Friday, December 15, 2006

Now or Never for Mumia Abu-Jamal: Activists Will Mobilize Support for Upcoming Hearing on Federal Appeal

Now or Never for Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Norman (Otis) Richmond

It is now or never for U.S. political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal’ supporters are being implored to renew their efforts to free him, or at least grant him a new trial.

Revolutionary journalist Kiilu Nyasha is calling for Abu-Jamal supporters to step up their efforts to liberate this award-winning writer. Says Nyasha: “They (the State) want to kill him (Abu-Jamal). Make no mistake. I want people to feel the urgency of it. It’s a matter of months.

When the last appeal was filed on October 23rd, the judge said, ‘the hearing will be scheduled in a few months’, which means it might come up in January. If it comes down in January or February what ever the outcome is, it will either be a new trial or a death sentence.”

The San Francisco-based journalist blames “sectarian non-sense” for the fact that the movement to free Abu-Jamal has “lost steam” in North America. She points out that the movement is moving in Europe. “The energy is in Europe.”

Even the African-named Chaka Fattah a mayoral candidate in Philadelphia has caved in to the pressure of anti-Abu-Jamal forces. Linn Washington pointed out in a recent article in the Philadelphia Tribune, America’s oldest black owned newspaper: “When Fattah recently announced his candidacy for mayor of Philadelphia, the city’s police union – the leading group pushing for Abu Jamal’s execution – announced it would oppose Fattah’s candidacy due solely to his mid-90s support for a new trial.”

In the mid-1990s, Fattah spearheaded an effort among members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), which called for a fair trial for Abu-Jamal.

Huey P. Newton once remarked that “Blackness was necessary but not sufficient.” Fattah’s actions are proof of this statement.

Abu-Jamal is a former member of the Black Panther Party and a Move supporter. He is a symbol in the struggle for justice in the United States and the abolition of the death penalty. He is a pioneering and courageous journalist who chronicles the human condition. He has been a resident of Pennsylvania’s prison system, including death row, for twenty-five years. Writing from his solitary confinement cell his essays have reached a worldwide audience. His “Dispatches From Death Row” commentaries are played every week on Saturday Morning Live at 10am on CKLN-FM 88.1 and they can be heard in cyberspace at . All of Abu-Jamal’s commentaries can be heard on

While Abu-Jamal is clearly an African American patriot, he has stood up for all of the world’s oppressed peoples. His commentaries are pan-African in scope and deal with everything from Hank Aaron to Chaka and the Zulus. However, Abu-Jamal is an internationalist and tackles issues from Hamid Karzai’s Afghanistan to Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. At the time of this writing Abu Jamal’s last commentary is: “Why The Iraq Study Group is No Solution”.

His books: Live From Death Row, Death Blossoms, All Things Censored, Faith of Our Fathers and the recently released, We Want Freedom, have sold over 150,000 copies and are available in translation form in nine languages.

His 1982-murder trial and subsequent conviction has been the subject of great debate. On December 9, 1981 Philadelphia police office Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed during a routine Center City traffic stop. Abu-Jamal was charged with Faulkner‘s murder.

Abu-Jamal has garnered international support. World leaders, elected officials, celebrities and every day people from Africa, Asia, South Africa and the Caribbean have called for Abu Jamal’s freedom. Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, Danielle Mitterrand (former First Lady of France), the Episcopal Church of the United States of America; and city governments such as those of San Francisco and Santa Cruz, California, as well as Detroit have gone on record supporting his release. Cultural workers like Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, and Boots Reily of the Coup, dead prez, Jello Biafra, Danny Glover, Snoop Dogg, Ossie Davis, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Asner have done the same.

In October 2003, Mumia Abu-Jamal was awarded the status of honorary citizen of Paris in a ceremony attended by Dr. Angela Davis. The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, said in a press release that the award was meant to be a reminder of the continuing fight against the death penalty, which was abolished in France in 1981. The proposal to make Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen was approved by the city council in 2001.

In 2006, a street was named after Abu-Jamal by the administration of the city of Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris, provoking some uproar in the U.S.

Nyasha is calling for world—wide action to stop the execution of Abu-Jamal.

“We must urge our neigbhors, friends, and everyone to send letters, e-mails, to make phone calls, to march in the streets and whatever is necessary to stop this execution.”

Norman Richmond can be contacted

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