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Mumia Abu-Jamal Faces US Supreme Court

Hans Bennett | 4/12/2011, 4:35 p.m.

On Friday, December 19, 2008, death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal filed his appeal to the US Supreme Court, asking it to consider his case for a new guilt-phase trial. One month before, the Philadelphia District Attorney filed its separate appeal to the US Supreme Court asking to have Abu-Jamal executed without a new sentencing-phase trial.

At this critical stage in Abu-Jamal's case, supporters organized a week of global solidarity actions that began on December 6, the day of the large protest in Philadelphia, almost 27 years after Abu-Jamal was arrested for the December 9, 1981 shooting death of white police officer Daniel Faulkner, and later convicted in a 1982 trial that Amnesty International has declared a "violation of minimum international standards that govern fair trial procedures and the use of the death penalty".

There were solidarity actions inside the US and around the world, including Mexico, Venezuela, Germany, France, England, Switzerland. Several US events screened the20new DVD video titled Fighting for Mumia's Freedom: a report from Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, over 200 protesters gathered outside the District Attorney's office across the street from City Hall. Journalists for Mumia's new video report from the demonstration features an interview with persecuted Civil Rights Lawyer Lynne Stewart, and footage of Pam Africa speaking outside the DA's office about the newly discovered crime scene photos taken by press photographer Pedro Polakoff, and the DA's role in hiding them from the defense. The coordinator of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Pam Africa cited Polakoff's statements today that he approached the DA's office with the photos in 1981/82 and 1995, but was completely ignored by them. Subsequently, Polakoff's photos were never seen by the 1982 jury, or by the defense. Africa presented the evidence to Philadelphia PD Civil Affairs Captain William Fisher to deliver to DA Lynne Abraham.

Protesters marched from the DA's office to the Federal Court Building where Abu-Jamal had oral arguments on May 17, 2007. The march stopped at the 13th and Locust crime scene where Journalists for Mumia gave a presentation focusing on the photo by Polakoff that shows a blank space where key prosecution witness Robert Chobert testified to being parked in his taxi as he allegedly observed Abu-Jamal shoot Faulkner. An online video of the presentation is available alongside the special presentation flyer.

That week, Journalists for Mumia was featured by Philadelphia's independent news website GeoClan.com. I argued in the interview that "those advocating Mumia's execution show a disturbing lack of concern about the undeniable problems of racism (and all documented police/DA/judicial misconduct) throughout. At the most fundamental level, the 'Fry Mumia' campaign's lack of concern is racist... The FOP is appealing to a racist lynch mob mentality that has long infected the US, so calling this a 'legal lynching' is no exaggeration."

In Mexico City, Mexico, supporters organized a week of actions, including a protest rally outside the US Embassy. Linking Mumia's case to repression and political prisoners in Mexico, speakers at the US Embassy included ex-Atenco prisoners Edith Rosales and Cesar del Valle, as well as a guitar performance by Atenco survivor Jorge Salinas, whose arms were temporarily paralyzed and hands fractured when he was almost killed by police at Atenco. Survivors Mariana, Edith y Norma who courageously told their story of being raped at Atenco. Solidarity statements were read from Mexican political prisoners Gloria Arenas Agis and her husband Jacobo Silva Nogales, and from the Atenco political prisoners in the Molino de Flores prison at Texcoco, Mexico.