Dec. 9, 2006

Philadelphia rally on 25 anniversary
of Mumia's imprisonment

Chanting, “No justice, no peace until Mumia Abu-Jamal’s released” and, “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we’re gonna free Mumia Abu-Jamal,” several hundred demonstrators gathered at Philadelphia City Hall and marched to the Friends (Quakers) Center for an indoor rally on Dec. 9. The march and rally marked the 25th anniversary of Abu-Jamal’s imprisonment following the shooting of a Philadelphia police officer on Dec. 9, 1981.
The day’s events were sponsored by International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and other organizations.
The demonstration, in addition to marking a quarter-century of struggle to win freedom for the world-renowned revolutionary journalist and political prisoner, was geared toward raising public awareness of important legal developments in his case. Abu-Jamal’s lead counsel, Robert R. Bryan, has filed four federal appeals that could be heard in court in the winter or spring of 2007. (Go to www.millions4mumia.org to read legal updates.)

The protest drew participants from the Philadelphia area as well as New York, Boston, New Jersey, Denver, Norfolk, Va., and from as far away as Vancouver, Canada, and France. Mumia Abu-Jamal has been made an honorary citizen in Paris, and the immigrant city of St. Denis has named a street in his honor.

Members of Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police tried to disrupt the rally and terrorize participants with a caravan of motorcycle cops loudly revving engines a block away from the indoor rally site. A Philadelphia Inquirer photo shows a police officer wearing a mask—a clear violation of a city ordinance that targets youthful demonstrators at anti-war rallies.

Speakers addressed a number of important developments during the rally. One was the reactionary resolution passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Dec. 6, which denounces St. Denis, France, for having named a street for Abu-Jamal in April. The second was the current campaign initiated by the New York Free Mumia Coalition to have a street in Harlem named for him. Another important issue addressed was the wave of rampant police terror in New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

Rally speakers included Pam Africa, Ward Churchill, attorney Michael Coard, Nana Soul representing Lynne Stewart, Monica Moorehead, LeiLani Dowell, Zayid Muhammad, Esperanza Martell, Suzanne Ross, Johnnie Stevens, who read a solidarity statement from Indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier, former death row inmate Harold Wilson, and others.

The rally received considerable news coverage both before and after, including the front page and considerable inside coverage in the Dec. 8 Philadelphia Daily News. One reporter interviewed William Singletary, a former Philadelphia business executive who had witnessed the shooting of police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981 and stated that another man, not Mumia Abu-Jamal, fired the shot. Singletary also stated that police had coerced him to change his testimony.

Report from Betsey Piette