Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Dec. 19, 1996
issue of Workers World newspaper
Over 2,000 people clogged up the intersection of Wall and Broad Streets Dec. 9 for three hours in mid-day to demand a new trial for Black political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
It was the 15th anniversary of Abu-Jamal's arrest in Philadelphia. The prisoner's supporters chose to make it a day of international protest, with actions in cities around the world.
They rallied at George Washington's statue on the steps of the former Federal Reserve Bank in the center of the financial district here--what Abu-Jamal called "the capital of capitalism" in a message to the protesters.
Among those who came were long-time supporters of the defendant and students who had more recently joined his cause. The biggest group was from New York, with large contingents from Philadelphia and Vermont arriving by bus.
Demonstrators also came from Washington--including a Howard University group--Baltimore, and even Chicago and Canada.
They cheered when Iris Baez, whose son Anthony was killed by a New York cop, and members of the Latin Kings demanded killer cops be brought to justice. They cheered when Abu- Jamal's message exposing Wall Street's role in the oppressive capitalist system was read.
At one point, protesters placed pro-Mumia picket signs in the marble hands of the George Washington statue, drawing loud cheers. This moved Workers World leader Larry Holmes, who was speaking then, to remark, "We have just turned the statue of a slaveholder into a liberated zone."
People cheered again when the religious Bruderhof called for ending the racist death penalty, when Black activist Herman Ferguson called out, "Free the land," and when lawyer Leo nard Weinglass explained how Abu-Jamal deserves a new trial.
Through it all, the crowd demand ed that Mumia Abu-Jamal be freed.
Three young people from the MOVE organization showed that the brutal police attack that killed 11 people in 1985 and burned down a neighborhood could not stop the struggle from pass ing on to the next generation.
Rally Co-Chairs Pam Africa of the International Concern ed Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Sofiya Bukhari of the Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal kept the rally hot on a cold day.
Noting that the mainstream media were absent, the chairs made a point of thanking the People's Video Network and radio station WBAI for covering the event.
HE WAS FRAMED
Mumia Abu-Jamal--political activist, journalist and former Black Panther Party leader--was framed for killing a cop and has been on Pennsylvania's death row since 1982. Even from solitary confinement on death row, however, he has continued his revolutionary reporting, commenting on police brutality, racism, and the prison-industrial complex.
His original trial was before a kangaroo court presided over by hanging Judge Albert Sabo, who has sentenced more people to death than any other judge in Pennsylvania. With only public defenders, and with cops and prosecutors manipulating evidence against him, Abu-Jamal was quickly found guilty and sentenced to die.
Since then, a new defense team has managed to get his execution postponed as they attempt to reopen the trial. But Sabo has prevented a new trial from taking place despite substantial new evidence.
In October, a major prosecution witness against Abu-Jamal, Veronica Jones, changed her testimony and described how police had brought pressure against her to lie at the original trial. Sabo disqualified her new testimony.
In the past two years, Abu-Jamal's case has become known worldwide. A speaker at the Dec. 9 rally noted that he has received honorary citizenship in five European cities.
Along with international solidarity, Abu-Jamal has attracted ever broader support inside the United States. The first time an actual execution date was set for him, in the summer of 1995, some 12,000 people demonstrated in Phila delphia. The execution was stayed.
Since then, backing for Abu-Jamal has developed further, especially among students and all opponents of the oppressive U.S. prison system. He and American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier have come to symbolize the struggle against U.S. injustice.
LET THE ROAR OF REVOLUTION RESOUND!"
[The following statement from Mumia Abu-Jamal was read at the Wall Street demonstration Dec. 9:]
I must thank all the brave souls who have come through this bitter cold to make your voices heard.
You stand at the truest capital that America has ever known, not its political capital but the capital of Capital. Here on Wall Street is the true life blood of this state.
Here, at its heartbeat, is also its death beat. Every war fought since 1776 on has begun here to enrich those within this temple of property.
Every president, every politician bows his knee or curtsies before this wellspring of wealth. Every newspaper, every radio station, every TV network owes its economic existence and its editorial line to the wizards of wealth who wheel and deal and trade within these walls.
In a capitalist system, capital is the highest goal and those without are treated with the lowest contempt. It is fitting that we be heard here at America's highest court of appeals.
Let the roar of revolution resound from here to all corners of this empire. Let freedom begin to truly ring. Let our echoes sound as vibrations of solidarity for political prisoners across this Babylon.
Free the MOVE 9! Free all political prisoners!
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