April 24 1999: 15,000 marched for Mumia in San Francisco
By: Marlene Martin
Mumia Abu-Jamal is facing a new smear campaign from his opponents -- and the threat of an execution date.
With a Philadelphia newspaper reporting that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge could sign an execution warrant as early as August, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) stepped up its attacks on Mumia, the well-known Black journalist and radical who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for killing Philadelphia officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.
PAM AFRICA, a member of International Concerned Friends and Family and a leader of the fight to save Mumia, talked about the recent controversy surrounding Mumia's case.
What do you make of the new allegations made by Philip Bloch?
It just shows the government's desperation to try to undo the magnificent work that's been done to bring Mumia's case to the forefront. Mumia says that it points out their desperation for people to think that Mumia would say something like this to someone he doesn't know.
In June, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Louis Jones, the first man sent to the federal death row under the 1994 Federal Death Penalty Act, which expanded the number of federal capital crimes from 2 to 60.
In his appeal, Jones argued that judges should be required to tell jurors that defendants will be sentenced to life without parole if jurors don't decide unanimously on the death penalty.
On August 3, Durham became the third city in North Carolina and fifth in the country to approve a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.
The Durham City Council meeting was packed with 70 people wearing "Moratorium Now!" stickers, who cheered when the resolution passed by an 8-3 vote. "I don't think they thought a grassroots abolition movement could have so much support," said Geoffrey Mock of North Carolinians Against the Death Penalty. Two smaller cities, Carrboro and Chapel Hill, passed similar resolutions in June.
Pittsburgh demonstration against the Death Penalty
By: Joe Cleffie
The Pennsylvania State Senate is considering legislation that would put a two-year moratorium on executions.
The bill calls for a halt to executions while officials investigate four points: 1) whether innocent people are sentenced to death; 2) if capital-case defendants receive competent legal representation and the resources needed to put on a defense; 3) whether racism plays a role in who gets sentenced to death; and 4) if prosecutors handle all cases the same. The bill was inspired by recent campaigns for moratoriums in other states, most notably Nebraska and Illinois.
"In the end, it was over in 13 minutes," reported the Seattle Times. The newspaper was describing Mumia Abu-Jamal's June 11 speech at the Evergreen State College graduation ceremony. But the Times refused to report why Evergreen students selected Mumia -- and the long-standing effort of opponents of the death penalty to bring Mumia's words to the Olympia, Wash., campus.
Prosecutor admits police torture may have occurred
Rallying for the Death Row Ten
By: Hylton White
On July 29, Chicago's Death Row Ten and their supporters woke up to an astonishing piece of news: the day before, Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine had asked the Illinois Supreme Court for stays of execution for three of the Ten -- Aaron Patterson, Derrick King and Ronald Kitchen.
Devine asked the court to freeze appeals proceedings for the three while another court ruled in a case that centers on the issue that unites the Death Row Ten -- that confessions were tortured out of them by Chicago cops.
After more than 14 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, Nathson Fields may soon be free.
Fields was sent to death row by corrupt former Judge Thomas Maloney, who is now serving 15 years for taking bribes in capital cases. A state appeals court overturned Fields' conviction, but for the last 17 months, he has remained incarcerated at Cook County Jail as prosecutors stall over whether he will be retried.
The fight to save Mumia Abu-Jamal has reached a critical stage.
The possibility of an execution date this fall -- as reported by the Philadelphia Daily News -- looms over the case, though Mumia's lawyers say the threat can't be substantiated.
Mumia's appeal was denied by the state last year, but it is presently before the federal courts. It would be unusual for an execution date to be set for a death row prisoner whose case is pending federal appeal. But this particular prisoner is Mumia.
In May, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty launched a fund drive to raise $25,000. We're off to a good start. Chapters in New York, Boston and Chicago are planning music benefits for September. Chicago is bringing together blues musicians to do a "Death Row Blues" event at a popular blues club.
"I am writing in the hope that you can help get me a pen pal friend. If so, will you please? I'm 41 years old, love playing ball, jogging, reading and looking at tv and listening to the radio and work out a lot to keep fit. I have been on death row for 10 years..."
Kevin Cooper is on death row at San Quentin Prison in California. In 1985, he was convicted of the Ryan family murders in San Bernadino County, but he has always maintained his innocence. Now Kevin's attorneys are fighting to have DNA testing on recently discovered evidence that was never brought to trial.
At a recent Live From Death Row forum sponsored by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Kevin spoke to an audience of 50 people in San Francisco via speakerphone about his case and the many injustices of the system that put him on the row.
Hello, my name is David Lee Thomas, and I am from Fort Myers, Fla.
I have been on death row for nine years, 10 days. My family has turned their back on me. I write to them, but they don't answer my letters at all. My mother will come visit and write to me, but she is a very sick woman. She has been very sick since I was a little boy.
When I went to prison, I couldn't read at all. I taught myself what I know because I want to know. If someone writes to me, please print so I can understand.