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Mumia’s struggle for freedom reaches crucial stage

July 2, 2017

by Chris Kinder for the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

The people won Mumia’s cure; now it’s time to free him! Join the Oakland march or organize a march and rally where you are.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been kept alive while on the slow death row of life imprisonment without parole, thanks to all those who came out to support him worldwide in the fight to get him Hepatitis-C treatment!

“Now, I’m told, I’m Hep C ‘negative’! Aint’t that a gas? I wanna thank you and the brothers in N. Cali for helping to make it happen. Without a people’s movement. we would have never gotten into ct. W/out it, we never coulda won,” he wrote in a letter to the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Mumia’s Hepatitis-C infection, which came from a blood transfusion in the hospital after he was critically wounded from police shooting him on Dec. 9, 1981, is cured due to active support by thousands of supporters who tirelessly resisted the Pennsylvania prison system’s refusal to supply the needed medication. Mumia’s federal legal victory is now the precedent to provide Hep-C treatment to thousands of prisoners.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been kept alive while on the slow death row of life imprisonment without parole, thanks to all those who came out to support him worldwide in the fight to get him Hepatitis-C treatment!

Now, Mumia has a new legal action pending in the Pennsylvania courts, and the movement of Mumia’s supporters worldwide has called for actions on July 8 to free Mumia. Mumia’s legal action relates to a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Williams v. Pennsylvania which applies to Mumia’s case.

In Williams, the Supreme Court ruled that a prosecutor who “had significant personal involvement” in a “critical decision” cannot later sit in judgment in appeals concerning the very same case. This was found to be a conflict of interest that violates the due process right to an impartial appeal.

In the Williams case, the former DA, then judge, was one Ronald Castille. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Williams now has the right to re-litigate all of his legal arguments that were previously rejected.

Now, Mumia has a new legal action pending in the Pennsylvania courts, and the movement of Mumia’s supporters worldwide has called for actions on July 8 to free Mumia.

In Mumia’s case, the very same Ronald Castille was the Philadelphia district attorney who argued to uphold Mumia’s frame-up conviction and death sentence in 1989 and then, as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, denied all Mumia’s post-conviction appeals from 1998-2008.

Last August Mumia filed a post-conviction appeal based on the Williams decision. A legal victory in Mumia’s action will reinstate his appeal rights to assert his innocence and the wholesale denial of his due process trial rights.

On April 28, 2017, Mumia Abu-Jamal won in court against the prosecution motion to dismiss Mumia’s new appeal. The judge also ordered the District Attorney’s Office to disclose all files and information that would support Mumia’s claims that his state appeal process was corrupted because Philadelphia District Attorney Ronald Castille was involved in prosecuting Mumia’s appeals.

Not surprisingly, the DA’s office did not comply. Only public documents from Mumia’s case which have Castille’s name listed as district attorney were released. Mumia’s lawyers have demanded “full compliance” with the judge’s order. We demand the DA open and release all the prosecution’s files on Mumia’s case!

This is a cover-up of the prosecutorial, police and judicial frame-up of Mumia. It is inconceivable that Castille as district attorney did not make “critical decisions” on Mumia’s appeal given that he was elected to that office as a “law-and-order” and pro-death penalty candidate. When he ran for Supreme Court justice, he openly bragged that he put 45 men on death row. Castille also stated publicly that he was personally responsible for all filings made in the U.S. Supreme Court.

We demand the DA open and release all the prosecution’s files on Mumia’s case! This is a cover-up of the prosecutorial, police and judicial frame-up of Mumia.

Mumia’s appeals included direct challenges to the practice of racial discrimination in jury selection, as well as the prosecution’s arguments that told juries they could ignore the responsibility for sentencing someone to death, since a defendant had “appeal after appeal.” Mumia also challenged the prosecution using his teenaged membership in the Black Panther Party to argue that Mumia had a life-long intent to kill a police officer. These issues were not only fought in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court but brought to the U.S. Supreme Court by Mumia in 1991 while Castille was the district attorney.

While he was the DA, Castille was faced with responding to the1986 Batson decision, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which banned racial discrimination in jury selection. Removing Black people from juries in criminal cases because of their race had long been a rampant practice in Philly, as in most if not all cities in the U.S. Castille looked for a way to get around Batson and continue their racist tactics.

The result was a secret videotape used to train prosecutors (the so-called “McMahon” videotape), which specifically instructed prosecutors on how to disguise their discriminatory tactics and still keep Black people off their juries. Castille’s name and title as Philadelphia district attorney was prominently featured at the beginning of the videotape as produced by DATV, the production company of the DA’s office.

In the training tape, Assistant D.A. McMahon instructs prosecutors that they need to keep Black people off their juries because they are less likely to convict and teaches them numerous ways to conceal the discriminatory purpose of their tactics. This training videotape did not become public until 1997, 11 years later.

The result was a secret videotape used to train prosecutors (the so-called “McMahon” videotape), which specifically instructed prosecutors on how to disguise their discriminatory tactics and still keep Black people off their juries.

The relevance of the “McMahon” videotape to Castille’s involvement in Mumia’s case is that during Mumia’s direct appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the DA’s Office argued that Mumia could not prove that they had a discriminatory motive when they removed Blacks from his jury. But when they made this argument, the DA’s office failed to disclose to the court the existence of the “McMahon” videotape, which would have proved the discriminatory motive that they denied.

And the “critical decision” to lie (by omission) to the court and suppress the existence of the tape had to have been made by Castille as the district attorney who oversaw the appeal process, including to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge, Castille sat in judgment over all the appeals of Mumia’s case since 1998, including the issues of his direct appeal – jury selection (Batson), jury integrity (appeal after appeal), membership in the Black Panther Party, as well as the new evidence of coercion of witnesses, of falsified ballistics, the confession of Arnold Beverly, who confessed to being the actual killer, and the racial bias of the trial and post-conviction hearing judge Albert Sabo, who stated, “I’m gonna help them fry the n—-r.”

In 1996 and again in 2002, Mumia’s lawyers demanded that Castille recuse himself from hearing the case on account of his earlier role as prosecutor over the same case. In each instance, Castille refused to recuse himself, stating he had no knowledge of Mumia’s case. Castille denied any knowledge of the “McMahon videotape.”

Yet Castille’s alleged “non-involvement” is what the current Philadelphia DA now wants us to believe, as their office has refused the full “discovery” of evidence of Castille’s collusion (in framing Mumia), which was ordered by the Philadelphia court earlier this year! This is why we call for action now.

We need to free Mumia now and demand full disclosure of documents in his case! The Williams decision could lead to the throwing out of all the negative decisions on Mumia’s appeals by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which, in turn, could lead to throwing out his original false conviction! But all of Mumia’s scant victories in court, such as the reversal of his original death sentence, have depended on the mass mobilization of his supporters worldwide.

We need to free Mumia now and demand full disclosure of documents in his case!

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a journalist, a former Black Panther, a MOVE supporter and an innocent political prisoner. His freedom from false murder charges is long overdue, after 36 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Winning Mumia’s freedom would be a victory against this injustice system and pave the way for others, as did his victory to get Hep-C treatment, which helps Pennsylvania prisoners as well as other thousands nationwide.

Former political prisoners such as Panther Albert Woodfox, whistle-blower Chelsea Manning and Puerto Rican nationalist activist Oscar Lopez Rivera have recently achieved freedom with the help and support of masses of supporters. Now, let us move on.

In 1995 we mobilized in the thousands against the death warrant issued by the Pennsylvania governor; and in 1999 longshore workers on the entire West Coast of the U.S. shut down all ports to free Mumia. Also in 1999, Oakland teachers held unauthorized teach-ins in Oakland schools on Mumia and the death penalty.

Winning Mumia’s freedom would be a victory against this injustice system and pave the way for others, as did his victory to get Hep-C treatment, which helps Pennsylvania prisoners as well as other thousands nationwide.

Join us at Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th and Broadway, Oakland, on Friday, July 7, at 4 p.m. We will march to the Alameda County Courthouse with flyers to distribute on Mumia’s case.

Solidarity with Mumia and all his worldwide supporters! Free Mumia Now!

The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal can be reached via Chris Kinder at cskinder44@gmail.com.

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