Labor seizes the time to ‘Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!’

As leaders in the vanguard of social activism in the labor movement, Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) locals in San Francisco and Oakland, California, shut down their ports on February 16 to demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Their actions initiated a campaign of solidarity for Mumia that spans the globe. 

Most notably: 

  • South Africa’s National Union of Metalworkers demonstrated at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria and the U.S. Consulate in Durban.
  • In Tokyo, Japanese railroad workers, members of the Doro-Chiba labor union, held a protest for Mumia in front of the U.S. Embassy.
  • In Berlin, the IG Metall (Metal Workers Industrial Union) Working Group on Internationalism (Arbeitskreis Internationalismus) sent a message of solidarity with the ILWU port shutdown: “Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man, falsely put into jail since 1982 for a crime he did not commit. Like Leonard Peltier, who is imprisoned for 46 years, he is a victim of a system of racism and exploitation. Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier should be free! We send you our warmest greetings and wish you success with your port shutdown solidarity action.”

Judge to rule on Mumia’s case

Currently, Mumia Abu-Jamal’s defense lawyers are reviewing evidence that had been hidden in the District Attorney’s closet for 36 years, evidence that attorneys say shows that the police and prosecution intentionally manufactured Mumia’s guilt and suppressed the truth of his innocence.

His lawyers expect to find further evidence that police coerced and bribed witnesses and that extreme racism and judicial bias have permeated all the proceedings against Mumia. The discovery of this new undisclosed evidence provides the basis for a retrial.

Judge Lucretia Clemons has ordered the Philadelphia District Attorney to turn over additional files — up to 200 boxes — to Mumia’s defense team. At this time, actions are planned to support Mumia, ensure that the evidence is heard, and win Mumia Abu-Jamal’s freedom. Judge Clemons is expected to issue her ruling on Mumia’s case sometime between Feb. 16 and March 16.

At home and across the country, the ILWU action is building a growing movement for Mumia’s freedom.

Keith Brown, president of the Oakland Education Association, wrote on behalf of the teachers’ union: 

“The teachers of Oakland have a long history of support for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Now is the time to bring Mumia home. On behalf of the 3,000 educators of the Oakland Education Association, I urge the immediate release of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

“It is our collective responsibility to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and end the mass incarceration of Black Americans. Mumia’s case exemplifies the worst of mass incarceration in the United States.

“This moment calls for the display of healing the wrongs of discrimination, racial bias, and unfairness. Justice and doing the right thing means granting Mumia Abu-Jamal the opportunity to have a fair hearing. This includes work that we, as the Oakland Education Association, have been doing to create a culture of inclusion and anti-racist practices with our educators.”

In Portland, Oregon, Local 28 of IATSE, the theater, TV, and movie workers union, passed a resolution for Mumia’s freedom. The wording of Local 28’s resolution is the same as one passed by the Portland painters union in October. 

It demands immediate freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal and calls for a policy of working-class struggle through agitation, publicity, protest, and continued coordinated workers’ action on a national and international scale to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, and calls on workers of all countries to use their power to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.

On Feb 13, radio stations WBAI in New York and WPFW in Washington, D.C., aired a teach-in: “Mumia’s Freedom is Labor’s Cause.”

The teach-in featured labor leaders: 

  • Brenda Stokely, former pres. AFSCME DC 1707, Local 205, co-convener of the Million Worker March; 
  • Jack Heyman, retired Exec. Board Member of Local 10 International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU); David Newton, member Local 10 ILWU and nephew of Huey Newton, founder Black Panther Party; 
  • Chris Silvera, Sec.-Treas., Teamsters Local 808; 
  • Charles Jenkins, member TWU Local 100, Pres. NY Chapter Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

On Feb. 18 in Boston, a Free Mumia rally was planned. 

Compelling support was voiced by Angela Davis in a letter to Irvin Jim, General Secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa:

“As I write you today on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, I remember the powerful letter you wrote in 2016 to Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania, when you emphasized similarities between the South African apartheid government’s treatment of its political prisoners and the conditions of prisoners in Pennsylvania.

“Today, we need to take advantage of the fact that we have the best chance in a very long time to actually achieve his (Mumia’s) freedom.”

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