The Internationalist  
  December 2011  

Redouble the Fight to Free Mumia Now!

Death Sentence Dropped Against Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal (Photo: © Lou Jones)

Mobilize Workers’ Power to Smash the Racist Death Penalty!

DECEMBER 8 – The Philadelphia district attorney yesterday announced that he was giving up on the decades-long crusade by the state to carry out a death sentence against Mumia Abu-Jamal. The D.A. threw in the towel on the eve of the anniversary of the jailing and near-fatal police shooting of the renowned black radical journalist, which took place 30 years ago tomorrow. But the racist rulers are still dead-set on silencing this courageous defender of the oppressed who became known as the “voice of the voiceless.”

Appeals courts had ruled that the judge’s misleading instructions to the jury in the 1982 trial stacked the deck in favor of execution. Even so, Philly prosecutor Seth Williams expressed confidence that he could get another death sentence from a legal system that is rigged in favor of the police and against those they oppress. But he abandoned the effort fearing that it “would only mean decades more of appeals,” and particularly “a new public forum for the former Black Panther,” today’s Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Instead, Mumia is sentenced to life without parole.

Millions around the world have come out in support of Mumia, who has become the symbol of the struggle against the racist death penalty in the U.S. The determined international protest certainly played a key role in saving him from the state executioner. But while the legal lynchers were set back, we cannot proclaim victory until Jamal walks free. He is an innocent man, framed by the cops. He was convicted and condemned to die by a racist injustice system for the “crime” of being a black revolutionary. We must redouble our efforts to free Mumia now!

Nor is Mumia free of the threat of death. Every day that he is in jail, his life is in danger. Maureen Faulkner, the wife of policeman Daniel Faulker whom Mumia was falsely accused of shooting, said she was “heartened by the thought that he will finally be taken from the protected cloister he has been living in all these years and begin living among his own kind — the thugs and common criminals that infest our prisons.” This is a barely disguised call for Jamal to be murdered in prison, whether by some snitch or by guards who would then blame inmates.

On stage as the D.A. announced he would not pursue a new death sentence for Mumia, Faulkner launched into a tirade against lily livered federal judges who supposedly secretly oppose the death penalty. Faulkner has been shepherded by right-wingers like Philly radio ranter Michael Smerconish, but those pushing for the state to murder Jamal included the likes of liberal Democrat Ed Rendell, who as Philly district attorney oversaw the prosecution of Mumia, and as Pennsylvania governor vowed to sign a death warrant ordering his execution.

Over the years, many groups defending Mumia have called for a “new trial”. In doing so, they undercut the struggle for Jamal’s freedom by pitching their appeals to liberals who flinch at asserting Mumia’s innocence. They focus instead on the egregious violations of judicial conduct and procedures in the 1982 trial and 1995 appeal, both before the notorious “hanging judge,” Albert Sabo, who sentenced more people to death than any sitting judge in the U.S. Sabo, a lifetime member of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he would help prosecutors “fry the n----r.”

That appeal reflected and fed into illusions that Mumia’s conviction and death sentence was an “aberration,” and that a “fair trial” is possible in the U.S. today. More recently, the same liberals and reformist self-proclaimed socialists called on Barack Obama’s top cop, Attorney General Eric Holder, to launch a civil rights investigation of the case. Again, this expresses and fosters illusions in this bourgeois politician, simply because he is black. When queried about Mumia’s case, Obama said he was in favor of the death penalty for convicted “cop killers.” 

The fact is that the kind of judicial frame-up dealt to Mumia Abu-Jamal is routinely carried out against blacks, Latinos, Asians, immigrants and others. The death penalty is a legacy of the chattel slavery on which the U.S. was founded, and of the Jim Crow segregation that followed. This system of racial oppression is continued today by cops and courts that routinely criminalize black youth. Thousands sit on death row while tens of thousands of immigrants are jailed in concentration camps, hundreds of thousands are deported every year and millions are held in prisons that locks up a far higher percentage of the population than anywhere else on the planet.

The fundamental fact is, there is no justice for the oppressed in the racist, capitalist courts.

The Trotskyists of the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International have fought for the last quarter century for freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. We first learned of his case following the Philadelphia police bombing of the radical MOVE commune on Mothers’ Day 1985, which killed eleven people (including five children) and destroyed an entire black neighborhood of 62 homes. That bombing was authorized by black Democratic mayor Wilson Goode presiding over a racist police force just as Democrat Michael Nutter does today.

"Freedom for Mumia – Down with the Racist Death Penalty!" Banner of the SEPE teachers union in Rio de Janeiro, April 2008. (Photo: Vanguarda Operária)

Rather than looking to the capitalist state, which is a machine for the suppression of working people and the oppressed, we in the IG and LFI have called to mobilize the power of the working class to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. For us, these are not empty words, as our comrades in the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil in April 1999 sparked the first ever strike action for Mumia’s freedom, by teachers in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro. This was done in close conjunction with dock workers in the U.S. who the next day shut down every port on the West Coast declaring, “An injury to one is an injury to all, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!”

We also point out that Mumia has been victimized not only by Republicans, such as the racist police chief and later mayor Frank Rizzo, but also by Democratic district attorneys, mayors and Pennsylvania governors. Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama avidly courted the Fraternal Order of Police, which has made a crusade of trying to kill Jamal. And if the racist rulers finally gave up on the death penalty for Mumia, they just executed another innocent black man, Troy Davis.

Following the state murder of Troy Davis, hundreds of angry young people marched from Union Square in New York City to the site of Occupy Wall Street, facing police attack all the way. IG supporters carried signs including “Troy Davis, Legal Lynching – Smash the Racist Death Penalty!” and “Workers Revolution Will Avenge Troy Davis.” Today the fight for Mumia’s freedom is an integral part of the struggle for a revolutionary workers party to break with the Democratic and Republican capitalist parties of death.

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com