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Support in France stays strong for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Published Dec 7, 2006 1:21 AM

The Paris suburb of St. Denis reaffirmed its decision to name a street in honor of U.S. political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, refusing to bow down to threats and intimidation from U.S. politicians.

Leaflet calls for a demonstration
on the anniversary of Mumia’s
imprisonment to gather at
the Bastille, site of an
infamous prison torn down
during the French Revolution,
from there to “march for
justice” to the U.S. embassy
demanding Mumia’s release.

A press release issued Nov. 30 from St. Denis city hall describes unmasking the lies of an ultra-conservative group based in Philadelphia claiming that the city of Philadelphia was suing St. Denis for the April 2006 street naming and suing Paris for making Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen in December 2001.

On Nov. 12, Peter J. Wirs, a minor Republican ward leader in Philadelphia’s Germantown section, issued a press release claiming to speak on behalf of a delegation including Philadelphia’s city council president and police commissioner, who were to “meet with elected members of the Paris City Council” on Nov. 30 to ask them to revoke Abu-Jamal’s honorary citizenship.

In response to Wirs’ threats, a protest was organized in St. Denis on Nov. 30 against what turned out to be a nonexistent delegation. The mayor of Philadelphia, as well as other city officials, informed the city of St. Denis that they never intended to file any kind of lawsuit and had nothing to do with Wirs’ campaign. Wirs, it turns out, was actually working with the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, the main group pushing for Abu-Jamal’s execution.

Ramona Africa and Pam Africa at a rally
for Mumia in Paris.
Photo: Sonia Olivera

The statement from St. Denis officials went on to reiterate that they were “proud to have named a street of this city in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has become one of the symbols of the struggle for justice and the abolition of the death penalty in the U.S. and throughout the world.”

The statement also noted that “It is not the first time an international mobilization has taken place in favor of American citizens who are unfairly sentenced in their own country. Such was the case for Nicola Sacco, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in the 1920’s, for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who died on the electric chair in 1953, and subsequently in 1972 for Angela Davis, initially sentenced for murder, before being acquitted of all charges.”

Wirs’ malicious misrepresentations are nothing new when it comes to opponents of a fair trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal in his twenty-five years of incarceration following his arrest for the fatal shooting of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

It took months for Philadelphia police officers to “remember” they’d “heard Abu-Jamal say he’d killed Faulkner,” even though doctors treating Abu-Jamal for a serious gunshot wound and brutal beating by Philadelphia police on Dec. 9, 1981, stated “the Negro suspect never spoke.” Police failed to give Abu-Jamal the standard hand test after his arrest to determine if he’d actually fired a gun. From the beginning, material witnesses were coerced into changing their testimony, mainly by the FOP’s pressure.

Prior to Wirs’ erroneous letter, other Philadelphia-area legislative leaders mounted their own campaigns of lies and distortions in response to the St. Denis’ street naming. The Philadelphia City Council approved a resolution in May stating “Mumia Abu-Jamal has exhausted all legal appeals,” even though the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in late 2005 had approved Abu-Jamal’s request for appeals concerning racial bias in jury selection in his 1982 trial and judicial bias in his 1995 appeals hearing in front of Judge Sabo. Abu-Jamal’s lawyers are awaiting word from this court on whether a new trial will be granted.

Philadelphia-area congresspersons also got into the act with Republican Michael Fitzpatrick and Democrat Allyson Schwartz introducing an anti-St. Denis resolution claiming “Mumia Abu-Jamal struck Officer Faulkner four times in the back with his gun.” Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Rich Santorum introduced a similar resolution in the U.S. Senate, even though there is not one bit of evidence in court testimony to support this claim. Both Fitzpatrick and Santorum were voted out of office on Nov. 7.