Partisan Defense Committee Statement
25 August 2006
Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!
Mumia Abu-Jamal Is an Innocent Man—Free Him Now!
The fight to free Mumia Abu-Jamal has reached a crucial juncture. A former Black Panther Party spokesman, a MOVE supporter and award-winning journalist known as the voice of the voiceless, Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed up on false charges of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner on 9 December 1981. In December, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals put Mumias case on a fast track for decision. A ruling by this court—the last stage before the U.S. Supreme Court—on Mumias fight against the racist frame-up and sentence of death could come by the end of this year. The Partisan Defense Committee is calling rallies in New York, Chicago, Oakland and Los Angeles to demand: Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man! Free him now! Abolish the racist death penalty!
The threatened execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal is a warning to all who challenge vicious cop repression in the ghettos and barrios, to workers who stand up for their rights on picket lines, to those who protest the ravages of U.S. imperialism and its allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and around the world. Millions in the unions, on the streets and campuses must be mobilized now behind Mumias fight! A successful mobilization that wins Mumias freedom would strike a blow as well against the all-sided attacks on democratic rights carried out in the name of the war on terror.
Over five years ago, Arnold Beverly confessed that he, not Mumia, killed Officer Faulkner. Beverly stated he was hired to kill Faulkner, whose interference with prostitution, gambling and payoffs made him a problem for the mob and corrupt cops. But the courts have refused to consider the Beverly evidence because it demonstrates that the injustice done to Mumia was not the work of one rogue cop, prosecutor or judge, but the workings of a justice system whose purpose is to repress the working class, minorities and the poor on behalf of the capitalist class. The fight to free Mumia must be waged on the basis that he is an innocent man, the victim of a political and racist frame-up.
Time is running short. With the execution of Tookie Williams last December, the bloody rulers sent a signal that they want Mumia next. The forces of law and order represented by both the Democratic and Republican parties are united in their determination to strap this innocent man onto an execution gurney. They see in Mumia the spectre of black revolution, a voice of defiant opposition to the oppression of black people that is a cornerstone of American capitalism. The frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal has come to symbolize what the racist death penalty in the U.S. is all about. A legacy of chattel slavery, capital punishment is the lynch rope made legal. We oppose the death penalty on principle—we do not accord the state the right to say who lives and who dies.
Like Dred Scott in 1857, Mumia has no rights that a court is bound to respect. At the time of Mumias trial, the judge who would send him to death row, Albert Sabo, was overheard by a court stenographer saying, Im going to help them fry the n----r. The three issues the appeals court allowed Mumia to raise—exclusion of black people from the jury, Sabos overt prejudice during the post-conviction hearings, and the prosecutors outrageous closing argument that the jury, if undecided, should convict Mumia because he would have appeal after appeal—point to the racist and political bias that saturated his trial and appeals.
Had Mumia not been a Black Panther spokesman in his youth and remained loyal to the cause of the oppressed, had he remained silent while the cops gunned down ghetto and barrio youth and U.S. troops marauded around the world, had he said not a word about his imprisoned and exiled brothers and sisters, he would not today be in the shadow of death. Mumia continues to write powerfully from Pennsylvanias death row in commentaries such as The Forgotten Ones: (Katrina), The United States of Torture and Ongoing War Against Workers: The TWU Strike.
Worldwide protests, crucially involving trade unions, won a stay of execution for Mumia in August 1995. Millions rallied to Mumias cause out of revulsion with the injustices inherent in capitalism—poverty, racial and ethnic bias and war. They identified with Mumias fight against the system and for justice for all of humanity. But they were demobilized by a host of reformist and liberal organizations that appeal to bourgeois forces who see in Mumias case an isolated miscarriage of justice that could be rectified with a new trial. This meant rejecting the very reasons Mumias case won such broad international support.
That worldwide movement must be revived and infused with a new strength and militancy built on the understanding that there is no justice in the capitalist courts. The PDC, a class-struggle legal and social defense organization associated with the Marxist Spartacist League, fights to mobilize the social power of the multiracial labor movement—those who create the wealth of this society and who can shut it down.
The only pressure that will impact on the rulers and their courts is fear of the consequences of executing Mumia or entombing him for life. We are building these rallies as a crucial step toward the labor-centered mass united-front mobilizations that can bring that pressure to bear. Our rallies will send the court a message: we will not let Mumia die or rot another day in prison. These PDC rallies bring together, in defense of Mumia, speakers and organizations across a spectrum of political beliefs raising their own views. Within that framework, we seek to win activists to the understanding that Mumias defense must be based on a class-struggle perspective—organizing independently of the racist capitalist state that has framed him up.
We must mobilize to make Mumias fight once again a rallying cry against racist legal lynching, against black oppression, against government repression. Free Mumia! Abolish the racist death penalty!