After police attack on Mumia march

Philly activists say 'Drop the charges'

By Betsey Piette

Community activists have called for an independent investigation of the police attack on a peaceful march for imprisoned Black revolutionary journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal that took place here Dec. 8. They have also demanded that all charges be dropped against six people arrested and brutalized by the unprovoked police assault.

Chairing a press conference on Dec. 14, Tiffany Johnson, a member of the MOVE organization, condemned the police attack as the latest attempt by the state to prevent evidence from being heard that could free Abu-Jamal. Kevin Price of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia told of the group's efforts to get the courts to hear a taped confession by an acknowledged mob hitman, Arnold Beverly. Beverly has admitted that he, not Abu-Jamal, murdered Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner 20 years ago, but the court has refused to hear his testimony.

Six activists arrested on Dec. 8 face multiple felony and misdemeanor charges. Their bails range from $8,000 to $100,000 each. Two Philadelphians, Teshian Latner and Hai Au Huynh, spoke at the press conference to dispel the media's lie that all those arrested were from out of town. Both described being victims of unprovoked police attack.

Taina Del Valle, who witnessed the police riot, said she saw police pull the hair of women demonstrators, swing clubs at anyone in reach, make rude comments at protesters, and drag those arrested along the street so that they suffered abrasions.

"What I saw was really disturbing," Del Valle told reporters. "It was very clearly provoked by the police." Del Valle stood alongside an enlarged photo of three Philadelphia police officers pinning a demonstrator to the ground. One cop had a gun drawn and pointed at the crowd.

Danielle Redden, a legal assistant who worked with several hundred people arrested during the Republican Convention in Philadelphia in 2000, charged that the police attack was part of a nationwide attempt to silence dissent in the aftermath of Sept. 11. She likened the high bails and overcharging of defendants to the R2K arrests, noting that most of those charges were later thrown out. Of those who went to trial, most were found not guilty.

While eight people had been arrested on Dec. 8, Tristan Ahtone and the Rev. Kabutzu Malone were released without charges. Malone, an ordained Buddhist priest with a heart condition, described his ordeal at the hands of the police.

Malone criticized the press for consistently failing to report on the extent of support for a new trial for Abu-Jamal. He blamed attitudes of racism and vengeance on the part of the police for their attack on peaceful protesters.



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