Honoring Dr. King through Struggle

by Minnie Bruce Pratt

January 17th, 2000—Martin Luther King Day

Dear Friends:

Yesterday, as I attended a video screening at my local library, I once again heard Dr. King’s eloquent and righteous appeal for struggle against racism and for human dignity. I was struck by how in each of these speeches he stressed that the fight against racism would never be over until police brutality was ended.

I was also struck by one columnist’s comments yesterday in the N.Y. Times magazine. The columnist noted how the more radical aspects of Dr. King’s message are often obscured in our celebration of him. On the radio this morning, for instance, an announcer encouraged listeners to "smile at everyone" today in honor of Dr. King—

But this approach does not acknowledge that what Dr. King advocated was not considered popular or pleasant in his day. He fought for an end to poverty, to racism, to the Viet Nam war and imperialism, to police brutality—

These struggles are still with us—And when we are in them in "real time" today, they are still controversial.

So, I encourage you, in honor of Dr. King’s spirit of struggle, to become active in the campaign to save Mumia Abu-Jamal’s life and win him a new trial.

This campaign embodies all that Dr. King stood for—a struggle AGAINST the pervasive racism of the so-called justice system, against the racism embedded in the death sentence in the U.S., against police brutality and misconduct---

and a struggle FOR a long-time freedom fighter Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has worked and spoken as an ally for many peoples. For instance, for a statement by Mumia on lesbian and gay issues, search for:

"From Death Row: Mumia Abu-Jamal Denounces Anti-Gay Violence" at www.workers.org

BELOW IS INFORMATION ON THE CURRENT STATUS OF MUMIA’S CASE, AND IDEAS FOR WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP HIM WIN A NEW TRIAL AND HIS FREEDOM.

For background on Mumia and his case, you can go to www.mumia2000.org. Time is crucial, as his death warrant has been signed. PLEASE ACT NOW! (And please forward this to those you feel would be interested--)

Yours in the struggle, Minnie Bruce Pratt

UPDATE ON THE STATUS OF MUMIA’S CASE

The case of Death Row Journalist Mumia Abu Jamal stands at a pivotal point in the fight against capital punishment and for justice in this country and around the world.

On Oct. 13, 1999, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed a death warrant that would have killed Abu-Jamal by lethal injection on Dec. 2. On Oct. 15 Mumia’s attorneys, including Leonard Weinglass, filed a petition for Habeas Corpus Relief (HCR) in Philadelphia’s federal court. The HCR allows prisoners to seek relief when their constitutional rights have been violated by a lower or state court.

Leonard Weinglass said of the appeal: "This case has the imprint of the heavy hand of organized police and prosecutorial misconduct. In the 600-plus paragraphs of the HCR we document factually and precisely what they have done: intimidated witnesses, forced perjuries on witnesses, produced fraudulent testimonies, and so on."

The full text of the HCR petition, which details the unfair trial that Mumia received is on the International Action Center Website at www.iacenter.org/majlegal.htm  .

In December, a stay of execution was granted, pending review of the HCR. Now this case is at its most critical stage. Federal District Court Justice William Yohn is reviewing Mumia’s petition for Habeas Corpus Relief based on allegations of 29 constitutional violations. This is Mumia’s final legal avenue and will determine whether or not he is granted a new and fair trial.

It is expected that Yohn’s decision on whether to hear new evidence will be handed down sometime in March or April. If we lose at this level, it will be immeasurably harder to win in the federal appeals courts. After this stage, the appeals process is very rapid and could result in a new execution date before the end of 2000.

 

THERE ARE MANY THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP MUMIA WIN A NEW TRIAL, AND HIS FREEDOM.

We need to build the broadest movement possible in order to counter an opposition that remains powerful, dangerous, well-organized and poised to kill Mumia.

EVERYONE IS WELCOME in the movement to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Go to www.mumia2000.org for complete information. This web site contains:

 

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

FEBRUARY 18-19--The National Emergency Conference for Mumia

The Emergency National Conference to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal will be held at the Synod Hall of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

The call for the emergency conference came from organizers and activists, including Pam Africa, actor Ossie Davis, Robert Meeropol—a son of executed political prisoners Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Safiya Bukhari from the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition-New York, Al Sharpton from the National Action Network, Manning Marable from the Black Radical Congress, poet Martin Espada, Julia Wright—the daughter of author Richard Wright, Clark Kissinger from Refuse & Resist, and Monica Moorehead from Millions for Mumia and the International Action Center.

TO FIND OUT HOW YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION CAN LINK TO THIS STRUGGLE, CONTACT www.mumia.org.

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 23--Annual national student/youth day for Mumia

FEBRUARY 28--Civil Disobedience action in Washington and San Francisco

There will be a massive civil disobedience (CD) to free Mumia and end the death penalty on February 28 at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. This is being organized by the same people who conducted the highly successful CD at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia July 3, 1999.

Organizing materials including a flyer about the CD, a flyer about the overall Free Mumia campaign, a sign-up sheet, and a formatted copy of a letter seeking organizational endorsements can be emailed to you as attached files (in PDF).

TO RECEIVE ORGANIZING MATERIAL ON THIS CD AND TO SIGN UP TO

PARTICIPATE CONTACT: mumiacd@hotmail.com

 

FEBRUARY-MARCH—"Educators for Mumia" ad will appear in the New York

Times

"Educators for Mumia" are collecting names and donations for a full-page ad in the New York Times. The initial appeal came from Toni Morrison, Cornel West, Angela Davis, Leslie Marmon Silko, Rudolfo Anaya, Marty Hittelman, Jonathan Kozol, Frances Fox Piven and Noam Chomsky.

 

APRIL 1-8--Mumia Awareness Week, tied to anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination

APRIL—Publication of Mumia’s new book "All Things Censored"

In November, 1999, nearly 30 poets and writers participated an evening literary jubilee for Mumia, moderated by S. E. Anderson and Susan Elizabeth Davis, co-coordinators of "Writers for Mumia." Participants included activist-poets Jayne Cortez, Veronica Golos, Rosemari Mealy, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Susan Sherman, Gloria Steinem and Sekou Sundiata. The new generation of activist-poets was represented by Stephanie Agosto, Samiya Bashir, Lashambi Britton, Suheir Hammad, Tony Medina and Sandra Garcia Rivera. Barbara Smith read excerpts from her recent book, "The Truth That Never Hurts," that linked the struggles against racism, sexism and homophobia. Award-winning performance artist Vinnie Burrows read excerpts from a recent editorial written by Angela Davis, June Jordan and Alice Walker in The Nation.

TO BE A "WRITER FOR MUMIA," CONTACT SUSAN E. DAVIS AT: sedav@erols.com

 

APRIL 29--Rally for Mumia in New York; details to be announced soon

APRIL 29--Rosenberg Fund for Children program in Berkeley; Mumia component

MAY 6-- Western Regional Mass Mobilization for Mumia in San Francisco

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HOW YOU CAN HELP ON THESE APRIL MOBILIZATIONS, YOU CAN CALL OR E-MAIL ORGANIZERS:

New York at (212) 633-6646
San Francisco at (415) 821-6545
Philadelphia at (215) 476-8812
nationwide local organizing contacts through:

npcny@peoplescampaign.org www.mumia.org and www.peoplescampaign.org.

 

OUR MOVEMENT FOR MUMIA HAS ACHIEVED MUCH OVER THE LAST YEAR (1999):

The Oakland teach-ins, the Rage Against the Machine concerts, the N.Y. Town Hall Rally, the West Coast Longshoremen’s work stoppage, the April 24 mobilizations, the Evergreen State College commencement address, 95 arrested in civil disobedience at the Liberty Bell, Mumia 911, and Mumia Awareness Week have set Mumia’s case before millions.

On Oct. 15--two days after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed a death warrant for Abu-Jamal—an indoor rally in Paris significantly broadened support for Mumia. Close to 10,000 unionists and activists from 30 countries assembled in the Sports Palace.

On Nov. 26, the Portuguese Parliament unanimously approved a resolution demanding that the U.S. government overturn the conviction against Abu-Jamal and approve a new trial.

In October and November, demonstrations were held in Toronto, Canada;

Oslo, Norway; and Frankfurt, Germany, where at the International Book Fair German supporters of Abu-Jamal organized a petition for publishers and authors to sign. Signers included Nobel Prize-winner Gunther Grass.

In December, activists in Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and Italy demonstrated for Mumia. In Italy, actions in support of Abu-Jamal took place in Firenze, Cesena, Rome, Bologna, Ravenna, La Spezia, Pisa, Fano, Perugia, Catania and other cities.

FOR A LIST OF U.S. DEMONSTRATIONS DURING FALL 99, SEARCH www.workers.org under "Confrontations" by Leslie Feinberg. Also see the International Action Center Website at www.iacenter.org/imumia.htm

For more information about how you can help, contact organizers:

in New York at (212) 633-6646;
in San Francisco at (415) 821-6545;
in Philadelphia at (215) 476-8812;
or email npcny@peoplescampaign.org.
On the Web, visit www.mumia.org and www.peoplescampaign.org.

 

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