On the afternoon of Friday, Aprill 22, supporters of Black journalist and death-row political prisoner Mumia
Abu-Jamal, gathered outside of City Hall and DA Abraham’s office for a “Honk for Mumia” demonstration that
greeted the numerous French delegates that had just arrived.
While a good handful of pedestrians and motorists shouted
the typically threatening and racially-charged diatribes that Mumia supporters are used to, many more motorists honked and
yelled in support of Abu-Jamal’s appeal for a new trial and eventual freedom. Furthermore, numerous pedestrians and
commuters waiting at the bus stop took literature about Mumia’s case and were actively reading it.
6pm, the French delegation arrived at the demonstration after their unsuccessful attempt to meet with Mayor John Street. Their
arrival came one week before a large U.S. delegation will be joining a ceremony in Sainte Denis, France for the naming of
a newly constructed street next to the Nelson Mandela Stadium in honor of Mumia. This street has been constructed to bring
attention to this struggle for justice and leads to Nelson Mandela stadium--the largest stadium in all of France.
protesters then marched to the Friends Center just blocks away for an evening of speakers and musical performances.
the many speakers was local Black attorney, activist, and radio personality Michael Cord. Through his summarization of the
ballistics evidence that was used to convict Abu-Jamal, he argued that Mumia was not just “legally” innocent,
but that he was “factually” innocent. Among several pieces of evidence presented, Coard cited the suspicious lack
of a powder residue test on Mumia’s hand (that fateful December, 1981 morning) to see if he had recently fired a weapon.
Coard argued that the police probably tested his hand, but when they found no trace of gunpowder residue, the results were
hidden and removed from the record.
Ramona Africa, Minister of Information for the MOVE organization, updated the
crowd on the case of the MOVE 9 (more on Ramona: www.altpr.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=7
She explained that their most recent appeal had just been turned down in March, and therefore the MOVE 9 prisoners
have decided to abandon their extensive legal arguments for freedom because they feel that it is only a waste of time and
energy to work within the system like that. Instead, they will now be referring to MOVE founder John Africa’s famous
“Judge’s Letter” speech that he made during his own trial in the early 1980s.
Ramona also explained
that in 2008, the MOVE 9 would be eligible for parole, since would have all completed 30 years of their 30-100 year sentence
resulting from the 1978 police assault on their West Philadelphia home… to read more about this, please link to: http://awol.objector.org/recentnewsandevents/move902.html
Concluding the evening was the usual fiery speech from ICFFMAJ coordinator Pam Africa who emphasized just how
important things are right now in Mumia’s case. Volunteers are needed to help with organizing, but Africa also urged
people to do whatever they can in their own community to help spread the word.
MAYOR STREET DID NOT MEET WITH FRENCH
According to Pam Africa (in an interview following the day's events), Mayor Street's office contacted the French
delegation and told them that he wanted to meet with them personally, but since he was busy he would send his assistant Mr.
Taylor to meet with them. However when the French arrived at Street's office expecting to meet Taylor, nobody was present.
Street’s unwillingness to meet with the French delegates is most likely due to events last winter. To view photos
from last year, link to: http://www.indybay.org/news/2005/02/1721239.php
Last February (2005), the French had a meeting with Taylor and were presented with miniature Liberty Bells. Despite
the fact that Street's aide did not express much support for Mumia's appeal, the Liberty Bell gift was too much for the Maureen
Faulkner/F.O.P. - led "Fry Mumia" lynch mob. For several days after the French met with Taylor, the local newspapers were
filled with editorials condemning the actions of Mayor Street's office. Many local journalists (including Michael Smerconish)
were accusing Mayor Street of being a “closeted” Mumia supporter.
In the aftermath, Maureen Faulkner (the
wife of slain Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner) publicly claimed that Street had apologized to her in a private
telephone conversation and said he believed Mumia was guilty and had been properly convicted & sentenced in 1982. This
controversial statement by Maureen Faulkner was never publicly affirmed by Mayor Street.
To the contrary, Sundiata
Sadiq (of the Ossining, NY chapter of the NAACP) and Pam & Ramona Africa had a meeting with Street following Faulkner's
public claim. According to these 3 Mumia supporters, Street told them during their private meeting that Faulkner was lying
about his statement. However, when the 3 urged Street to publicly state that, he did not comply and has still never publicly
Mumia’s current legal situation has been summarized very well by Philadelphia
journalists Linn Washington and Dave Lindorff on the Counterpunch magazine website. As Lindorff explained in December, 2005,
“the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has agreed to hear arguments on three claims by Pennsylvania death-row
prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal that his 1982 trial and state appeal were tainted by constitutional violations. Any one of those
three claims, if upheld by the three-judge panel, could lead to a new trial for one of America's most famous and long-standing
death row prisoners, a Philadelphia-based journalist and former Black Panther activist who was convicted of the 1981 shooting
murder of a white Philadelphia police officer. To read the rest of the article, please link to: http://www.counterpunch.org/lindorff12072005.html
In another Counterpunch article, Temple University professor Linn Washington documented the Philadelphia media’s
reluctance to report on this development: http://www.counterpunch.org/washington12102005.html
Hans Bennett is a Philadelphia-based photo- journalist that has been documenting the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal
in Philadelphia for over 4 years. He can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To read Bennett’s interview with Abu-Jamal, please link to: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=30&ItemID=4422
An archive of Bennett’s photographs documenting the movement for Mumia can be found on the www.phillyimc.org
website by “searching” under his full name.