to May 7
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From death row,
am with you, still Mumia Abu-Jamal
fight for a new trial
for Mumia Abu-Jamal
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]
rally draws broad
support for political prisoner on death row
From Greg Butterfield
thousand people jammed the
Theater at Madison Square Garden
May 7 for a sold-out rally in defense of Black freedom fighter Mumia
crowd was overwhelmingly young people. It was multinational, gay
and straight. There were also many veterans of the struggles of
the 1930s and 1960s.
it: freedom!" Abu-Jamal urged them on tape as the rally began. And
6,000 voices in unison cried, "Freedom!"
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
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.
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."
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
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
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.
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
you hear about his frame-up," she advised, "just think how it could
have been any one of us."
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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."
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."
Shakur declared, "Texas prisons are full of Mumias."
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.
one single official in Pennsylvania sits on death row next to Mumia
for murdering my family," blasted Ramona Africa of MOVE.
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.
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!"
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.
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
'I join with you'
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.
of police power is nowhere more evident than in New York," Dinkins
added, referring to Amadou Diallo, Anthony Baez and Patrick Dorismond.
30 youths took the stage, chanting, "Mumia is fearless and so are
we, we won't stop until he's free!"
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."
College graduate Timothy Eubanks reported: "We faced an orchestrated
hate campaign by the Fraternal Order of Police. We think they are
afraidafraid of the truth."
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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].
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.
lied and turned thumbs down," she said.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
heard about it on the Internet, at the April IMF/ World Bank protests
in Washington, or from musicians who back the political prisoner.
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.
all put a lot of work into this," Caro told Workers World. "Everybody
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.
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.
for Mumia International Action Center
39 West 14 Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
fax: (212) 633-2889
email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.mumia2000.org
Madison Square Garden
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.'
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
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.'
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.'
is still in operation. We know the police and the government are
still working hand-in-hand to get rid of us.'
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.
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.'
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.'
CLARK 'The struggle to free Mumia is part of
the struggle to free all of us.'
DINKINS 'I join you in saying Mumia deserves
a new trial, an unbiased judge and a competent lawyer.'
FEINBERG 'Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are
fighting to free Mumia. And Mumia stands with us.'
LEVY 'A great many unions have supported this
effort, including 1199/SEIU, Local 169 of UNITE!, District Council
37 AFSCME and Mailhandlers Local 300.'
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.'
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 causeto free Mumia.'
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.'
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.'
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.'
COCHRAN 'It's about struggle. We have to have
the courage to stand up as Mumia stands up. We have to stand with
GREGORY 'The forces creating this craziness need
to look at these rallies. Not at the crowds, but at the integrity
of the people.'
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.'
AFRICA 'Not one single official in Pennsylvania
sits on death row for bombing the MOVE family.'
BUKHARI 'The state must understand that we are
in a war we are determined to win.'