To: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner
From: Concerned Members of the International Community
A Call to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
We, the undersigned individual and organizational members of the international community concerned with issues of human rights, call your attention to an egregious example of human rights violations in your respective jurisdictions: the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Specifically, we call on you both, key officials with the power to determine Abu-Jamal’s fate, to:
- Assure that all the district attorney and police files relevant to Abu-Jamal’s case be released publicly as the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is reviewing the potential involvement of retired Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille in a conflict of interest when he reviewed Abu-Jamal’s case as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice.
- Release Abu-Jamal now from his incarceration. Given the mounds of evidence of Abu-Jamal’s innocence and even more evidence of police, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, his unjust incarceration, including almost 30 years on death row, his twice near-executions, his prison-induced illness which brought him to the brink of death, and the lack of timely treatment for his hepatitis-C, which has left him with a condition, cirrhosis of the liver, which poses a potential threat to his life … we call for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal now.
Below is the summary of the case, and an update on recent events:
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an internationally renowned U.S. political prisoner, widely honored – with streets and cities named after him, and including the award of Honorary Citizenship of Paris – for his piercing indictments of the racial inequities and brutal imperial powers of the United States.
Abu-Jamal was originally targeted for “surveillance” and “neutralization,” that is, assassination, when he was a 15-year-old spokesman for the Black Panther Party, by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and its notorious Counterintelligence Program, designed and implemented by J. Edgar Hoover. By the age of 26, he was an award-winning radio journalist with a wide following, known as the “voice of the voiceless” and outspoken in his defense of the MOVE organization and other targeted individuals and organizations.
On Dec. 9, 1981, in the middle of a street altercation, Abu-Jamal was critically shot and brutally beaten by police and then framed for the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death. Abu-Jamal is innocent of those charges. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and those who support the organization politically and financially have continued to clamor for Abu-Jamal’s death and consider it a crime that he has survived.
The legal challenges to Abu-Jamal’s conviction expose the systemic injustice of the U.S. criminal injustice system. The police and prosecution manufactured the evidence of Mumia’s guilt – the ballistics evidence was false, the witnesses were coerced to lie, the so-called confession was fabricated. The evidence of Abu-Jamal’s innocence was known to police on the scene.
The police knew that Officer Faulkner was shot and killed by someone other than Abu-Jamal. Numerous witnesses saw the likely shooter run from the crime scene. Rights to due process and a fair trial were denied: These included the right to a jury selected without racial discrimination, the right to counsel of the defendant’s choice, the right to self-representation, the right to resources to challenge the prosecution’s case and hold the prosecution to its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Abu-Jamal’s frame-up did not begin or stop with the police and prosecution. The American judicial system and its judges are increasingly recognized as racially and class biased and largely accounting for the mass incarceration we see in the U.S.
The trial and post-conviction judge was the infamous Judge Albert Sabo, known as the “king of death row” for sentencing to execution more people than any other judge in the entire U.S. As both the trial and post-conviction appeal judge, despite international denunciations by legal experts of his biased practice and rulings in the courtroom, Sabo denied every single challenge to Abu-Jamal’s conviction from 1982 to 1997!
In 2002 a court reporter disclosed that at the start of the 1982 trial, she overheard Judge Sabo telling another judge that he was going “to help them fry the n—-r.” Judge Sabo’s clear exposure of his gross racism was deemed not relevant Philadelphia Judge Pamela Dembe, who agreed that Sabo’s language was heinous, but that he had nonetheless been fair during the trial and had shown no racial bias.
Dembe also ruled that the confession of a man who swore he, and not Abu-Jamal, shot and killed police officer Faulkner, should not be heard in the court. In 2003 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld these rulings and denied Abu-Jamal a new trial.
Defeating two death warrants in 1995 and 1999, because of massive international protest, now imprisoned for 36 years, almost 30 of those years on death row, Abu-Jamal continues to fight his conviction in the courts and with grassroots support internationally that extends from the U.S. to Europe, Latin America, Japan and South Africa.
In December 2001 a federal court judge ruled that Abu-Jamal’s death sentence was illegal. But Abu-Jamal remained locked in solitary confinement on death row for ten more years while the prosecutor appealed twice to the federal appeals court and twice to the U.S. Supreme Court.
After the DA lost in the courts in the attempt to reinstate the death penalty, Abu-Jamal was transferred out of death row in December 2011. The Philadelphia prosecutor peremptorily sentenced Abu-Jamal to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. A sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is a sentence of slow death in prison.
Subsequently, the FOP initiated various efforts to stop Abu-Mumia’s publications but were defeated by a powerful legal and grassroots battle. Yet the persecution of Abu-Jamal continued, including the medical malfeasance that resulted in near death from diabetic shock, a mistreated painful and debilitating skin condition, and the prolonged refusal to treat Abu-Jamal’s hepatitis C that has left him with cirrhosis of the liver.
Cirrhosis of the liver can certainly develop into cancer and surely imposes a high risk of a much shorter life span. It took sustained international protest and the judge’s order that Abu-Jamal be given the hep C cure – and that denying him that cure was cruel and inhumane punishment – for Abu-Jamal to finally be treated appropriately.
Now, Abu-Jamal has a new legal challenge in the Pennsylvania courts on the grounds that Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille had a conflict of interest when he denied Abu-Jamal’s appeals from 1998 to 2014. This new action is based on a precedent-setting 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Williams v. Pennsylvania, that a judge who had been personally involved in a critical prosecutorial decision violates the defendant’s right to an impartial judicial review if he then gets to rule on the case as a state Supreme Court justice.
Castille was the Philadelphia elected district attorney during Abu-Jamal’s first appeal process, after his conviction and death sentence, from 1986 to 1991. He was a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice from 1994 to 2014, during which time Abu-Jamal’s case came before him multiple times.
Castille was elected DA and then judge with the support of the FOP. He ran for Supreme Court judge bragging that he put 45 men on death row. Given his pro-police and pro-death penalty positions, there is no doubt that Castille had a significant personal interest in upholding Abu-Jamal’s conviction and death sentence. Abu-Jamal made applications to Judge Castille to recuse (remove) himself from deciding on his appeals in 1996, and in 2012. Castille denied both requests insisting that he could be fair.
Castille was elected DA and then judge with the support of the FOP. He ran for Supreme Court judge bragging that he put 45 men on death row.
The Williams decision began a new legal fight for Abu-Jamal’s freedom. Since August 2016, demands have been made for the DA’s office to open its files and release the documents that show Castille’s personal interest in Abu-Jamal’s case. The DA has alternately stalled, denied the existence of memos and files, and now reluctantly released evidence of Castille’s actions to get execution warrants signed against convicted “cop killers.” But to date, the DA argues that this is not proof of Castille’s direct involvement in Abu-Jamal’s case.
We demand the full public disclosure of the police and prosecution files. If Abu-Jamal wins this new challenge, there will be a new appeal, opening the door for a reversal of his conviction.
Abu-Jamal’s fight for hepatitis-C treatment resulted in his medical treatment through a federal court ruling that now serves as precedent for prisoners in Pennsylvania and around the U.S. to obtain treatment. Abu-Jamal’s legal challenge against the judicial bias in his case is an attack on the prevalence of such bias by criminal court judges. The public release of the state’s files prosecuting Abu-Jamal will expose the frame-up against this innocent man and, potentially, of others.
We demand: Public disclosure of the police and DA files! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Now!
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[ ] Please add my name to the list of endorsers of this new appeal to free Mumia.
ORGANIZATION & TITLE (list if for identification only)
STATE / DEPARTMENT
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Partial list of initial endorsers
– Angela Davis
– Danny Glover
– Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France, President, Frantz Fanon Foundation; Former Chair, U.N. Human Rights Council Working Group on People of African Descent
– Sabine Lösing, Member, European Parliament (MEP)
– Patrick Braouezec, Honorary Member, French Parliament
– Daniel Gluckstein, National Secretary, Democratic Independent Workers Party, France; Member, Continuation Committee, International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation
– Nambiath Vasudevan, Trade Union Solidarity Committee, Mumbai, India; Continuation Committee of the International Workers Committee
– Vanessa Brown, Pennsylvania State Assembly Representative, 190th District
– Nikolaj Villumsen, Member, Danish Parliament
– Søren Søndergaard, Member, Danish Parliament; former Member, European Parliament
– Nikolaj Villumsen, Member, Danish Parliament
– Christian Juhl, Member, Danish Parliament
– Eva Flyvholm, Member, Danish Parliament
– Finn Sørensen, Member, Danish Parliament
– Henning Hyllested, Member, Danish Parliament
– Jakob Sølvhøj, Member, Danish Parliament
– Jesper Kiel, Member, Danish Parliament
– Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, Member, Danish Parliament
– Maria Reumert Gjerding, Member, Danish Parliament
– Pelle Dragsted, Member, Danish Parliament
– Rune Lund, Member, Danish Parliament
– Stine Maiken Brix, Member, Danish Parliament
– Søren Egge Rasmussen, Member, Danish Parliament
– Alan Benjamin, Member, Continuations Committee of the Mumbai Conference, U.S.
– Estela Vazquez, First Vice President, Local 1199 SEIU, U.S.
– Workers World Party, U.S.
– Dr. Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, Historian, Author, Professor Emerita, California State University
– Marc Lamont Hill, Author, Professor, Temple University
– Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, Long-time Freedom Fighter, Former Political Prisoner
– James Baldwin Collective, Paris, France
– Bettina Wegner, Singer-Songwriter, Berlin, Germany
– Amina Baraka, Artist, Activist
– Diane Fujino, Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara*
– James Early, Board Member, Institute for Policy Studies
– Don Rojas, Journalist, Institute of the Black World
– Ron Daniels, President, Institute of the Black World, Professor, York College, CUNY
– Helmer Eduardo Quinones, Consejo Nacional de Paz Afrocolombiano
– Lionel Jean Baptiste, Congress to Fortify Haiti
– Yvette Modestin, Afro-Panamanian
– Mya Shone and Ralph Schoenman, Taking Aim
– Kamm Howard, National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA)
– J. Curtis McIntosh, M.D., Co-chair, CEMOTAP (Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People)
– Esperanza Martell, 36 Mujeres Para Oscar Lopez Rivera*
– Harold Wilson, 120th Exonerated Pennsylvania Death Row Survivor
– Mathilda Legitimus, Pan African Working Group, Munich, Germany
– Food Not Bombs Solidarity
– Greg Ruggiero, Editor, City Lights Books
– Mimi Rosenberg, Esq., Senior Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society; Radio Producer, WBAI
– Robyn Spencer, Associate Professor, History, Lehman College, City University of NY
– Aleta Alston Toure, New Jim Crow Movement, Jacksonville, Savannah
– Amadou Gueye, Molecular Biology Applications Specialist, France
– Zaliya Adamu, Student, California State University, East Bay
– Colin “Papa Bear” Neiburger, Peace Day, Asheville, NC
– Jonathan Keller, Peace Now
– Margaret L Seely, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
– Zorobabel-Laplagne Loïc, Designer, France
– Djigui Diarra, Actor, Director, Journalist, France
– Nordine Saidi, Activist, Decolonize Belgium, Bruxelles Pantheres, Belgium
– Joan Gibbs, Esq.
– Cinque Brath, President, Elombe Brath Foundation
– Toby Emmer, Director, UAW, Worker-Family Education Program*
– Linda M Thurston, War Resisters League
– Ellen Barfield, War Resisters League
– John M Miller, War Resisters League
– Susan Kingsland, War Resisters League
– Tara Tabassi, War Resisters League
– Pancho Valdez, Workers World Party
– Ratsamy Siamnouay, Teacher, The Netherlands
– Peter Terryn, Coordinator, Solidarity for All, Belgium
– Judith Arnold, R.N., Ph.D.
– Kara Lynch, Associate Professor, Video and Critical Studies, Hampshire College
– Eseibio Halliday, Black Panther Party Volunteer Committee
– Ana Vasquez, Potrero Hill Projects Tenant & Family Advocate, San Francisco
– Jai D. Hudson, President, Of Royalty Art Collective
– Staajabu Staajabu, Writer, Poet, Straight Out Scribes, Sacramento
– Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, SUNY Binghampton
– Geoff Hagopian, Professor of Math and Computer Science, College of the Desert
– Julian Kunnie, First Nations Enforcement Agency
– Havard Winant, Distinguished Professor, Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara
– Les Gottesman, Professor Emeritus, Golden State University, San Francisco, California
– Marta Guthenberg, M.D.
– Myrna Cherkoss Donahoe, Professor Emeritus, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Chair of Mumia’s M.A. Thesis; South West Labor Association
– Mechthild Nagel, Ph.D., United Voices of Cortland, N.Y.
– Ira Gladnick, University of California, Santa Barbara
– Evan M Fales, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy, University of Iowa
– Sally Jane Gellert, Occupy Bergen County, N.J., Committees of Correspondence
– Diarapha H. Diallo, Just Justice Tours, France
– Dr. Jay Hanes, Associate Professor, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
– Jean Halley, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, College of Staten Island, CUNY; Women and Gender Studies, Graduate Center, CUNY
– Noah De Lissovoy, Associate Professor, Culture Studies in Education, University of Texas, Austin
– Demitrus Evans, Esq., The Evans Exoneration Project
– Don Schweitzer, St. Andrews College, Saskatoon, Canada
– Jeffrey L. Edison, Esq., National Conference of Black Lawyers, Michigan Chapter
– Julie Davis Carran, Westchester Martin Luther King Institute for Nonviolence
– Johnnie Stevens, Community Labor, United for Postal Jobs and Services
– Socialist Azanian Youth Revolutionary Organization, South Africa
– Lynne Stewart Organization
– Ralph Poynter, Co-founder with Betty Davis of New Abolitionist Organization
– Laura Whitehorn, Former Political Prisoner
– National Jericho Movement
– International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu- Jamal
– The MOVE Organization
– Educators for Mumia
– International Action Center
– Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, NYC
– Campaign to Free Mumia, Mobilization to Free Mumia, California
– Teachers for Mumia, Oakland
– Committee to Save Mumia, Free Mumia Network: Free Mumia Berlin, Free Mumia Frankfurt, Free Mumia Heidelberg and Free Mumia Nurnberg
– French Collective Libérons Mumia, encompassing 100 organizations and municipalities including Paris
– Saint-Denis Mumia Committee
– Amig@s de Mumia de México
– Bangladesh Jatiyo Sramik Federation; BJSF Trade Union Center
– Gonotantrik Mazdoor Party, Democratic Workers Party of Bangladesh
– Yury Hlushakou, Activist, Razam, Belarus
– Mark Vassilev, Historian, Russia
– Mafa Kwanisai Mafa, OCRFI Zimbabwe section
– Memory Mpandawana, OCRFI Zimbabwe section
– Simbarashe Gwenzi, Zimbabwe Movement of Pan African Socialists
– Takesure Pambuka, OCRFI Zimbabwe Section
– Tafirenyika Shoko, Zimbabwe Movement of Pan African Socialists
– Chenai Mpandawana, OCRFI Zimbabwe Section
– Prince Gapara, Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union
– Tapiwanashe Chikwinho, OCRFI Zimbabwe Section
– Diana Nkomo, Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union
– Shadreck Sorojena Matindike, Zimbabwe Movement of Pan African Socialists
– Kudakwashe Shambare, OCRFI Zimbabwe Section
– Samson Chuma, Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union
– Enock Nherera, OCRFI Zimbabwe Section
– Caleb Kuranga, OCRFI Zimbabwe Section
– Brian Konzo, Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union
– Runesu Gumbo, Zimbabwe Movement of Pan African Socialists
– Farai Kalubi, Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions
– San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper