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Stop the death penalty

May 25, 2001 | Page 14

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal


SAN FRANCISCO--More than 1,000 people turned out for a May 12 march to support political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Mumia, a former Black Panther, broadcast journalist and outspoken critic of police brutality and corruption, has spent 19 years on Pennsylvania's death row after being falsely convicted in the shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faukner.

Mumia and his attorneys are currently in the midst of an appeal before federal Judge William Yohn Jr. The aim is to get a new trial during which they can introduce new evidence of Mumia's innocence that came to light since the original trial.

A month ago, Mumia fired lawyers Leonard Weinglass and Dan Williams when he learned that Williams was in the final stages of writing a book about his case.

In early May, in conjunction with his new lawyers, Mumia and his brother, William Cook, released their first public statements about what happened on the night of Faulkner's murder. Due to the unfairness of the original trial, Mumia chose not make a statement in 1982--nor during his 1995 appeal.

In his statement, Mumia described terrible police abuse on the night of the shooting. "The next thing that I remember I felt myself being kicked, hit," Mumia said. "As I looked through this cop crowd all around me, I saw my brother, blood running down his neck, and a cop lying on his back on the pavement…I was pulled to my feet and then rammed into a telephone pole, beaten where I fell and thrown into a paddy wagon."

Mumia's attorneys also released a 1999 affidavit from a man who said that he and another person shot Faulkner. Arnold Beverly said that he was hired by the mob to kill Faulkner because he was interfering with a graft and prostitution operation involving other cops.

While it's unclear what effect this new evidence will have on Mumia's appeal, his case has exposed the bankruptcy and racism of the criminal justice system.

We can't leave it up to Yohn to decide Mumia's fate. We need to build a movement today that can fight for Mumia's freedom--and the end of the racist death penalty.

Los Angeles


LOS ANGELES--The University of California-LA chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty hosted a panel discussion on May 17. Guest speakers included Darby Tillis, an exonerated death row inmate from Illinois, and Alice Kim from the Campaign.

Sixty students attended the event to hear Tillis recount his experience of nine years on death row and the psychological impact it had on him and his family. "I was released from death row, but I will never be free of death row," Tillis said.

The speakers focused on the importance of building a grassroots fight to bring an end to the death penalty.

Live from death row


OAKLAND, Calif.--Nobel Peace Prize nominee Stanley "Tookie" Williams spoke live from death row via speakerphone to an audience of about 100 at the local YWCA in March.

Other speakers included Barbara Becnel, who has co-authored several of Williams' books for youth on gangs and prison; community organizer Fred Jackson; State Assemblywoman Dion Aroner; representatives of the Third Eye Movement; Crystal Bybee of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty; and Stacia Sloane of the ISO.

Finally recognizing the growing public support against the death penalty, national and local media filled the hall.

In Boston, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the UMass-Boston International Socialist Club held a Live from Death Row forum April 25. Speakers included former Massachusetts death row inmate Lawyer Johnson and--speaking from death row via speakerphone--Leonard Kidd, a member of the Death Row 10, a group of Illinois death row prisoners tortured into confessions by Chicago police.

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