Mumia — 20 years on death row
by Jean-Guy Allard This July, Mumia Abu-Jamal — prize-winning US journalist and leading militant for the black cause — will begin his 20th year of imprisonment in the horrendous inhumanity that is death row. Condemned to death after a dirty trial, his story is just one example of how "respect for human rights" is executed in that country. Refusing to lose hope of winning out over the traps of the US "justice" system, Mumia once again challenges those who are trying to execute him by presenting new proof of his innocence with a new team of lawyers. Among these documents is a statement signed by Arnold Beverly, who confirms having been ordered to kill agent Faulkner by the police and local Mafia, who wanted to prevent him from revealing his activities. Beverly admitted to having killed him with a pistol provided by the police. The dossier also contains four new statements: one by Mumia explaining the events again; a second by his brother, who was involved in the fatal accident; a third by a journalist for the "Philadelphia Tribune" revealing the total absence of forensic agents at the scene of the crime, two hours after the tragedy; and a fourth from an FBI informer in charge of a secret investigation into police corruption in Philadelphia. Strangely, the federal prosecutor's office has so far refused to formally interrogate Beverly, despite requests from Mumia's lawyers. Mumia was arrested in a police raid on the night of December 8, 1981, in Philadelphia, over an armed confrontation that ended in death of white police officer Daniel Faulkner. He was tried and sentenced to death on May 25, 1983, by Judge Albert F Sabo. Judge Sabo, an ex-police officer and member of the extreme right-wing police group Fraternal Order of Police, holds the sinister record for having sentenced more people to death than any other US judge: his record at the time was 31, only two of whom were white. A year ago, the most famous US political prisoner filed a new appeal with Federal Judge Yohn, who had been appointed by George Bush Snr. Yohn has taken so long to make a decision that a reporter from the "Philadelphia Inquirer" recently asked if this had anything to do with the magistrate's name, and whether Yohn should really be called Yawn. In the United States, the country that champions human rights when it's convenient, there are 3,700 prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, condemned to death. The vast majority of those waiting for their "legal" execution are of African descent or belong to some racial minority. According to the Centre for Death Penalty Information in Washington, 85 people were executed in the year 2000, after an average waiting period of 9.5 years. In Pennsylvania, where 241 are on death row, the average wait is 8.7 years. In a valiant call entitled "The face of US barbarity", published in the French daily "Liberation", Danielle Mitterrand, widow of the former French President, asked "Who are they trying to kill?" Ms Mitterrand wrote the article after visiting Mumia in prison, and her answer was: "A committed journalist who during the '70s became the voice of the voiceless". She said Mumia denounced "a class and race-orientated justice system, a reflection on that vast country that exports an image of modern and commendable democracy". Mitterrand concluded: "We call on the millions of US citizens who do not recognise themselves in that image of barbarity to wake up". Scores of other international personalities have supported Mumia, including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, writers G|nter Grass and Norman Mailer, academic Noam Chomsky, supermodel Naomi Campbell and actor Paul Newman. Despite the importance of the Mumia case, the establishment US press has remained completely silent on the new developments in the Black Panther's case. Monica Moorehead, of Mumia's support committee explains, "None of these significant legal developments has received national media attention. This confirms the view that the big-business media want to keep Abu-Jamal's case out of the headlines because it is in the ruling class's interests to portray Mumia as a 'cop killer'". "In fact, Abu-Jamal is a powerful and effective spokesperson and activist against all forms of racist and class oppression endemic to the capitalist system, here and abroad. The media owners understand all too well how vulnerable the United States is on the issue of racism." In the same way, five Cuban patriots are also jailed in a top-security wing of a Florida prison for wanting to protect their country from Miami mafia conspiracies. Their imprisonment is also due to the same tricks played by the extreme right, in association with the mainstream press and the FBI in its role of political gendarme. And all of this is happening in a country that so often sermonises on "human rights" outside its own frontiers.
* * *Mumia's support committee can be found at http://www.mumia2000.org