A Message
from Mumia
Abu-Jamal
to May 7

We gather here today in protest and equally in celebration. We stand in protest of the death-oriented social order. We celebrate our united resistance rooted in the centrality of life, the necessity of justice and the radical determination for freedom.

Our presence here today is a public proclamation of the undeniable fact that we are growing, deepening, ripening and spreading. We are Black and white, Christian, Muslim and Jewish, radical and revolutionary, nationalist and socialist. In short, we are the people uniting for the people's justice in stark opposition to the crippling repression of the prison house of nations.

In a nation with upwards of two million men, women and children in prisons, which bombs babies as it did in Philadelphia and Waco with impunity, where driving while Black, walking while Black and standing still while Black are capital crimes, the most revolutionary word one may utter is freedom.

Such a word is verboten in such a state as this. My suggestion to you is this: Don't whisper it. Shout it!
For if you can't say it,
how can you do it?
Shout it: FREEDOM.

We stand for freedom, yes. And if you are here you surely are opposed to the state's intimidation of witnesses, its erasure of fingerprints, its creation of false confessions. Am I right? The fact that you are here is a victory over the forces of repression.
It is a victory for resistance. It is a victory for freedom.

I welcome you.

From death row,
I am with you, still Mumia Abu-Jamal

 


The fight for a new trial
for Mumia Abu-Jamal
reaches new level

NEW YORK, May 7—
The Theater at Madison Square Garden was sold out three days in advance of a 3-hour rally here today to demand a new trial for African American journalist and radio commentator Mumia Abu-Jamal. ...
[click for full report]

 

 

 

Garden Rocks
for Mumia

Major rally draws broad
support for political prisoner on death row

From Greg Butterfield
New York

Six thousand people jammed the
Theater at Madison Square Garden
May 7 for a sold-out rally in defense of Black freedom fighter Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The crowd was overwhelmingly young people. It was multinational, gay and straight. There were also many veterans of the struggles of the 1930s and 1960s.

"Shout it: freedom!" Abu-Jamal urged them on tape as the rally began. And 6,000 voices in unison cried, "Freedom!"

"Our presence here today is a public proclamation of the undeniable fact
that we are growing, deepening, ripening and spreading. We celebrate our united resistance," said the person known as "the voice of the voiceless."

The Pennsylvania death-row prisoner's taped message brought the first of many ovations as youths jumped to their feet. Throughout the three-hour event, spontaneous chants of "Free Mumia!" erupted often.

"I have been here before, years ago," said actor Ossie Davis as he introduced Abu-Jamal, "when we were fighting to free Angela Davis. That was a great people's victory. We will have another people's victory here today."

The comparison wasn't lost on those who have fought the long, hard fight to free U.S. political prisoners. Mass rallies at Madison Square Garden were turning points in the campaigns to save Davis and the Scottsboro Brothers.

In the crowd hundreds of lesbian, gay, bi and trans supporters of Abu-Jamal waved rainbow flags. Others waved Black liberation and Puerto Rican flags. Labor was present: hospital workers from 1199/Service Employees and garment workers from UNITE, Teamsters from Michigan and Steamfitters from Vermont.

On stage, two long powder-blue banners hung down, bearing the slogan "New trial for Mumia." Behind the speakers, images of Abu-Jamal were projected on a giant screen.

"Today's rally is about building a mass movement to win social justice and equality for everyone," thundered Monica Moorehead, coordinator of the May 7 Day for Mumia. "Mumia understands this. That's why he is the central figure in [the struggle against] the racist criminal-justice system today.

"When you hear about his frame-up," she advised, "just think how it could have been any one of us."

The link between Abu-Jamal's frame-up by Philadelphia police and the national epidemic of police brutality was made dramatically when the mother, father, sisters and brother of Haitian immigrant Patrick Dorismond walked on stage. New York police gunned Dorismond down in February.

Abu-Jamal's commitment to all the struggles of poor and working people was reflected in the program. Speakers demanded that the United States let Elián González go home to Cuba and that the Pentagon get out of Vieques.

Texas activists brought word of a new execution date for Shaka Sankofa, also known as Gary Graham: June 22. Safiya Bukhari of the Jericho Movement said: "Gary Graham worked to free Mumia. We must work to free him."

Freedom Summer 2000

The day's agenda, said Larry Holmes of Millions for Mumia/International Action Center, was action. "If we don't recruit thousands of you to fight against police brutality and for Mumia, we will not have accomplished what we set out to do."

The crowd roared as Holmes urged them to "turn this summer into a Freedom Summer, like the Freedom Summer that broke the back of racist segregation in the South in the 1960s.

"Our first task is to pack the courtroom in Philadelphia when Mumia comes for a hearing in federal court. Then we have to organize to be at both the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia starting July 29-30, and in Los Angeles at the Democratic Convention starting Aug. 13," Holmes said.

"This is where the fat cats, power brokers, governors, candidates and all the billionaires behind them will be. We've got to be at these conventions in the tens of thousands to force them to put a new trial for Mumia on the agenda."

Abu-Jamal's lawyer Leonard Weinglass emphasized the importance of the convention actions, saying, "Ed Rendell, the district attorney during Mumia's trial, is now the national leader of the Democratic Party.

"Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who's signed two death warrants for Mumia and is eager to sign another, is the front-runner to be George W. Bush's vice-presidential nominee.

"Those who have their hands on the state machinery of death have sharply escalated the rate of executions. As Mumia's case moves into federal court, only you have the power to restore a level playing field."

Co-defense council Dan Williams said: "Mumia's case is at a do-or-die phase. I want to see you all in court. We have the power to make Judge Yohn see the way to do something historic."

Njeri Shakur declared, "Texas prisons are full of Mumias."

Shakur, of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, was jailed in March for speaking out in court on behalf of Ponchai Kamau Wilkerson, a revolutionary death-row prisoner. Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Bush executed Wilkerson March 14.

"Not one single official in Pennsylvania sits on death row next to Mumia for murdering my family," blasted Ramona Africa of MOVE.

On May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia police, with aid from the U.S. military and FBI, bombed the MOVE headquarters and burned down a Black neighborhood. Eleven people, including five MOVE children, died. Africa was the only adult survivor.

"We know who the real murderers are," she said. "They have virtually dared us to challenge them, and each and every one of us is here today to let them know we are up to the challenge!"

Kathleen Cleaver, a former leader of the Black Panther Party, echoed Africa. She talked about the COINTELPRO terror campaign the government used against Abu-Jamal and the Black liberation movement.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who represents Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, added: "Mumia and Leonard are dangerous to this system that operates on the principles of greed, violence and fear. Let's march until Mumia is free, until this system is brought down."

Dinkins: 'I join with you'

David Dinkins, this city's first African American mayor, said: "I join with you in saying Mumia deserves a new trial, an unbiased judge and a competent lawyer. We go the extra mile to say that not only Mumia, but everyone who's been denied justice, deserves these things.

"Abuse of police power is nowhere more evident than in New York," Dinkins added, referring to Amadou Diallo, Anthony Baez and Patrick Dorismond.

Then 30 youths took the stage, chanting, "Mumia is fearless and so are we, we won't stop until he's free!"

"The spirit of Seattle and D.C. is with us today," shouted IAC's Sarah Sloan, "and it will be will us in the courtroom, it will be with us in Philadelphia and L.A. this summer."

Antioch College graduate Timothy Eubanks reported: "We faced an orchestrated hate campaign by the Fraternal Order of Police. We think they are afraid—afraid of the truth."

Cops and their white-supremacist allies threatened the Antioch students for inviting Abu-Jamal to their April 29 commencement. The whole community of Yellow Springs, Ohio, rallied around the students.

"Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are fighting to free Mumia. And Mumia stands with us," said lesbian trans author Leslie Feinberg, a founder of Rainbow Flags for Mumia. "It took courage for Mumia to stand up against anti-gay violence. But that's his mettle as a leader who inspires so many communities."

"The people of Cuba will mobilize for Mumia," said the IAC's Gloria La Riva, who spoke about his case at the million-strong May Day in Havana.

Michael Tarif Warren and Clark Kissinger gave the audience a crash course in the details of the 1981 police frame-up and constitutional violations in Judge Albert Sabo's courtroom. AFSCME District Council 37 Administrator Lee Saunders, Irish freedom fighter Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter sent solidarity messages.

When Pam Africa, introduced as "the heart and soul of our movement," took the stage, she was met with a standing ovation and waves of cheers. Raising her clenched fist in the air she cried, "Long live revolution!"

The coordinator of International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia urged the crowd to "do everything to save Shaka Sankofa. He is an innocent Black man on death row. We have got to stop [his execution].

"His case is equal and parallel to Mumia's case," Africa said. "When Shaka was being railroaded through the state courts, they told him to wait till it got to the federal level, then he would get a hearing.

"They lied and turned thumbs down," she said.

Cop threats fizzle

As much as the big-business media wanted to ignore it, the historic turn-out, world-renowned venue and presence of high-profile supporters like hip hop artist Mos Def, actor Ed Asner and attorney Johnnie Cochran forced them to sit up and pay attention.

Across the street, a promised "mass protest" by the police fizzled. Fewer than 50 off-duty cops showed up to give sound bites to the media. Facing 93-degree heat, most scurried away quickly.

Meanwhile, supporters of Abu-Jamal without tickets for the sold-out event marched around the Garden complex holding signs and a homemade banner, chanting, "Brick by brick, wall by wall, we're gonna free Mumia Abu-Jamal!"

Interviews with rally-goers revealed that many people were attending their first action for Abu-Jamal. Some from the African American community here said they learned about it from Gil Noble's "Like It Is" television show or from posters in their neighborhoods.

Youths heard about it on the Internet, at the April IMF/ World Bank protests in Washington, or from musicians who back the political prisoner.

Veronica Caro of Los Angeles learned about the May 7 rally on the music group Rage Against the Machine's web site. She came to New York a week early to volunteer. She said she was impressed by the sacrifices she saw people make for the movement.

"We all put a lot of work into this," Caro told Workers World. "Everybody did great."

"It was really good that everybody got together to set Mumia free," said Lila Goldstein, 12. She and her friend Namibia Donadio were part of the youth delegation on stage.

Donadio, 14, summed up the day. "The power is not only in the courts or the House of Representatives. If we stick together, the people have the power," she said.

 

Millions for Mumia International Action Center
39 West 14 Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
(212) 633-6646
fax: (212) 633-2889
email: iacenter@iacenter.org web: www.mumia2000.org

 


Madison Square Garden

What they said

OSSIE DAVIS 'I have been here before, when we were fighting to free Angela Davis. That was a great people's victory. We will have another people's victory today.'

PAM AFRICA 'Shaka Sankofa, an innocent Black man on death row, has an execution date June 22. We must stop it. His case is equal and parallel to Mumia's.'

MONICA MOOREHEAD 'Today's rally is about building a mass movement to win social justice and equality for everyone. Mumia understands this. He has never put himself above the interests of the workers and the poor. That's why we say, Mumia is all of us.'

MICHAEL TARIF WARREN 'Pennsylvania is a state that is 10 percent African American. But African Americans make up 60 percent of death row. This is no accident, but a direct result of an unfair jury selection process.'

KATHLEEN CLEAVER
'COINTELPRO is still in operation. We know the police and the government are still working hand-in-hand to get rid of us.'

LEONARD WEINGLASS 'Public support for the death penalty is at a 19-year low. But those who have their hands on the machinery of death have sharply escalated the rate of executions.

HENRY GASTON 'I spent 25 years in prison for a murder I didn't commit. The only reason I'm here today is because New York didn't have the death penalty then.'

NJERI SHAKUR 'Texas prisons are overflowing with Mumias. George W. Bush learned genocide from his father, the butcher of one-and-a-half million Iraqi people.'

RAMSEY CLARK 'The struggle to free Mumia is part of the struggle to free all of us.'

DAVID DINKINS 'I join you in saying Mumia deserves a new trial, an unbiased judge and a competent lawyer.'

LESLIE FEINBERG 'Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are fighting to free Mumia. And Mumia stands with us.'

RICHARD LEVY 'A great many unions have supported this effort, including 1199/SEIU, Local 169 of UNITE!, District Council 37 AFSCME and Mailhandlers Local 300.'

SARAH SLOAN 'The spirit of Seattle and D.C. is with us today, and it will be with us in the courtroom, it will be with us in Philadelphia and Los Angeles this summer.'

MICHAEL AFRICA, TIMOTHY EUBANKS, JESSE HEIWA 'The Fraternal Order of Police is scared because we've got people from all over the world here for one cause—to free Mumia.'

ED ASNER 'Politicians come to California to raise money. I came here from California to stimulate giving to the most important cause in this country--Mumia's freedom.'

DAN WILLIAMS 'Mumia's case is at a do-or-die phase. I want to see you all in court. We have the power to make Judge Yohn do something historic.'

LARRY HOLMES 'We have to organize to be at both the Republican Convention in Philadelphia July 29-30, and in Los Angeles at the Democratic Convention in August.'

JOHNNIE COCHRAN 'It's about struggle. We have to have the courage to stand up as Mumia stands up. We have to stand with him.'

DICK GREGORY 'The forces creating this craziness need to look at these rallies. Not at the crowds, but at the integrity of the people.'

TERESA GUTIERREZ 'We have to keep mobilizing to return Elián to revolutionary Cuba, where there are no political prisoners like Mumia, where there is free health care and education for all.'

RAMONA AFRICA 'Not one single official in Pennsylvania sits on death row for bombing the MOVE family.'

SAFIYA BUKHARI 'The state must understand that we are in a war we are determined to win.'

 

 

 

 

 

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