Abu-Jamal case goes international. Aug. 12 rally set
People's Weekly World, 5 July 1995, pp. 4-5
PHILADELPHIA - From South Africa to San Francisco, the cry is gaining momentum: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal from death row.
The ex-journalist, condemned to die for the 1981 slaying of a police officer, has gained a global network of supporters who consider him a victim of a racially biased judicial system.
Prosecutors stand by evidence and witness testimony they believe is iron-clad. That didn't stop protesters from showing up outside a courthouse July 26 for the start of a hearing to determine whether Abuk-Jamal will get a second trial in the shooting of Officer Daniel Faulkner.
A rally calling for a new trial is scheduled for Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. outside the Philadelphia City Hall, Fifteenth Street and Market. Simultaneous actions are planned in other cities and countries.
Last year, Aba-Jamal gained attention when National Public Radio agreed to broadcast his commentaries from death row, then withdrew the offer amid criticism. His commentaries did air on the Pacifica radio network.
The interest has intensified in the past two weeks with major protests virtually every day. In Berlin, at least 1,000 Aba-Jamal supporters marched through downtown last week. In South Africa, the country's largest Black newspaper, The Sowetan, called on the international community to oppose the alleged racism in the case.
A cloth banner on a bridge crossing a Connecticut interstate demanded "Save Mumia." And a half-page advertisement July 26 in The New York Times told readers "What You Haven't Read in the Press About Mumia Aba-Jamal."
The hearing before Common Pleas Judge Albert Sabo, whom Abu-Jamal supporters call a "hangman," started with the judge ordering Pam Africa, a member of the radical group MOVE, to leave the defense table.
"She had too much to say during the last trial and that's why we had all the trouble," he said.
Prosecutors said overwhelming ballistics evidence and eyewitness testimony prove that Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner after finding his brother, William Cook, in a struggle with the officer on a Philadelphia street. The 25-year-old officer also shot Abu-Jamal, who was working as a cab driver.
Defense lawyers contend prosecutors and police stacked the trial against Abu-Jamal, with Sabo's approval. Witnesses who could have helped his case were coerced to testify against him, intimidated into leaving town or simply unavailable during the trial, they say. During sentencing, critics say, prosecutors inflamed the mostly white jury by mentioning that Aba-Jamal belonged to the Black Panthers as a teenager.
Bill Siemering, Abu-Jamal's former station manager at WHYY radio in Philadelphia, called the defendant "an exceptionally gifted journalist."
Supporters include actor Ed Asner, authors and academics such as E. L. Doctorow (see article, this page) and Cornel West, Black congressmen, trade unionists, the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and death penalty opponents.
For more information contact the Rosenberg Fund for Children at (413) 739-9020. The Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade can be reached at (212) OR4-5552.
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