Over 500 people came to Philadelphia’s City Hall on July 4 to demand that Mumia Abu-Jamal be freed. It was the largest action inside Philadelphia for the imprisoned revolutionary Black writer in years.
Every July 4th, demonstrations are held for Mumia Abu-Jamal, who helped found Philadelphia’s chapter of the Black Panther Party when he was 15 years old. That’s because just before July 4, 1982, Abu-Jamal was falsely convicted and sentenced to death for the killing of policeman Daniel Faulkner.
After a long struggle, authorities were forced to take Jamal off death row in 2011.
Supporters gathered across from City Hall where the statue of Frank Rizzo used to stand. Rizzo was a fascist mayor during the 1970s and police commissioner in the 1960s who told his fellow bigots to “vote white.”
Rizzo also threatened Jamal at a news conference. The recent removal of Rizzo’s statue was a victory earned by struggle.
Pam Africa, the leader of the International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, started the rally. She demanded “Free them all!”
All the political prisoners, like Leonard Peltier, a leader of the American Indian Movement who has been imprisoned for over 40 years, and Black liberation fighter Mutulu Shakur have to come home. So do hundreds of thousands of other prisoners whose real crime was being poor.
The rally was joined by a hundred people led by Red Fists Rising, who marched from the 30th Street train station. A Red Fists Rising member, an eight-year-old girl, helped lead chants.
Speakers reminded people they were standing on Indigenous land that was stolen.
Saudia Durrant, from the Philadelphia Student Union, spoke of how 350 cops in Philadelphia’s schools cost $30 million per year. This money could be used to hire hundreds of needed school nurses and counselors.
People marched around to the south side of City Hall, and rallied in front of the statue of Octavius Catto, the Black school principal and political leader who was murdered by racists on election day, Oct. 10, 1871.
Then Mumia Abu-Jamal called in from prison and spoke to the rally. He quoted Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”
“This is a special time,” said Mumia, referring to the millions of people in the streets demanding that Black lives matter. “I love you all.”
“I think I will be with you. We will meet in the whirlwind,” said Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Pam Africa, who is also the minister of confrontation of the MOVE organization, wound up the rally. She said that 2020 is the year when the last of the MOVE 9 political prisoners got out of jail.
The power structure said they would never be released. But, as Pam Africa said, “We made liars of them.”
The power of the people that tore down Rizzo’s statue will free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners.