The following letter was distributed at the December 9, 2018 tribute at International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10 for longtime Labor Action Committee member Howard Keylor.
The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia (LAC) sends its revolutionary greetings to you, our comrade of many years and many struggles.
As you remember, in 1998 you participated in the picket of the Neptune Jade in the Bay Area in defense of 500 locked-out Liverpool Dockers. Mumia Abu-Jamal headed the list of endorsers of that successful expression of international labor solidarity. The Neptune Jade picket sparked off the blockade of the ship in three countries. It was the inspiration for creating the LAC, and you were there when it happened.
As we said in the LAC’s founding statement, “the persecution and incarceration of Mumia was a blatant attack on the working class . . . workers have the power to free political prisoners such as Jamal through class-struggle action against the bosses and their state.”
Through your own political work, you embody the principles we stood for. You always called for defying the Taft-Hartley ban on secondary boycotts, for cross-union and international labor solidarity, and for expanding strike action from economic to political strikes. As you said, “There is No Justice in the Capitalist Courts!” In 1984, these all came together in the anti-Apartheid strike which you initiated.
You participated in or supported all the major actions for Mumia’s freedom which the LAC organized or participated in, including the teach-in for Mumia which Oakland Teachers for Mumia and the Oakland Education Association organized in January 1999; the coastwide port shutdown and march of 25,000 in San Francisco for Mumia in April 1999, led by ILWU Local 10 who chanted “An Injury to One is an Injury to All: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!”, and the Labor Conference for Mumia in Oakland in 2000, attended by several hundred trade unionists from North America.
And afterwards, alongside the LAC, you continued to defend Mumia’s innocence through the slogan “Free Mumia!”, opposing those on the Left who called for a “New Trial” and conceded Mumia’s guilt.
Mumia is still in prison after all these years. But like you, we will continue to fight for his freedom until Mumia is free and the working class makes an end to exploitation, racism and oppression. Happy Birthday, Howard!
The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal