•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

LGBT activists stand with Mumia

Published Apr 16, 2008 10:46 PM

Rainbow Flags for Mumia is a coalition of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people and organizations that came together in 1999 to demand a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal. The following are excerpts from a call issued by RF4M organizers Imani Henry and LeiLani Dowell to help raise awareness and solidarity with the Free Mumia rally in Philadelphia on April 19. To endorse this call, e-mail [email protected]

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 not.”

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.