Reports of IBT participation in emergency
Mumia Abu-Jamal, 28-29 March
The International Bolshevik Tendency took an active role in a
series of emergency demonstrations around the world on 28-29 March in protest
of the outrageous decision of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold
the conviction of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an innocent man framed for a killing he had
nothing to do with.
Wellington, 29 March
In Wellington, New Zealand, the IBT took the lead in
organizing a small demonstration for Mumia in front of the U.S. Embassy. A
number of peace activists and anarchists attended (including one of those
arrested in the bogus anti-terror sweep last October). Bill Logan
of the IBT read a statement of protest from Helen Kelly, leader of the New
Zealand Council of Trade Unions Te Kauae Kaimahi. Marcus Hayes, speaking
on behalf of the IBT, said the following:
The first demonstration in defence of Mumia Abu-Jamal that I went
on was right here about 18 years ago, in August 1990. By then Mumia had already
been in jail for about 8 years. He was convicted and sentenced in 1982, 26
years ago. In 1982, Thatcher and Reagan were still in the early years of their
reigns, and the Clash came to New Zealand. It is, for many, a lifetime ago. For
Mumia, its at least half a life.
Two days ago the U.S. federal Court of Appeals in Pennsylvania
finally handed down a decision in response to a number of motions put forward
by Mumias legal team. The appeals court rejected Mumias motion for
a new trial. Although it confirmed an earlier appeal decision quashing
Mumias death sentence for now, it has also revived the possibility of
execution, by ruling that the Pennsylvania state courts must hold a new
sentencing hearing within six months, one outcome of which could be a new death
sentence, or else Mumia must be sentenced to life imprisonment. This new ruling
means Mumia will either be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison,
unless we mobilise in his defence.
This new ruling confirms what the International Bolshevik Tendency
and others involved in the campaign have been saying for a long time
that the capitalist justice system cant be relied on to free
despite the ludicrous farce that was his original trial.
In the U.S. justice system, in the Land of the Fee and the Home of the Slave,
clearly innocence is no defence. Mumia just shouldnt have been
black and driving around the streets at night in the first place.
What can make a difference are the worldwide mobilisations
in Mumias defence, of unionists, workers and other activists, of which
this demonstration today is a small part. International protest stayed the hand
of the executioner in 1995. We believe that the mobilisation of the labour
movement and the working class can make the decisive difference.
Many of you will be familiar with the specifics of the racist
frame-up that put Mumia on death row in the early 1980s as a supposed
cop-killer. The prosecutions ballistics evidence was ludicrously weak
in fact it supported Mumias innocence. The eyewitness testimony
mostly supported Mumias story not the prosecutions, but the
prosecution and the police leaned heavily on several witnesses, threatening
them with lengthy jail time.
The centrepiece of the prosecutions case was a supposed
confession from Mumia. The genesis of this confession went
basically like this months after Mumia was arrested and beaten by the
Philadelphia cops, the prosecutors were having a meeting with the cops who were
The prosecutor says something like Hmm, thinking about our
evidence in this case, I dont suppose any of you guys heard him
confess? And the cops say Well, now that you come to mention it,
back in the hospital that night, we did hear him confess. You can imagine
how something like that would have slipped their minds the first time around.
The confession story was directly contrary to the reports of the medical staff
and the cop who were with Mumia that night.
Mumias case is of course not just about Mumia, something
that Mumia himself has always been very aware of. Its about the racism
thats a structural element of the U.S. state, its justice system, and the
death penalty. Mumias conviction was retribution by the Philadelphia city
establishment for years of outspoken opposition to racist police brutality.
More generally, the racist death penalty is an important means of
state terrorism and intimidation. Its the modern version of lynching,
with some judicial process thrown in and for Mumia and many others, not
even very much of that.
. . .
If Mumia is set free, it will be a significant blow against the
racist U.S. justice system. The appeals judges who handed down this latest
decision two days ago know that very well.
Events in the last few months in New Zealand have made even
clearer the parallels between state terror by the U.S. capitalist state, both
in the U.S. and abroad, and the racist state terror practised by the NZ Pakeha
capitalist state. In October last year and subsequently, the state here has
targeted those who are among the most vocal opponents of racism, particularly
with a long tradition of opposition to and independence from the NZ state.
From Governor Greys massive raid on the Waikato in the early
1860s, to the attacks on Tuhoe in the Ureweras during WWI, to Bastion Pt in the
late 1970s, to Moutoa Gardens in the mid-1990s, to 2007 and 2008, theres
a clear line of racist attacks, attacks which have been necessary to forge and
maintain the rule of the Anglo-Pakeha capitalist class. These attacks have been
aimed not only at direct repression of Māori theyre about
generating divisions among all working people, and preventing a unified fight
against the capitalist class.
We desperately need a society that operates according to different
rules a socialist system organised by ordinary working people in their
own interests. It will be then that the human species can demonstrate that
racism is not an inherent part of the human condition but rather an
inherent part of particular stages of history. The fight to organise broad
opposition by workers and activists in defence of Mumia Abu-Jamal is important
right now, on its own terms, but it can also play a small role in building a
class-based movement towards a new and better stage of history.
In London, England, IBT comrades participated in a
demonstration of 30-odd across from the U.S. Embassy. The protest was initiated
by the Partisan Defence Committee-Spartacist League/Britain. Christoph
Lichtenberg made the following remarks for the IBT:
Hello, my name is Christoph. I am speaking on behalf of the
International Bolshevik Tendency. We helped to organise the last protest here
on 17 May 2007 when the Federal Appeals Court heard the oral arguments by the
prosecution and Mumias defence team.
Mumias life is in danger!
Yesterdays ruling by the court means that Mumia will either
be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison. We must prevent this! The
ruling class of the U.S. want to silence a critic who has spoken out against
racism and police brutality. The judges, who dance to the tune of their
paymasters, have returned a class verdict. They want to silence the voice
of the voiceless.
If you are black and poor, and these two things usually go
together, you count for very little as the treatment of the black
residents of New Orleans by the government has shown in the aftermath of
Katrina. If you are black and poor and you fight back, the state will either
throw you in jail or execute you.
Mumia is innocent. But the U.S. legal system is not interested in
that. For them his innocence is just an obstacle in their quest to oppress and
kill those who fight for freedom. In the past they executed the anarchists
Sacco and Vanzetti. Now they want to do the same thing to Mumia. It is up to us
to stop this!
International protest stayed the hand of the executioner in 1995.
We believe that the mobilisation of the working class can make the decisive
difference. The working class has the social power to stop the plans of the
We have always said that Mumia supporters should have no faith in
the legal system. And this decision has proved that right. This is the time for
action! We need more and bigger protests. We must not rest until Mumia can once
again join our ranks in the fight against a system that is rotten to the core.
Join us at the next protest here on  April.
Mumia is innocent!
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Toronto, 28 March
In Toronto, Canada, Tom Riley of the IBT made the following
remarks to some 60 participants in a demonstration initiated by the Partisan
Defense Committee-Trotskyist League of Canada, in front of the U.S. Consulate.
The International Bolshevik Tendency protests the outrageous
decision of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the racist
frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia is an innocent man, who the U.S. ruling
class wants to silence. He was targeted because he was a Black Panther, and
then a MOVE supporter, who was not afraid to oppose injustice.
The key to winning Mumias freedom lies in mobilizing the
power of organized labor and its allies. In April 1999, the longshore union
provided an example of this when they shut down every port on the U.S. West
Coast in solidarity with Mumia. On Mayday this year the ILWU [International
Longshore and Warehouse Union] is again planning on shutting down shipping on
the West Coastthis time in opposition to the imperialist wars being waged
by Canada, Britain, the U.S. and others in Afghanistan and Iraq. A successful
action of this sort can provide important momentum for broader class struggle
in North America and thus concretely advance the fight to free Mumia.
We in the IBT have been active in defense of Mumia since 1991. We
have participated in every demonstration in Toronto in his defense, and have
co-sponsored and helped initiate a number of actions.
proposed to the PDC that todays demonstration be organized as a
united front of all those groups which support the demand for Mumias
freedom, but they rejected that. This is a sectarian error in our view because
the fight to win Mumias freedom will be stronger by uniting the efforts
of all those who support himrather than having any particular small group
try to exert control.
At the same time, we recognize that the PDC, and particularly its
American parent the Spartacist League, has played a very important role in
Mumias defense. Their single most important contribution was to uncover
the real story about the killing of officer Daniel Faulkner and obtaining the
confession of the real killerArnold Beverly.
But the U.S. federal courts, like those of Pennsylvania, have
decreed that innocence is no defense for a black person targeted by their
racist justice system and have refused to hear Beverlys
confession. The decision of the Third Circuit stands as a stark reminder that
oppressed people can expect no justice from the capitalist courts. That is why
we of the IBT have always rejected the liberal/reformist call raised by some
leftists for a New Trial for Mumia. Mumia is innocent! We
call for freeing him, not recycling him through the racist system that framed
him up in the first place!
As Marxists we know that justice for working people and the
oppressed will only be obtained through the revolutionary overthrow of the
capitalist social system which is based on exploitation, racism and oppression!
The IBT took the lead in organizing a small protest in Albany,
New York. We participated in a rally of 200 for Mumia in Harlem (New York City)
organized by the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition and also in a PDC-Spartacist
League event in Oakland that drew more than 30 participants. In Germany our
comrades raised Mumias case while participating in a demonstration in
Mönchengladbach in defense of jailed class-war prisoners of the Red Army
Mönchengladbach, 29 March