Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Pennsylvania Governor expected to set May death date.


Fifth Estate # 352, Winter, 1999


If a death warrant for Mumia is signed, demonstrate the next day, 6 p.m. at local federal buildings & city halls.

Death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeal for a new trial was denied by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court October 30 in an order upholding every detail of his racist and unfair frame-up. He is now under immediate threat of being executed.

Typical of the rigged justice Mumia has received since his 1982 murder conviction of a Philadelphia police officer, the ruling was signed by Justice Ronald Castillo who, as a city district attorney, played a key role ten years ago in denying Mumia a new trial at that time. As DA, Castillo signed all the prosecution’s briefs filed against Mumia’s appeal to the State Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania’s right-wing Governor Thomas Ridge, a compliant tool of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), has pledged to sign a new death warrant as soon as the appeal was denied. So, as you read this, Mumia may already be facing an execution date which supporters think could be set as early as May.

Demonstrations erupted internationally upon word of the denial of a new trial, and Mumia’s lawyers are preparing to take his case into federal court. Also, contingency plans are in place for actions if a death date is announced.

According to the New York City Mumia Coalition organizer, Safia Bukhari, “This decision is an outrage. We plan to fight the racist so-called justice system all the way. Justice Castillo, who signed the order, has a major conflict of interest. Not only was he instrumental in the denial of Mumia’s original appeal, he was responsible for making an instructional video tape that kept African-Americans off juries in Philadelphia for years.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man, an eloquent and outspoken opponent of racism and injustice who was hounded by the Philadelphia police and FBI since the time he was a teenage spokesman for the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s. Jamal remained in the cross hairs of the cops as he went on to become a renowned journalist and supporter of the MOVE organization in the late 1970s.

This judicial ruling has been prepared by a sinister campaign by the Philadelphia FOP and its supporters. In 1995, it took a massive campaign of international protest, including by trade unions representing millions of workers from Italy to South Africa, to stay the hands of the executioners when Ridge had signed an earlier warrant for Jamal’s death. While Jamal’s attorneys fight to wield every legal weapon they can in his defense, what is urgently needed are mass mobilizations.

It is no accident that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling was released only days before the November elections. The Pennsylvania high court is elected by party designation, and several of the justices received the FOP endorsement. It was pay-off time.

In a demonstration of flagrant bias, the court ruling dismisses as “incredible” every piece of testimony by witnesses testifying on Jamal’s behalf and every piece of evidence submitted by his defense team. At the same time, they find totally “credible” every action and piece of testimony by the Philadelphia cops which is so notorious for its racist frame-up system that the U.S. Attorney General filed a civil rights lawsuit charging “widespread, arbitrary, and unreasonable physical abuse” of witnesses and suspects. In the last three years alone, hundreds of convictions in Philadelphia have been thrown out on such grounds.

The Court ruling also upheld every action by notorious hanging judge Albert Sabo, who presided over the original farce of a trial and the post-conviction hearings. Sabo’s pro-prosecution bias was so blatant that the Philadelphia Daily News, which generally serves as a mouthpiece for the police, complained that Sabo’s “heavy handed tactics can only confirm suspicions that the court is incapable of giving Abu-Jamal a fair hearing.”

Despite the rigged trial and hearings conducted by Sabo, a mountain of evidence has come out demonstrating Jamal’s innocence and the tactics of lies, coercion and terror wielded by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office and the cops to secure Jamal’s conviction. At least five witnesses from different vantage points told police that another man—not Jamal, who was found slumped on the street after being shot in the chest—had run from the scene of the shooting.

The prosecution’s claim that Jamal’s legally registered pistol was the murder weapon is refuted by the simple fact that there is no evidence that the gun was even fired that night, much less by Mumia.

The executioner’s axe is being sharpened. If Pennsylvania carries out its threat to execute Mumia, it will be an international incident comparable to Nigeria’s execution of anti-Shell environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa.

The international Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal are calling on people to respond to negative court decisions or the setting of a death date with demonstrations in their local area the next work day, and regional demonstrations the following week-end. Be ready!

Federal statutes make death penalty appeals difficult; our strength to save Mumia lies in the streets, not the courts.

10 Things You can Do To Help Free Mumia

  1. BE READY FOR ACTION WHEN AN EXECUTION DATE IS SET. Make sure your community is ready to respond in the streets.
  2. CONTRIBUTE TO MUMIA ABU-JAMAL’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND. Send check payable to Black United Fund/Mumia Abu Jamal/LDF; mail to BUF, 2227 N. Broad St., Philadelphia PA 19132
  3. CALL, WRITE, FAX, OR EMAIL THE PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR to demand a new and fair trial for Mumia and no death warrant. Gov. Tom Ridge, Main Capitol Building, Rm 225, Harrisburg, PA 17120. governor@state.PA.US; Tel 717—787-2500.
  4. CALL OR WRITE PENN. CHIEF JUSTICE P. FLAHERTY TO DEMAND A NEW AND FAIR TRIAL FOR MUMIA! Penn. Supreme Court, Six Gateway Center, Suite 6161, 11 Stanwix St., Pittsburgh PA 15222; Tel 412—565-5525.
  6. CONTACT PRISON WARDEN PHILIP L. JOHNSON and let him know you are aware of Mumia’s case and the horrific human rights violations at SCI Greene Prison, 1030 East Roy Furman Highway, Waynesburg, PA 15370; phone 412—852-2902.
  7. WRITE MUMIA and let him know that you care and you will struggle with him for justice. Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335,1040 East Roy Furman Hwy., Waynesburg PA 15370.
  8. BOYCOTT THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA. Call 1-800—VISITPA to say you won’t visit Pennsylvania or support Pennsylvania corporations until Mumia has received a new trial and all executions are halted. Major companies to boycott: Hershey’s, Quaker State Oil, Cannondale Bikes, Dial soap, Heinz Pet Products, Harley Davidson, Rolling Rock, Pepperidge Farms, Procter & Gamble. All major state companies are listed at:
  9. COUNTER MEDIA DISINFORMATION by confronting the networks, writers, and broadcasters who publish lies and police propaganda. Read and listen to Mumia’s books and radio essays: Live From Death Row; “From Death Row, This is Mumia Abu-Jamal” (CD’s & Tapes); Death Blossoms, and “Race for Justice.” See the brilliant fast paced film “Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Case for Reasonable Doubt?” available at your local video store distributed by Fox Lorber. Also available from Prison Radio/Quixote; 415—648-4505.
  10. CONTACT INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FRIENDS AND FAMILY OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL, P.O. Box 19709, Philadelphia PA 19143, Tel (215) 476-8812; Fax (215) 476-7551; E-mail:,

In Detroit, contact the Mumia Coalition at BX 09173 Detroit MI 48209; 313—869-8383 or 628-4932