Sunday, December 5, 2010
The following is an article from THE FREEDOM SOCIALIST
WRITTEN BY JANET SUTHERLAND
MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: A LIFE IN THE BALANCE
Prosecutor seeks reinstatement of death penalty.
"Worldwide, the eyes of death penalty opponents and critics of the US "justice" system, especially in its treatment of Blacks and radicals, were fixed on Nov 9 on a Philadelphia courtroom. At issue? Whether a federal appeals court would reinstate the death sentence of renowned revolutionary journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Framed and convicted in 1982 for the killing of a Philadelphia policeman, Abu-Jamal has spent 28 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement. And while his death sentence was vacated in 2001, he has remained on death row.
During these years, Pensylvania's political establishment and police have worked double time trying to fast track Mumia's execution, only to be stopped by a powerful movement that leveraged mass pressure on the courts. Now activists are mobilizing again to save Mumia's life.
In 2008, a three judge panel of the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2001 decision, ruling that misleading jury instructions during the sentencing phase of Mumia's original trial were grounds for vacating his death sentence and changing it to life without parole. But last year, the US Supreme Court weighed in, ordering the 3rd Circuit to reconsider the death penalty.
The new ruling could come at any time, but possibly as late as months from now. If it goes against Abu-Jamal, Pennsylvania prosecutors can be expected to push for swift execution. Alternatively, a favorable decision for Mamia would require prosecutors to hold a new sentencing hearing to get the death penalty reinstated. This scenario would open an opportunity for Mumia to present evidence of his innocence.
Despite numerous appeals, Mumia has never been allowed to present new evidence. His trial was blatantly biased, run by a notoriously racist judge who allowed tainted evidence, police and prosecutor misconduct, testimony from witnesses who were coerced (and have since recanted), incompetent legal counsel and other subversions of fairness.
Still more evidence of injustice was recently uncovered by independent journalists Linn Washington and Dave Lindorff. Using gunshot tests, the two showed that the prosecution's depiction of the shooting was false. In their tests, bullets left marks on the pavement neither reported nor photographed by the police.
The actual shooting could not have occurred as two witnesses testified during Mumia's 1982 trial. This is just the tip of a mammouth iceberg of revelations that point to Mumia's frameup.
Supporters of Abu-Jamal organized nonstop for the 9 Nov. hearing. A large contingent of New Yorkers from the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition joined activists in Philadelphia that day. In San Francisco, The Mobilization to Free Mumia held an emergency rally. Speakers included Jeff Mackler, with the defense committee of radical attorney Lynne Stewart (also fighting a lengthy sentence) and Merle Woo, an Asian American activist/poet and leader in Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party.
Meanwhile, the new documentary JUSTICE ON TRIAL: THE CASE OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL is bringing Mumia's story to audiences nationally. Made by Kuoross Esmael and Michelle Alexander it premiered in Philadelphia in October.
Mumia supporters are acting on the knowledge that with the courts stacked against radicals, and especially in this climate of vicious persecution of all who fight against war and injustice, mass action is what is necessary to save Mumia's life and win his freedom."
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
I encourage people to check out the Freedom Socialist Party and newspaper. They are an excellent choice for honest reporting and comments on the struggles of working peoples.
Posted by Morgan at 12:56 PM