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Pam Africa: 100% death penalty abolition must include Mumia

October 10, 2010

Sponsors of 10/10/10 World Day Against the Death Penalty recruit police, reject Mumia

by Minister of Information JR

MOVE youngsters love Mumia as passionately as he loves them. Here they speak out at a rally in Philly on May 17, 2007. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
MOI JR: You are listening to another edition of POCC Block Report Radio with the Minister of Information JR on Hard Knock Radio. Today we are going to be talking about the case of political prisoner and prolific author and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal as well as the death penalty. Our guest is Pam Africa, the uncompromising chairwoman of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

We will be talking specifically about a secret memo signed by the U.S. members of the Steering Committee of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. It can be summed up as “throwing Mumia under the bus” to seek alliances with mainstream media, politicians and the Fraternal Order of the Police to further their goals. We are going to start off this interview with me reading this secret memo that recently came to the attention of the Mumia Coalition.

“The ECPM (who is basically the European anti-death penalty folks) has unilaterally and over objection determined to give the Mumia Abu-Jamal case a prominent role in the upcoming 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, including the participation of Mr. Abu-Jamal’s lawyers and his direct participation by telephone. The U.S. members of the Steering Committee of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty do not agree to this, because it will be counter-productive to our efforts to achieve abolition in our country.

The power of the people can and must free Mumia!
“The Abu-Jamal case, regardless of its merits, acts as a lightning rod that galvanizes opponents of abolition and neutralizes key constituencies in the cause of abolition. Continuing to give Abu-Jamal focused attention unnecessarily attracts our strongest opponents and alienates coalition partners at a time when we need to build alliances and not foster hatred and enmity.

“While Abu-Jamal still attracts some positive attention outside the United States, it is at a real cost to the U.S. abolition effort. In 1999, the world’s largest association of professional law enforcement officers, the Fraternal Order of Police, announced a boycott of organizations and individuals who support Abu-Jamal. Bills have been introduced in both houses of the U.S. federal legislature condemning the naming of streets for Abu-Jamal. The result is that Abu-Jamal, rather than abolition of the death penalty, becomes the issue and focus of attention. That is dangerously counterproductive to the abolition movement in the U.S.

“The voices of the innocent, the voices of victims and the voices of law enforcement are the most persuasive factors in changing public opinion and the views of decision makers (politicians) and opinion leaders (media). Continuing to shine a spotlight on Abu-Jamal, who has had so much public exposure for so many years, threatens to alienate these three most important partnership groups.

“The support of law enforcement officials is essential to achieving abolition in the United States. It is essential to the national abolition strategy of U.S. abolition activist and attorneys, that we cultivate the voices of police, prosecutors and law enforcement experts to support our call to an end to the death penalty. It was key in New Jersey and in New Mexico, it is fundamental to abolition throughout the U.S., and it will be a primary focus for 2010 and beyond. We have begun to make real progress with police officers and prosecutors speaking out against the death penalty as a failed policy.

“’In a national poll released in 2009, the nation’s police chiefs ranked the death penalty last in their priorities for effective crime reduction. The officers do not believe the death penalty acted as a deterrent to murder, and they rated it as one of the most inefficient uses of taxpayer dollars in fighting crime.’ – Death Penalty Information Center, ‘The Death Penalty in 2009: Year End Report, December 18, 2009.’

“If the 4th Congress gives Abu-Jamal and his lawyers the focus and attention proposed by the ECPM (the European anti-death penalty activists), the U.S. movement of abolition will be exposed to a serious backlash that will directly damage the delicate alliances we are building with essential groups.”

The letter goes on further to state an affirmed decision to exclude Mumia from the collective conversation of ending the death penalty, basically throwing him under the bus.

Pam Africa, what are your thoughts on the memo? When did it come out and when was the Mumia Coalition made aware of the letter?

Pam Africa, the uncompromising chairwoman of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, speaks at the Philly rally April 19, 2008. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
Pam Africa: Well, I believe the memo came out sometime in February or March. I’m not quite too sure of that. I know it was the winter time. But we were made aware of it when some French people from the French Coalition for Mumia in France came here and attended an anti-death penalty forum. I believe it was there in Oakland. They were shocked to find out that the Democrats and these people don’t want to support Mumia and made them feel very uncomfortable. So they gave us a copy of the memo and also Dave Lindorff made the memo public. When we got it, we decided we must take a stand and end this whole thing.

So on Oct. 10 in Philadelphia, we are calling for the 100 percent abolition of the death penalty. I want to make people understand this. This is to kill Mumia with the Fraternal Order of Police. They say it very clearly what they desire to do: anybody but Mumia for the abolition of the death penalty. On the principle of abolition, it cannot be. On the principle of abolition, those people are responsible for writing the letter and composing it – I’m not talking about the people that were misled, like the people in the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty were misled by this letter and signed it. Since then, they have taken a full step because they understand. I talked with Dave Atwood there and he understood exactly what the ramification of this letter is.

These people start off by saying, irregardless of the merit in Mumia’s case? Let’s talk about the merit in Mumia’s case. A worldwide movement was started. Number one, there is evidence that shows very clearly that Mumia is innocent. Some people can only deal with the fact that he did not have a fair trial, but all the evidence points fully to the whole thing. But even if Mumia was guilty, which he is absolutely not, how do abolitionists call for the death of anyone?

I am telling you, you have baby killers, rapists and murderers. They ain’t calling for the death of them. They are calling for the death of someone who has brought terror to the anti-death penalty movement. Who has brought terror! In this memo, they say law enforcement says that the death penalty – executing people – does not deter crime and that is quite true. But their answer to it is like what they did down there to Oscar Grant. They try them and execute them in the street. That don’t cost people a darn thing. Like Amadou Diallo – the list goes on and on and on.

As I understand it, since Oscar Grant in Oakland, there has been more murders by the police.

MOI JR: Yes, yes!

Pam Africa: The same thing here in Philadelphia. The same thing in Los Angeles. The same thing in New York.

But these cops have gotten people to join in on the death penalty. People say, “How do you know they are cops?” You read the letter. Who are they doing the bidding for?

MOI JR: Now let me ask you this. I think you just kind of pointed it out. But I think this also speaks to the politics of the people within the death penalty campaign or, I should say, this particular death penalty campaign, whereas they are not connecting the police and the politicians to state-sanctioned violence – I mean, even though state-sanctioned violence happens through the police and is approved of and justified by the politicians.

How can they call themselves an anti-death penalty campaign, but yet they are with killers of the state? They are with throwing Mumia, who is one of the most vocal advocates against the death penalty, who speaks not as a spectator but on death row and has been speaking from death row for over three decades. How can they justify working with the police against somebody who has helped to make the campaign and put the campaign in an international light?

Pam Africa: Well, you know also, we have working with us right now Darby Tillis, Aaron Patterson, Ron Kitchen, who are in Chicago that are victims of police brutality. They all sat on death row because police lied and forced them through torture to say that they were guilty when they were innocent. When it went to court, the prosecutor went along with it. The judge went along with it. These are the kinds of people that they are asking us to bring into the anti-death penalty movement – who have actually infiltrated the anti-death penalty movement.

There is also the case of Harold Wilson right here in Philadelphia, who was framed and walked to death row twice because of lies of police. The whole thing about them wanting to abolish the death penalty means nothing and they say it isn’t a deterrent. Again I point out it isn’t a deterrent to them to kill them there, because they are killing them in the street and getting away with murder.

MOI JR: Right.

Pam Africa: These same prosecutors, these same judges – these are the people they are having to be a part of this movement that is calling for the death of Mumia takes it all away the way across the board. Let me tell you. When we beat that death warrant in 1995 worldwide, the movement had got that much bigger. State Sen. Dole and some other politicians stated very clearly that they were going to introduce a legislation that would take Mumia out, that would kill Mumia! They promised people that. In 1996, the Effective Death Penalty Act went into effect. Why?

Again I point out it isn’t a deterrent to them to kill them there (in prison), because they are killing them in the street and getting away with murder. – Pam Africa

You will hear the now governor, who was the mayor, which was Ed Rendell, who was running for governor at that time, and the Pennsylvania State Attorney General Fisher, who was running against him, discuss this act when they were asked about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal on WHYY Radio in Philadelphia. During the governor’s race, Ed Rendell and Fisher talked about them doing a draft of the Effective Death Penalty Act. Then they both talked about how they were going to do the work to execute Mumia. That’s on TV.

This is the fear of Mumia and of this movement that he has built to bring attention because there wasn’t that much attention on the death penalty, especially for Blacks, until Mumia. You can find that out from any death penalty person that is seasoned and has been here and had the nerve to stand up and tell the truth.

POCC Minister of Information JR speaks at the April 19, 2008, rally for Mumia in Philly. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
MOI JR: Right.

Pam Africa: Then they go and say in 1999, the largest police FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) force decided to boycott Mumia. Well, let’s go back and talk about what’s happening in ‘99. It scared these people to death. I mean, scared them to the point that the terrorism that they were doing underground now came up and above ground. They called it the largest FOP force in ‘99 but their numbers didn’t even reach a hundred or two hundred and if it reached that, it didn’t match none of the numbers of the tens of thousands that was around the world when we called for millions for Mumia.

People rose up in Cuba. They rose up in Puerto Rico. They rose up in parts of Africa. They shut the entire West Coast down for two days because of Mumia, because of the death penalty. They shut this thing down in Philadelphia. I mean nothing was moving here (or) in Canada. In France, the first lady of France, Danielle Mitterrand, led thousands to the streets because of Mumia. These puny worthless FOP, meaning Fools on Parade, are going to say, “The largest FOP force in the United States…”? We’re talking about a worldwide movement. They better back the heck up with their dumbness!

The docks were deserted in San Francisco and up and down the West Coast when the ILWU, our nation’s most progressive union, shut them down on April 24, 1999, to stop the execution of Mumia.
But getting back to 1999, I remember standing on that stage and looking out at the numbers and immediately said – anybody can go back and check the documents – I said that these people are going to try and play us down with time. They are going to try every COINTELPRO event that they can because this is no longer about Mumia; this is about a worldwide movement that has stood up and would not back down from these people. They saw the Italian Americans for Mumia, Asians for Mumia, Irish for Mumia, the banners of the young and the banners of the old standing up in unison. They were going after these people not only about Mumia but about all the wrongs that were happening here at that particular time.

This scared these people so bad that here they are now coming back. I’m telling you they did the Effective Death Penalty Act for Mumia. Look at the proof and see. April is when that Effective Death Penalty Act came out. They talk about, in the first paragraph, that Mumia’s case “acts as a lightning rod that galvanizes opponents” to the death penalty. They are stating that if you have Mumia there, we can’t exist. Read it! Read it!

This is a letter where they are attempting to show strength but they are showing all their weaknesses because any time they want to join the anti-death penalty movement, it’s not to do what is right. They see that this is a movement of a lot of people and they are trying to get in there and change the rules around. What we are saying is there is no way!

Former political prisoner Jorge Salinas plays and speaks for “Mumia Libertad” during Mumia Solidarity Week in Mexico City Dec. 9, 2008. Well attended events for Mumia are held frequently in Mexico, most recently on Sept. 21, 2010.
MOI JR: Pam, let me ask you this. I understand you have been organizing. Who have you been organizing with and what are you guys organizing to do?

Pam Africa: We have been organizing with former inmates that was on death row. We are organizing with other anti-death penalty organizations like Kids Against the Death Penalty and Students Against the Death Penalty. We are organizing around the world. We got people coming in here from France. We got them coming in from Germany. We got them coming in from parts of Africa and Puerto Rico. Our people are taking a stand because we understand very clearly that this was designed to kill Mumia. You know what else, I don’t want nobody hopping up in my face. My email is pamafrica@gmail.com. My phone number is (215) 476-8812.

Don’t try to tell me that we are trying to divide off the anti-death penalty movement. Any fool that believes that just wants to believe or there is some question about what their intentions are because what we are talking about is building the abolition movement and making it all that it is supposed to be. There is no way in the world that anyone who opposes the death penalty, talking about murdering anybody, should sit on an anti-death penalty forum at all. They must be removed for the sake of 100 percent pure true abolition.

MOI JR: No doubt.

Pam Africa: Those people who don’t believe in killing, then how in the world … Let me tell you one thing. These monsters dropped a bomb killing 11 men, women and children in our family and no one has yet to hear us say put them people on death row and kill them because we understand your politics. We understand exactly what you’re doing. Our position is to destroy the mentality to cause a person to want to kill by educating your mothers, your sons, your daughters. Educating people around who YOU are. They see us all as successful and that’s why they are doing this. This is not only an attack on Mumia. It’s an attack on righteousness. It’s an attack on all that is right.

I’m saying again. Ain’t no way in the world anybody should be standing up there saying that this is a small thing. Mumia is on death row right now. They have a Black filmmaker by the name of Tigre Hill who has a documentary film coming out on September the 21st. Worldwide media and everything is going to be there. So I don’t want to hear that stuff people be saying, “Well, if you talk about it, then you are producing it for them.” I ain’t got to produce it for them. These fools got all the media. They got CNN, CSPAN, all that bull that they want to be having at that event.

I want to tell people exactly what it is so YOU can get ready. So YOU can get on the move and do what is necessary to stop this murder of Mumia and other folks that’s on death row and around the world for whatever terrorist thought these people have.

MOI JR: So you just mentioned there is a new film coming out. I know they have released a number of different films about Mumia that were hit pieces. But what is this new film about as far as you know?

Pam Africa: This film producer, Tigre Hill, has the backing of the GOP – people should understand that – and all these right wing organizations to do a film to take down Mumia. They have a Black filmmaker, ok. He has a Black D.A. – and this was when he was running for district attorney – stating that Mumia is guilty. There is absolutely no evidence to show the fact that Mumia didn’t have a fair trial and that he is going to see to it that Mumia is executed. That’s the work he is doing. He is in that film saying that. They have a Black police commissioner in there. They have a Black mayor in there and as I understand, they have pulled someone from this anti-death penalty movement to say that they believe in the death penalty for everybody except Mumia, or something to those words.

I found out that people from that movement are in that film. What their doing is trying to make it appear that it is not a racist thing that is going on here. They did just like they did with the Obama administration. They put Black folks there to do the bidding of what it is they want to do. You know, it’s plain as that.

When we tried to battle the Black DA …

MOI JR: What’s his name?

Mumia says he was “kicked ... into the Black Panther Party” after suffering a beating from “white racists” and a policeman for his efforts to disrupt a George Wallace for President rally in 1968. The following year, at the age of 15, he helped form the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party, where he worked on the Black Panther Newspaper and became its Minister of Information. – Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer
Pam Africa: Seth Williams. When we went to battle, by putting out information and challenging him with the merits and points of Mumia’s case, he never would do that. We had Black folks, because of their desire and their want to have their first Black DA, refuse to stand up and make this man do what was right.

Now there is a person by the name of Michael Coard, an attorney here, that has done work for Mumia and supported him. He said that he would support any Black person running for a first anything. But the difference between Michael Coard and a lot of those people who voted for (Seth Williams) is that once he got in there and he continued to do the things that he was doing, like stating he was going to kill Mumia and covering up murders by the police, is that this man wrote a document out on him. He has still been on the front line stating that this man is a liar. He put me and him on the radio station together. This man, Michael Coard, said his part and defended Mumia about his case.

This is something I want people to do. Because right here in Philadelphia, we had the head of the Black Congressional Caucus at this particular point, when they stated that they investigated Mumia’s case and stated that they believe he is innocent in a document written in 1995, they called for a fair trial for Mumia. In 1999, when the second death warrant was done, they did the same thing. Also in ‘99, they wrote letters to Janet Reno begging for her to do what is right by Mumia based on the evidence that they had before them and that Mumia did not have a fair trial and was possibly innocent.

Well, you can’t hear nothing from these people no more and all of them are supposed to be anti-death penalty. I think at this particular point, people need to start calling on Congressman Chaka Fattah and ask him, “What do you think about this?” What do you think about this film that is getting ready to come out that’s on Mumia, calling for the death of him? How come these people are not demanding that he show the evidence that he found that showed Mumia didn’t have a fair trial? What about the SCLC and the NAACP? I haven’t heard nothing from any of these groups. Maybe they haven’t heard of it, ok? But it’s up to people here that is listening to get in contact with these people. Ask them to stand up and take a stand now.

MOI JR: I also just want to put out there that the head of the Congressional Black Caucus is Barbara Lee, whose district we are actually in right now. Some of the people who are listening are in the congressional district of the CDC head, that being Barbara Lee. So I know she has this “progressive” air about her, but the question needs to be raised, just like Pam said, what is she doing for Mumia concretely? What is she doing about the death penalty concretely? Not just words, but what is she doing? I challenge the listeners to call on her office and call on these other politicians’ offices to get them in line with Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Philadelphia turns out to rally and march to Free Mumia on April 19, 2008. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
Pam, what are some ways that people can get in tune with the Mumia campaign? What are some simple things that people can do to help? We just said they can write letters to their Congress people. How else can they play a part?

Pam Africa: They can always go to the Free Mumia Coalition website. That’s my site as well. Hans Bennett Journalists for Mumia is another one. If they search Mumia, they will find the different sites educational on Mumia. We are doing a lot of things. We are working on another documentary film on Mumia covering form ‘99 on up to where we are at now. That is going to show the same day the Tigre Hill film is going to show.

We are also doing the World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10-10 (Oct. 10) in Philadelphia. We want 100 percent abolition now! We are making a lot of moves and keeping Mumia on the forefront and all political prisoners and what they are going through. You will find that kind of information on our site as well. Tune into Mumia’s commentary that keeps you up to date with a whole lot of things that are going on around the world and how you can get involved.

We can’t wait for you to get to Philadelphia, JR, because we are going to show “Operation Small Axe.” It showed in New York and other places. We are going to give you a big Philly welcome!

MOI JR: I’m excited.

Pam Africa: As Chairman Fred says, “We are going to tag team in Philadelphia! We are going to wake people up now!”

MOI JR: Ha! That’s the business!

I would be beyond myself if I don’t ask for an update on the MOVE 9.

Pam Africa: OK, what we are doing now. I want people to understand that we have no faith in this judicial system. There are things that they say that you are supposed to be able to do so we don’t want it ever to be said that we didn’t exhaust everything. So one of things that we did is file for murder charges against the district attorney, the police and the mayor that was involved in the 1985 bombing. That’s up on our website. People can pull that down. But of course, the judge turned the murder complaints down, so we are appealing them right now.

What we are doing is forming groups and organizations. We are going around and speaking so we can all come united as one to deal with this issue of parole. My family maxed out three years ago. They keep giving them another hit. My family is like other political prisoners and people that’s in jail who’s up for parole but they are refusing to let out. We all got to come together because according to law – their stuff – they’re supposed to let us out. The only way that we can take these people down is to do it the way we did it back in the ‘60s and earlier on in the very beginning. That is people have to unite! Unite around these issues, things we have in common, and put all that other stuff on the side because our loved ones’ lives are on the line.

So that is what MOVE is doing right now. What John Africa taught us is that you never ever give up! Stay consistent and stay on the move because you have not lost until you give up. And we ain’t going to ever give up! We work with people who feel that same way. People who fell to the side, you got our hand. C’mon and get BACK into this movement.

MOI JR: No doubt. No doubt.

Pam Africa, the uncompromising chairwoman of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and also of the MOVE family and organization summed it up. She told us how we can play a part in the Mumia Coalition and we can also play a part in the freedom for the MOVE 9 and other political prisoners.

This is the Minister of Information JR signing off for Block Report Radio on Hard Knock Radio and before we go, what’s the call?

Pam Africa: FREE ‘EM ALL!

MOI JR: Free ‘em all! Free all political prisoners! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Free the MOVE 9! Free ‘em all!

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.

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