Mumia Abu-Jamal: Next steps after 37 years

Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal has now been incarcerated for 37 years. December 9 marks the anniversary of his imprisonment and of the people’s determined struggle to liberate him from Pennsylvania jails.

In Philadelphia, activities marking this day were scheduled during the week before the anniversary. Things kicked off on Dec. 3 with over 75 people rallying outside the Criminal Justice Center as the in-court hearing on Abu-Jamal’s nearly two-year appeals process wrapped up inside.  

The court hearing was brief. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys reported that they have not exhausted their search for a missing document requested under the Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Act. They stated they would not request an extension, but asked for a provision that the document could be submitted if located at a later date. Then both sides agreed they had no additional evidence to submit, and Judge Leon Tucker closed the hearing. He stated that he would make a ruling after reviewing “the tremendous amount of documents.”

Abu-Jamal’s supporters immediately sprang into action in preparation for a court decision that could come down at any time. They have created an emergency response network that includes an online pledge to turn out for Mumia at Mobilization4Mumia.com.

On the day after Tucker issues a decision on Mumia’s appeal, a demonstration will be held in Philadelphia at 4-6 p.m. A regional action will start at noon the following Saturday.  Both will be held outside the District Attorney’s office at 3 South Penn Circle, across from City Hall. Regardless of which side is favored by the judge’s decision, appeals are expected.

More actions for Mumia

The week before the appeal hearing also saw Mumia’s supporters engaging in a slew of actions. On Dec. 7, several demonstrators held a brief “Honk for Mumia” action at 13th and Locust, the site of the 1981 shootings of police officer Daniel Faulkner and Abu-Jamal, resulting in his unjust incarceration.

On Dec. 8, a community forum at the People’s Sanctuary Center in the city’s Germantown section included updates on the legal case and strategies for building the emergency response network. A forum highlight was the video of a Nov. 28 talk by Temple professor Marc Lamont Hill at the annual convening of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at the U.N.  Hill, well respected in Philadelphia’s activist communities, also co-authored a book with Abu-Jamal, titled “The Classroom and the Cell.”

After the film showing, Gabriel Bryant with the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, and a member of the delegation who traveled with Hill to Palestine in November, addressed the gathering with details of their experience in occupied Palestine.  

Bryant said that as a Black man in Philadelphia, he can be constantly subjected to stop-and-frisk by police, but noted his experience paled in comparison to the constant harassment and Israel Defense Forces intimidation of Palestinians and African-Arab people at checkpoints in Israel and the occupied territories. Much of the discussion following Bryant’s talk dealt with building solidarity between Palestinians and oppressed communities in the U.S.  

A collection taken at the forum raised $135 for the Mamas Bail Out program for women incarcerated in the State Road prison, so they can come home and be with their children for the holidays.

(WW photo: Joseph Piette)

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