join us in demanding a new trial for condemned African-American
journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal. An outspoken advocate on behalf of
poor and working people, Abu-Jamal has spent the last 17 years
on Pennsylvania's death row. Although his 1982 conviction was
fraught with judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, his appeals
in the State courts of Pennsylvania have been denied, and Governor
Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, who has signed a total of 176 death
warrants (two already for Mumia) stands ready to sign a third
one on Mumia when he can. Mumia's case is now in Federal District
court. A crucial Spring-time ruling is expected, when Judge William
H. Yohn, Jr., will decide whether Mumia receives an "evidentiary
hearing" to consider the new evidence previously ruled inadmissible
by "hanging judge" Albert Sabo.
case has tremendous relevance for educators. His writings have
galvanized student learning in new ways, especially in low income
communities and among people of color, whose economic and educational
needs are being subordinated to the increased funding for more
prisons to warehouse our youth, and for police forces featuring
rising levels of police brutality.
voice has become essential to this generation's efforts to understand
the social ills of their time and to resist them with creativity
and intelligence. His vision and eloquence have been important
for nurturing broad-based, multiracial coalitions that address
important cultural, political and economic issues in our nation
using Mumia's writings at many levels of education have routinely
met with censorship by some administrators and policing authorities.
The Fraternal Order of Police maintains a list of Mumia's supporters
on its website. A number of educators are included on that list
and are targeted for "boycott" by the police union. Since teachers
have played a major role in making Mumia's case known, and in
reopening a nation-wide debate on the death penalty, these efforts
at censorship cannot be taken lightly. Abu-Jamal's execution would
constitute the ultimate censorship of his eloquent and powerful
exposure of criminal injustice in America. It would allow politicians
and elements of law enforcement to think they can narrow the scope
of education in our society, and limit our writers' freedom of
of educators nationally added their names to the following full
page ad which appeared in the Sunday, May 7, 2000 edition of the
New York Times.
EDUCATORS . . . Demand Justice and a New Trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal
is an African- American writer and journalist who has spent the
last 17 years of his life on Pennsylvania's death row. His demand
for justice and a new trial is supported by heads of state from
France to South Africa, by Nobel Laureates, the European Parliament,
city governments from Detroit to San Francisco, scholars, religious
leaders, artists, scientists, the Congressional Black Caucus and
other members of U.S. Congress, and by countless thousands who
cherish democratic and human rights the world over.
people have expressed their support for Jamal through their leading
regional, national and international trade union bodies. In an
action nearly without precedent in U.S. labor history, the International
Longshore and Warehouse Union closed down West coast ports for
the day of April 24, 1999.
two books and over 400 published columns have been adopted as
resource material for the teaching and inspiration of a growing
number of students, youth, and educators who have come to see
THEIR futures as intimately tied to the outcome of this case.
1982 trial that convicted Jamal of killing Philadelphia police
officer Daniel Faulkner has been challenged by leading legal analysts
and scholars from Stuart Taylor writing in the prestigious American
Lawyer to Per Walsoe of the Supreme Court of Denmark.
attorneys have presented compelling evidence that key witnesses
were intimidated or coerced to provide false testimony, that a
purported "confession" was likely fabricated by police, and that
vital evidence pointing to his innocence was withheld from the
defense. A key eyewitness has now recanted critical court testimony
used against Jamal. Jamal was forced to appeal his conviction
before the same judge that sentenced him to death in 1982. That
judge, Albert Sabo, is notorious for presiding over capital cases
resulting in 33 people being sentenced to death (all but two,
people of color), more than twice the number of any sitting judge
in the United States.
We educators unite in saying No to Jamal's execution.
has long been a POLITICAL TARGET as a prominent journalist critic
of police brutality and racism in Philadelphia since the days
of Mayor Frank Rizzo. Rizzo's police department incurred an unprecedented
suit by the United States Department of Justice for police brutality.
is made more vulnerable by TODAY'S FREQUENT USE OF THE DEATH PENALTY.
The American Bar Association has opposed the death penalty as
immensely discriminatory with respect to class and race. The innocent
often find their way onto death row. In Illinois, for example,
one inmate has been exonerated for every inmate executed over
the last 12 years. Teacher and student actions from Northwestern
University in Illinois, to schools in Oakland, California, to
Evergreen State College in Washington, and to Pennsylvania itself
have played key roles in freeing some of those among the
3,500 on death row U.S.A. or in rekindling debate on the death
penalty after a decade of law and order vengeance.
risk to Jamal's life is magnified in today's climate of GROWING
POLICE REPRESSION. Brutality and "racial profiling" are epidemic
in the United States, alive on our school campuses, neighborhoods
and highways. The nation's largest police organization has shocked
civil liberties advocates by publishing a list of the names of
educators and other Jamal supporters (reminiscent of the McCarthy
witch-hunt era) on its police-maintained website. -
often referred to as the "voice of the voiceless," has challenged
the present political priorities of SPENDING MORE FOR PRISONS
AND PUNISHMENT THAN FOR EDUCATION. The youth who increasingly
rally to Mumia's cause in the name of justice and fair play know
that we build jailhouse cell blocks more rapidly than schoolhouse
classrooms, that we spend more on prisons than on state colleges
educators, in Pennsylvania, across the United States and the world,
we strongly opposed the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
there are those who believe Mumia is innocent and should be freed
now, and others who have no opinion about his innocence, we are
all united in viewing Mumia's 1982 trial as a travesty of justice,
and affirm that he MUST have a new trial!