Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/189/8070
Mumia Abu Jamal must live
BLACK JOURNALIST and political activist Mumia Abu-jamal has spent nearly 20 years on Pennsylvania's death row for the alleged murder of a Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner.
Mumia had gone to the assistance of his brother, Billy Cook, who was being beaten by police who stopped him for a traffic offence. During the incident, Mumia was shot in the chest. The shot which killed Faulkner was fired after, while Mumia was lying, critically injured on the ground.
The only independent (ie, non-police) witness to claim seeing Mumia fire the fatal shot was a local prostitute who was pressurised into giving evidence by the police. Another prostitute testified to being the victim of similar pressure.
Several other witnesses failed to identify Mumia as the killer. Despite the weakness of the prosecution case Mumia was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Blacks in the USA, as in Britain, are frequently stitched-up by the racist police-judicial system. But the authorities had an added motive in wanting to silence Mumia.
Since the age of 14 Mumia was involved in radical politics. He was a founding member of the Black Panther Party's Philadelphia chapter, becoming its Minister of Information and later working as a journalist on the Panthers' National newspaper.
Later, as a radio journalist, he was a fierce critic of the Philadelphia Police Department. Because of his background and politics Mumia was regarded as a threat by the FBI and placed on the National Security Index of people to be interned during any "national emergency".
At a press conference in 1978 Mumia was directly threatened by Mayor Frank Rizzo: "... one day, and I hope it's in my career, you're going to be held responsible and accountable for the things you do". The authorities clearly had it in for Mumia from the start.
Mumia's legal defence team have fought a hard battle, getting the date of execution postponed several times (on one occasion with only ten hours to spare). But the legal case has been backed up by an international campaign on his behalf, and this is the main reason why Mumia is still alive.
Now with Bush, the Chief High Executioner of Texas about to take over the White House, this campaign is even more urgent. US politicians have cynically exploited the use of the death penalty to win votes. Both Clinton in 1992 and George W Bush junior gave the go-ahead for executions during their respective presidential campaigns. We must not allow Mumia to be sacrificed to satisfy this bloodlust.
Mumia Must Live are planning a demonstration in Washington DC on 20 January, to coincide with Bush's inauguration. Simultaneous actions will take place at US embassies throughout the world, including London.
For information write to Mumia Must Live! BM Haven, London, WC1N 3XX, or visit www. callnetuk.com/home/mumia.
In The Socialist 19 January 2001: