Wednesday, November 01, 2006

April 22, 2006 PHOTOS: French Delegates Arrive for Mumia

PHOTOS: French Delegates Arriv by Hans Bennett
Ramona Africa speaks outside Philly City Hall

Link to Bennett's new "Voice of the Voiceless" series on Abu-Jamal, published in the weeks leading up to December 9--the 25th anniversary of Abu-Jamal's arrest.



On the afternoon of Friday, Aprill 22, supporters of Black journalist and death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, gathered outside of City Hall and DA Abraham’s office for a “Honk for Mumia” demonstration that greeted the numerous French delegates that had just arrived. While a good handful of pedestrians and motorists shouted the typically threatening and racially-charged diatribes that Mumia supporters are used to, many more motorists honked and yelled in support of Abu-Jamal’s appeal for a new trial and eventual freedom. Furthermore, numerous pedestrians and commuters waiting at the bus stop took literature about Mumia’s case and were actively reading it.

At approximately 6pm, the French delegation arrived at the demonstration after their unsuccessful attempt to meet with Mayor John Street. Their arrival came one week before a large U.S. delegation will be joining a ceremony in Sainte Denis, France for the naming of a newly constructed street next to the Nelson Mandela Stadium in honor of Mumia. This street has been constructed to bring attention to this struggle for justice and leads to Nelson Mandela stadium--the largest stadium in all of France.

The protesters then marched to the Friends Center just blocks away for an evening of speakers and musical performances.

Among the many speakers was local Black attorney, activist, and radio personality Michael Cord. Through his summarization of the ballistics evidence that was used to convict Abu-Jamal, he argued that Mumia was not just “legally” innocent, but that he was “factually” innocent. Among several pieces of evidence presented, Coard cited the suspicious lack of a powder residue test on Mumia’s hand (that fateful December, 1981 morning) to see if he had recently fired a weapon. Coard argued that the police probably tested his hand, but when they found no trace of gunpowder residue, the results were hidden and removed from the record.

Ramona Africa, Minister of Information for the MOVE organization, updated the crowd on the case of the MOVE 9.She explained that their most recent appeal had just been turned down in March, and therefore the MOVE 9 prisoners have decided to abandon their extensive legal arguments for freedom because they feel that it is only a waste of time and energy to work within the system like that. Instead, they will now be referring to MOVE founder John Africa’s famous “Judge’s Letter” speech that he made during his own trial in the early 1980s.

Ramona also explained that in 2008, the MOVE 9 would be eligible for parole, since would have all completed 30 years of their 30-100 year sentence resulting from the 1978 police assault on their West Philadelphia home… to read more about this, please link to:

Concluding the evening was the usual fiery speech from ICFFMAJ coordinator Pam Africa who emphasized just how important things are right now in Mumia’s case. Volunteers are needed to help with organizing, but Africa also urged people to do whatever they can in their own community to help spread the word.

According to Pam Africa (in an interview following the day's events), Mayor Street's office contacted the French delegation and told them that he wanted to meet with them personally, but since he was busy he would send his assistant Mr. Taylor to meet with them. However when the French arrived at Street's office expecting to meet Taylor, nobody was present.
Street’s unwillingness to meet with the French delegates is most likely due to events last winter.

Last February (2005), the French had a meeting with Taylor and were presented with miniature Liberty Bells. Despite the fact that Street's aide did not express much support for Mumia's appeal, the Liberty Bell gift was too much for the Maureen Faulkner/F.O.P. - led "Fry Mumia" lynch mob. For several days after the French met with Taylor, the local newspapers were filled with editorials condemning the actions of Mayor Street's office. Many local journalists (including Michael Smerconish) were accusing Mayor Street of being a “closeted” Mumia supporter.

In the aftermath, Maureen Faulkner (the wife of slain Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner) publicly claimed that Street had apologized to her in a private telephone conversation and said he believed Mumia was guilty and had been properly convicted & sentenced in 1982. This controversial statement by Maureen Faulkner was never publicly affirmed by Mayor Street.

To the contrary, Sundiata Sadiq (of the Ossining, NY chapter of the NAACP) and Pam & Ramona Africa had a meeting with Street following Faulkner's public claim. According to these 3 Mumia supporters, Street told them during their private meeting that Faulkner was lying about his statement. However, when the 3 urged Street to publicly state that, he did not comply and has still never publicly rebuked Faulkner.


Mumia’s current legal situation has been summarized very well by Philadelphia journalists Linn Washington and Dave Lindorff on the Counterpunch magazine website. As Lindorff explained in December, 2005, “the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has agreed to hear arguments on three claims by Pennsylvania death-row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal that his 1982 trial and state appeal were tainted by constitutional violations. Any one of those three claims, if upheld by the three-judge panel, could lead to a new trial for one of America's most famous and long-standing death row prisoners, a Philadelphia-based journalist and former Black Panther activist who was convicted of the 1981 shooting murder of a white Philadelphia police officer. To read the rest of the article, please link to:

In another Counterpunch article, Temple University professor Linn Washington documented the Philadelphia media’s reluctance to report on this development:

honk for mumia by Hans Bennett
honk for Mumia

taking to the streets by Hans Bennett
City Hall on right, DA's office straight ahead

asshole by Hans Bennett
Fry Mumia?: Angry motorist curses us out as he drives by in his car.

honk to save mumia by Hans Bennett

eyes of the police state? by Hans Bennett
Philly PD Civil Affairs eye the protest in front of them.

lining the street by Hans Bennett
City Hall

Ramona and Mike Africa by Hans Bennett
Ramona & Mike Africa with other Protesters

French youth by Hans Bennett
Young girl visiting from France waves flag for Mumia

Pam Africa fires up crowd by Hans Bennett
Pam Africa fires up crowd outside City Hall

joining together for Mumia by Hans Bennett
City Hall

friends center by Hans Bennett

taking the corner by Hans Bennett
Outside Friends Center, downtown Philly

French delegates by Hans Bennett

French delegates show new book/magazine on Mumia recently published in France.

Rachel Wolkenstein by Hans Bennett
Former lawyer for Mumia, Rachel Wolkenstein

Bagpipes for Mumia by Hans Bennett
Bagpipes for Mumia

Michael Cord speaks by Hans Bennett
Lawyer and local activist Michael Cord speaks

Pam with French delegates by Hans Bennett
Pam Africa with French delegates

Last Year at Mayor Street's of by Hans Bennett
Last Year at Mayor Street's office with French delegates

Link to Bennett's new "Voice of the Voiceless" series on Abu-Jamal, published in the weeks leading up to December 9--the 25th anniversary of Abu-Jamal's arrest.