Mumia Abu-Jamal Speaks to Labor Action Forums
They Hear Proof of His Innocence
San Francisco and Berkeley, October 12 and 13, 2001
Mumia Abu-Jamal sent a video-taped speech addressed to two Labor Action forums held in San Francisco and Berkeley over the weekend of October 12th and 13th, sponsored by the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Eliot Grossman, a member of the new team of lawyers representing the death-row political prisoner also addressed both forums. The video of former hit-man Arnold Beverly, in which he confesses to the murder for which Mumia has been on death row now for 20 years, was featured at both forums. You could hear a pin drop in both audiences, as this gripping testimonywhich has so far been ignored by the courts and media!was played.
Beverly says that he was hired to kill Police Officer Daniel Faulkner because Faulkner was a problem for the mob and corrupt politicians, because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity... Beverlys statement confirms that Mumia arrived on the scene only after the officer was shotthis is contrary to earlier reports about what happened. This confession shows that massive police corruptionthus far covered upis the real story in this case. Discussion at the forums focused on the confession, and copies of the video completely sold out by the end of the second forum on the Berkeley campus.
Mumia Abu-Jamal greeted the forums with a written statement, read by Jack Heyman, an executive board member of International Longshore Workers Union, Local 10, and an organizer of the West Coast longshore port shutdown to free Mumia in April 1999. (The complete statement is printed below.)
In July of this year, federal district Judge Yohn, who has Mumias habeas corpus appeal before him, refused to take the deposition of Arnold Beverly, despite its obvious relevance in showing that Mumia did not do the crime for which hes about to be sent to death! Yohn cited the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Acta crime bill signed by Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombingin his outrageous ruling. In other words, the judge who will be ruling on Mumias appeal refuses to consider the evidence that another man has confessed to the crime for which Mumia was convicted!
Attorney Grossman discussed this as well as Mumias current appeal in state court, the problems that led to Mumias hiring a new legal team, (which include the publication of a bogus inside-story book by former Mumia attorney Dan Williams,) and the inexcusable delay in getting the Arnold Beverly confession into court. The confession (including a copy of the video) has now been filed in state court as part of Mumias appeal.
The San Francisco forum, held in the San Francisco headquarters of the ILWU, was co-sponsored by the Rank and File ILWU Committee To Free Mumia. Local 10s president, Clarence Thomas, (no relation to the Supreme Court judge), opened the forum comparing Mumias case to longshore leader Harry Bridges who was also persecuted for his political views and had to fight deportation proceedings against him. Lively discussion followed the presentations.
Should this innocent frame-up victim go to his death, while someone else has confessed to the crime? Is there a statute of limitations on innocence? The verdict of these forums was a resounding NO! The Labor Action Committee sent checks totalling $2519.52, representing both cash and checks collected at the forums, to the Humanitarian Law Projectthe fund for Mumias legal defense. This is money desperately needed by the new legal team, which is short of funds for pursuing this urgent case. Contributions to Mumias legal defense, earmarked Mumia Abu Jamal, can be sent to Humanitarian Law Project, 8124 W. 3rd Street, Suite 105, Los Angeles, CA 90048.
ONA MOVE! Thank you for coming. Why is it important for labor people and labor organizers and other activists to join this fight for freedom and justice? On August 17th at a large gathering in Philadelphia, a group of construction workers hung a banner emblazoned with the words, Fry Mumia. I thought it was interesting, to say the least, that these guys would so this. I think that the fact that something like this would be done gives us some sense of the challenges facing labor organizers in this fight.
The people forced them to take it down, of course. But thats not the point. I am, and historically have always been, closer to the interests of these workersby class, by my personal history as a low-wage worker, and by my political orientationthan any politicians have, or any of their bosses or the police ever would be. Ive never seen a strike I didnt like.
But you can damn well bet that, when workers strike anywhere for anything, the first thing that their bosses will do is pit the armed forces of the State against them. Thats the history of America, whether youre talking about the Haymarket Square incident in Chicago, the United Farm Workers demonstration in San Francisco, or the Justice for Janitors demonstration in Los Angeles.
But what those Philadelphia construction workers apparently believe separates us is the illusion of race. And that illusion is so strong that they call for my death while I fight from death row for their lives and their well-being.
Labor is many things in this country, but it can be much more. It is a place where many of us come from different walks of life and meet in daily struggle for subsistence, a living wage, and, if we fight hard enough, the dignity of our work.
It is possible therefore, for working people to cross social, cultural, political and, yes, racial barriers to build a better reality for us all. That is only possible, however, if we recognize our class interests: who we really are, who our friends are, and that what unites us is infinitely stronger than what divides us. Our greatest weapon is each otherour unity.
I send this message to you today to acknowledge some of our weaknesses so that we can transform them into strengths and then build on them. You may think that I am a far distance from you, as I am on death row and have been here for many years, but I have fought long and hard battles with the State not just for my freedom, but for the principle that I am a worker. My work is not simply journalism, but a journalism of liberation, a journalism of humanity, a journalism that unites us instead of dividing us.
We are engaging in a hard and bitter struggle against a State that acknowledges no law, that changes the law from day to day, that violates its own precedents every day. Eliot will tell you, in his own fashion, about many of the legal issues involved here.
What none of us should forget is that the law is essentially a political process. It is not about justice, it is about power. If it was about justice, I would have been out of here many years ago. If it was about justice, I would not have been convicted in the first place.
What this case is about is how the State continues to use the law as an instrument of crime to achieve its political aims. In my mind, in my heart, in my political orientation, I am not far from you at all. What you do every day is what I do every day. You work hard for a better tomorrow. You work hard to transform the present into a new reality. You work for a day when your work will be respected, when your families will be safe, when, to quote the ignoble Judge Sabo, Justice is more than an emotional feeling. And you work for a day when innocence is not irrelevant.
You work for a day when the State reflects your interests rather than the interests of those who own it by dint of their wealth. You work for a day when you can see the common humanity in your fellow worker first, before any other consideration.
We have joined together in that struggle. For me, prison is just another arena of struggle. I look forward to the near future when I can join your struggle where you work and where you live. I thank you. ONA MOVE! LONG LIVE JOHN AFRICA!
Write us! firstname.lastname@example.org