In 2008, we as LGBT peoples are outraged that we continue to face racist,
anti-LGBT violence in the streets, in our homes, at the hands of police and the
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). In 2008, it is a crime that
there is still not a cure for AIDS, while we face devastating cuts in services,
health care and research.
It is an injustice that the economic rights afforded heterosexual couples are
still denied us and our families. And just like the majority of workers in the
U.S., we are incensed by the deepening economic crisis—with increasing
rates of unemployment, the lack of affordable housing and an exponential
increase in foreclosures and evictions, while the Bush administration continues
to spend billions on the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Moreover, even our most human right to defend ourselves from anti-gay violence
is denied, sending more of us to jail, like the Jersey 4, young
African-American lesbians who were sentenced up to 11 years in prison. We see
the Jersey 4 as a politically motivated case, centered on the racist
gentrification of the birthplace of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, the West
Village of New York City.
Despite the racist, anti-LGBT oppression we face, it is because of our
movement’s rich history of resistance, from the Stonewall Inn to the
Compton Cafeteria in California, that we continue to fight for equality and
social justice today. It is with that same righteous rage against injustice
that we as LGBT peoples demand the immediate freedom of the Jersey 4 and
continue to fight for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
On March 27, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied a new trial for Mumia
Abu-Jamal. Although there is overwhelming evidence proving Mumia’s
innocence, this ruling has left Mumia’s only legal options as life in
prison without parole or execution by the state of Pennsylvania.
But just like the case of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, who was
sentenced to life in prison, we believe we can and will continue to build an
international movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was a founding member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black
Panther Party as a teenager. Years later he began reporting professionally on
radio stations, such as NPR. Known as “the Voice of the Voiceless,”
Mumia won awards for his reporting on police brutality and other social and
racial epidemics that plagued communities of color in Philadelphia and
throughout the world. In 1981 he was arrested and sent to death row for
allegedly shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. We know that
Mumia remains in jail because he is a political leader.
Through his writings, behind the walls of death row, Mumia has shown solidarity
with oppressed peoples all over the world. In a 1999 statement denouncing
recent anti-gay murders, including the killing of Matthew Shepard in Laramie,
Wyo.; Billy Jack Gaither in Sylacauga, Ala.; and Henry Edward Northington in
Richmond, Va., Mumia Abu-Jamal wrote: “Is it a coincidence that Richmond,
the city where a Black man was burned to death and decapitated, follows several
months later with the decapitation and torture of a gay man? I think
Rainbow Flags for Mumia calls on all LGBT organizations and activists to
endorse and mobilize for April 19 and beyond. With legal options exhausted, it
is up to us, by any means necessary, to ensure that Mumia no longer languishes
in jail under the threat of execution.
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