5 April 2013

Mumia Abu-Jamal Attorneys Challenge Resentencing Process

On February 25, attorneys for class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed an appeal challenging the secretive court order that sentenced him to life without parole last August. The sentence was mandated by Pennsylvania statute following Mumia’s removal from death row in December 2011, after the Philadelphia district attorney’s office ended its campaign to legally lynch him (see “Drive to Execute Mumia Halted,” WV No. 993, 6 January 2012). Mumia’s legal papers note that while the outcome of a hearing may have been preordained, the deprivation of his basic due process rights jeopardizes future legal efforts to fight for his freedom.

Seeking a new sentencing hearing, the brief details how the court violated both Pennsylvania law and due process rights by imposing sentence without notice to Mumia or his counsel, preventing Mumia from being present and offering information and argument. The brief further notes, “In fact, there is no record that the sentencing took place in open court at all.”

The secret resentencing of Mumia had more in common with the conclave of the College of Cardinals to anoint the new pope than the due process that purports to be the underpinning of American “justice.” Barring Mumia recalled his eviction from most of the 1982 trial in which he was sentenced to death by a judge who was overheard promising, “I’m going to help them fry the n----r.” Once again the courts have demonstrated that from the day he was falsely charged with the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, this lifelong fighter for black freedom has no rights the capitalist rulers are bound to respect.

Mumia was targeted by the racist cops from the age of 15, when he donned the beret of the Black Panther Party. The murderous fury of the police was reinforced when he became a renowned journalist known as the “voice of the voiceless” and, in the late 1970s, a supporter of the demonized and brutalized Philadelphia MOVE commune. Mumia’s innocence of Faulkner’s murder is a fact as demonstrable as the earth is round. But court after court has refused to even consider the mass of evidence proving this.

Mumia’s conviction was based on lying testimony extorted by the cops, a “confession” manufactured by the police and prosecutors and phony ballistics “evidence.” In 2001, Mumia’s attorneys presented in state and federal courts the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he and another man were hired for the job because Faulkner “was a problem for the mob and corrupt policemen because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity,” such as prostitution, gambling and drugs (see the September 2001 Partisan Defense Committee pamphlet, Mumia Abu-Jamal Is an Innocent Man!). At the time, the Philadelphia police were under three corruption investigations by the Feds, encompassing virtually the entire chain of command that oversaw the “investigation” of Faulkner’s death.

Mumia may no longer live in the shadow of the executioner, instead condemned to what he describes as the “‘slow’ Death Row” of life in prison. From the 1887 execution of four anarchist labor organizers known as the Haymarket martyrs, the gallows and dungeons are the capitalist rulers’ reward for fighters for the exploited and oppressed. Today such prisoners include American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier, eight MOVE members and Jaan Laaman and Thomas Manning of the Ohio 7. The PDC, a class-struggle legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League, urges union militants, black activists and radical youth to take up the cause of freedom for Mumia and all the class-war prisoners.

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Contributions for Mumia’s legal defense can be made out to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation, earmarked for “Mumia,” and mailed to: Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal, 132 Nassau Street, Room 922, New York, NY 10038. To correspond with Mumia, write to: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335 SCI Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1021, 5 April 2013)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.