Workers Hammer No. 200

Autumn 2007


Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Mumia is innocent!

Prepare for emergency protests!

Black American journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal sits on death row in Pennsylvania, awaiting the decision of the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals resulting from the appeal hearing which took place in Philadelphia on 17 May. A decision could come at any moment — the possible outcomes include new legal proceedings, life imprisonment, or a renewed death sentence. In the event that the court rules to uphold the death sentence or denies Mumia’s appeals for a new trial or hearing, the PDC will call an emergency protest at the US Embassy in London demanding: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Mumia is innocent! Abolish the racist death penalty!

Now on death row for 25 years, Mumia was framed up in 1982, falsely convicted of killing Philadelphia policeman Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death. The state is as determined as ever to kill him because in Mumia — a Black Panther Party spokesman in his youth and later a MOVE supporter, an outspoken journalist who speaks of revolutionary change — the racist US rulers see the spectre of black revolt. They want to kill Mumia or bury him alive in prison, not only to silence his voice but to send a message to minority youth, to union militants, leftists and anyone who would dare defy their system of exploitation and racist oppression.

Regular readers and subscribers of Workers Hammer have received the Summer 2007 issue containing reports and speeches from the London rally held in May calling for Mumia’s freedom. Organised by the Partisan Defence Committee (PDC), the legal and social defence organisation associated with the Spartacist League, the rally heard speeches from Glenroy Watson and Steve Hedley of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), and Paul Moffat of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), who have been actively campaigning in their unions for Mumia. Renowned civil liberties lawyer Gareth Peirce spoke of the British government’s “war on terror” assault on democratic rights, and PDC (US) counsel Rachel Wolkenstein outlined the massive evidence of Mumia’s innocence which she was central to uncovering while part of Mumia’s legal team in the 1990s. While it is necessary to fight through court proceedings, the decades-long state vendetta against Mumia and outright refusal of any court to admit the stunning evidence of his innocence is ample proof that there is no justice for the likes of Mumia in the capitalist courts.

Union activists have taken bundles of the supplement to distribute, including postal workers on picket lines during the one-day strikes and a strike rally that took place in July. In late August the National Union of Journalists (Britain and Ireland), which made Mumia an honorary member in 1995, posted an appeal on its website for union members to “take urgent action”. Noting that Mumia’s case is at a critical juncture the posting continued, “There is an urgent need to revitalise the mass protest to free Mumia on the basis that he is an innocent man” and that “The NUJ believes he should be freed.”

On 29 July, London’s black community Galaxy radio station (99.5FM and aired a three-hour show on the fight to free Mumia. The PDC’s Kate Klein along with Glenroy Watson of Global Afrikan Congress and the RMT, and Jo Woodward, a supporter of the PDC and fellow trade unionist, were interviewed by Galaxy co-hosts Sista C and Omowale, who played one of Mumia’s taped commentaries from death row. The hosts then asked the speakers to elaborate on Mumia’s history as a fighter for the oppressed, and the state’s murderous vendetta against him, and urged listeners to join the fight to free him. Lively exchanges took place with listeners who phoned and texted, expressing support for Mumia and opinions on a range of topics including the history of British imperialist oppression in Africa and Ireland and the racist “war on terror”.

Sista C and Omowale laid particular stress on the evidence of Mumia’s innocence, airing the recorded sworn affidavit of Arnold Beverly who in 1999 confessed that he, not Mumia, shot and killed Faulkner. In marked contrast to many events held by liberal and so-called leftist organisations, neither the hosts nor the listeners who phoned in voiced illusions that Mumia can get “justice” from the capitalist courts. In response to the PDC’s strategy for mobilising mass international trade union-centred protest demanding Mumia’s freedom, one caller questioned whether white workers in America could be convinced to fight for Mumia. The speakers explained that multiracial and multiethnic trade unions in the US and internationally have taken up the campaign, including signing the PDC’s statement calling for freedom for Mumia, and that they need to be mobilised in action in defence of Mumia. Glenroy Watson spoke of his union’s longtime support for Mumia and the need for other unions here in Britain to take up the campaign.

As Rachel Wolkenstein remarked at the May rally in London, “The fight to free Mumia is part of the fight for black liberation, and the broader fight for socialist revolution and therefore for the liberation of us all.”

Join the campaign! Send your details to the PDC to be contacted in the event of an emergency protest (see PDC email and phone details on page 12). Mobilise your union, your campus or other organisation to join protests demanding: Freedom now for Mumia Abu-Jamal!