Antoni's Wire Service

Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 02:03:57 -0300 (ADT)
From: Antoni Wysocki
To: Antoni's Wire Service
Subject: millions for Mumia : April 24/99


Saturday, April 24 has been declared an international Day of Solidarity with US political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Actions involving hundreds of thousands of people are being planned across the planet to aid this man of conscience; in Philadelphia alone at least a quarter of a million are expected to turn out. In Halifax there will be a rally at Cornwallis Street Baptist Church (5457 Cornwallis) beginning at 13h00. For further details contact Isaac Saney at 494-1531; Fiona York or Daren Okafo at 494-6479.

Abu-Jamal has been in custody for 18 years, most of this time on death row, in connection with the shooting death of a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. Had the prosecution shown that Abu-Jamal killed the officer one could still point to exculpatory circumstances : it is agreed that the fatal incident began when Abu-Jamal discovered the policeman beating Abu-Jamal's brother and attempted to intervene, whereupon the officer shot Abu-Jamal. Surely if Abu-Jamal then returned fire, killing the constable, this is an instance of self-defence?

However, in point of fact the evidence in the case strongly suggests that Abu-Jamal did not shoot the officer. To begin with, the gunshot wound he sustained was nearly fatal, so it is unlikely that he would have been in a fit state to discharge his own weapon. Beyond this, though, several eyewitnesses - who had prior acquaintance neither with one another nor with Abu-Jamal - averred that they saw another man shoot the constable, then flee as police reinforcements arrived.

This testimony was suppressed at trial and instead the prosecution made much of a "confession" made by Abu-Jamal while recuperating in hospital after his having been shot (and then beaten by the police who subsequently arrived at the scene of the shooting.) However, the report filed by Abu-Jamal's police guard at the hospital clearly states that, far from owning that he had shot the constable, Abu-Jamal remained silent throughout his convalescence! The doctor who attended Abu-Jamal confirmed this but the story of the anamnetic police officer - the partner of the decedent - was accepted by the court. Even at that the policeman's revised account was presented only in writing, the trial judge overruling a defence request that the officer present himself for cross-examination.

Other examples of corrupt practice abound in this case. For one, the prosecution filed a ballistics report which purportedly matched the fatal bullet to Abu-Jamal's gun but, as it emerged, the munitions round could not even be located. For another, a key witness who had testified against Abu-Jamal at the original trial later told an appeal hearing that she had perjured herself under pressure from the police.

It is evident that Abu-Jamal was wrongfully convicted and this is terrible enough in itself. However, it is abundantly clear that this is no mere miscarriage of justice but a deliberate instance of state repression of political dissent. Prior to his arrest Abu-Jamal worked as a print and broadcast journalist. His outspoken defence of the oppressed - especially of the indigent, and of African-Amercans - and his exposure of police corruption and brutality gained him the title of "the voice of the voiceless"; and the undying enmity of the Philadelphia judicial apparatus. This came on top of his participation as a youth in the Black Panther Party which brought him under the surveillance of the FBI at the age of 15!

As of October/98 Abu-Jamal has been denied any hope of a new trial; he daily awaits news that his death warrant has been signed by the Governor of Pennsylvania. If this happens, and if Mumia Abu-Jamal is executed, a good man will have been brutally murdered : this alone is reason enough to exert all our strength in support of Abu-Jamal. However, additionally this case is about the ability of so-called democratic societies operating under "the rule of law" to crush those who would question the existing, grossly inequitable social order. If we want to work to better the world we must make common cause in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal.


A good source of information on Abu-Jamal's case is the Refuse & Resist site.