10 December 2011

Drive to Execute Mumia Halted

Mumia is Innocent—Free Him Now!

On December 7, the Philadelphia District Attorney announced that he will not seek another death sentence for Mumia Abu-Jamal, America’s foremost class-war prisoner. The announcement by D.A. Seth Williams comes in the wake of the October 11 U.S. Supreme Court decision rejecting the D.A.’s petition to reinstate the death sentence that was overturned in 2001. This means Mumia, framed up for the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981, will be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. While it is welcome that Mumia will no longer be under the threat of state execution, it is an abomination that this innocent man, who has already spent 30 years entombed, is condemned to a living death in prison!

The government’s drive to execute Mumia has run aground, but the vendetta of the prosecution, cops and capitalist politicians, both Democratic and Republican, against Mumia continues. There is a mountain of evidence, including Arnold Beverly’s confession that he shot and killed Faulkner, that demonstrates Mumia is an innocent man who should never have spent one day in prison. The courts have refused to consider this evidence because it exposes Mumia’s frame-up as not just some aberration of a rogue cop or a bad judge, but the result of the workings of a whole “justice” system whose real purpose is the repression of workers, minorities and the poor on behalf of the capitalist rulers (see the July 2006 Partisan Defense Committee pamphlet, The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal—Mumia Is Innocent!).

Beginning in the late 1960s, Mumia was targeted by the police and FBI as a Black Panther leader and later as a MOVE supporter and journalist renowned for his searing exposés of cop brutality and racist oppression. The prosecution railroaded Mumia to death row in 1982, building its case on the basis of phony ballistics and other manufactured “evidence,” a “confession” concocted by cops and prosecutors, massive police intimidation of witnesses and racist jury rigging. His trial was overseen by “hanging judge” Albert Sabo, who was overheard saying he would help the prosecution “fry the n----r.” To secure the death sentence, prosecutors pointed to political statements made by Mumia as a 16-year-old Panther.

In December 2001, federal judge William Yohn overturned Mumia’s death sentence as unconstitutional based on improper jury instructions while simultaneously upholding every aspect of the 1982 frame-up conviction. As for the Supreme Court, its 2009 denial of Mumia’s petition essentially put an end to his legal efforts to overturn his conviction on constitutional grounds.

During the decades of his unjust imprisonment, Mumia has remained unbowed, speaking out for the oppressed and the impoverished through his death row commentaries. Mumia’s cause has been an international focal point of the fight for abolition of the death penalty, which in the U.S. is the legacy of black chattel slavery and represents the pinnacle of state terror. When Mumia faced a death warrant in the summer of 1995, massive publicity about his case and worldwide protests that were endorsed by trade unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers played a crucial role in staying the executioner’s hand.

Now the state authorities hope with the latest decision that Mumia’s cause will be forgotten and that he will rot in prison hell until he dies. This must not be Mumia’s fate. As the Spartacist League and Partisan Defense Committee have always insisted, fighters for Mumia’s freedom must look to link his cause to the class struggles of the multiracial proletariat. Trade unionists, opponents of the racist death penalty and fighters for black rights must continue the fight to free Mumia from the racist dungeons of Pennsylvania and to abolish the racist death penalty.

Partisan Defense Committee
10 December 2011