By JEFF MACKLER
Support is building for the April 24 mobilizations in Philadelphia and San Francisco for award-winning journalist, death row political prisoner, and former Black Panther, Mumia Abu-Jamal.
In a new development, it has been announced that the San Francisco march and rally will be led by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
With over 100 delegates present representing every longshore local from the Mexican to the Canadian borders of the United States, the union’s March 26 San Francisco convention voted almost unanimously to conduct an eight-hour “stop work meeting” of the union’s 8000 members.
The union resolved to “support the San Francisco demonstration and mobilize our membership on the coast to participate by coordinating our April stop work meetings for the 24th to demand, ‘Stop the Execution! Free Mumia!'”
Contingents of longshore workers from San Diego to Billingham, Wash., marching with their local banners, will lead the April 24 San Francisco component of the national mobilization.
The ILWU voted to “appeal to our fellow longshore workers in Philadelphia [the site of the simultaneous April 24 East Coast march] to join in this national protest.” No ships on the Western seaboard will be worked from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 24.
The ILWU contract allows for one “stop work meeting” yearly. These are usually organized to discuss contract issues and other business the ILWU deems important.
ILWU president Brian McWilliams will address the 1:00 pm Civic Center rally for Mumia. The ILWU will bus its Bay Area members from the union headquarters to the assembly site at Dolores Park.
Additional labor support was demonstrated when the delegates to the 35,000-member California Federation of Teachers state convention voted to support a new trial for Mumia and urged their members to participate on April 24.
Hundreds of buses and car caravans have been organized to transport participants to the April 24 coordinated rallies in Philadelphia and San Francisco.
The New York City-based Millions for Mumia April 24 organizing center announced that 100 buses have been reserved by its coalition and by supporting trade unions.
Across the country, buses are being filled-from Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Washington, Boston, Minneapolis, and other cities. Hundreds of campus committees have chartered buses to join the bicoastal rallies.
The Philadelphia rally is set for City Hall at 1 p.m. There will be a march through the center city.
New support for Mumia has been gained in several other countries. In Hamburg, Germany, over 5000 participated in a Feb. 20 mass march demanding his freedom. The march was joined by thousands of Kurds who chanted for Mumia and protested the U.S.-abetted kidnapping of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.
The Brazilian Union of Education Workers in the state of Rio de Janeiro voted to conduct two state-wide one-hour work stoppages, “to carry out … meetings to demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal.”
The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal has forced its way into the pages of the nation’s leading newspapers. The March 9, 1999, New York Timescarried a feature article on the growing campaign against the death penalty.
The Times observed that “Mumia’s cause, emblazoned on posters across the country, has attracted the interest of celebrities round the world.”
A generally favorable four-page article in the weekly Boston Phoenix, titled, “There’s Something About Mumia,” noted that “Abu-Jamal’s advocates have shown a remarkable ability to cultivate support, especially among youth.”
The growing support for Mumia is fueled by a political environment where police brutality, frameups, and murder have been exposed to millions as being the norm in American society rather then the isolated exception.
Daily demonstrations in New York City have scored the racist police department for its cold-blooded murder of 22-year-old Guinean immigrant Amadou Ahmed Diallo.
Indeed, the open racism and criminal actions of police, prosecutors, and city officials, in the past consciously concealed by the corporate press, has reached such proportions that coverups can no longer be organized with impunity.
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune is a case in point. The article is titled, “Study: D.A.s lie, conceal evidence to win cases,” and subtitled, “Of 381 verdicts overturned, 67 defendants had faced execution.”
It begins, “With impunity, prosecutors across the country have violated their oaths and the law, committing the worst kinds of deception in the most serious of cases.
“They have persecuted Black men, hiding evidence the real killers were white. They have persecuted a wife, hiding evidence her husband committed suicide. … They do it to win. They do it because they won’t get punished. They have done it to defendants who came within hours of being executed, only to be exonerated.”
There is growing understanding in the United States that justice in capitalist America is a commodity available only to the rich and powerful. Mumia’s case has united a diverse and broad range of forces who have come to question the myth of American democracy and fair play.
The overwhelming evidence accumulated by his defense team that demonstrates Mumia’s innocence has combined with growing demands in this country and internationally to demand that he receive a new trial now.
There is only one plausible explanation for the incredible support won by Mumia from trade unionists, human rights and faith-based organizations, European governments, city governments from San Francisco to Detroit, and civil liberties groups.
This broad support reflects the broad and growing awareness that police frameups, coverups, murder, and brutality-assisted by city and state prosecutors who work at the behest of the state power-as a matter of course, rather than as an exception to the rule, lie, cheat, and steal to achieve their racist ends.
The struggle for Mumia’s freedom is coalescing a new national movement which seeks to make the price of Mumia’s murder too high to pay.