Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 23:06:29 -0600 (CST)
Rev. Sharpton visits prison: Worldwide actions support Mumia
By Leslie Feinberg, Workers World, 23 December 1999
Philadelphia -- The demand to free political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is being heard loud and clear, far and wide.
Hundreds of students in Mexico City massed in front of the U.S. Embassy on Dec. 11. They demanded freedom for Abu-Jamal and amnesty for anti-WTO activists arrested during the Battle of Seattle.
When riot cops laid siege to the students, the youth fought back in hand-to-hand pitched battles against police.
On the same day three regional demonstrations in the United States called for justice for Abu-Jamal.
"Ain't no freedom without no battle, power to the people from Philly to Seattle," some 1,000 supporters of Mumia Abu- Jamal roared through the streets of North Philadelphia on Dec. 11.
Banners and placards calling for a new trial and freedom for Abu-Jamal had been visible in the photographs and footage from the Seattle protests.
The Philadelphia march got a warm welcome from many in the African American community as it wound its way through the residential streets.
The multinational march was buttressed by the participation of many youths--including many students from colleges, universities and high schools. Overall the ages of marchers ranged from children to retired workers.
Local 1199 Health and Hospital workers sent a bus. Also taking part in the protest were members of Mailhandlers, Social Service and Municipal union locals.
Demonstrations also took place on Dec. 11 in the San Francisco Bay area and Chicago.
Close to 1,000 of Abu-Jamal's supporters converged at the Federal Building in downtown Oakland, Calif. The protest was organized by the September 25 Coalition, the National People's Campaign and the Mobilization for Mumia.
In Chicago, over 100 people in 30 vehicles staged a bicycle, car, and bus caravan to raise visibility for Abu- Jamal's case. Participants met at a public housing block in the Robert Taylor Homes on Chicago's south side, where residents are resisting the city's plans to evict them and close the building.
The motorcade was plastered with signs and banners reading "Free Mumia!" The caravan traveled through shopping areas in the oppressed communities on the south and west sides, and also targeted the major downtown stores on State Street. Activists passed out leaflets to crowds of shoppers.
SHARPTON VISITS, STUDENTS WALK, RENO DISRUPTED
Support for Mumia Abu-Jamal continues to widen.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a leader of New York protests against the New York Police Department execution of Amadou Diallo, visited Abu-Jamal in prison on Dec. 10. Sharpton later held a news conference at Monumental Baptist Church in the Hill District after talking the Abu-Jamal.
"I hope my coming will be the beginning of a traffic jam," Sharpton told the media. He called on other civil-rights activists "to make the same trip I have made."
On Dec. 14, more than 50 students walked out of Riverside High School in Milwaukee, Wis., in support of the death-row prisoner and journalist. The young activists carried signs, leaflets and a 15-foot banner demanding a new trial.
Cops in seven police cruisers watched as these students-- Black, Latino, Asian and white--held a two-hour rally at nearby Gordon Park. The youth action attracted television and print media coverage.
A walkout scheduled for the same morning at Milwaukee's High School of the Arts was prevented when the school's principal locked down the school, reportedly after hearing about the students' plans. As a compromise, he agreed to allow an assembly at the school about Abu-Jamal's case.
Attorney General Janet Reno got an unexpected earful about Abu-Jamal's case on Dec. 3. Reno was interrupted as she began her speech to business "leaders" at the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce about the need to work closely with police.
Protesters outside the door to the luncheon chanted, "Free Mumia," and, "Janet Reno, give it up, turn it loose and cut the noose."
The demonstrators demanded that the Justice Department investigate the corruption in the Philadelphia Police Department, which they said had prevented Abu-Jamal from getting a fair trial.
When police ushered the activists outside, the Abu-Jamal supporters began pounding on the doors.
Inside, four Oakland women who had bought tickets to the event stood up and interrupted Reno as she began to speak. They took off their jackets to reveal their white T-shirts that read "New trial for Mumia!"
The protest forced Reno to meet with the women after the event. Reno claimed that she would look into the need for an investigation.
DETROIT: AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL!
Labor support for Abu-Jamal is growing in the Metro- Detroit area.
United Auto Workers Local 909's membership voted to support the demand for a new trial for the political prisoner at their monthly meeting recently. A committee inside UAW Local 2334 is circulating a resolution in support of Abu-Jamal for their next meeting.
Many workers at the Water Department's Analytical Laboratory are sporting green "New Trial 4 Mumia" ribbons on their lab coats.
Substitute teacher Garry Herring from the Detroit Federation of Teachers introduced a resolution supporting Mumia Abu-Jamal at the DFT membership meeting on Dec. 9. The chairperson ruled the resolution out of order. But another worker rose to "appeal the decision of the chair." The body then voted to overturn the ruling. The vote on the resolution was referred to the next membership meeting.
Abu-Jamal supporters are planning to collect workers' signatures on a petition for the death-row prisoner at the giant Ford Rouge Plant gates later this month.
`FREE MUMIA!' HEARD `ROUND THE WORLD
The International Committee to Save the Life of Mumia Abu- Jamal is hard at work planning a high-level delegation that has asked to meet with President Bill Clinton on Jan. 12 in Washington.
They will deliver an open letter to the White House signed by people from all over the world, asking for a new trial for Abu-Jamal and for his release.
The group has sent a call for support in this effort to 7,000 individuals and organizations around the world. Organizing for the Jan. 12 meeting is now under way in 70 countries.
In India, the major unions have united in support of Abu- Jamal and have set a goal of gathering 1 million signatures on the open letter by Jan. 12.
As of Dec. 1 in France, 73,432 people had signed the open letter. Hundreds of French unions also endorse the demands.
In Seville, Spain, 50 people participated in the planning meeting for support of the Jan. 12 delegation. They met in the headquarters of the union federation in Seville. The meeting included labor leaders, educators, town councilors, communist and anti-racist youth.
The Media Workers Association of South Africa has elected Abu-Jamal, a revolutionary journalist, as honorary union president.
[Contributors to this coverage include Peter Cook, Bill Hackwell, David Sole and Phil Wilayto.]
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