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LEGAL PAPERS FILED FOR MUMIA IN MEDICAL CRISIS May 2015

Mumia’s attorneys, Bret Grote and Robert Boyle, and the attorney for Wadiya, Mumia’s wife, filed the following legal documents. Read them here

Abu-Jamal et al v Kerestes et al

Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order

Memorandum in Support for Preliminary Injunction . . .

Declaration of Bret Grote (attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal)

Declaration of Wadiya Jamal (wife of Mumia Abu-Jamal)

MARYLIN ZUNIGA – May 18, 2015 Press Release

Contact:

Larry Hamm, People’s Organization for Progress, 973-801-0001

Donna Nevel, Communities for Marylin Zuniga, 917-570-4371

Supporters Fight to Reinstate Talented Teacher

School Board capitulates to pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police

In an outpouring of community support, hundreds of community members, educators, and parents called for the immediate reinstatement of Marylin Zuniga to her position as a third grade teacher at Forest Street Elementary School in Orange, New Jersey. In spite of this overwhelming support, the Orange Township School Board terminated Ms. Zuniga from her position because she allowed her third grade students to write get-well letters to political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

As educator and minister Nyle Fort, who is working with Communities for Marylin Zuniga, pointed out: “The Orange Board of Education is supposedly accountable to the community. After the public meeting, in which people spoke overwhelmingly in support of Ms. Zuniga, the school board adopted a resolution identified only by its number, and then got up and left the room. Until calls were made to the school the next day, no one knew that the board had decided to terminate her. That is hardly public accountability.”

Further, according to Alan Levine, one of Ms. Zuniga’s lawyers, “The Orange Board of Education flagrantly violated Ms. Zuniga’s right to due process. She never received a notice describing her misconduct, and had no opportunity to confront her accusers or to present witnesses on her behalf. Her termination lacked those constitutional safeguards designed to insure that government agencies act fairly.”

Hundreds of educators across the country sent a letter to the school board in which they “insist[ed] that Ms. Zuniga be immediately returned to her position as third grade teacher at Forest Street Elementary with supportive mentorship. The educational community is looking to you to develop, and not punish, this committed and qualified educator.”

Educator Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price also added that “Ms. Zuniga’s termination was grossly disproportionate to whatever offense she may have committed. Clearly, her termination was not about her student’s education or safety, but, rather, a reflection of the Board’s capitulation to outside pressures of the Fraternal Order of Police.”

As Mark Taylor, community activist and professor at Princeton Theological Seminary made clear, “ At the heart of this matter is the question of who controls what happens in public school classrooms. As long as the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) can influence what our children can and cannot learn, the right to democratic education is lost.”

“Marylin Zuniga was beloved by her students and was a wonderful teacher. If we are thinking about what is best for the children, which should be our only concern, Ms. Zuniga would be back in her classroom, “ said Tamia Chatmon, one of the parents of a student in Ms. Zuniga’s class.

 Ms. Zuniga has asked her lawyers and her union to challenge the termination so that she can be reinstated to her classroom.

EMAJ – WITH OTHER PLAINTIFFS – WIN LAWSUIT AGAINST PENNSYLVANIA

Hi Colleagues –

Read about how EMAJ and other plaintiffs won against the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. You can also find a link to the ruling within this article. The ruling makes for great reading as the judge states that this law of the Pennsylvania officials to try to silence Mumia and other prisoners was “manifestly unconstitutional.” Read the full decision by the judge, in PDF form here.

Thanks to everyone who signed on to this.

Best,

Mark Lewis Taylor, EMAJ, Princeton Theological Seminary

Johanna Fernandez, EMAJ, Baruch College/CUNY

Letter for Marylin Zuniga from Oakland (CA) Teacher Who Fought & Won Against the FOP/Fox Intimidations

Dear Superintendent Lee, Ms. Cooke, and Mr. James,

agitate_educate_organize_and_overthrow_the_system[1]I am shocked and saddened to hear that officials in your district have caved in to pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police to suspend, and possibly further discipline, Marylin Zuniga, previously identified as a model third-grade teacher in your district. I am writing to urge you to immediately reverse course by reinstating her to her classroom and commending her admirable support of her students’ compassionate response to a human being. That the FOP thinks this human being, Mumia Abu-Jamal, should be executed (despite the Supreme Court’s finding that it would be unconstitutional and Amnesty International’s that it would be “unconscionable”), should not matter to responsible educational leaders.

As a history teacher for 24 years in Oakland, California, I encountered a similar attack by the FOP when they found curriculum I’d written about Mumia Abu-Jamal on my district’s website nearly a year ago. As in this most recent case, the FOP used Fox News and Philly.com to vilify a teacher and school district as irresponsible “cop-killer” supporters. District officials reacted fearfully and immediately disowned support for my unit and took down  the entire Urban Dreams website (filled with lessons related to social justice) where it had been posted. Over the next eight months, former students, and community members publicly protested our district’s failure to stand up for educational and democratic values. The district finally reversed its knee-jerk compliance with police demands and right-wing pressure and admitted that the censored curriculum met rigorous content and critical-thinking standards.

I urge you to recognize your mistake much sooner than leaders in our district did. Please respond to the very ugly political pressure being exerted with courage on behalf of your students, their families, and teachers. Please reinstate Marylin Zuniga immediately. Please also assure Ms. Zuniga’s students, their parents/guardians, and the community who love, respect, and need her, that her continued employment is no longer in jeopardy.

Thank you.

Craig Gordon

PRESS RELEASE on Marylin Zuniga and Mumia

                                                               FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TEACHERS ORGANIZE NATIONALLY TO SUPPORT NJ’s 3rd-GRADE TEACHER
________________________________ 

HER STUDENTS WROTE “GET-WELL” LETTERS TO THE ILL AND IMPRISONED MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
__________________________________

EDUCATORS CORNEL WEST, JOHANNA FERNANDEZ AND MARK TAYLOR DECRY POLICE INTIMIDATION

        New York City, NY/Princeton, NJ. April 13, 2015. A recent biased news frenzy led by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has targeted Marylin Zuniga, a third-grade teacher in Forest Street Elementary School in Orange, NJ. As a result, she has been suspended for supporting her students’ wishes to send get-well letters to the imprisoned and gravely ill Mumia Abu-Jamal, one of the most celebrated, black public intellectuals of our time. Calling the teacher’s approach “exemplary,” a nationwide group of teachers explains their position today in a support letter posted at the Educators website.

Reached for comment, Cornel West, of Union Theological Seminary/NYC noted, “Educators in black and brown communities today are taking a double-hit; first, they are denied funding for quality public schools in their neighborhoods, and then a growing police presence locks down a desperate and dispossessed people.” He concluded, “Police should not tell us what or whom to teach.”

Princeton Seminary Professor Mark Lewis Taylor, one of the drafters of the letter noted, “Reportedly, School District guidelines encourage teachers to prepare content on such topics as ‘how the actions of Dr. MLK Jr., and other civil rights leaders served as catalysts for social change and inspired social activism in subsequent generations.’ Abu-Jamal’s work since a youth and his intrepid prison writings during years of onerous confinement ably meet such recommendations for course content.”

Historian Dr. Johanna Fernandez (Baruch College/CUNY) and another drafter of the letter observed, “When Ms. Zuniga introduced students to Abu-Jamal and others during Black History Month, she was in good company. Nearly all scholars of African American history see Abu-Jamal as a significant activist/intellectual who belongs to the American literary canon that includes figures and writers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Ella Baker and Ida B. Wells.”

The press has failed to explain that Ms. Zuniga made the students’ letter-writing to Abu-Jamal voluntary. The letter-writing was an extra project done only after the students had finished regular assignments. Given that 1 in 4 black children are likely to have an incarcerated family member, even Sesame Street has addressed mass incarceration for its 3-8 year-old viewers in its “Little Children, Big Problem” series. Before this incident her mentor and principal had commended Ms. Zuniga for being a model teacher. Zuniga has also completed an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University with a 3.9 GPA.

The full text of educators’ positions and complete list of signers are given at the online site. Signers of the support letter include Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges, James H. Cone and Cornel West (Union Theological Seminary), Michael Schiffmann (University of Heidelberg), Robin D. G. Kelley (UCLA), Angela Y. Davis (UC Santa Cruz, Professor Emerita), Joe Feagin (Texas A&M), Vijay Prashad (Trinity College) and more.

EMAJ Statement on the Riverside Church Cornel West/Bob Avakian “Dialogue”

WHAT REVOLUTION LOOKS LIKE                      IN THE USA

Perfect Mumia AngelaA Response from Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ) to the Riverside Church Dialogue between Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party-USA and Professor Cornel West of Union Theological Seminary, NYC.

 

On November 15, 2014, at the Riverside Church, the White left Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Bob Avakian, entered into dialogue with Black public left, intellectual, professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary, Cornel West. The theme was: “Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion.”

This statement is a critique of the event’s singular focus on one predominating voice, of its disrespect for black radical leadership and all leaders of color, and of its failure to uphold the radical democratic values needed in revolutionary movements.

EMAJ supported the event beforehand, and celebrates the fact that the dialogue took place. In fact one of its coordinators served on its Host Committee and brought the program’s opening greetings to an overflow audience, upwards of 1900 who came to hear both Avakian and West. Both of the EMAJ Coordinators were in attendance. We were impressed with Avakian’s organic approach to the presentation of socialist arguments and use of vivid examples to paint a picture of what’s politically possible. He was well received by the audience, often deservedly applauded. We stress this positive affirmation, in spite of the more critical point we feel compelled to make with this statement.

The EMAJ Coordinators, along with many of its members, share a commitment to a revolutionary socialist future, as embodied in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s and Angela Y. Davis’s recent co-writing on “Alternatives to Capitalist Injustice.” They presented their view of a socialist future with the idea of “abolition democracy,” a concept used by W. E. B. Du Bois in his Black Reconstruction. Davis and Abu-Jamal define it as,

       “. . . the abolition of institutions that advance the dominance of any one group over any other. It is the democracy that is possible if we continue the legacy of the great abolition movements in American history, those that opposed slavery, lynching, and segregation.”

Abolitionist democracy demands a comprehensive refusal of domination by any group, especially when facing the imperial and class wars of today, white racism against any of the nonwhite communities, police violence, and gender and sexual domination of anyone.

Abolition democracy’s comprehensive refusal of domination also requires a revolutionary way of deliberating and strategizing on the ground in our emerging movements. As Abu-Jamal and Davis stress, “what we decide to do will be open to the decisions of popular, democratic groupings in the future to seek greater humanistic and socialistic expressions.” Abu-Jamal and Davis modeled this future not only by writing as co-authors, but also by drawing from Black, indigenous and other traditions.

From this perspective, we are compelled to say that the best of revolutionary socialist futures was not on display at the Riverside dialogue. We place primary responsibility for this not on Professor West but on Chairman Avakian and program planners.

The fact that Avakian spoke for upwards of 2 hours and 10 minutes made his speech didactic in the end. Above all, his utter usurpation of the time allotted for the presentations was disrespectful of Dr. West and his views. It also meant that neither real debate nor illuminating dialogue were finally possible. The absence of a democratic culture and conscientious ethic on that stage is a deal breaker for us –their absence will destroy our movements for a socialist future. Their absence also speaks of the sense of entitlement and lack of critical self-awareness of the American Left.

We also sensed an opportunism in the meeting’s proceedings during which an audience that was anxious to listen to Dr. West, one of the most important black public figures on the left, was held hostage to Mr. Avakian’s interminable speech. In their totality, these actions speak to an implicit racism and disrespect for an important Christian revolutionary, and by extension of everyone in the audience. The manner in which the voice of a stalwart fighter for black folk was diminished at the event bespeaks an arrogance – even a white privilege and white supremacy – that should not reside in the American Left. In the end, West displayed grace and patience beyond words, more so than might be expected of anyone else.

Those of us associated with EMAJ can hardly claim the “revolutionarily correct” posture. Placed as we are in US colleges and universities, we recognize that the marginalization of communities of color and the entrenchment of white elite hierarchies in higher education often subvert our own principles of abolitionist democracy. As part of our struggle, though, we know that none of us on the left dare stand forth to present what we witnessed at Riverside: one white revolutionary lecturing for more than two hours while a Black revolutionary sat on the stage. This is not what revolution looks like in the U.S.

 It is no wonder that as the 2-hour mark neared in Avakian’s lecture, segments of the audience clamored for Dr. West to speak. The people’s clamor was truth spoken, and unfortunately truth unheeded.

We look to a future built of many voices and revolutionary collectives. We especially foreground our emergent/insurgent leaders of color, young and old, male, female, lgbtq, Black, Latino/a, Asian- and Arab-American and more, with revolutionary whites as part of a collective leadership. The legacy of class exploitation rooted in racial oppression in the US – with a history characterized by indigenous genocide, slavery and immigrant repression – means that radical collectives today cannot compromise the central role of leaders of color. This is more what revolution in the U.S. looks like. This is certainly the way to best catalyze “abolition democracy.” We must lift our lament: the Riverside event undermined that kind of future. We hope to go forward, along another path of deliberation, debate and dialogue, as part of our collective planning of the people’s socialist future.

Drafted by:
Johanna Fernandez, Baruch College, CUNY
Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary

Supported by:

Heidi Boghosian, Law and Disorder Radio
Peter Bohmer, Evergreen State College
Akili Buchanan, Newark Teachers Union
Frederica Clare, CAMPHEAL, South Africa
James H. Cone, Union Theological Seminary
Alfred Duckett, Jackson State University
Farah Jasmine Griffin, Columbia University
Joy A. James, Williams College
Elizabeth Liberty, International P.E.N. (former Board Member)
Anthony Monteiro, Temple University
David Roediger, University of Illinois/Champagne-Urbana
Michael M. Schiffmann, University of Heidelberg
Johnny Eric Williams, Trinity College

All institutions listed for identification purposes only.

(to add your name to this list, please email  mark.taylor@ptsem.edu )

EDUCATORS FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL (EMAJ) JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST PA OFFICIALS

MEDIA RELEASE

CONTACTS:

Prof. Johanna Fernandez (917 930-0804 johanna.fernandez@baruch.cuny.edu), and

Prof. Mark Lewis Taylor (847 708-2479, mark.taylor@ptsem.edu)

EDUCATORS FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL (EMAJ)

JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST PA OFFICIALS

________________________________________________

EMAJ is 1 of 6 Plaintiffs to Charge Unconstitutionality

of New PA Law Silencing Prisoners

 

            New York and Princeton. On Monday November 10, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ) joined a group of 6 total plaintiffs whose attorneys filed, on their behalf, an injunctive challenge to Pennsylvania’s new law, the “Revictimization Relief Act” (RRA), which would seek to silence Mumia Abu-Jamal and other prisoners’ voices.

Defendants in the suit are Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams and PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane. The injunction sought is based on the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and on Article 1 of the PA Constitution.

The RRA law was drafted in response to a commencement speech that Mumia Abu-Jamal recorded for Goddard College students to hear on October 5. Beginning the very next day, the law was fast tracked through the PA legislature and quickly signed on October 22 by Pennsylvania’s outgoing governor, Tom Corbett. EMAJ promptly joined with other groups with its “Call to Action,” protesting the law’s targeting of Mumia’s and other prisoners’ free speech.

In the lawsuit, the basic argument of EMAJ and the other plaintiffs is that the RRA “statute was enacted principally to silence Plaintiff Mumia Abu-Jamal. It chills his ability–and the ability of the other Plaintiffs and other current and former prisoners—to engage in speech protected by the First Amendment.”

Plaintiffs other than Mumia and EMAJ, are Prison Radio (a production company that records the voices of prisoners and broadcasts them via radio, television, Internet, and film), the Human Rights Coalition-HRC (a nonprofit corporation from Philadelphia whose mission is to protect the human rights of prisoners and criminal defendants while advocating change in legal and prison systems), and also two other imprisoned activists and writer/commentators, members of the HRC, Richard L. Holbrook and Kerry Shakaboona Marshall.

EMAJ coordinators, Dr. Johanna Fernandez (Baruch College, CUNY) and Mark Lewis Taylor (Princeton Theological Seminary) report that EMAJ’s Plaintiff status is supported by 33 scholars from around the nation. These have engaged prisoner voices from PA or other states for their teaching and writing. The current list of scholars, below, includes several Goddard College faculty, two law professors, as well as teachers from multiple disciplines and areas of education.

  1. Bob Buchanan, Goddard College

  2. Neema Caughran, Goddard College

  3. Jan Clausen, Goddard College

  4. James H. Cone, Union Theological Seminary

  5. Angela Y. Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz

  6. David G. Embrick, Loyola University (IL)

  7. Robert A. Ferguson, Columbia University Law School

  8. Johanna Fernandez, Baruch College, City University of New York

  9. Maike Garland, Goddard College

  10. Craig Gordon, Oakland Unified School District (CA)

  11. Lisa Noelle Guenther, Vanderbilt University

  12. Tom Hansen, Autonomous University of Social Movements (Chicago)

  13. Marc Lamont Hill, Morehouse College

  14. Joy A. James, Williams College

  15. Jamal Joseph, Columbia University

  16. Wonhee Anne Joh, Garrett Seminary, (IL)

  17. Robin D. G. Kelley, University of California, Los Angeles

  18. Ibram X. Kendi, State University of New York, Albany

  19. Ju-Pong Lin, Goddard College

  20. Bob Mandel, West Contra Costa Unified School District (CA)

  21. Anthony Monteiro, Temple University

  22. Mary Phillips, Lehman College, City University of New York

  23. Peter J. Paris, Princeton Theological Seminary

  24. Vijay Prashad, Trinity College (CT)

  25. Dylan Rodriguez, University of California, Riverside

  26. Jonathan Simon, University of California Law School, Berkeley

  27. Robyn Spencer, Lehman College, City University of New York

  28. Eva-Maria Swidler, Goddard College

  29. Karen Stupski, Goddard College,

  30. Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary

  31. Christopher Tinson, Hampshire College

  32. Victor Wallis, Berklee College of Music

  33.  Robert Wells, Oakland Unified School District (CA)

  34. Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary

 

EMAJ JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST PENNSYLVANIA OFFICIALS

MEDIA RELEASE

CONTACTS: Prof. Johanna Fernandez (917 930-0804 johanna.fernandez@baruch.cuny.edu), and Prof. Mark Lewis Taylor (847 708-2479, mark.taylor@ptsem.edu)

EDUCATORS FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL (EMAJ)

JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST PA OFFICIALS

____________________________________

EMAJ is 1 of 6 Plaintiffs to Charge Unconstitutionality

of New PA Law Silencing Prisoners 

            New York and Princeton. On Monday November 10, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ) joined a group of 6 total plaintiffs whose attorneys filed, on their behalf, an injunctive challenge to Pennsylvania’s new law, the “Revictimization Relief Act” (RRA), which would seek to silence Mumia Abu-Jamal and other prisoners’ voices.

Defendants in the suit are Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams and PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane. The injunction sought is based on the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and on Article 1 of the PA Constitution.

The RRA law was drafted in response to a commencement speech that Mumia Abu-Jamal recorded for Goddard College students to hear on October 5. Beginning the very next day, the law was fast tracked through the PA legislature and quickly signed on October 22 by Pennsylvania’s outgoing governor, Tom Corbett. EMAJ promptly joined with other groups with its “Call to Action,” protesting the law’s targeting of Mumia’s and other prisoners’ free speech.

In the lawsuit, the basic argument of EMAJ and the other plaintiffs is that the RRA “statute was enacted principally to silence Plaintiff Mumia Abu-Jamal. It chills his ability–and the ability of the other Plaintiffs and other current and former prisoners—to engage in speech protected by the First Amendment.”

Plaintiffs other than Mumia and EMAJ, are Prison Radio (a production company that records the voices of prisoners and broadcasts them via radio, television, Internet, and film), the Human Rights Coalition-HRC (a nonprofit corporation from Philadelphia whose mission is to protect the human rights of prisoners and criminal defendants while advocating change in legal and prison systems), and also two other imprisoned activists and writer/commentators, members of the HRC, Richard L. Holbrook and Kerry Shakaboona Marshall.

EMAJ coordinators, Dr. Johanna Fernandez (Baruch College, CUNY) and Mark Lewis Taylor (Princeton Theological Seminary) report that EMAJ’s Plaintiff status is supported by 33 scholars from around the nation. These have engaged prisoner voices from PA or other states for their teaching and writing. The current list of scholars, below, includes several Goddard College faculty, two law professors, as well as teachers from multiple disciplines and areas of education.

  1. Jennifer Black, Ohio State University

  2. Bob Buchanan, Goddard College

  3. Neema Caughran, Goddard College

  4. Jan Clausen, Goddard College

  5. James H. Cone, Union Theological Seminary

  6. Angela Y. Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz

  7. David G. Embrick, Loyola University (IL)

  8. Robert A. Ferguson, Columbia University Law School

  9. Johanna Fernandez, Baruch College, City University of New York

  10. Maike Garland, Goddard College

  11. Craig Gordon, Oakland Unified School District (CA)

  12. Lisa Noelle Guenther, Vanderbilt University

  13. Tom Hansen, Autonomous University of Social Movements (Chicago)

  14. Marc Lamont Hill, Morehouse College

  15. Joy A. James, Williams College

  16. Jamal Joseph, Columbia University

  17. Wonhee Anne Joh, Garrett Seminary, (IL)

  18. Robin D. G. Kelley, University of California, Los Angeles

  19. Ibram X. Kendi, State University of New York, Albany

  20. Ju-Pong Lin, Goddard College

  21. Bob Mandel, West Contra Costa Unified School District (CA)

  22. Anthony Monteiro, Temple University

  23. Mary Phillips, Lehman College, City University of New York

  24. Peter J. Paris, Princeton Theological Seminary

  25. Vijay Prashad, Trinity College (CT)

  26. Dylan Rodriguez, University of California, Riverside

  27. Jonathan Simon, University of California Law School, Berkeley

  28. Robyn Spencer, Lehman College, City University of New York

  29. Eva-Maria Swidler, Goddard College

  30. Karen Stupski, Goddard College,

  31. Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary

  32. Christopher Tinson, Hampshire College

  33. Victor Wallis, Berklee College of Music

  34.  Robert Wells, Oakland Unified School District (CA)

  35. Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary

“Greetings” at Riverside Church-NYC, at Cornel West & Bob Avakian Dialogue

Statement of “Greetings” by Mark Lewis Taylor from the Host Committee for the dialogue on “Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion,” between Bob Avakian, Chair of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, and Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice, Union Theological Seminary. Taylor was introduced as professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, and founder and co-coordinator of Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Riverside Church, New York City, November 15, 2014.

___________________

As a political theologian I cannot speak a greeting as would each member of the Host Committee for tonight’s dialogue. But I do express to you the warmth of revolutionary greetings that I am sure does come from them all.

This Host Committee is made up of scholars, theologians, scientists, musicians, actors, filmmakers, parents of children murdered by the police – all of us somehow fighting for justice, sharing commitments to revolution through collective struggle.

I am joined on the Host Committee by other religion scholars and Christian activists, so let me begin with a brief word from Christians.

 Welcome from those of us who know Christianity has sanctioned or instigated many of the most inhuman, planet-devastating, capitalist and colonialist dominations – and also white supremacy and slavery, repressions of women and the sexually different . . . indeed . . .but. . .

 . . . welcome, too, in the name of followers of Jesus who have contested the ways of colonialism, empire and capitalism, who have fought back –in spite of executions, lynchings, torture, mass incarceration, police violence, immigrant repression, and the slow violence of poverty and invisibility. We greet you in the name of these Christian fighters, too.

But the Host Committee is more than such Christians, certainly more than the one white male Christian you hear now. So, more significantly, I dare greet you as one part of a greater group on our committee – revolutionaries from many other religious and spiritual traditions, and from multiple secular movements.

We are part of a world revolutionary people, from Gaza to Ferguson and all points more and elsewhere! We are led in this land by emergent/insurgent leaders of color – Black, Latino, American Indian, Asian- and Arab-American, as well as revolutionary whites.

We as Host Committee believe today is not just an acceptable event, but in fact a great one, with communist revolutionary Bob Avakian engaging publicly the Christian revolutionary Cornel West.

So, we greet you and the revolutionary world being born, a world that is on the way and on the move, a world that is not just possible, but makeable. Welcome!

DEMONSTRATORS DROWN OUT PA GOV. CORBETT

By Betsey Piette

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 Lots of media were on hand Oct. 21 to record the moment whenPennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett put his signature on the “Revictimization Relief Act” – dubbed the “Silence Mumia Law” by civil rights activists.  The problem was that none of media could hear Corbett speak.  Nearly 50 protesters standing a short distance away from Corbett’s press conference at 13th and Locust Sts in Philadelphia drowned him out with constant chants of “Our brother Mumia is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” and “One term Tom!” (photo above, from Philadelphia Magazine online, Oct. 21, 2014)

 In what would seem to be a Hail Mary effort to revive his failing reelection bid, Corbett, his political business allies and the Fraternal Order of Police cynically set up shop on a sheltered portable stage at the location where Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed in Dec. 1981.  Political activist and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who happened upon the scene, was framed by police for the shooting and subsequently served over 30 years on death row before being released into general prison population in 2011. Abu-Jamal maintains his innocence.

 The same movement that has steadfastly fought to free Abu-Jamal responded with less than 24-hours notice to turn out on a weekday to confront the state’s latest effort to silence him.  They were joined by prisoner rights groups and civil liberties forces that see the anti-Abu-Jamal law as a blanket attack on the constitutional rights of all prisoners, and a dangerous precedent at a time when more attention is focused on mass incarceration.

 Several protesters wore orange prison-style jumpsuits and carried signs depicting the activities that would be banned under the legislation intended to muffle Mumia.  One read “I spoke out against abuse in prison, now Corbett & FOP want to silence me.”

 Demonstrators also linked the efforts to silence Abu-Jamal with the government’s militarized response to those protesting police brutality in Ferguson, Mo. since the police murder of unarmed African-American youth Michael Brown.  One chant today was “From Ferguson to Philly, we say NO! Killer cops have got to go!”

 A large hand lettered sign carried a statement given by Abu-Jamal to prison radio in response to the bill.  It read “I welcome Gov. Corbett’s signature on an unconstitutional bill that proves that the PA executive and the legislature don’t give one whit about the constitutions of the Commonwealth or the U.S. It proves that they are the outlaws,” signed Mumia Abu-Jamal.

 “Having failed to kill Mumia in the street in 1981, and having failed to execute him during his over 30 years on death row, the FOP and the government of Pennsylvania continues to try to silence him, this time by extinguishing his speech,” said Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.

 The demonstrators who turned out today made it clear that the state’s efforts are in vain.  They stayed in the street for an impromptu rally that went on some time after the Corbett forces abandoned the area.  A day of activities is also planned for Oct. 22 to broaden the movement to free Abu-Jamal and in observation of the national day against police brutality and mass incarceration.

EMAJ Notes also this, from years-long Philadelphia activist for Mumia, Lee James:

“We did so well.  Listening and watching I felt we do have a movement here and it gets stronger everytime they come at us.  New people, new determination – it was truly power to the people. They had to come out in such force and it truly meant nothing. They have nothing.  We spoke of Ferguson, Palestine, prisoners, MOVE.  .  It was our people all over the world.  Thank you all – and to the future,  Lee.”

. . . and FROM PROFESSOR JOHANNA FERNANDEZ OF EMAJ AND THE CAMPAIGN TO BRING MUMIA HOME: 

“Simple words can’t really capture what happened today. In the face of their antiseptic, proto-fascist ceremony, our side resounded with spirit, volume, color and poetry. People who were walking by wanted to hear more from our side, than from the white-man-march of 20 put on display by the cops and their followers.

It was truly a moment of the people and there were so many beautiful moments: our group trickled-in, a few at a time; but right at the start of the proceedings, when I looked back I saw that we had grown strong and I could see an abundance of colorful signs and banners with the beautiful Free Mumia NOW banner in front, which was photographed quite a bit by the media. And then there was that moment of fear at the beginning of the proceedings right before we broke the orchestrated ceremonial silence of the event and started chanting, strong, Brick By Brick, Wall by Wall, We’re Gonna Free Mumia Abu Jamal.  The chants kept rolling throughout the proceedings and at some point Bro. Kamau decided to lift up our voices by pulling out the bull-horn (great idea!), which he used for a bit before the cops ask us to put it away. And then half way through the ceremony, Ramona couldn’t take it anymore and she broke out in speech and started exposing the contradiction of the term “victim relief,” in a city that dropped a bomb on the MOVE house. There was also a moment when a passerby said something about her son being in prison; at some point when we realized that the Bill was being signed we booed the Governor and before long Pam emerged from the back of the crowd with a liberated bull horn to tell us that this charade of a bill was a sign of weakness on the part of these fools in power and that they just went ahead a dragged themselves into a fight that they are most certainly going to lose. We got a kick-ass lecture from Tony, about the special role played by the people at the bottom of society during Philadelphia’s constitutional debates at the birth of the nation and we heard from a Brother whose imprisoned nephew was framed by the courts. We were so bad-ass that they didn’t quite know what to do with us as we bum-rushed their parade.

There were so many other classic moments; but above all this was another one of those moments of truth when the Mumia movement did what it had to do: confront power head-on in the streets — and it was beautiful.

I’m proud to be in this struggle with all of you.

Love,

Johanna

 

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