Despite cold weather and snow, community activists, supporters and family members gathered in Philadelphia on Dec. 9 to demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. United in solidarity, people had traveled from different regions and even from Germany to march and demand Mumia’s freedom. They gathered at the Municipal Service Building in front of the statue of the Frank L. Rizzo in solidarity with the movement to tear down the statue of this racist former mayor. People then marched around City Hall and through the streets chanting, “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we’re going to free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Mumia Abu-Jamal has endured almost 36 years of incarceration and 30 years on death row. He is a renowned political prisoner, former Black Panther, and journalist. His writings and radio broadcasts have been a gift from prison to the fight for justice and an inspiration to many around the world. His last book is entitled, “Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?”
Mumia recently filed a new legal challenge to his conviction based on a recent Supreme Court decision. The goal is a new appeal and a new trial, and to have the wrongful charges against him dismissed.
The 2016 Williams v. Pennsylvania decision has opened up new possibilities for the movement to win Mumia’s freedom on the basis of a conflict of interest on the part of a key judge who heard Mumia’s case.
To prove this conflict of interest, activists have demanded that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office release all files relevant to Mumia’s case and have remained vigilant to prevent the destruction or concealment of any records.
Many world leaders have expressed concern over these human rights violations and have demanded Mumia’s release.
Medical issues in this case
Mumia suffers from Hepatitis C, which is relatively common among people of his age group, with about one in 30 “baby boomers” carrying the virus. While this disease is now easily treatable, the most advanced medications are also very costly. Lack of treatment in jail brought him to a brink of death. It also left his with another life-threatening condition, cirrhosis of the liver. Demonstrators pointed out that these severe medical conditions are the consequences of injustice and violations of Mumia’s human rights.
The march was follow by a forum on mass incarceration at the Arch Street United Methodist Church. Speakers there included Ramona Africa, a former Political Prisoner, civil rights attorney Michael Coard, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill, Akeem Browder, whose brother committed suicide in jail after being unable to afford bail, and performers Kirwyn Sutherland and Bethlehem.
Most moving of all was a direct phone call to the meeting from Mumia Abu-Jamal.
With humbleness gratitude, he told the crowd “I love you all.” He added “I know that the love of all of you will not keep me here. You all know there’s a lot more work to do!”
The long and involved case of Mumia Abu-Jamal shows how manipulative and racist the so-called criminal “justice” system can be. Let’s fight it by uniting to demand freedom for Mumia and all political prisoners.