By JEFF MACKLER
Within the next 60 days, Leonard Weinglass, chief legal counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal, expects a critical decision to be issued in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Condemned to death in Philadelphia 18 years ago by the notorious racist “hanging judge” Albert Sabo, award-winning journalist Abu-Jamal has set an example for all on how best to defend one’s life against a police and government frame-up, and to fight for the rights of oppressed people everywhere.
By mid-April both the Pennsylvania prosecution and Mumia defense teams have committed themselves to submit all legal briefs and related material to the court of Federal District Judge William H. Yohn Jr., who will shortly afterward set a date for oral arguments.
Yohn has given every indication that he will proceed on the fast track in this internationally debated case. More than 30,000 letters in support for a new trial for Abu-Jamal have already been sent to Yohn via the office of Leonard Weinglass.
Jamal will be present in court during the oral arguments, perhaps in mid-May. Tens of thousands of supporters across the country and internationally are expected to mobilize in Philadelphia outside the federal building, at Market and 6th Streets, and will “Stand with Mumia” on that date.
Organizing efforts have moved into high gear for the bicoastal mass mobilizations set for May 13 in San Francisco and Philadelphia, as well as in cities across the globe. Thus far, demonstrations are expected in some 70 countries worldwide. (See the International Call for May 13 below.)
In San Francisco, organizers for the sponsoring group, The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, have distributed 100,000 flyers for May 13 and expect to print an additional 100,000 in the coming weeks. The San Francisco mobilization will assemble at 11 a.m., at Justin Herman Plaza at the foot of Market Street and march to the Civic Center Plaza for a 1 p.m. rally.
The San Francisco and Alameda County Central Labor Councils have added their support to the May 13 effort and have also joined a regional effort to co-sponsor a one-day “Labor Conference for Mumia Abu-Jamal,” on May 12 at the headquarters of SEIU Local 250 in Oakland. Brian McWilliams, International President of the ILWU, has joined the list of trade unions and labor officials supporting this event, which is also designed to organize a labor contingent in the May 13 protest.
Yet another national debate on Mumia’s case erupted a few weeks ago when the student body at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, invited Mumia to present an audio-taped speech during the college’s commencement proceedings. Both the student body and college administration have rebuffed efforts by the Fraternal Order of Police to withdraw the invitation to Abu-Jamal.
Indicating the deep influence Mumia’s struggle for freedom has had on college students and youth more generally, Antioch asked Mumia to choose one of two topics as the subject of his commencement address: “How One Individual Can Affect the World” or “The True Meaning of Revolution.”
A broad range of events are now in preparation as building actions for May 13 in the San Francisco Bay Area. These include a Saturday, April 29, 7:30 pm, “Celebrate the Children of Resistance” dramatic presentation sponsored by the Rosenberg Fund for Children and the Middle East Children’s Alliance at the Berkeley Community Theater.
Organized by Robbie and Michael Meeropol, the sons of the falsely convicted and murdered victims of the McCarthy-era witch hunt, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the event includes Mazi Jamal, a son of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Other prominent Mumia supporters will also participate, including Danny Glover, Ed Asner, Holly Near, Martin Espada, Janice Mirikitani, and Ani Difranco.
The event is co-sponsored by The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Local activists plan to distribute 50,000 leaflets to the expected 3600 people who will attend the theater.
In Philadelphia plans are underway for a May 13 march and rally aimed at involving families who have experienced police repression in that area of the country. The International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the May 13 Coalition/Mothers Against Police Terror have joined efforts in this regard.
In New York City, a major “Day for Mumia” is set for May 7, 2 p.m., at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Seventh Ave. and 32nd Street. It is sponsored by the May 7th Day for Mumia Mobilization. Speakers and performers include Ossie Davis, Susan Sarandon, Rage Against the Machine, Leonard Weinglass, Mike Farrell, Ed Asner, Ramsey Clark, Angela Davis, Alice Walker, and many others.