MAY 8, 2000 NEWS RELEASE:


6,000 pack Madison Square Garden Theater

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.

The multinational, mostly youthful crowd was brought to its feet as speaker after speaker denounced the railroading of Abu-Jamal to death row in Pennsylvania. “Mumia is all of us,” said Monica Moorehead, a co-chair and organizer of today’s event. “(He) is the defining figure in the racist, criminal justice system today.”

Well known figures like actors Ossie Davis and Ed Asner, attorneys Leonard Weinglass, Dan Williams, Johnnie Cochran, and Ron Kuby, as well as former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and comedians Dick Gregory and Marga Gomez, all appeared.

The event was a major step in the struggle to break through the campaign of silence, vilification and lies against Mumia in the mass media, where if his case is mentioned at all, he is usually referred to as a “convicted cop killer.” Larry Holmes, speaking for the Millions for Mumia/ International Action Center campaign which organized the event, roused the crowd with an appeal to turn this coming summer into a “freedom summer campaign, like the freedom summer when youth traveled to the South to break the back of racist segregation in the 1960s.”

Holmes said, “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, July 29-30, and in Los Angeles at the Democratic National Convention in August.”

Among the many other speakers at the event were: Kathleen Cleaver, attorney and former leader of the Black Panther Party; Sonia Sanchez, a nationally acclaimed poet and professor at Temple University; Leslie Feinberg, a transgender author and co-founder of Rainbow Flags for Mumia; as well as Will Villainova and Mos Def, popular hip hop artists.

A number of the speakers at the rally went over the growing evidence that shows that Mumia was denied even the most basic constitutional rights to legal representation and a fair trial.

Also appearing were the family of Patrick Dorismond, the Haitian man recently gunned down by New York City police, as well as other families of victims of police terror.

A youth contingent also took the stage, with speakers from Evergreen College and Antioch College, where Mumia was invited to be the commencement speaker in 1999 and 2000, respectively.

Sarah Sloan, a youth organizer for the International Action Center, spoke on the need for militant action to challenge the power of the Prison Industrial Complex, racism and police brutality, just as youth challenged institutions like the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund in Seattle last year and in Washington, DC this April.

Speakers also addressed the demand to get the U.S. Navy out of Vieques, Puerto Rico as well as the struggle to send Elian Gonzalez and his family home to Cuba.

Outside the Garden, a group of about 50 police from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Fraternal Order of Police picketed the rally, calling for Mumia’s execution.

While some of the media in New York City focused more on the police picket line outside than on the inside rally of thousands, organizers of today’s event characterized it as a tremendous victory and a major step forward in bringing the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal to the broad public.

Millions for Mumia (www.mumia2000.org)

International Action Center
39 West 14th Street
Room 206 New York, NY 10011 email:iacenter@iacenter.org
web: www.iacenter.org
phone: 212 633-6646
fax: 212 633-2889

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