Thursday, July 27, 2006
Mumia Abu-Jamal Legal Update & Commentary on Black Indians, FOP & The MOVE 9
On July 20, 2006 we filed the Brief of Appellee and Cross Appellant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia. (Abu-Jamal v. Horn, U.S. Ct. of Appeals Nos. 01-9014, 02-9001.) This brief is of great significance concerning my client's right to a fair trial, due process of law, not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and equal protection of the law, guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The issues the court is hearing are:
Claim 14 Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied the right to due process of law and a fair trial because of the prosecutor's
“appeal-after-appeal” argument which encouraged the jury to disregard the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt, and err on the side of guilt.
Claim 16 Whether the prosecution's exclusion of African Americans from sitting on the jury violated Mr. Abu-Jamal's rights to due process and equal protection of the law , and contravened Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
Claim 25 Whether the verdict form and jury instructions that resulted in the death penalty deprived Mr. Abu-Jamal of the right to due process of law, equal protection of the law, and not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and violated Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367 (1988), since the judge precluded the jurors from considering any mitigating evidence unless they all agreed on the existence of a particular circumstance.
Claim 29 Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied due process and equal protection of the law during post-conviction hearings as the result of the bias and racism of Judge Albert F. Sabo which included the comment that he was “going to help'em fry the nigger."
The National Lawyers Guild, and, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., will be filing separate amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in the near future. This should strengthen our quest to see justice done.
It is a is a remarkable accomplishment that the court is hearing issues that go to the very essence of Mr. Abu-Jamal's right to a fair trial. This is the first time that any court has made a ruling that could lead to a new trial and freedom. Nevertheless, he remains on Pennsylvania's death row and in great danger.
Mr. Abu-Jamal, the "voice of the voiceless," is a powerful symbol in the international campaign against the death penalty and for human rights. The goal of Professor Judith L. Ritter, associate counsel, and I is to see that the many wrongs which have occurred in this case are righted and that this brave man is freed.
Your support and concern is appreciated
With best wishes,
Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
To download the legal brief:
(This is a 124-page, 5.5M document, so be PATIENT! We didn't attachbecause the document is too large to do so
FOP Accused of Harassing PA State Senator Hughes
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has a large presence in
Philadelphia. In many cases, Philadelphia politicians and officials are working hand in hand with the FOP as a result of either police intimidation or collaboration. Still, the politicians and officials who courageously refuse collaboration and partnership with the FOP are subjected to campaigns of police terror. In the example of Senator Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia who refused to support the recently passed FOP City Council resolution against Mumia, the FOP has responded by sending a harassing letter to the Senator.
In solidarity with Senator Hughes' courageous stand which opposes the city council resolution:
http://webapps.phila.gov/council/detailreport/?key=6392 , we send out the following information. First is an article which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Sen. Vincent Hughes' refusal to support the resolution. The second piece is a link to a letter sent from Robert Eddis, President of Philadelphia Lodge #5 of the Fraternal Order of Police to Senator Hughes.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Abu-Jamal Resolution Splits PA. Senate on Racial Lines
By Amy Worden
INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
HARRISBURG - Nearly 25 years after the slaying of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, the racial divide over his killer's conviction was reflected today in a vote on a state Senate resolution.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed the measure condemning the French city of St.-Denis for naming a street in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was sentenced to death in 1982 for shooting Faulkner during a traffic stop.
But the resolution prompted rare debate and ended in a 44-4 vote split along racial lines. The only "no" votes came from African-American senators, all from Philadelphia.
Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.) said he could not support the
resolution because he did not believe that Abu-Jamal received a fair trial.
During the last two decades, Abu-Jamal, 53, a former Philadelphia journalist and activist, has become a symbol for death penalty opponents around the world.
The city of St.-Denis, a multi-ethnic suburb of Paris, dedicated a street in his honor in April.
The resolution's sponsor, President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer (R., Blair) called the street naming "the most offensive thing he had ever seen" and said it was an "affront to the system of justice."
A similar resolution introduced by House Speaker John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) passed unanimously on Monday with no debate.
Rep. Harold James (D., Phila.), a retired police officer, voted for the resolution, but agrees with Hughes that Abu-Jamal did not get a fair trial.
James said he didn't raise any opposition because he believed the resolution was meaningless.
"I just didn't think that Pennsylvania trying to tell France what to do was going to go anywhere," he said.
Both resolutions ask the French government to "take appropriate action" if the the city fails to act.
Faulkner's widow, Maureen, has urged a tourist boycott of Paris and U.S. Reps. Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.) have sponsored a congressional resolution demanding the name be changed.
Last year, a federal appeals court agreed to consider Abu-Jamal's appeal of his conviction on ground that the jury selection was racially biased.
FOP Letter to Senator Hughes:
William Loren Katz
303 Mercer Street [Suite A405]
New York, New York 10003
I thought you might like to see how Mumia Abu-Jamal brought BLACK INDIANS into the current debate over immigration and Mexico..
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
Blacks and Browns have a shared history of resistance against oppression. Driven as much by presumed political necessity as by xenophobic fears, the immigration issue has grabbed headlines and the talking heads of the media over the past few months.
Recent mass demonstrations against proposed immigration restrictions have only fueled the issue further, and among blacks come echoes of nativism, a fear-driven rejection of these newcomers, who are “taking our jobs.”
While it can be argued that many of the jobs taken by Mexican immigrants are jobs that most Americans, black or white, won't do, the fear remains, and black radio, newspapers, and other media are awash in expressions of concern, and frankly, xenophobia.
This happens, I'm convinced, in the context of a nation with a deep racial hierarchy, which traditionally places blacks at the permanent bottom; and during a period which showed, with painful clarity, that these historical rankings are still amongst us. Witness Katrina.
That said, perhaps history offers lessons for us in this time, threatened by change, that will allow us to find a way out of this cul-de-sac.
In a time of greatest peril, when Africans in the United States were fighting for their freedom from the American forces of slavocracy, two uniquely American communities came to their aid: Native peoples and Mexicans.
How so, you ask?
Before the Civil War, Americans fought at least two wars with the Seminoles, a people then living in Florida. The reason for the wars? The Seminoles, unlike other area tribes, refused to turn in black runaways from American plantations. U.S. Army General Thomas Jesup, who fought the Seminoles, with their hundreds of black warriors, was moved to write: “This, you may be assured, is a [N]egro, not an Indian war.”
When the pro-slavery, white-expansionist war went bad for the Seminoles, red and black Seminoles fled to Mexico (which abolished slavery in 1829), where they were given land, and joined the Mexican Army to defend the country from invading gringos. The Seminoles were led by Coacoochee (also known as Wild Cat), and he was assisted by a black man named John Horse.
Writer William Loren Katz, in his 1986 book Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, informs us that Mexico became a home that wasn't possible in the United States:
"Seminoles arrived in a country that had ended slavery in 1829 and had welcomed slave fugitives ever since. Some three thousand U.S. blacks lived peacefully in Mexico, most of them far from the Rio Grande border. Periodically, slavehunting posses plunged across the river to seize black people for sale back home. Some Mexican politicians conspired with these desperadoes, the better to finance their political campaigns.
"Seminole families had hardly settled down when in 1851 U.S. outlaw John 'Rip' Ford rode into Mexico with a band of four hundred men. Wild Cat and John Horse were called upon to drive out the bandits, former Texas Rangers and unemployed Texans. Sixty Seminole fighters drove back the Texans without a casualty."
When black folks needed help the most, Mexico stood on freedom's side. What does that mean, 150 years later? It means that Blacks and Browns have a shared history of resistance against oppression. It means that Blacks and Browns need not be the strangers they fear, nor the antagonists they dislike. History can open doors of recognition and long-lost remembrance. It can begin to heal, not the past, but the present.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist. He has been a resident of Pennsylvania's death row for twenty-five years. Writing from his solitary confinement cell his essays have reached a worldwide audience. His 1982 murder trial and subsequent conviction have been the subject of great debate.
This August 8th marks 28 years since the MOVE 9's illegal imprisonment. Join us in Philly on August 5th at noon on Market Street in between 5th andd 6th st. to demonstrate for their release.
As well as demonstrating on behalf of our family, The MOVE 9, we will also march around to the federal prison at 7th and Arch Sts. to join a demonstration on behalf of Antonio Negron, a Puerto Rican Independista---Ona Move, Ramona Africa