May 31, 2000


Resist the Death Machine
By Mumia Abu-Jamal

At the tender age of 17 a youth named Gary Graham was faced with a terrifying reality. The state of Texas and Harris County district attorney picked him as another expendable Black life form: a Black youth to feed to the death machine. In a case of murder, where neither fingerprints nor ballistics nor any credible evidence points to any notion of guilt, Gary Graham faces a legal murder.

Over half his life spent in a hellish and harsh Texas death cell, Gary Graham has grown into the man now known as Shaka Sankofa, a young man who is deeply conscious of his individual and collective self and of his place in history.

If there is a crime for which Bloody Texas seeks his death it is this: It is a crime in a racist nation for a Black youth to be conscious and thinking in political and collective terms. For Shaka Sankofa innocence is not enough. The state and federal judiciary have, it is true, provided oceans of process, but not an iota of justice. His life, and the lives of thousands of young men and women like him, were expendable at birth, not just at trial. Why should it be otherwise before the lily white and wealthy appeals courts?

The Sankofa case presents a challenge to all of us, not just those of us who steadfastly oppose the death penalty, but for those who say we believe in fundamental fairness and basic human rights. Under the terms of international human rights pacts (to which the United States is a party) the execution of a person who is a juvenile when the alleged crime occurred is a violation of international law. But the American Empire sneers at international law.

It is necessary to mobilize unsparing protests and stiff resistance to the death machine to bring about what should be our obvious goal: the life and freedom of Shaka Sankofa.


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