2. To all concerned people in the struggle for Mumia’s release….

    I’d just like to state my sincere care & concern for the liberation and release of Mumia (and all other similar cases), so that human rights shall be perceived ! In my view his case is highly controversial and not only lacking “Justice” and all the rightfulness the USA is supposed to “stand for”….equal rights opportunity….and liberal attitude America is known for all over the globe….

    I recommend all the various groups who fight for his liberation and I’d like to be a part in the struggle for his release…even though I’m across the Atlantic Ocean…I’m still engaged and will put in any effort necessary to support his release ! I’ve signed the petion already and if there is anything “else” I can do, feel free to contact me to let me know HOW I can assist you guys …..

    My email-adr.: a.granderson@yahoo.de

    Send my best wishes from Germany with all my love for justice of mankind…no matter what color, creed or ethnic background….Kindest regrds….Annette***


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