Nov 27, 2006
The municipality of Philadelphia has demanded an “apology for a crime” from the cities of Paris and Saint-Denis, France. Their crime? They have both honored the black prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, unjustly condemned to death in Philadelphia in 1982, still waiting to be retried.
Philadelphia officials say it is “abnormal to honor a condemned person.” In fact, they are desperately trying to maintain Mumia’s conviction – exactly at the point that growing international support for Mumia may force the judicial system to grant him a new trial where evidence of his innocence can finally be heard.
Philadelphia’s actions are an attempt to stifle his supporters or harass other cities whose authorities intend to denounce the barbarism of the death penalty, never abolished throughout the United States.
Paris has made Mumia Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen, while Saint-Denis named a street after him. These cities are not alone. Twenty other French cities have also named him an honorary citizen, as well as the cities of Montreal, Venice ... and San Francisco!
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former militant of the Black Panthers and a militant journalist, accused by the American judicial system of having killed a police officer in 1981 – a crime that he has always insisted he did not commit. For 25 years, a mass of evidence has been found, supporting his innocence. In 1990, the main witness against him was proved to have been in a place where he could not have seen the crime. He admitted that his false testimony had been coerced under threats by the police. Other witnesses confirmed that Mumia was not at the scene of the crime. Finally, in 1999, a mafia contract killer confessed to the murder. Since 1995, the FBI has known that Philadelphia police were implicated in rackets and corruption tying them to the Mafia. And the cop who was killed was said to have exposed these links.
Until now, the American judicial system has refused to accept the many appeals on Mumia’s behalf. Those denials have nourished the protest movement supporting Mumia.
On November 29, a delegation from the city and the police of Philadelphia will appear before the city government of Paris. This will be another opportunity for the defenders of Mumia to confront Philadelphia officials, demanding freedom for an innocent prisoner. Mumia was a victim like other black militants during the years between 1950 and the 1970s – killed or imprisoned by U.S. authorities for challenging their racist system.