By BEN FORTEN
April 24 marks Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 60th birthday. Mumia’s supporters, who are engaged in new efforts to re-open his case and win his freedom, will celebrate his birthday with events on April 24 and April 26 in Philadelphia, and on May 4 in Oakland, Calif.
“Although it is Mumia’s birthday, we’re celebrating the fact that Mumia lives and that there’s a movement that still lives and is getting stronger in the fight for Mumia’s life,” states Pam Africa, coordinator of the International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Pam Africa will be a featured speaker at the Philadelphia and Oakland events.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, an acclaimed journalist and political activist, was the innocent victim of a police/prosecution and government frame-up in 1982 on charges of murdering a Philadelphia police officer. The profuse evidence of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct and the worldwide mobilizations on behalf of Mumia have made his case a global symbol of racist injustice. In 2000, Amnesty International found that the case “was irredeemably tainted by politics and race and failed to meet international fair trial standards.”
Mumia is currently serving a life sentence in a Fracksville, Pa., prison, following three critical federal court decisions that affirmed his claim that the jury instructions of the racist, “I’m going to help ’em fry the nigger,” Judge Albert Sabo were constitutionally flawed. Rather than retry the case and allow for the introduction of massive evidence proving his innocence and the details of a police/prosecution frame-up, as Mumia demanded, Pennsylvania prosecutors chose an alternative “legal” option to impose a life sentence without possibility of parole.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was once again in the headlines in early March, when the U.S. Senate rejected President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Adegbile, an attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, had briefly worked on an NAACP appeal brief submitted on behalf of Mumia.
Adegbile’s rejection was vigorously pursued by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the national police agency that has unsuccessfully sought Mumia’s execution as its sole preoccupation for almost 30 years. The FOP’s racially coded and Mumia-demonizing letter to President Obama was published in The Wall Street Journal under the title, “The Justice Nominee and The Cop Killer.”
In the end, seven Democratic Party senators overseeing the Obama nomination voted against Adegbile. The fundamental democratic principle of the right to counsel, not to mention the legal obligation of attorneys to fully represent their clients without fear of prejudice or recrimination was thrown to the winds of government-promoted hate and prejudice.
America’s racist criminal “injustice” system once again intruded into the legislative system. President Obama declined to make an issue of his nomination, knowing full well the political dangers associated with anyone who forcefully challenges the system’s inherent bigotry and anti-democratic functioning.
Philadelphia “Celebration of Life” activities will include a fund-raiser and dinner at 6 p.m. on Mumia’s birthday, Thursday, April 24, at 1016 South St. The event will feature a special tribute to the Baraka family and the Black Arts Movement, with special guest Cornel West, a message from Angela Davis, and performances by the Last Poets and other entertainers.
Philadelphia events for Mumia on Saturday, April 26, will begin with a march, assembling at 19th and Cecil B. Moore at 10 a.m., and marching to a Block Party at the Church of the Advocate, 18th and Diamond Sts. From 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., the Celebration of Life Block Party will feature dancers, musicians, speakers, vendors, and political workshops. For information, e-mail email@example.com.
The Oakland “Celebration of Life and Struggle” for Mumia will also welcome civil-liberties attorney and former political prisoner Lynne Stewart to the Bay Area. The event will take place beginning with a 6 p.m. reception at the Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., in Oakland. Pam Africa, head of the International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, will speak at the 7 p.m. rally, together with MOVE leader Ramana Africa, Lynne Stewart, and many other leading activists. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo from http://www.freemumia.com