5,000 March in San Francisco to Free Mumia!

By: Sandeep Vaidya

Five thousand people marched through San Francisco on December 6, demanding freedom for radical author and Pennsylvania Death Row prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, who faces execution despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence, and an end to the death penalty.

The news from Philadelphia that Judge Sabo would be out of his job in January boosted the spirits of the protesters. Judge Sabo has sent more people to death row than any other judge in the country. The Philadelphia Inquirer has called him "a defendant's nightmare."

Mumia has spent the last 17 years on death row. Thanks to the support from activists around the world, he filed a post-conviction appeal in 1995. The appeal included new findings that key evidence was suppressed by the prosecution, including reports from the medical examiner that the fatal bullet was from a .44 caliber gun, not from Mumia's legally registered .38 caliber; other suspects were taken into custody and released; witnesses who said Mumia was not the shooter were coerced, threatened and harassed. In a move that outraged all observers, Judge Sabo refused to recuse himself from the case. Not surprisingly, the 1995 hearing was a repeat of the highly unfair 1982 trial. Judge Sabo "flaunted his bias, oozing partiality toward the prosecution" (American Lawyer, Dec. 1995). Mumia supporters cheered loudly when Judge Sabo was booted out for reasons of "temperament and productivity"!

Mumia's appeal against his conviction is pending with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The staunchly pro-death penalty Governor of the state, Tom Ridge, has publicly declared that he will sign Mumia's death warrant if and when the high court rejects Mumia's appeal. If the high court in Pensylvania rejects his appeal, the only recourse left is the US Supreme Court and given that court's conservative and pro-establishment stance, that is no recourse at all. The court has refused to hear nine out of ten cases where the winning party was either federal or the state government. Only a strong grassroots campaign by us will make a difference. Join the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, build the fight to finally free Mumia, and end the death penalty once and for all.