Mumia Index

“OUT OF GEORGIA” by Mumia Abu-Jamal

   For several weeks now, Georgia has been the site of some of the largest prison protests in years. Prisoners throughout the state, using smuggled cell phones, have coordinated self-initiated lock-ins, where they refuse to leave their cells to work or recreate.

   One would think that such an action would please prison officials, but when prisoners organize, even to <i>lock themselves</i> up, prison officials get worried, and they bring out the tools with which they are too accustomed: violence, beatings, retaliatory transfers and isolation cells.

   On Dec. 9th, prisoners began their actions, seeking what sounds like pretty standard demands and reforms: access to educational opportunities, fair parole procedures, decent medical care, nutritional meals, pay for their labor and an end to cruel and unusual treatment by staff.

   Thousands of men; Black, Latino, Whites, Muslims, Rastas, Christians, at Georgia’s Augusta, Baldwin, Calhoun, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Rogers, Telfair, Valdosta and Ware state prisons joined in this nonviolent protest. No staff members nor prison property has been either threatened, damage or harmed.

   Elaine Brown, former head of the Black Panther Party, has helped these men through the newly formed Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights, and has spoken out in their support, as have Georgia’s NAACP, Nation of Islam and a host of other groups.  Some Coalition members have visited Macon prison, near Atlanta, to get a first hand look at conditions.

   Black Agenda Radio’s Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford have carried the story, via the Internet, around the world, and the world is responding with support, by emailing and phoning prison officials and GA politicians to support these just and modest demands.

   At last report, despite government repression, the strike is spreading by leaps and bounds –as it should!

 © Mumia Abu-Jamal  December 29, 2010

Books by Mumia

1995.  Live from Death Row. Introduction by John Edgar Wideman. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.

 

 

1997.  Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience. Foreword by Cornel West. Preface by Julia Wright. Farmington, PA: Plough Publishing House.

 

 

2000.  All Things Censored. Foreword by Alice Walker. Edited by Noelle J. Hanrahan. New York: Seven Stories Press.

 

 

2003.  Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life of African and African-American People. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, Inc.

 

 

2004.  We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party. Introduction by Kathleen Cleaver. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.

Articles and Essays by Mumia Abu-Jamal

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, “Intellectuals and the Gallows,” in Imprisoned Intellectuals: America’s Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion. Edited by Joy James (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003),179-84.

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, “Caged and Celibate,” Prison Masculinities, edited by Don Sabo, Terry A. Kupers, and Willie London (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001), 139-42.

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, ”Killing Time,” Forbes Magazine (November 30, 1998): 106

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, “B-Block Days and Nightmares”(1990), “Skeleton Bay”(1993), “Already Out of the Game”(1994), in Prison Writing in 20th Century America, edited by H. Bruce Franklin (New York: Penguin Books, 1998), 350-57.

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, “Teetering on the Brink between Death and Life,” The Yale Law Review 100 (January 1991): 993ff.

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, “Things Go Round”  and “Sister Mona Africa,” in Hauling Up the Morning/Izando la Manana: Writings and Art by Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War in the U.S. Edited by Tim Blunk and Raymond Luc Levasseur (Trenton, NJ: The Red Sea Press, 1990), 326-31.

Articles and Essays about Mumia Abu-Jamal

1995. Stuart Taylor, “Guilty and Framed,” American Lawyer magazine (December 1995). Concludes that Jamal probably fired one shot, but he was framed in a totally unfair trial.

Books about Mumia

 

1996. In Defense of Mumia: An Anthology of Prose, Poetry and Art. Edited by S. E. Anderson and Tony Medina. New York : Writers & Readers Publishing, Inc.

 

 

1996. Race for Justice: Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Fight Against the DeathPenalty. By Leonard Weinglass. Introduction by E. L. Doctorow.  Monroe, Maine : Common Courage Press.

 

 

2000. The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Life in the Balance. Amnesty International. New York : Seven Stories Press.

 

 

2000.  On a Move: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Foreword by Chuck D. Litmus Books.

 

 

2001.  Executing Justice: An Inside Account of the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. By Daniel R. Williams. With a foreword by E. L. Doctorow. New York: St. Martin ’s Press.

 

 

2003.  Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. By Dave Lindorff. M onroe, Maine : Common Courage Press.

“WORLD TO COME”

I’m always intrigued when talking heads rush to comfort their viewers with news that the economy is bouncing back because, for that day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average may be performing well.

The Dow is an average of the stock gains and losses of 30 major companies — 30.  Do you know some of those companies?

Well, you may not know you know, but here are a few that you may recognize: American International Group (otherwise known as AIG).  General Motors (GM), and Citigroup, Inc. These companies are now trading at almost historic lows.  AIG’s shares sold at a price of $49.24 per share about a year ago – by midweek it sold for $1.08 per share; GM shares cost $24.24 several months ago, but it’s around $1.93 now; and Citigroup’s highest stock price in 2009 was $27.35, it’s price-per-share on Thurs., April 9, 2009 was $2.70.

(Boy, I bet that made you feel a whole lot more secure, huh?)

The Dow Jones is a snapshot of a tiny fraction of the national economy, but even so, its rises and falls don’t speak of the larger economic state.

By an reliable measure, the U.S. economy is not growing, but contracting.  The jobless rate has recently climbed to the highest levels since 1983, and already this recession is expected to be the longest in 70 years!

If one looks around the world for countries with positive growth rates, two emerge (and neither one are in the West): China, and India.

Now, this is not to say they’re not facing serious economic, social and political challenges. China’s economy, driven largely by exports to the U.S., has dropped by 50%.  Yet, internal economic activity, and other export production, may boost growth to 6% in 2009.

Most of Europe (like its American cousin) is looking at contraction — not growth.

Before the most recent G-20 (group of 20 developed or growing economies) economic summit, when a subdued group met in Davos, Switzerland (2009), Russia’s Premier Vladimir Putin lectured those present, and more ominously, called for an end to the present reserve currency system (the U.S. dollar).

Putin said, “Excessive dependence on a single reserve currency is dangerous for the global economy. Consequently, it would  be sensible to encourage the objective process creating several strong reserve currencies in the future.” *

The world’s reserve currency (the U.S. dollar) is used both as a tool to trade in commodities, such as crude oil, and as an investment in itself, such as in Treasury notes (called ‘T-bills’)

Both uses send hundreds of billions into American treasuries.

To cut that off could spell an unprecedented fall in the value of the U.S. dollar, and send the American economy spiraling downward.

Today, as one of the world’s biggest buyers of US Treasury notes, China is in a powerful position.

© 2009 Mumia Abu-Jamal

* [ Labour & Trade Union Review, March 2009, page 4 ]

“BEATING BACK BATSON”

[NOTE from Sis. Marpessa:  Here's a link to excerpts of Ass't DA McMahon's training video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv9SJPa_dF8 ]

Check that short piece out (57 secs), and then please re-read this piece Bro. Mumia wrote last year:

Beating Back Batson
[col. writ. 9/6/08] (c) ’08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

For those who read court opinions, few can ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1986 Batson v. Kentucky decision.

Essentially, it prohibited the State from removing Black jurors for racial reasons. It re-wrote the rules from the Swain v. Alabama ( 1965) case, where the court required systematic discrimination over a number of cases, over a period of years. Needless to say, such a challenge was clearly beyond the resources of most people, and relatively few were made, and even fewer successful. It is hard to resist the suspicion that this was merely judicial lip service to a principle that was easily ignored, in the breach.

For, it took over a generation, over 20 years, for Swain to be overruled by Batson, and now, Batson is beginning to bear an eerie resemblance to its unworkable parentage, because courts have been loathe to grant relief, and have either created new rules, or simply ignored its dictates.

We see this at work recently in a number of cases, among them Com. v. (Robert) Cook, WL 284060 (July 24, 2008). In this case, the DA used 74% of his strikes to remove 14 Black jurors. Incredibly, the Phila. Court of Common Pleas initially found that even this didn’t constitute a prima facie case of discrimination. Later, it found a prima facie case, but ruled that the DA put forth sufficient race-neutral reasons for exclusion, and therefore not a violation of Batson.

Recently, the PA Supreme Court agreed, even though the DA couldn’t recall why he removed 2 Black jurors — or, in other words, couldn’t articulate a justification.

Now remember — Batson states that the improper removal of one juror violates the constitution. One — not 14.

But here’s the kicker. The DA in Mr. Cook’s case made a video training tape, where he taught his fellow prosecutors how to violateBatson – and how to lie about it to judges.

But perhaps the then prosecutor, Jack McMahon, didn’t need to work that hard, for courts would take up the slack. For where the DA can’t remember a reason, the court will invent one.

This is especially egregious in this case, for the man who wrote the opinion was the DA when McMahon made the tapes, but now sits as Chief Justice of the court. Can you spell ‘conflict of interest?’ Did he recuse himself? (What do you think?)

For over a decade, Pennsylvania courts have painted McMahon as the bad guy, a kind of rogue prosecutor, and most of his convictions have been reversed (except Cook’s), but McMahon wasn’t, and never should’ve been, the issue. For he was simply describing the pattern and practice of the office, and training his colleagues in techniques used over years of trials.

Mr. McMahon was putting into words what DAs did to get convictions. Does that mean his office sought a fair and impartial jury? In McMahon’s words, ” Well, that’s ridiculous. You’re not trying to get that.” In fact, McMahon explained, their jobs were to get the most “unfair” jury possible. And, in many cases, that meant getting as few Blacks to serve on the jury as possible.

Batson is as empty as Swain was, for if they don’t want to give it up, any reason will do.

They proclaim ideals of fairness that bear no relationship to the real process happening daily in courtrooms all across America.

That would be, to quote McMahon, “ridiculous.”

© Mumia Abu-Jamal. April 2009

“What ‘War on Terror?’ “

Have you ever thought (but were afraid to admit) that there really wasn’t such a thing as a ‘war on terror?’

Well, worry no more.

England’s top prosecutor has set the record straight.

Britain’s director of public prosecutions, Ken McDonald, gave a speech in late January to the nation’s Criminal Bar Association.  In words that few U.S. figures of such stature could ever muster, McDonald told the assembly:

“On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a ‘war on terror’, just as there can be no such thing as a ‘war on drugs’.”

McDonald, who heads the Crown Prosecution Service, warned of the “fear-driven and inappropriate response” of the nation’s political and legal community, which could threaten the fairness of trials and due process of law.

McDonald added:

“The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war.  It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by the infringement.”*

How utterly refreshing!  Leave it to the Brits to stick a pin into the U.S. balloon of the ‘war on terror.’

Presidents love to sell the war metaphor to support their prerogatives to accrue more power than their predecessors.  Every war sets the stage for the strengthening of the nation’s executive power.

That’s what McDonald meant when he referred to ‘fear-driven responses.’

It may begin in Britain, but it won’t end there.

That’s because neither wisdom nor common sense can be segregated behind borders.

That’s because fear doesn’t last forever.

Generations ago, during World War II, thousands of Japanese-Americans, men, women, and babies, were placed in concentration camps all across the country — based purely on fear and racist projections.

Today, people look back at that era with embarrassment and deep misgivings.  There was no real, honest basis for this kind of treatment of such citizens.

It took decades, but presidents have condemned such treatment, and reparations (albeit quite modest) were made to survivors of that social tragedy.

Today, a host of errors and evils accompany the so-called ‘war on terror.’  The president has tried to sell the Iraq debacle as ‘the central front’ of this war, but fewer and *fewer* Americans are buying it.

And while politicians insist on swearing their false fealty to it (even though they don’t believe in it, but are afraid to do so, lest they be marked as ‘soft’), public opinion polls show most folks are echoing the views of a British prosecutor.

False pretexts — false wars.  With millions of people refugees, hundreds of thousands dead, land and lives ravaged by American maniacs, and their imperial subjects.

Americans hear ‘war and on terror’ today, and turn to American Idol.

That’s because they know — in their innards — that it’s a crock.

The time will come when we look back, and may dare to smile.

Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Source: *Asheville Global Report, No. 420, Feb. 1-7, 2007, p. 15.]

“Who Protects Whom?”

A woman is stopped for a traffic violation.

She tearfully explains that she is pregnant, she is bleeding, and she begs — at least a dozen times — to be taken to the hospital.

She might as well have been talking to the wall.

The cops either ignore her, or make light of her plight.  They respond, when they bother to do so, with replies like, “What do you want us to do about it?”

She was jailed — and not taken to a hospital despite her pleas.

Several days later, upon her release, she gives birth to a premature baby, who breathes precisely for one minute — and dies.

When I heard this story, I thought of the motto, ‘protect and serve’ — and wondered, ‘protect who?’ — ‘serve who?’

A young pregnant woman, bleeding — begging — and it means nothing. Less than nothing.  One of the cops, a female, replied, “How is that my problem?”

Will these cops, who saw a pregnant woman suffering — bleeding! — ever face reckless endangerment charges?  Nope.  Were they fired?  Nope.  Will they be?  I doubt it.

The most that may happen — I say may — is the woman may file a civil suit — and some  years later, she may even win (unless a judge decides the cops are immune from suit, as is often the case).

But it will mean nothing — for a baby is dead, forever.

No judge on earth can restore that infant’s spark of life.

That all of this was caught on video, and was hot news (until the tornadoes ripped through Florida), tells us that the cops weren’t terribly concerned about it.

It was just the job — hospitals might’ve involved too much paperwork — or perhaps overtime.

I’ve named no city: nor the woman.  I haven’t had to.

For it could’ve been anywhere — and almost anyone.

It’s not like these were mutually exclusive choices — take her to the hospital, or take her to jail.  Observers know that when folks are injured, they are often carted to the hospital, where facilities exist to insure security.

That didn’t happen — because those two people holding her hostage didn’t want to.

It’s really that simple.

It happened in early 21st Century America, and shows us vividly what’s going on these days.

‘Protect and serve?’  Protect who?  Serve who?

Not her.  Not that baby.

Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal

“Give WAR a Chance”

A lifetime ago, when the British rock band, the Beatles were at the top of the charts, and before cable TV and the reign of computers, anti-war activists sang a haunting chorus as they demonstrated by the tens of thousands at the Pentagon: “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.”

Decades later, and there is still war (albeit in another place, and for another ’cause’), and demonstrations seem far less potent than times past.

American imperialism, unshackled by the prospect of a true global rival, now fairly bellows in the face of its own unpopularity (in the voice of its acolytes, like George W. Bush): “Give war a chance.”

The Iraq invasion and occupation has been an admitted disaster, and those who called for it the loudest are deserting that sinking ship like rats on a wharf.

The US imperial president, flirting with disapproval numbers that rivals Nixon’s at the height of the Watergate scandal, is overwhelming only in his irrelevance, and perhaps his inability to convince anybody to believe his blather about the so-called ‘war on terror.’

So, in light of the administration’s latest maneuver to support the flagging war with ‘new ideas’ about a “surge”, the White House and its minions on the Hill are asking Americans to ‘give the president’s plan a chance.’

In the face of this catastrophe, what is the role of Congress?

It proposes to debate, and then, after debating, to issue a nonbinding resolution, which condemns the current troop build-up, and also critiques the president’s present handling of the war.

In essence, Congress agrees to say, ‘We don’t like what you’re doing, but we won’t stop it.’

This, in a time of war, a war launched on lies and subterfuge.

Apparently, over 600,000 dead Iraqis, over 3,000 dead Americans, and over 400 billion dollars lost in this failing effort, isn’t quite enough.

In fact, the Congress could stop the war today, by cutting the war budget.  But it won’t do this, for it might endanger a congressman’s future political prospects.

Most of the millions of people who voted in the mid-term elections did so to send a strong anti-war message.

The majority party heading both houses of Congress has indeed changed, but little else has.  It has resolved to issue words, while the president launches bombs.

And given his profoundly neoconservative bent, it is entirely possible that, before the remaining two years have passed through time’s hourglass, the US may’ve launched a strike against Iran.

Even now we hear the media stirrings, provocations meant to soften up the American populace for a new ‘preemptive war.’

What did your votes really mean?

Do you really still believe that you live in a democracy?

What you voted for, and what you believe, is ultimately irrelevant.

The words of the legendary Black freedom fighter, Frederick Douglass echo through the annals of time:  “Power concedes nothing without demand.  It never has, and never will.”

Voting is never enough.

These ruinous wars didn’t begin in a voting booth; nor will voting, standing alone, end them.

It will take much stronger stuff.

Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal

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