Actions for Mumia May 11-13

Steve Bloom

ACTIVISTS IN THE campaign to win freedom for former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, on death row in Pennsylvania, gathered in Washington D.C. March 30-31. About 400 attended a rally on Friday evening and 150, from as far away as Europe and California, participated in planning sessions on Saturday.

They took note of important developments over the last year in Mumia’s legal situation and made plans for the next round of actions in Philadelphia and San Francisco during the weekend of May 11-13. Projections also reaffirmed a major mobilization whenever Federal District Court Judge William Yohn holds a hearing in the case.

As a complement to the “International Day of Solidarity with MumiaAbu-Jamal” on May 12, a May 11-13 youth encampment for Mumia will be held on the steps of Philadelphia’s City Hall.

May 13 is the anniversary of the fire-bombing by the city of Philadelphia against the MOVE organization in 1985, which killed six adult members of the group along with five children. The fire burned down an entire city block. Mumia, a radio journalist (before his frame-up trial in 1983 for the killing of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner) had a history of reporting accurately on the city’s persecution of MOVE, and this is what gained him the enmity of Philadelphia authorities.

Crucial Mobilization

Another key in the plan to continue rallying public support for Mumia will be the mobilization at the time of his federal court hearing. This may well be the only hearing Mumia gets at the federal level since any subsequent hearing is discretionary.

Much of the evidence about Mumia’s case which is available to the general public — witnesses who have recanted and tell stories of police coercion in 1982, ballistics evidence that completely contradicts the prosecution’s version of events, the phony “confession” story, etc. (evidence which has convinced literally millions around the world that Mumia was the victim of a government-sponsored frameup) — is not part of the written record now before the federal courts. It was excluded from the transcript by the original trial judge, Albert Sabo, who also heard Mumia’s appeal for “post-conviction relief” at the state level in 1995. As a result of the “Effective Death Penalty Act” passed in 1996, federal courts are now supposed to accept the “facts” of cases as they were established in the state courts, which in this case means Sabo’s record.

However, there is some discretionary power for federal judges in situations where they deem