“BRICK BY BRICK AND WALL BY WALL! WE WILL FREE MUMIA ABU JAMAL!” was just one of the many phrases chanted out by the hundreds of protesters who marched through the streets of the nation’s capital two days after Jamal’s 56 physical day.
Exponents of the activist and prominent writer advanced towards the front steps of the Department of Justice [DOJ] in Washington D.C., demanding a thorough Civil Rights investigation into Mumia’s death-penalty case.
This past Monday morning disgruntled supporters, some who took off from work and traveled from far away places, representing many different organizations, and from various ethnicities, first gathered in mass at Presbyterian Church on New York Avenue to express their concerns over the political prisoner’s plight at this dire juncture of his situation.
Many of them revealed what they contend to be trumped-up charges by the Philadelphia police, concealed evidence by Pennsylvania prosecutors – including the identity of the alleged actual killer of the cop, and other injustices in Jamal’s case.
Then a few hours later they jammed up early afternoon traffic on their way to the nearby DOJ, where they again displayed their dissatisfaction, before presenting a petition – signed by tens of thousands of opponents to Jamal’s sentence, from throughout the world – to a young representative from attorney general Eric Holder’s office, named Ross Weinberg – who was surrounded by 8 armed uniformed federal personnel.
Once at the steps of 915 Pennsylvania Ave., in call & response fashion, repeated rhythmic chants of:
“ONE! WE ARE THE PEOPLE! – TWO! A LITTLE BIT LOUDER! – THREE! WE WANT JUSTICE FOR MOO-MEE-AHH!” were shouted by the loyal backers of the original Black Panther member, who has been incarcerated for over 28 years, most of them in solitary confinement in a 6’ x 10’ prison cell – on 23 hours a day lockdown.
“COME DOWN & LISTEN! TAKE COMPETITION!” demanded the demonstrators, prior to Weinberg coming outside to meet the Free Mumia delegation who contacted the DOJ in previous weeks leading up to April 26th. Although he declined to comment, Weinberg did meet the Free Mumia Coalition contingent around the back of the DOJ building to receive the petitions packed in boxes, along with thousands of international letters of support.
“I don’t know if these people think that we’re some type of joke or something, but we are of the utmost seriousness,” declared ardent Mumia supporter Pam Afrika. “We’re not the kind of people to play games with. Y’all have been playing all types of games with us. We’re not the people that you can say [to]… ‘We’ll have a meeting,’ then [you] don’t have it!”
“We asked to have a meeting with Holder because there is some injustices that is happening here in the case of Mumia. Holder and Obama are due to be in Philadelphia on July 4th, and we’re organizing a massive demonstration, because one thing we want you to understand is that Mumia is innocent! Y’all killed Shaka Sankofa who was innocent, Tookie Williams, and a whole lot of people, but at some point it’s gotta stop!”
Reverend Luis Barrios – St Mary’s Church added, “ This is what we’re asking for… an investigation into Civil Rights violations, it’s very simple. We’re ready to show you how the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, and how police corruption made this man guilty, and they want to kill him… but we’re not going to let them kill him!”
Dr. Tameka Cage, a literary professor from Pittsburg proclaimed: “This is an ethical concern… and we’re asking [the DOJ] to not just be a building, not just be suits & ties, to not just be ‘business as usual’. What we’re asking for is something that makes me think about what Dr. [Martin Luther] King said the night before he died… He said, ‘I just want America to do what it says on paper!’ And while I’m really thinking about what it says on paper, is: life: liberty and the pursuit of happiness!”
“We want to appeal to that core of humanity that we all have. Within all of us there is compassion, humility and there is humanity which goes far deeper than what we do for a living, than who we are professionally – that goes to the heart. And the moral question is… How can you sleep at night when there’s a man who is unjustly on death row?
How can you exist in freedom when he does not? How can you be satisfied with someone dying by lethal injection for a crime that they did not commit?
And if that happens… Mumia’s blood will be bathed not just in the room where he will be murdered, but his blood will be bathed all around the White House, all around the DOJ… and what is going to happen if that happens, is far worst than if he dies… and that is what’s real!”
Mumia’s supporters are not just limited to the more mature audiences, some of whom have seen the struggles from prior decades; such as those from; the Civil Rights movement of the ‘60s, the Black Power era of the ‘70s, and the rebellious Hip-Hop generation who survived the torrent crack epidemic of the ‘80s & ‘90s; but also the current youth as well.
Zoey Wilmont, a young college student representing a youth movement named ‘Lucha’ [‘fight’ in Spanish] read a written statement:
“As students who form a part of the younger generation we recognize how valuable Mumia is as a leader, a scholar and an activist. Mumia represents social justice and has inspired each of us to struggle alongside his many supporters until he is free. Lucha urges for a Civil Rights investigation of Mumia’s case.
In 1982, he was unjustly tried and convicted and hasn’t received fair treatment from our justice system since then. Mumia’s case represents the many injustices and contradictions that keeps over 2 million people in U.S. jails or prisons today. A Civil Rights investigation of Mumia’s case would only demonstrate justice towards him.
Mumia’s voice is needed. When he spoke to our students his main message was about the power of love and the struggle for justice. We cannot afford to lose the voice of an international symbol who; educates, inspires and stands by the people. We are here today and will remain in the struggle until Mumia receives just treatment. In total solidad en la lucha – free Mumia!”
Then Brother Reyes followed up, explaining why he and his comrades drove 7 hours from Albany… “to support an innocent man.” He then revealed:
“Since we’re standing in front of the DOJ it seems appropriate that we talk about the fact that a well respected court stenographer stated the judge who sat on Mumia’s trial [Sabo] said, ‘I’m going to help them fry the n*%%@!’ That’s a fact! It’s on the record! Look it up! Did you know that 22 members of the British Parliament wrote Amicus Briefs on Mumia’s behalf?
We’re not going to let him die in this prison system! Mumia in the U.S.A. is what Mandela was in South Africa! And that’s what we’re here for, to make that clear! It’s freedom-fighters like Mumia who made it possible for Holder and Obama to hold the positions they have! It was the struggles for the rights of Black Americans which made such a thing possible!”
Pops – Committee to Honor Black Heroes- questioned,- “This is supposed to be the DOJ so how can we count on you to do us justice? You have an innocent man on death-row. What goes around comes around. You may have children that will be in the same predicament [one day]. You are the ones who are murderers if you allow him to be killed!”
Next up, Hip-Hop activist/artist Immortal Technique analytically assessed the purpose of the protest:
“We are here to represent what the American way is: the privilege and the right to live here and to protest and to petition our government face-to-face. This is not a government! It’s just people over-ruling other people. Look up the facts of the case: the ballistics evidence, the witnesses who have been tampered with, the injustices from the DA’s office, and the judge.”
Private investigator and husband of another current political-prisoner, attorney Lynne Stewart, Ralph Poynter concluded:
“It should be made clear here, that today is the first day of the trials against Holder and Obama. Mumia has been unjustly convicted of a crime he did not commit, and we are here to say that Mumia represents the injustices done to us since 1619, through Jim Crow and other unjust killings and wars that are still taking place today.
So Mr. Obama, students and minorities voted for you and people around the world look to you for justice! So your trial begins today! And we will watch every move that you make regarding Mumia Abu Jamal, because this represents the moves you will make regarding us. Do it right Mr. Obama, because we are not going to allow you to do it wrong, in peace!”