By JEFF MACKLER
The Northern California-based Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal will host, along with the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, a national conference that will situate Mumia’s fight for life and freedom in the context of the post 9-11 assault on civil liberties and democratic rights.
The Nov. 15-16, 2002, conference is co-sponsored by the International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal as well as the leading coalitions of Mumia supporters in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and cities across the country. Representatives of Mumia support groups from France, Germany, Spain, and Portugal are expected to participate.
Fifty workshops are in preparation linking the legal and constitutional issues in Mumia’s case to the concerted attack on civil liberties that threaten the rights of political association, the rights of immigrants, the right to strike, and the government’s orchestration, in the name of fighting terrorism, of a McCarthy-era type witchhunt in the United States.
Scheduled workshops will be led by representatives of leading civil liberties organizations, including the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, the National Criminal Lawyers Association, and many others.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which has been threatened with government intervention should it exercise its right to strike against the Pacific Maritime Association, is organizing a workshop linking Mumia’s case to the threats against the ILWU. The ILWU recently joined an amicus curiae brief demanding Mumia’s freedom.
Experts in the field and social activists defending fundamental civil liberties will lead three sessions of conference workshops.
Workshop panels will discuss the Patriot Act, the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the government’s proposed T.I.P.S program, the prison-industrial complex, the case of the Cuban Five, the racist nature of the death penalty, legislation excluding immigrants from constitutional protection, lessons of the McCarthy era and the fight against the FBI’s COINTELPRO, the use of “national security threats” to curtail civil liberties, the cases of Wen Ho Lee, Lynn Stewart and the Japanese internment case won by Fred Koramatsu, among others.
Nationally prominent speakers are also slated for two plenary sessions and a closing mass rally to raise funds for Mumia’s legal and political defense.
Freed death row inmates, anti-death penalty advocates, and opponents of U.S. intervention in the name of the “war on terror” will join anti-racist fighters, union leaders who are challenging government persecution of their members, and other defenders of democratic rights of every kind.
Special invitations have been extended to the families of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who have spoken in defense of Mumia’s rights.