(Editor’s note: I would like to personally thank Immortal Technique for taking the time between recording his upcoming album and constantly being an active part of this and the many struggles around the world to write this piece on Mumia Abu Jamal. Hopefully it will shed some light on a case that is getting little press in the media.)
For the past few years I have been working to support the efforts of the Free Mumia organizations that cover this country. Whether they be in NYC, Philly or on the West Coast. Recently I did a show on the 16th to raise awareness for the March and rally to support the presentation of oral arguments that will bring him either a new trial or the death penalty. This case has been mired, I dare say imbued, in corruption of the Philadelphia Police Dept. and the so called Justice Dept.
After the sheer amount of Racism, witness intimidation and ballistics evidence there is no other explanation for the detaining of Mumia in prison when he is not a danger to his community. But rather Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent his entire life defending that community. I had originally planned to be there on May 17th but due to my arrival back in NYC to return the borrowed car at 6AM and a meeting with some people who just flew into the country about funding an orphanage in Afghanistan, that was made impossible. But this doesn’t stop my heart from going out to my brother Mumia Abu-Jamal and my support from being channeled in order to make sure that we do not allow this case to just slip into the memories of Americans forever.
I would like to thank the hundreds of people who showed up (Wednesday) to put forth their support financially and spiritually for our brother. The turnout was incredible and it showed the city of Philadelphia’s solidarity with this cause.
As a journalist, his reporting shed light on so many things going on in the ghetto. It is my firm belief that his voice became so apparent as one of dissent to corporate controlled media, that when the opportunity arose it can be seen the way that government manipulated the case. In 1981 when he was charged with the murder of Daniel Faulkner, the evidence was tainted, and sometimes altogether disappeared, he was refused the right to defend himself and his request to have John Africa from the MOVE organization was denied as well.
The Philadelphia Police also punished his supporters brutally to the extent of a full scale military style raid on their home. It became a notorious mark of how police brutality and the governments blind eye to a racist double standard of treatment had not been corrected by mere legislation. Helicopters were even used to drop a sizable bomb of military grade C4 explosives on the home of the MOVE organization killing 11 people including 5 children. During the course of assaulting the house on 6221 Osage Ave. they used Shotguns, Uzi’s, browning automatics, tear gas, water hoses, M-16’s, M60’s and a .50 caliber machine gun to fire almost 10,000 rounds into the house. The explosion of C4 and the gunfire set an entire city block a blaze, which the police allowed to burn, eventually consuming over 50 other homes.
The 1985 bombing of the MOVE home and murder of all these people has never been justified by the Justice Dept. They have scrambled for reasoning and the puppet mayor at the time who himself was a black man (Wilson Goode) made it clear to anyone that studies that power structure of politics that it doesn’t matter what the figure head or the representative is, he doesn’t dictate the policy of the establishment. Rather, he is there to present an example of what we need to assimilate to in terms of subservience in order to be allowed to remain in power.
Really though, the problems between the MOVE organization attempting to gain the economic control of their own neighborhood and the police locking the city down had started years before. In 1975, because of MOVE’s pro black stance on equality, they became a full fledged target and the harassment became a part of life for them. And in 1976 they became the victims of viciously provoked attacks over a disturbing the peace complaint that wouldn’t have been able to merit a ticket nowadays.The result was a violent beating given to MOVE supporters on the street who questioned the polices actions and an attack on two women one of whom, Janine Africa,was assaulted by police, thrown to the floor and stomped with her 3 week old baby in her arms resulting the death of her child, Life Africa.
In 1978 a raid on the MOVE headquarters ended violently with 9 people jailed for 30-100 years for the alleged shooting of police officer James Ramp. Sketchy evidence and numerous inconsistencies were abound but led to Judge Edwin Malmed‘s sentencing the 9 MOVE members regardless. Some have even said that Malmed was the catalyst for the police attack. When asked by Mumia after the trial “Who shot James Ramp?” Judge Edwin Malmed replied that he “didn’t have the faintest idea” and stated that since the members of MOVE wanted to be tried together he sentenced them together. Even conservative white republicans in the area listening to the local talk radio show were disturbed by this response which unabashedly divulged the frivolous legality of what the court system was passing off as justice. It is this type of investigative reporting as I stated earlier that brought him to attention of authorities.
The story of Mumia was not a winding confusing series of events that no one has any remembrance of there are several witnesses to these atrocities. Those who insist on Mumia’s guilt would do themselves a disservice by not asking of themselves that the reworking of evidence, attacking of witnesses and not granting someone a fair trial is not only a disservice to Mumia but also a disservice to the memory of the other person whose life was taken from them on that day, Daniel Faulkner.
The police have a brotherhood. A brotherhood they are rarely ever seen to betray. A code of silence where they do not testify against other officers. They believe anyone guilty of the murder of an officer should receive the death penalty- no questions asked. But a question comes to mind, if Mumia is not guilty and his coverage of the police raid of the home in 1978 already left him as a person of interest for the government, why was he under FBI surveillance since he was 14 years old? Ask yourself, is he on trial for what he allegedly did the night of December 9th because he is the person who would fit the description of who they would want to be responsible- a strong, articulate, self educated African man who would not deny his culture or watch his family and friends abused by a notoriously racist police dept? Is he the person who fits the description of what you need guilt to be in order to justify the way you see the world.
I ask this to those that would view this with skepticism because that skepticism created by the right wing to counterbalance reason does Daniel Faulkner a disservice as well as Mumia. It leaves his killer at large and destroys what’s left of the credibility of the justice system. The harder they squeeze the more reality slips through their fingers and when it is all said and done, what is the legacy of this trial. Justice? Retribution? None of the above, it is simply the fact that for the past 26 years an innocent man has been behind bars and slowly but surely media outlets like our own BET have been pressured to maintain their distance from him. Black and Latino politicians have been pressured to stop bringing him up. The Murder of an officer is a serious crime, and so anyone that would add doubt to the government’s version of the events is attacked by the right and abandoned by the left. An interesting transition of events that seems to repeat itself with other things and is why the Democratic party is so weak. But the management of this trial and the way that this government has run its police dept. leaves no question that they wouldn’t go through all the trouble if they weren’t hiding something.
* Footnote: Mumia was not a violent man, he was not a sadist like officer Geist who carried out the first assault on the MOVE home in 1978, and whose own wife shot him to death after years of merciless abuse. This occurred after the trial over the raid of the MOVE home in 1978 and was kept out of the court because officer Geist‘s wife was pressured not to speak on it by police.
No one asks to be a Revolutionary Martyr, no one asks to be Nelson Mandela, Mumia, Shaka Sankofa, or Hurricane Carter. Mumia Abu Jamal didn’t leave his house that morning thinking “I’m going to spend the next quarter of a century in prison so that I may provide an example to the world of police corruption and injustice done in a land that professes to be the most advanced and civilized nation in the world.” But when he left his house that day for work that’s exactly what he became and unless you know your rights and unless you arm yourself intellectually and are able to understand the legal system and the changes that are occurring quietly but rapidly in our legal system asking questions can bring you the same fate.
Someone once told me that Pennsylvania was Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and Mississippi between them. I think having lived there and been incarcerated there, while I have not seen Mississippi and therefore cannot draw the comparison. But I will say there that it is a State of the Union in name only and still has pockets of confederate resistance all over the place. It’s a state notorious for having a huge amount of hate groups. It is a place that we must take back before we even think of expanding anywhere else on the East.
Mumia represent a lot of things for different people, but to me he represents something very simple, not abandoning your brothers because of public pressure when you believe their cause to be true. When there were no WMD’s found in Iraq that didn’t stop the right wing. Dick Cheney claimed they were moved and they was a relationship between Al-Quaeda and Iraq. Sean Hannity, the man who is so far right he’s approaching the justification for fascism in defense of democracy, claimed they were probably moved to Syria. But this is NOT the mirror image to their extreme dedication to a lie that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the course of seeking out their self fulfilling prophecy of catastrophe. This is the story of an incident that was covered up on December 9th in 1981 where two people lost their lives. And in the interest of seeking a quick and easy decision against someone whose believe in self determination and struggle made him a likely candidate all other possibilities were stripped from the systems mind. “Black Militants want to kill us,” kept being repeated. “Maybe Mumia was jealous of Officer Daniel Faulkner’s freedom,” because of course freedom is why people carry out world wars and terrorist attacks. Or maybe he was just speaking for the voiceless and his punishment for doing so was to be incarcerated on charges for a crime he didn’t commit.
While there are those that will forget him, others will change their stance and claim his guilt to feel like they belong to the majority. There are people who will continue to fight for his release and a new fair trial without the racism, corrupted evidence and moral ambiguity of the government’s tactics in 1981 and subsequently after. Which, if you think about it, was only 11 years after America granted Black People the right to vote.
So vote today and everyday with your actions, not for a president, but for Justice that must be done around you, and for the struggle of Mumia who is not forgotten in Harlem NYC or around the world.
Peace & Respect,