In Philadelphia last weekend, dozens of activists and supporters commemorated the 36th anniversary of the shooting, serious wounding and, supporters say, unjust incarceration of Black Panther activist and grassroots journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, with two days of events in the city of “brotherly love.” Ever since the Dec. 9, 1981, incident that also caused the death of a local Caucasian cop—for which Mumia was eventually convicted—his advocates have rallied in Philly on its anniversary, demanding his freedom.
First on Friday, Dec. 8, at the Rizzo Statue Philadelphia Municipal Services Building (1401 JFK Blvd.), there was a teach-in that informed those in attendance about the circumstances that led to what they contend was a frame-up conviction. They discussed how the Philadelphia police had been targeting the back-to-nature MOVE Organization, of which Abu-Jamal was a prominent supporter during his weekly radio show, also adding how he regularly revealed the rampant police terrorism being committed against the city’s citizens.
Because of the Philly DA’s well-documented history of corruption, Abu-Jamal’s supporters say that the suppression of evidence in his case was a common practice.
The following day, at the same location, a march occurred to heighten the awareness in the continuing effort to physically free the world’s most recognizable political prisoner-of-war, and also to demand the DA release Abu-Jamal’s files. The marchers also mentioned the medical neglect Abu-Jamal has recently endured, as well as advocated for his physical freedom.
“Like our fight for justice and equality, it seems the struggle for Mumia’s freedom is on-going,” noted staunch supporter Miosha ANI RJ (Occupy the ‘Hood). “Progress comes slowly, yet still we continue the fight.”
Abu-Jamal survived two execution dates—first in August 1995, and then in December 1999—before his death sentence was commuted in December 2011. He was then re-sentenced to life without parole and released into the general prison population the following month.
Throughout the decades, his case has garnered international interest as supporters see him as a symbol of the racial inequality and a victim of prevalent police and judicial corruption. Additionally, death-penalty opponents suggest that his case is a good example for the systematic racism occurring in many capital punishment cases, and why it should be abolished.
“These cases were eclipsed in recent mainstream debates because they threaten to deepen the crisis of legitimacy in the Philly DA’s office,” said Dr. Johanna Fernández, Baruch College historian. “It’s far more expedient to focus on DA Seth Williams’ petty corruption than to open a Pandora’s Box in addition to the specific legal violation that brought these defendants to court. Their cases are rife with suppression of evidence by Philly prosecutors.”
Of concern to the system is that if Abu-Jamal is victorious, it may cause hundreds of similar cases to follow suit.
MOVE’s uncompromising minister of confrontation, Sister Pam Africa, stated, “If we are not vigilant, the long history of corruption and suppression of evidence in the Philadelphia DA’s office could stand in the way of Mumia’s files from seeing the light of day. We need to keep the pressure on the DA’s office and demand that they release Mumia immediately!”
Supporters say it was the tremendous support of the masses that helped preserve Abu-Jamal’s life thus far, and they are calling for the people to continue reinforcing his movement for freedom.
For more information, visit freemumia.com or call the FMAJC (NYC) hotline at 212-330-8029.
The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home website is http://www.bringmumiahome.com.