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Mumia and MOVE

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Ecosocialism, Mumia and MOVE

Sunday, August 8, 2010

By Derek Wall


Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal — on death row for more than 30 years in Pennsylvania for a murder he didn't commit — is an iconic figure. Yet while the struggle for his freedom continues, less attention is given to his role as a political leader.

While Mumia has not, to my knowledge, used the term ecosocialist, his passionate message to the US Social Forum on June 22 had a clear ecosocialist content.

Referring to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he said: “If ever there were a time to honestly question the madness at the heart of capitalism, it is now, as people are repulsed by what they are seeing, week after week, and now month after month, of environmental wreckage, corporate greed, and government subservience.

“Because, in truth, this is what capitalism, unbridled, unregulated, looks like: the spoilage of the natural world for private gain.”

Mumia signs this and many of his messages with the words “Ona Move! Long Live John Africa!” In doing so, he acknowledges the political influence of the controversial radical Philadelphia radical group, MOVE, an influence reflected in his ecosocialism.

His work in exposing the violence with which the authorities suppressed MOVE was the primary reason for Mumia being targeted and framed.

During the 1970s, Mumia, a former Black Panther Party activist working as a radio journalist, became aware, like many people in Philadelphia, of a group variously described as “violent black nationalists”, a “religious cult” or plain terrorists — the MOVE organisation founded by an illiterate carpenter, Vincent Leaphart, who took the name John Africa.

MOVE activists typically they took the surname Africa because they believed all humanity comes from Africa. Although their members were mainly black, others were white or Hispanic.

John Africa constructed a spirituality based on reverence for all life. MOVE was passionate about animal rights, indeed one of their first confrontations came during an anti-zoo demonstration.

MOVE members lived communally. In Philadelphia, the police had earlier taken on the Black Panthers with extreme violence.

MOVE was now targeted by the authorities. Group members would demonstrate, be beaten for doing so and the conflict dramatically escalated. In April 1976 the police horrifyingly killed MOVE member Janine Africa’s baby, Life Africa.

In 1978, police fired 10,000 bullets during a siege of a MOVE community. A police officer was killed by a bullet that witnesses say was fired from outside the MOVE building. Nine MOVE members were charged with killing the officer and still remain in prison in 2010.

This escalation of state violence peaked with the FBI bombing a MOVE community in 1985, killing 11 people — six adults and five children. The only adult survivor, Ramona Africa, was promptly imprisoned.

Mumia noted: “I have seen every substantive so-called constitutional right twisted, shredded and torn when it comes to MOVE. Since the early 1970s, I've seen male and female MOVE members beaten till bloody and bones broken, locked beneath the jails, caged while pregnant, beaten into miscarriage, starved by municipal decree, sentenced to a century in prisons, homes demolished by bomb, by crane, by cannon, by fire. But I've never seen them broken.”

He observed that he too had been influenced by the negative image of MOVE before meeting and talking with them.

“What I found were idealistic, committed, strong, unshakeable men and women who had a deep spirit-level aversion to everything this system represents. To them, this system was a death system involved in a deathly war.

“To them, everything this system radiated was poison — from its technological waste, to its destruction of the air and water, to its destruction of the very genetic pool of human life and animal life and all life. MOVE opposed all this bitterly and unrelentingly, without compromise.”

Mumia remains, despite decades of imprisonment in US dungeons, a prophet in the true sense — a voice articulating a politics that challenges capitalism and imperialism while speaking for the earth.

We must redouble our efforts to free Mumia but we must also make sure his remarkable voice, which articulates a radical vision with poetry and clarity, is heard.

[Derek Wall is a is a former Principal Speaker of the Green Party of England and Wales and an activist, writer and economist. He is also a member of the eco-socialist network Green Left and maintains the blog . He will speak via video link at the Climate Change Social Change conference, Melbourne University, November 5-7. Visit www.ccsc2010.wordpress.com for details.]

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From GLW issue 848

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Mumia killed a cop.

And if he didn't, his brother did, and he took the rap.

Somebody killed the cop and he was convicted of it.

MOVE was a fake revolutionary group. They were all on welfare, on the dole, collecting unemployment, squating in a crack house and living on Big Macs. Ask anybody from Philadelphia who was there at the time, and they'll tell you the same. They weren't a threat to take over the government of Philadelphia, that's for sure. They didn't have to bomb them from a helicopter, all they had to do was shut off their supply of Big Macs.

John Judge and others tell me Mumia's a political prisoner.

I say he's a cop killer, just like Joanne Chesmard, who killed NJ State Trooper.

They say Oswald killed a cop, but I don't think so. I think it was a frameup and

he took the rap.


Edited by William Kelly
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  • 1 year later...

As an opponent to the death penalty, judicial or ectra judicial I find this development heartening.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Mumia Abu-Jamal.

United States: Mumia death penalty push dropped, Desmond Tutu demands his freedom

In response to the news that the Philadelphia District Attorny's office has dropped its push to apply the death penalty to Mumia Abu-Jumal, framed for the 1981 murder of a police officer, FreeMumia.com released the statement below.

* * *

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal: “Now that it is clear that Mumia should never have been on death row in the first place, justice will not be served by relegating him to prison for the rest of his life -- yet another form of death sentence.

"Based on even a minimal following of international human rights standards, Mumia must now be released. I therefore join the call, and ask others to follow, asking District Attorney Seth Williams to rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights, and justice: drop this case now, and allow Mumia Abu-Jamal to be immediately released, with full time served.”

The news that the DA’s Office of Philadelphia is no longer seeking the death penalty for Mumia is no news to supporters of the nearly 30 year Pennsylvania Death Row prisoner.

However, because Mumia has for 30 years been subjected to torture on death row and because he is innocent, justice for Mumia will not be served by life imprisonment, but by his release from prison.

Mumia’s case is like thousands of other cases in Philadelphia in which the prosecutor, the judge, and the police conspired to obtain a conviction.

One of the most important and least known facts of this case is the existence of a fourth person at the crime scene, Kenneth Freeman. Within hours of the shooting, a driver’s license application found in Officer Faulkner’s shirt pocket led the police to Freeman, who was identified as the shooter in a line-up.

Yet Freeman’s presence at the scene was concealed, first by Inspector Alfonso Giordano and later, at trial, by Prosecutor Joe McGill.

Recently, the US Department of Justice asserted that withholding evidence of innocence by the prosecutor warrants the overturning of a conviction.

The police investigation that led to Mumia’s conviction was also riddled with corruption and tampering with evidence. The recently discovered Polokoff photographs that were taken at the crime scene, reveal that officer James Forbes, who testified in court that he had properly handled the guns allegedly retrieved at the crime scene, appears holding the guns with his bare hands.

The photos also discredit cabdriver Robert Chobert as a witness; his taxi, contrary to his testimony, is pictured facing away from the fallen officer’s car. This evidence hasn’t been reviewed by any court.

Our call to Seth Williams is that he honor DA Lynn Abraham’s 1995 promise to the city of Philadelphia that she would discard any cases where evidence surfaces that even one of the officers involved in an investigation lied in court or in written reports.

The D.A. may think that the case can be laid to rest by sending Mumia off to life in prison. But an aroused public, with the Supreme Court ruling the death sentence to be unconstitutional, is ready to challenge anew the entire trial.

The same judge, jury, and DA that were involved in the unlawful sentencing process committed equally egregious violations in the conviction. This is not an ending, it is a new beginning for the movement supporting Abu-Jamal’s quest for release.

From GLW issue 906

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  • 10 months later...

Mumia killed a cop.

And if he didn't, his brother did, and he took the rap.

Somebody killed the cop and he was convicted of it.

MOVE was a fake revolutionary group. They were all on welfare, on the dole, collecting unemployment, squating in a crack house and living on Big Macs. Ask anybody from Philadelphia who was there at the time, and they'll tell you the same. They weren't a threat to take over the government of Philadelphia, that's for sure. They didn't have to bomb them from a helicopter, all they had to do was shut off their supply of Big Macs.

John Judge and others tell me Mumia's a political prisoner.

I say he's a cop killer, just like Joanne Chesmard, who killed NJ State Trooper.

They say Oswald killed a cop, but I don't think so. I think it was a frameup and

he took the rap.


I agree the evidence against him is overwhelming. I don't agree with the death penalty but let him rot behind bars

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  • 1 year later...

Pennsylvania legislature tries to stop Mumia Abu-Jamal from speaking

By Betsey Piette on October 11, 2014

Mumia Abu-Jamal

More often than not college commencement speakers are corporate CEOs, bankers or politicians — the people who will exercise control over students’ futures by exploiting their labor, piling mountains of student loan debt on them or starting endless wars that threaten the very futures of them and their families.

On Oct. 5, graduates of Goddard College Undergraduate Programs in Plainfield, Vt., had the rare opportunity to be addressed by a speaker of their choosing whose message was incredibly important and meaningful and with whom they could identify: Mumia Abu-Jamal, a student at the college in the late 1970s and an alumnus (Bachelor of Arts, 1996).

That Abu-Jamal is currently incarcerated in Pennsylvania’s SCI Mahanoy prison, having been unjustly convicted and serving a life sentence for the murder of a Philadelphia policeman was not a problem for the Goddard graduates. Faculty member Dr. Herukhuti [H. Sharif Williams], co-chair of the Undergraduate Programs Institutional Review Board, explained that the majority of Goddard students are middle-aged, working adults who persevered to overcome significant obstacles to their lifelong learning and returned to college. He noted that Abu-Jamal, “a member of the millions of people incarcerated in the U.S.,” completed his degree while sitting on death row and “represents something incredibly important in the context of our commencement ceremony.”

Mumia ‘raises provocative questions’ for students

“He knows what it means to obtain a degree in the face of overwhelmingly challenging circumstances. He knows what it means to raise troubling and provocative questions that lead one to compelling answers.”

Herukhuti went on to say, “The fact that Mumia is a polarizing figure does not make our choice of him as a commencement speaker problematic. The fact that we still live in a society in which we cannot engage in thoughtful discussion about what makes him polarizing without people resorting to death threats, hyperbole, smear campaigns and naked opportunism is what is problematic.”

This was not Abu-Jamal’s first college commencement speech. In 1999, he addressed graduates of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., and served as commencement speaker at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 2000 despite being held in solitary confinement on death row at the time. Abu-Jamal was also made an honorary citizen of Paris and Saint-Denis, France, named a street after him.

However, Goddard’s decision to hear Abu-Jamal was quickly denounced by politicians and members of the Fraternal Order of Police, who condemned the students’ choice and held a protest in Philadelphia while the graduation was in process. Nevertheless, the 20 Goddard graduates and their families and faculty stood their ground and were able to hear Abu-Jamal’s prerecorded video address, the full text of which is available on prisonradio.org.

Pennsylvania Corrections Secretary John Wetzel acknowledged that prisoners have a constitutional right to phone access and admitted that the state could not prohibit it from happening. However, on Oct. 6, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, along with other right-wing politicians, district attorneys and members of the FOP gathered in Harrisburg, the state capital, to introduce legislation designed to silence Abu-Jamal and other prisoners.

Their “victims’ rights bill” would give judges the power to grant “injunctive relief” to “prevent those convicted of violent crimes from causing their victims ‘mental anguish.’” Simply put, the proposed legislation would allow individuals who object to what is being said to initiate a gag order against individual prisoners.

Bill would restrict free speech

Andrew Hoover, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, responded that the bill could restrict free speech rights of all felons, even after release. Hoover noted, “The legislature doesn’t have the power to punish speech it doesn’t like.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 7)

Abu-Jamal is an internationally celebrated, award-winning Black writer and radio journalist who has written eight books and hundreds of columns and articles while imprisoned. He is a former member of the Black Panther Party and one-time president of the Black Journalists’ Association.

Prior to his incarceration, Abu-Jamal’s writings and commentaries challenged Philadelphia’s attacks on the MOVE organization and exposed the racism, brutality and corruption of the Philadelphia Police Department. He is credited with helping to lay the foundation for Philadelphia being one of the two cities whose police departments were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for brutality and corruption.

That Abu-Jamal was a thorn in the side of the administration of then Mayor Frank Rizzo, previously head of the Philadelphia Police Department, is seen by many as the basis for his 1981 frame-up and conviction for the murder of a white police officer, Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal maintains his innocence and millions around the world helped launch a campaign that resulted in his death sentence being overturned in 2011, after nearly 30 years on death row.

This is by no means the first attempt of the state to silence Abu-Jamal. In 1996, after the Peoples Video Network aired “The Prison Industrial Complex,” an interview with Abu-Jamal, the Pennsylvania State Prison Authority ruled that no prisoner in the state could be taped for television or radio. In 1997, Temple University, threatened with funding cuts by then Gov. Tom Ridge, canceled all Pacifica Radio programming on its radio station, WRTI, because Pacifica’s Democracy Now program planned to air commentaries by Abu-Jamal. In 1999, Abu-Jamal successfully challenged an attempt by the state to prohibit him from writing after he published his first book, “Live from Death Row.”

In his message to Goddard graduates, Abu-Jamal never mentioned his own case. Instead, he challenged students to question the world of the 21st century and to seek answers to a world where “massive wars can be launched by rumors and innuendo; where the material interests of corporations are superior to the interests of working people, and remember — corporations are people — so sayeth the Supreme Court; and where the ecological threats to fresh-water supplies, clean air and the environment in American cities, pulls challenges that seem beyond arcane.” His message linked Gaza, Ferguson and Iraq (again) as the issues that face students and must be addressed.

Abu-Jamal has come to be known as “the voice of the voiceless.” His case illustrates why prisons exist and who profits from them. Any attack on Mumia Abu-Jamal is an attack on all prisoners of this rotten system, whether confined behind prison walls or living in “general population” outside.

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  • 6 months later...

As Mumia’s condition worsens, demand his release to a hospital!

By Betsey Piette posted on April 28, 2015


Mumia Abu-Jamal on April 24, 2015.

Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s health crisis is grave, and people everywhere are being asked to take immediate action to demand that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections stop their attempt to murder him through medical neglect. Key demands are that he immediately be released to a hospital for emergency care and that he be given compassionate release to be with his family.

On April 24, Abu-Jamal was visited by his spouse, Wadiya Jamal, who reported that his condition had worsened. She saw him again on April 25 and raised the alarm that he appeared even more gravely ill.

On March 30, Abu-Jamal was taken from the prison infirmary at SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, Pa., to a nearby hospital emergency room in Pottsville, Pa., in diabetic shock from a blood sugar level of 779. Since his return to the prison infirmary on April 2, he continues to suffer from a diabetic condition that has not been properly treated and complications from severe eczema that have been mistreated.

There is an additional concern that the infirmary is giving him the drug cyclosporine for his skin condition even though this drug has many known and serious side effects and may interact with diabetes medication.

On April 21, Abu-Jamal was released from the prison infirmary even though he was in no condition to be in general population. His request to be seen by independent medical specialists was denied by the PA Department of Corrections. He remains in need of 24-hour care and supervision, too weak to be able to ask for help and at risk of losing consciousness.

This is what happened before when he was rushed to the hospital in March. At that time, another prisoner, Major George Tillery, complained to the guards that Mumia needed immediate medical attention. In retaliation, the prison moved Tillery to another unit.

Wadiya Jamal reported that Mumia has severe swelling in his neck, chest and legs. His skin rash is worse than ever with open sores. No longer in a wheelchair, he can only take baby steps. He was nodding off during the visits with his spouse and unable to feed himself. These are symptoms that could be associated with hyper glucose levels, diabetic shock, diabetic coma, and with kidney stress and failure.

Everyone is urged to call the prison, officials with the Department of Corrections and Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolf, who in February put a moratorium on the death penalty. Abu-Jamal’s prison number is AM 8335. The situation is urgent.

Demand that prison officials call Mumia’s spouse and his lawyer Bret Grote to discuss his condition.

Demand that Abu-Jamal be seen by a competent doctor immediately and that he be taken to a hospital with emergency doctors capable of providing proper treatment.

You are further urged to call local news sources in your area that would report on this crisis and to share this concern with your contact lists and via any social media you use.

On Twitter use the hashtag #MumiaMustLive.

Every call matters. Every action matters. Speak out now before it’s too late! Call and send messages to:

1) John Wetzel, Secretary of the Department of Corrections

Email: ra-crpadocsecretary@pa.gov

Phone: 717-728-4109 • Fax: 717-728-4178

Mail: 1920 Technology Pkwy., Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

2) John Kerestes, Superintendent SCI Mahanoy

Phone: 570-773-2158 x8102 • Fax: 570-783-2008

Mail: 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932

3) Tom Wolf, Pa. Governor

Phone: 717-787-2500

Email: governor@PA.gov

Mail: 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120

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