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    US Ruling Class Move Against Mumia Abu Jamal

    By Thomas Davies
    On March 27, a US federal appeals court refused to reinstate the death penalty of US political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. This was an important partial victory for the former Black Panther and award winning journalist who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His politically and racially motivated conviction sparked a 26 year long international campaign for this release. This campaign must now continue with renewed dynamism to fight for his right to freedom, as the three-judge panel refused to overturn his initial conviction.

    The appeals court has also left the door to death row partially open, saying that the state has six months to hold a new sentencing hearing, or Mumia will be sentenced to life in prison. The National Lawyers Guild, of which Mumia is a Vice President, issued a statement saying, “Yesterday’s decision is a somber reminder that the criminal justice system has been unable to eradicate the continuing impacts of racism.”

    Robert Bryan, Mumia’s attorney, called the death penalty decision a “real victory”, but emphasized that both he and Mumia will continue to pursue Mumia’s total freedom.

    History of Injustice

    Mumia Abu-Jamal was a well known social justice and media activist in 1981 who had already been targeted by police when Faulkner was shot and killed during a traffic stop of Mumia’s younger brother. A cab driver at the time, Mumia was sitting in his cab across the street when he heard shouting, saw a police vehicle, and heard the sound of gunshots. Upon seeing his brother appearing disoriented across the street, he ran to him from the parking lot and was himself shot by a police officer.

    Taken from hospital to prison, he was convicted by a jury of 10 white and 2 black jurors, after 11 qualified black jurors had been systematically removed by the prosecution. This in the state of Pennsylvania where the racial bias of the courts has resulted in the death penalty for 120 people, all but 13 of which were non-white.

    The bias against Mumia was so thick, that court stenographer Terri Maurer-Carter later submitted an affidavit stating that the judge in Mumia’s case, Albert Sabo, had once exclaimed, "Yeah, and I'm going to help them fry the nigger," when referring him.

    Since his conviction, several of the prosecutions key witnesses have recanted their statements, new ballistic and forensic evidence has further shown his innocence, and a man named Arnold Beverly has actually confessed to the killing. Mumia has been continued to fight it out through appeals in the US legal system, while continuing to write and record radio messages from death row.

    Mumia is also not the only political prisoner in US jails, American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier has been in jail over 30 years for the framed-up murder conviction of two FBI officers. Mumia himself has also written about the case of Cuban Five, who face long prison sentences and isolation after exposing right-wing anti-Cuba terrorist organizations in Miami. The list goes on…

    The Campaign for Freedom

    "I remain innocent. A court cannot make an innocent man guilty. Any ruling founded on injustice is not justice. The righteous fight for life, liberty, and for justice can only continue." Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oct. 31, 1998

    More than 25 cities have made Mumia an honorary citizen, including Paris and Montreal. He has received support from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, The European Parliament, the Detroit and San Francisco City Councils, Amnesty International, and hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have read his books, signed his petition, and demanded his freedom.

    April 19th has been called for a day of mass mobilization in Philadelphia , and other cities are calling similar actions. It has been this campaign which has continually saved his life, as twice Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge has signed Mumia’s death warrant. It is also this campaign which can win his freedom in this new stage of the struggle for justice.


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