12 July 2013

Protest Prison Harassment of Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, renowned journalist and supporter of the Philadelphia MOVE organization, is America’s foremost class-war prisoner. Mumia was railroaded to death row in 1982 on false charges of killing a police officer. In December 2011, the death sentence was removed, but Mumia still remains sentenced to life in prison without parole. The following is a July 6 letter from the Partisan Defense Committee to John E. Wetzel of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

We write to protest recent administrative measures taken against political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Prison officials suspended Mr. Jamal’s access to telephone communication for two weeks as punishment for a phone interview with Philadelphia attorney Michael Coard, on his WURD program, “Radio Courtroom.”

In 1998, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that Mr. Abu-Jamal had a First Amendment right to make radio commentaries as well as written ones. The court enjoined attempts by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to interfere with or otherwise punish Mr. Abu-Jamal for exercise of this right, one it held protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, see Abu-Jamal v. Price 154 F3d 122 (3rd Circ. 1998). The court also ruled that the punitive actions in violation of his free speech rights caused Mr. Abu-Jamal irreparable harm.

We also protest the refusal of prison officials to permit contact visitation between Mr. Abu-Jamal and his son Jamal Hart. Mr. Abu-Jamal spent almost 30 years in the isolation of death row based on a sentence that in late 2011 was finally adjudged illegal. The Department’s current actions violate not only his First Amendment rights to speech, but in isolating him from his family recall the illegal deprivations he suffered on death row for three decades.

We urge you to reinstate Mr. Abu-Jamal’s telephone access, desist from any further interference with his free speech rights, and permit contact visitation with his son.

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1027, 12 July 2013)

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