George Bush: Wanted For Murder!

Huge Protests At The Republican Convention

By: Joan Parkin

Activists in the Campaign to End the Death Penalty traveled from as far as Austin, Texas, to protest the "Death Candidate" - Texas Gov. George W. Bush - at the Unity 2000 demonstration in Philadelphia outside the Republican National Convention.

The Campaign's 150-strong contingent was one of the liveliest parts of the 10,000-person demonstration held July 31. "It was hard to ignore the shouts from the anti-death penalty group criticizing Governor George Bush for his support of the death penalty," reported ABCNews.com.

The Sunday demonstration was the high point of a week of protests, bringing together environmentalists, death penalty abolitionists, welfare and women's rights groups, anti-sweatshop activists, opponents of police brutality and anti-Iraq sanctions activists. The protests sent a message to the Republicans that their bloody attacks haven't gone unnoticed.

Chanting, "Bush says death row, we say hell no!" Campaign members marched through the streets of downtown Philadelphia carrying placards that read, "Wanted for Murder" (next to George Bush's picture) and "Stop the Racist Death Penalty: Moratorium Now!" There were also life-size photo placards of Shaka Sankofa (formerly Gary Graham), the Texas death row prisoner executed by Bush in June, despite national protests proclaiming Shaka's innocence. And demonstrators everywhere carried placards supporting Mumia Abu-Jamal, the internationally known political prisoner on Pennsylvania's death row.

Norma Brooks-McRoy - the niece of former Maryland death row prisoner Eugene Colvin-El - and I spoke on behalf of the Campaign. Norma, whose activism helped to stop the execution of Eugene in June, said in her speech: "I am here to talk about the human face on the death penalty, about my uncle wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death row, but I am also here to talk about how today, as we stand together, I know we will win!"

On Tuesday, Academics for Mumia held a press conference where activists such as Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. spoke out. Author Jonathan Kozol referred to Elizabeth Dole's speech to the Republican convention and her use of the phrase, "Leave no child behind." "What do they mean by that?" Kozol asked. "Does that include the children of the inmates they execute?"

After a 1,000-strong demonstration for Mumia, the day ended with a crackdown by the Philadelphia police, one of the most corrupt and brutal forces in the country. A total of 465 people were arrested, most of them for misdemeanors. The cops even arrested 75 puppet makers! Yet judges set bails ranging from $15,000 to $400,000.

We need to take the energy of the Philadelphia demonstrations to the August 26 Redeem the Dream march in Washington, D.C.