Free Mumia!

Activists Gear Up For Days Of Action

We need to fight to save Mumia
By: Joan Parkin

The clock continues to tick for Pennsylvania death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Mumia and his supporters are anxiously awaiting his day in court, which has been repeatedly postponed. At the end of October, Federal District Court Judge Yohn was deciding whether or not to hear new evidence that could lead to a new trial for Mumia.

Over the years, Mumia and his supporters have learned not to rely on the courts for justice. Most recently, Yohn rejected four amicus, or "friend of the court," briefs filed by organizations that support a new trial for Mumia. Amicus briefs allow the public and other concerned parties to have a voice in the outcome of a case. But Yohn refused even to look at them.

Pam Africa, a leader in the movement to free Mumia, expressed concern after Yohn's decision that "this man cannot be fair to Mumia." But Pam is hopeful that as long as people "keep enough pressure, he could be persuaded to do the right thing."

Keeping the pressure on is exactly what Mumia's supporters have in mind. An emergency mobilization has already been called for Mumia's first day in federal court -- and supporters are getting ready to travel to Philadelphia when that court date is announced.

In addition, the first week in December has been designated as "Mumia Awareness Week," culminating in a National Day of Action on December 9. Supporters are planning activities to raise awareness about Mumia's case in their churches, schools, unions and communities.

Last month in San Francisco, more than 2,000 people attended a rally organized by the Bay Area Mobilization to Free Mumia. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and Denzel Washington were keynote speakers.

Protests like these are the main reason Mumia is alive today. Since the moratorium on executions in Illinois, there has been a new and growing mood against the death penalty in the U.S. We need to build on this momentum to save Mumia and to end the death penalty once and for all.

"Ask questions about the whole society"
Here are excerpts from Mumia's taped speech played at the Redeem the Dream Civil Rights March, which was held on August 26 in Washington, D.C.

There are over 2 million men, women, and children in prisons and jails across America. Think of it: 2 million! Did you know that there are over 400,000 more prisoners in the U.S. than there are in China? What is this saying about America?

Now what does this have to do with "Redeem the Dream"? I'll tell you. They can't seriously discuss redeeming the dream without taking account of the dreamers. And when you examine the life of Black America today, what do you see? A dream or a nightmare? And if you do see a nightmare, how can you not ask, "How? Why?"...

I refer to a speech given by Dr. King... a few months before his assassination in April of 1968... He said, and I quote: "We've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace, but one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. Who owns the oil? Who owns the iron ore? Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?"...

So what does that mean now? If you truly want to "redeem the dream," then follow his example: ask questions about the whole society. Why are there billions of dollars to build prisons but not a nickel to build a school? Why does the government pay a prison guard more than a college professor? Why do parents need to work two jobs or more to feed and house their families? Why do you support politicians who support repression against you and your people? Why do we call cops who beat, maim and kill us "public servants"? Whom do they serve? Why vote for conservatives even if they wear the label of Democrat? When will Blacks demand respect from a party that treats them like stepchildren? When will African Americans learn that the two major parties are both parties of white supremacy and corporate control?...

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, ask questions. These have been some for you to consider.

I thank you. Ona move! Long live John Africa! Free the MOVE 9!

From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.