On July 7, 2017, a rally was held in Oakland demanding freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. A journalist, MOVE supporter, former Black Panther Party member and political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed in 1981 for a crime he did not commit. His supporters have fought for his release since then, and this rally was held in solidarity with their call for actions worldwide on July 7th to free Mumia now!
The rally was built partly on the strength of Mumia’s important victory against the prison system’s years-long refusal to properly treat Mumia for his Hepatitis-C infection, in which Mumia came very close to death. Hep-C is a chronic condition faced by many prisoners in the US today.
Support From South African Workers For Mumia
Strong international support, including labor support, has come in for Mumia over many years. The following letter was sent in support of Mumia’s struggle for proper and effective treatment for his Hep-C from NUMSA, the South African Metalworkers Union last year. NUMSA compared the treatment of US prisoners like Mumia today with that suffered by anti-apartheid fighters from the 1950s into the 1990s:
The refusal of health care reminds us of the conditions we were put in (under) apartheid prisons where sick detainees were allowed to die in very deplorable lonely conditions in solitary as part of the punishment for their role in the struggle.
-Letter to PA Governor Wolf from So. African Metalworkers Union. 21 January 2016.
Mumia has now been cured of his Hepatitis-C infection due to an international campaign and support from thousands of people like you, who refused to accept the official excuses, and demanded the full and effective anti-Hep-C treatment: “No Execution By Medical Neglect!”
7,000 other Pennsylvania prisoners with Hep-C, and thousands more across the US, stand to benefit from the precedent set by this important victory. Mumia’s win against his Hep-C infection--which he contracted in a transfusion after being shot and almost killed by police in 1981--depended on this kind of mass support. With a movement like this, we hope to go on to free Mumia!
Rally Demands Truth of Mumia’s Frame-Up!
The rally in Oakland was held to demand: Full Disclosure of Documents relating to Mumia’s innocence and frame-up! and Free Mumia Now! Flyers on this event, explaining the reasons for the rally and Mumia’s case, were distributed to many receptive workers leaving work in downtown Oakland on Friday.
The rally was led by former Black Panther and ex-longshore worker Gerald Sanders, and Ras Ceylan, a member of Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.'s POCC "Panther Cubs" (Prisoners Of Conscience Committee).
The rally was called by the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, and participated in by: Oakland Teachers For Mumia, The Oscar Grant Committee, Workers World Party, ANSWER Coalition, Party of Socialism and Liberation, Haiti Action, Bay Area United Against War, CODEPINK, Freedom Archives, Socialist Viewpoint, Socialist Action, the Mobilization To Free Mumia, the Freedom Socialist Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Partisan Defense Committee, Doro Chiba (the Japanese Railway Workers Union), and the Hoshino Defense Committee.
Speakers Demand Mumia’s Freedom!
Most of these supporters had speakers at the rally, covering Mumia’s case and other related issues: Jack Heyman (ILWU Local 10 retired) spoke for the Labor Action Committee; Oakland teacher Bob Mandel for Oakland Teachers for Mumia; Tova Fry, Workers World Party; and Richard Becker of ANSWER.
Marsha Feinland spoke for for Peace and Freedom Party, and gave a clear denunciation of the capitalist two-party system. “I’m glad this demonstration is not just about Trump,” she said. She went on: “Who was it who signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act?” “Clinton!” roared back the crowd. “And what is his party?” “Democrat” said the crowd. “And who was it who refused to pardon Leonard Peltier on his last day in office?” “Obama!” “And his party?” “Democrat!” ‘Nuff said, and thanks to Marsha for this reminder.
Ricardo Ortiz-Perez of the Oscar López Rivera Defense Committee reported on the recent victory of the liberation of Oscar, a Puerto Rican nationalist militant; Seto-San of the Hoshino Defense Committee and Doro-Chiba reported on Hoshino Fumiaki, a wrongly imprisoned anti-war activist in Japan; Gerald Sanders and Ras Ceylan spoke of the MOVE 9, framed for a crime they had nothing to do with; Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee reported on the struggle against US imperialism and its puppet government in Haiti; Carole Seligman of the Kevin Cooper Defense Committee spoke for freedom for Kevin Cooper, a falsely convicted prisoner now on death row in San Quentin; and several speakers called for freedom for Leonard Peltier, the native American leader falsely accused and still imprisoned for the deaths of two FBI agents, a crime he didn’t commit.
Other supporters/speakers included: immigrant rights activist Cristina Gutierrez, who linked the struggle of black and brown workers to the struggle against US imperialism, and activist Alia Sharrief, who recited a spoken word poem of her creation.
Mumia Should Benefit From Williams v. Pennsylvania
Mumia’s case for freedom is many-fold: he is a journalist who exposed the corrupt and racist police regime of Frank Rizzo in Philadelphia for it’s brutal crackdowns on the MOVE organization. As a result of that he was targeted by police and almost killed in 1981 at the scene of a shooting; and he was then framed by cops, prosecutors and politicians as the shooter. One of those prosecutors, Ronald Castille, later sat in judgement over Mumia’s appeals against this frame-up as a member of the PA Supreme Court, despite defense demands that he should recuse himself!
Now, a 2016 US Supreme Court ruling, Williams v. Pennsylvania, gives Mumia an opening: the Court says that a former prosecutor cannot later sit as a judge over the appeals of a case on which he was a prosecutor. Fairness, due procedure, unprejudiced judges, etc.: sounds obvious, doesn’t it?
Not so fast: the courts have often twisted or dropped their precedents in order to uphold the framing of political prisoners and victims of racist frame-ups such as Leonard and Mumia; and in this case, the Philadelphia district Attorney’s office is trying to deny Mumia’s defense the court-ordered discovery of notes, instructions and documents that will show exactly how former DA and prosecutor Ronald Castille involved himself in Mumia’s case. We need to make this happen: that is why we need a mass movement to free Mumia.
Build a Mass Movement To Free Mumia!
At the rally Friday, we had about a hundred more or less, and that was what we could muster on short notice. But we need to work toward a mass turnout to free Mumia. In 1995, thousands turned out to stop a death warrant issued against Mumia just before his appeal hearing of that year; and in 1999 the longshore workers of the ILWU shut down all the ports on the West Coast to free Mumia, and many of them (ILWU Local 10) came out to lead the march in SF to free Mumia on his birthday, April 24th. Also that same year, Oakland teachers mobilized to hold unauthorized teach-ins in the Oakland public schools on Mumia and the death penalty.
The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal calls for your help: let’s build this important movement.
Comply with the judge’s order! Release all documents pertaining to Mumia’s frame-up! Free Mumia and all victims of racist frame-ups! Build mass and workers’ actions to free Mumia!
Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal July 2017
For more on Mumia Abu-Jamal, see