Partisan Defense Committee Press Release

26 March 2007

Partisan Defense Committee P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013


Contact: Kevin Gilroy (212) 406-4252

Appeals Court Hearing Set for May 17

Join the Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has informed attorneys for death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal that it will hear oral argument on Mumia’s habeas corpus appeal on May 17 in Philadelphia. In a letter to supporters announcing the hearing, Mumia’s attorney Robert Bryan pointed out that Mumia “remains in great danger. If all is lost, he will be executed.” Mumia’s case has reached a critical juncture. Any decision by the Third Circuit will likely be appealed to the reactionary U.S. Supreme Court.

Both Mumia’s defense team and prosecutors are appealing decisions made in 2001 by U.S. District Court judge William Yohn, who overturned Mumia’s death sentence but upheld every aspect of his 1982 frame-up conviction. A Black Panther Party spokesman in his youth and later a MOVE supporter and renowned journalist, Mumia has been on death row for over 24 years, falsely convicted of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death specifically for political views he expressed as a Black Panther. There are mountains of evidence of Mumia’s innocence, including the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, killed Faulkner. Beverly’s confession was submitted to the courts in 2001. But to the racists in black robes, a court of law is no place for evidence of the innocence of Mumia, a fighter for the oppressed.

The Partisan Defense Committee is a class-struggle legal and social defense organization that champions cases and causes in the interests of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League. As PDC Labor Coordinator Gene Herson said, “We have long fought to mobilize fighters against racist injustice, opponents of U.S. imperialist depredations and, crucially, the labor movement, in the U.S. and internationally, to demand: Free Mumia! Abolish the racist death penalty! As Mumia faced a death warrant in 1995, an outpouring of international protest, crucially involving trade unions internationally, helped stay the executioner’s hand. But that movement was politically demobilized by liberals and reformist left organizations that for years subordinated the demand for Mumia’s freedom to the call for a new trial, peddling illusions in the ‘justice’ of the capitalist courts.”

Herson continued, “With Mumia’s case in its final legal stages, the need for mass, labor-centered protest is more urgent than ever.” PDC counsel Rachel Wolkenstein, who was on Mumia’s legal team from 1995 to 1999 and led the investigation that turned up the Beverly confession and other evidence of Mumia’s innocence, remarked, “It is good that the court is having oral argument and hearing these claims. But we cannot rely on the courts that have railroaded Mumia to give him justice. We must redouble efforts to stop the state from executing Mumia or keeping him entombed for life in prison.” Wolkenstein continued, “There is no way that Mumia can be freed short of a mobilization that recognizes the depth of the hatred the state has for him.”

Wolkenstein resigned from the legal team when Mumia’s then-lead attorney Leonard Weinglass suppressed the Beverly confession. In an affidavit printed in the PDC pamphlet The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal—Mumia Is Innocent!, Beverly states that he was hired to kill Faulkner, who was reportedly interfering with prostitution, gambling, drugs and police payoffs. The Beverly evidence demonstrates that the injustice done to Mumia was not the work of one rogue cop, prosecutor or judge but the workings of a legal system whose purpose is to repress the working class, minorities and the poor on behalf of the capitalist ruling class. As Wolkenstein stated, “the case against Mumia was a transparent fake from start to finish: faked evidence, perjured witnesses, prejudiced judges, newspaper lies and misrepresentations.”

Wolkenstein continued, “The capitalist rulers know Mumia is innocent of the killing of Officer Faulkner. And they know that from the age of 15, he has been a voice of defiant opposition to the system of racist oppression that is a cornerstone of American capitalism. That is a capital crime in their eyes. That is what they will not forgive.” The forces of racist “law and order” make no secret of their determination to push through Mumia’s legal lynching. This was seen in the decision of the Fraternal Order of Police to boycott the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Newark, New Jersey, which honored black Democratic Congressman Donald Payne. Payne was one of only 31 Congressmen to vote against a December House resolution condemning the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis for naming a street after Mumia.

The potential to mobilize mass protest on the basis that Mumia is innocent and that he is the victim of a racist and political frame-up is seen in the broad range of signatories to a PDC statement, titled “We Demand the Immediate Freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an Innocent Man,” that highlights the Beverly confession and other evidence. The statement appeared last fall in the Nation, NYC’s Amsterdam News, the Chicago Defender and the San Francisco Bay View and was subsequently printed in the French Communist Party newspaper l’Humanité, the Morning Star in Britain and other papers in Germany and Canada.

Labor organizations in Italy, Canada, Britain, Germany, Mexico, South Africa and Australia have signed the statement, as have Nobel Prize winners Nadine Gordimer of South Africa and Dario Fo of Italy and Subcomandante Marcos, leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Mexico. In the U.S., the New York chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, various Amalgamated Transit Union and International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) locals and NYC’s 1199 SEIU East have signed on. Recent additional signatories include former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, prominent black academic Cornel West, South African poet Dennis Brutus and hip-hop artist Chuck D. In a statement received today by the PDC, Darryl “Mike D.” Payne, vice president and business agent of ILA Local 1526 in Fort Lauderdale, noted that “Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man and should never have spent a single day in jail.” Payne declared, “We must all stand in SOLIDARITY and fight to free him now!”

If successful, a labor-centered fight for Mumia’s freedom would strike a blow against the U.S. rulers’ wholesale attacks on our rights and give labor a sense of its enormous potential social power. The fight for Mumia is a crucial part of the fight for black liberation, which will be achieved only through a proletarian socialist revolution that destroys the entire machinery of racist capitalist injustice. Free Mumia! Abolish the racist death penalty!

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The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization which champions cases and causes in the interest of the whole of the working people.  This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League.