Dec., 17 2006
A visit with Mumia Abu-Jamal
in death row, SCI Greene State Prison, Waynesboro PA
On Dec. 17, a Workers World Party delegation traveled to the remote mountain town of Waynesburg, Pa., near the West Virginia border, to visit award-winning African American revolutionary journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal at the State Correctional Institution.
The delegation, which spent six hours visiting Mumia, was composed of Larry Holmes and Monica Moorehead, WWP Secretariat members; Lal Roohk, WW newspaper technical editor and Web weaver for the Millions for Mumia Web site; and Gary Wilson, WW newspaper managing editor.
Prison regulations did not allow the delegation to tape or to take notes during the visit. Mumia was handcuffed during the entire six hours. A glass partition in a small booth physically separated the delegation from Mumia.
Known worldwide as the “voice for the voiceless,” Mumia was arrested on Dec. 9, 1981, for allegedly shooting to death a white policeman, Daniel Faulkner. Mumia, who was also shot by the Philadelphia police that same night, was falsely charged with first-degree murder and was sentenced to death in a racist sham of a trial in 1982.
Mumia really was tried for his political beliefs, especially his involvement in the Black Panther Party, and for being outspoken against police brutality. The late Judge Albert Sabo, who presided over Mumia’s 1982 trial and his post-conviction relief hearings in 1995 and 1996, was overheard by a white stenographer, Terri Maurer-Carter, calling Mumia a racist epithet.
Eyewitnesses to the shooting like William Singletary, who testified against Mumia, came forward years later to say the Fraternal Order of Police coerced them to lie under oath. Singletary was forced to move to another state.
Singletary recently said he would be willing to testify that Mumia did not shoot Faulkner if he could be guaranteed protection from any threats on his life.
Mumia had been scheduled for execution in the 1990s, but the death warrants were reversed after anti-death penalty mass demonstrations here and worldwide.
Even though Mumia’s death sentence was overturned in 2000, he still remains on death row. His attorneys are attempting to win a new trial in federal appeals court in order to be able to prove his innocence.
Issues discussed with Mumia
The WWP delegation found Mumia to be in relatively good health and very upbeat. Despite his repressive and isolating conditions, he stays abreast of the important struggles and developments of the day by cable television, books and newspapers, as well as the many letters and visits he receives from supporters across the country and worldwide.
Mumia and the delegation discussed
a number of important issues.
These included the current stage of the immigrant rights struggle, particularly the historic general strike of at least 5 million immigrants this past May 1 and the recent racist raids at six Swift Foods plants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a repressive arm of Homeland Security. These raids resulted in the arrests of close to 10 percent of the work force, or over 1,300 majority Latin@ workers.
They spoke of the U.S. debacle in Iraq, due mainly to the heroic Iraqi resistance, and the fact that the Democrats, who took control of both houses of Congress, have not indicated any plans so far to carry out the clear mandate of the Nov. 7 elections to bring the troops home now. This will offer great opportunities for carrying forward the independent anti-imperialist struggle.
The ongoing wave of anti-imperialist resistance in Latin America was also discussed, especially the U.N. talk of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez this past September where he called George W. Bush a “devil.” Abu-Jamal mentioned that his recent book, “We Want Freedom,” on his experiences as a Panther in Philadelphia is being translated into Spanish in Cuba.
Roohk and Wilson shared with Abu-Jamal impressions of their trip to the immigrant city of St. Denis in France last April as part of a U.S. delegation that attended the naming of a street there for Mumia.
The people of St. Denis have a long history of support for political prisoners around the world; near Mumia Street is Nelson Mandela Stadium. “Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal” has raised the international status of Mumia and has prompted the Philadelphia FOP to try to stir up local and national politicians, who have made ineffective attempts to get the people of France to withdraw their support.
Just recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution denouncing the local government of St. Denis for honoring Mumia. Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus either voted against the resolution or abstained. Wilson told Mumia that many people who had not heard about the St. Denis street-naming first read about it on the Workers World newspaper Web site.
Toward the end of the visit, the dele-gation asked Mumia if he had any thoughts that he wanted to share with other activists and revolutionaries. Mumia responded with these words: “I want to send my love and appreciation to all of those who have supported me for so many years. The best support that you can give me is to continue to build a strong, powerful movement for change.”
Report from Monica Moorehead