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Update - Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kia ora, for those of you working against the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an update from the International Action Centre (USA) :
28 October 1999
On Tuesday, October 26, 1999, Mumia was finally granted a stay of execution by federal Judge Yohn. While this is most definitely wonderful news, we should not take it as a chance to rest in our organizing.
On October 13th, Governor Thomas Ridge of Pennsylvania signed a new warrant for execution setting Dec. 2, 1999 as the execution date. The stay of execution will allow Mumia a bit more time to utilize the final legal recourses at his disposal, and it will also allow our movement more desperately-needed time to broaden and expand. We must use this time to reach out to sectors of the population that still don't know who Mumia is and why he is so important.
We urge everyone to become knowledgeable about Mumiaís case, and to become active organizers in broadening the Mumia movement.
[If you have internet access, you can check out http://www.mumia.org for more information.]
Below are two recent articles:
1) Gloria Steinem's statement demanding a new trial for Mumia.
2) On Oct. 26, protesters in LA confronted Gov. Ridge. Three protesters, including John Parker of the South Central Coalition, National People's Campaign, and International Action Center, disrupted Ridge. A picture of John holding a sign demanding a new trial for Mumia appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
1) GLORIA STEINEM'S STATEMENT CALLING FOR A NEW TRIAL FOR MUMIA
Something is very rotten in the state of Pennsylvania.
Governor Ridge has signed 176 death warrants in the last five years. Thatís five times more than his predecessors signed in twenty-five years.
He has done this in defiance of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Bar Associations, both of which have urged a moratorium until the death penalty can be shown to be racially unbiased and otherwise justified.
Right now, the percentage of African American men on death row is nearly 700% higher than in the population at large, a larger racial disparity than in any other state. This means that an African American man growing up in Philadelphia is eleven and a half times more likely to end up on death row than one in Georgia or Alabama.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is the most famous such man. A radio journalist and political activist, he was accused and convicted of shooting a Philadelphia police officer. However, there are allegations of 29 Constitutional violations in his trial, as well as prosecutorial misconduct, racial bias in jury selection, and fabrication of evidence. There may also be new evidence of his innocence.
There must be a new trial. If not, this case will join those that undermine public faith in the justice system, and live on in history as a divisive force.
Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, for example, 82 prisoners have been exonerated. If there is no new trial, it may appear that the Governor supports this execution in order to render a case moot and conceal errors in the system. It is in his own interest--both in the short term politically and the long term historically--to re-think his signing of the death warrant.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a human being who deserves the same defense and respect that each of us would want. That would be reason enough. But he also stands for many other people, past, present, and future.
His case could encourage a crucial examination of the death penalty. It could lead us to investigate the prison industrial complex, and the reasons why more and more prisons are being built even as the crime rate declines. It could help reveal who is in prison -- and why.
Most important right now is the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal. But his case is also crucial to our safety and democracy. We all have a stake in the nature of justice in Pennsylvania.
Signed -- Gloria Steinem 10/24/99
2) CONFRONTED IN LOS ANGELES BY MUMIA SUPPORTERS: PENNSYLVANIA GOV. RIDGE ON THE ROPES
By Richard Becker, Los Angeles
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge launched his bid for national political office here on Oct. 26, but it quickly hit the rocks. Demonstrators chanting "Governor Ridge--serial killer," and "Free Mumia," outnumbered Ridge supporters by better than two-to-one.
Ridge hardly had spoken his first words to an invitation-only audience of Hollywood right-wingers, when he was interrupted by three supporters of Pennsylvania death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Lillian Adelman, National Lawyers Guild Director Jim Lafferty, and John Parker of the National People's Campaign and the South Central Coalition, had infiltrated the "Wednesday Morning Club's" event despite a massive security presence.
A major story about the disruption appeared in the Oct. 27 Philadelphia Inquirer, along with a photo of Parker inside the event holding up a sign reading "New Trial to Free Mumia -- Stop the Execution."
Ridge, who met later in the day with Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, came to California apparently to boost his prospects as George W. Bush's possible vice-presidential running mate. Fewer than 75 people--among them actor Charlton Heston and Wednesday Morning Club director David Horowitz--showed up for the luncheon.
Meanwhile, outside the posh Beverly Wilshire in the center of Beverly Hills, more than 150 multi-national demonstrators militantly protested Ridge's presence. The infamous governor has twice signed death warrants against Mumia--in 1995 and again earlier this month. The latest death warrant was stayed on Oct. 26.
Ridge has issued death warrants for more than 175 people, 100 of them African Americans.
The demonstration was called by the National People's Campaign and the South Central Coalition, and endorsed by many other organizations. Among the most visible was the Black Riders Liberation Party, a community-based African American youth organization from South Central, who provided security for the protest.
Hundreds of Beverly Hills police and Los Angeles county sheriffs were stationed inside and outside the hotel, many of them equipped with flak jackets, riot helmets and large bags filled with tear gas canisters.
The demonstrators were not intimidated.
Following a short rally at the hotel's front entrance, chaired by Dele Ojoje Ailemen and Deacon Alexander, word came down that Parker and Adelman had successfully disrupted Ridge's speech and been arrested for trespassing.
The picket line turned into a march, which wound its way for over a mile through Beverly Hills to the municipal center and police station. There, protesters set up a new picket line. The cops reacted by shutting down surrounding streets and re-deploying large forces around their headquarters, resulting in big traffic jams around the area.
After about an hour, Parker and Adelman were released to a cheering crowd. John Parker told the demonstration, "we are going to continue this struggle until Mumia is free."
News of disruption along with a picture of John holding a NPC placard of Mumia made the Philadelphia Inquirer. To read the coverage of the disruption, please click on HYPERLINK
Link to PMA's earlier alert on Mumia Abu-Jamal.