Jailed for speaking out for Mumia

By: Peter Lamphere

The movement to save the life of death row inmate and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal now has another political prisoner to defend.

On December 6, a federal judge sentenced C. Clark Kissinger, a leading supporter of Mumia and member of Refuse and Resist, to 90 days in prison for making a speech defending Mumia at the Republican National Convention in August. Clark had been arrested during a civil disobedience for Mumia at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia a year earlier -- his sentence was a year's probation under absurdly strict terms, including limits on his travel.

Clark protested this blatant violation of freedom of speech by traveling to the Republican convention in Philadelphia -- and speaking out against the racist death penalty and Mumia's execution.

For this, he was thrown in jail for three months.

Clark wasn't alone in being punished for speaking out against the Republicans. One Ruckus Society organizer, John Sellers, was held on $1 million bail in Philadelphia for talking on a cell phone during the protests. Others were held in jail for weeks following the protests of the convention -- for merely making puppets!

As Mumia wrote: "In 1999 and the year 2000, [Philadelphia] has been the place where the New Abolitionists -- opponents of the death penalty -- have found the hard face of police and judicial oppression turned against them. Demonstrators who have dared to exercise their alleged First Amendment rights at the Liberty Bell have learned that such an exercise is a crime, punished by judicial-imposed silence."

Clark was moved to a Brooklyn federal prison, where, at first, jail officials tried to take away privileges from him. But a demonstration outside the Brooklyn jail won better treatment.

Such demonstrations are needed to stop the witch-hunt of Clark and the attack against the entire movement supporting Mumia.