The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Defend Mumia Abu-Jamal

May 7, 2001

Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is on death row, are calling for activity to protest the possibility he could be executed. The following excerpts are from a leaflet signed by 17 union officers and activists in the Detroit area concerning his situation:

"We are appealing to you to take a stand against the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, for a new trial for Mumia, and to urge all leaders, members, and organizations to do the same.

"Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former member of the Black Panther Party, a well-known speaker and writer against racist police violence, and an honorary member of UAW Local 1981, the National Writers Union (NWU). While Mumia had no prior criminal record, he was arrested for allegedly killing a policeman in Philadelphia in 1982. He has spent almost two decades on death row. Twice the governor of Pennsylvania signed a death warrant for Mumia and set a date for his execution; twice popular pressure forced a judge to issue a stay-of-execution and allow Mumia to appeal.

"The Fraternal Order of Police says Mumia confessed to killing the policeman, he's a "cop-hater," a "convicted cop-killer," and should be executed immediately. But Mumia continues to insist he is innocent, calls the alleged confession a fabrication, and many questions have been raised about this alleged confession and whether or not Mumia was allowed a fair trial. For example, Mumia was not allowed to defend himself; he was forced to accept a court-appointed attorney who did not collect evidence, interview witnesses, or prepare a defense; this attorney was later disbarred; African-Americans were excluded from the jury; Mumia himself was excluded from much of his own trial; evidence was withheld from the defense and the jury; Mumia's writings were presented as evidence he should be sentenced to death; the judge who presided over Mumia's trial has sentenced more people to death (the majority of them Black) than any other sitting judge in the U.S.; the same judge presided over Mumia's appeals...

"Labor organizations in Detroit have taken a stance against the execution and in favor of a new trial, including UAW Local 417, UAW Local 909, the Southeast Michigan Local of the National Writers Union, and Jobs with Justice."