By JEFF MACKLER
Efforts to win the freedom of death-row political prisoner and award-winning journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal have intensified over the past months. Imprisoned for the past 20 years following a racist frame-up trial for a murder he did not commit, Jamal and his new legal team are preparing critical new documents to present in state and federal courts.
Central to their efforts is the winning of a second Pennsylvania post-conviction relief act hearing to present testimony from Arnold Beverly, the man who now formally admits that he, not Jamal, was the killer of police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. (See the June 2001 Socialist Action for a full account of the five new affidavits submitted by the legal team.)
To this end, Jamal’s attorneys have filed a 270-page brief before the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
If Jamal is successful, a second post-conviction state hearing will be the occasion for a worldwide mobilization in Philadelphia in support of Mumia’s court appearance, in which he will testify on his own behalf for the first time. Jamal has requested a stay in current federal court proceedings until a decision is rendered in the state courts.
In a separate but related decision, in June the Federal District Court, Eastern District, struck down a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that had upheld the exclusion of 12 of 14 potential Black jurors in the case ofHardcastle v. Horn.
The federal court ordered a new trial for Hardcastle, who was convicted of murder by a jury that the court held had been selected by the prosecution by using preemptory challenges that were not “race neutral.” Mumia’s legal team had been awaiting a decision in this case decided by the same court that is currently considering Mumia’s appeal, although with a different judge presiding.
The racist exclusion of 11 Black jurors has been a central point in Mumia’s 29-point habeas corpus (appeal) to the Federal Court. The application of the court’s Hardcastle decision to Mumia’s case would result in a new trial.
But “justice” in the racist and classist U.S. judiciary does not flow from court precedent or constitutional protections. Indeed, the fight for Mumia’s freedom, although bolstered by the Hardcastle decision, will be the product of a mass movement making the price of Mumia’s continued incarceration and murder too high to pay in regard to a massive loss of public confidence in the criminal “justice system.”
With this always in mind, leaders of Mumia’s political defense, including the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; the National Coordinators of Mumia’s; and the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal have scheduled the following activities for the coming months:
- An international campaign aimed at compelling UN Secretary General Kofi Anan to bring Mumia’s Abu-Jamal’s case before the United Nations. This effort will begin with a prominent international Mumia delegation attending the Durban, South Africa, UN-sponsored conference on racism. It will continue with efforts to win passage of a resolution in the UN’s High Commission on Human Rights and then proceed to the General Assembly.
- Last month, Sam Jordan, a Washington, D.C.-based Mumia National Coordinator, presented Mumia’s case in Strassbourg, France, during an international conference against the death penalty initiated by the French government. The conference was in part organized to compel U.S. adherence to the anti-death penalty positions of most every nation on earth. The U.S. currently has 3500 people on death row, the largest number in the world.
- Local and national Mumia defense leaders and activists will assist in the building of the Nov. 8-10, “Tear Down the Walls,” international conference on U.S. political prisoners, hosted by the Organization for Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAAL) in Havana, Cuba.
- On Saturday, Sept. 15, the Northern California-based Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal will collaborate with spoken word artist Michael Franti in the organization of the third annual Dolores Park, San Francisco, concert/anti-prisoner-industrial-complex rally.
- The internationally touring “Torture: An Exhibition of European Instruments of Torture and Capital Punishment from the Middle Ages to the Present” will be exhibited at San Francisco’s Herbst International Exhibition Hall, July 7 through, Oct. 14. The organizers have asked the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal to present an evening public forum on Mumia’s case on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m.
- The National Coordinators of Mumia’s defense have set Saturday, Dec. 8 as a worldwide day of coordinated locally organized protests, including rallies, teach-ins, picket lines, and cultural events. In San Francisco, the Mobilization to Free Mumia is planning a major funding raising concert for the legal defense.
For further information contact, on the West Coast: The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, (415 ) 695-7745. East Coast: The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, (215) 476-8812.