Mumia denied access to his own hearing
by Barbara Jean Hope More than 3000 protesters gathered at Philadelphia's Criminal Justice Centre on August. 17 to demand a new trial and freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal who continued to endure the torture of sensory deprivation, locked down in an isolation cell on death row in a Pennsylvania prison. Abu-Jamal had been scheduled to appear at the status hearing before Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe, but he was abruptly denied that right by court officials and correction officials who used the astounding argument that there was "no room" for Mumia in the Philadelphia prison system to house him as he would have travelled, shackled, to and from the courtroom. So, again, Mumia was denied access to his own hearing. That tactic was a mistake. It only inflamed the commitment of those who came from as far away as Germany, France, and Spain and from as near as a few blocks away. Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 of the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer. His trial was an unconstitutional circus presided over by Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) member, Common Pleas Judge Albert F Sabo. His 1982 trial was fatally marred by the coercion of witnesses who later recanted their false testimony. Abu-Jamal received woefully inadequate counsel in that trial. Anthony Jackson, Abu-Jamal's trial lawyer, admitted to his incompetence and Jackson was later disbarred. The thousands of protesters shut down traffic on major City thoroughfares. Figures such as the Rev Jesse Jackson, activist Dick Gregory, delegates from France and Spain, and poet Sonia Sanchez spoke to raised fists, shouts, and cheers. Sonia Sanchez declared: "The one thing we can say is we resisted! We resisted! Resist for Mumia! Resist and be against capital punishment! We must resist for ourselves, for our children. Every day we must wake up and give thanks for being alive. "Then we must go and look in the mirror and say, 'here I stand, here I be, to work for brother Mumia, to work for justice, to work for freedom in America' and then we must work, we must work! We are human beings in 21st century America, standing upright and we will work for justice!"
* * *Abridged from People's Weekly World, newspaper of the Communist Party USA