In a meeting held at La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley on Friday the 5th, the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, together with Oakland Teachers for Mumia and Prison Radio, held a successful public event which netted $611 to fight the Pennsylvania “gag” law, which targets Mumia and the free speech rights of all convicts.
Thanks to everyone who attended and donated to this important effort!
Most of the proceeds were pledged directly to the web site on computers provided at the event by Prison Radio, the non-profit organization which publishes Mumia’s commentaries, and which organized the legal challenge to the “gag” law. If you haven’t yet contributed to this effort, the site to go to is:
The Pennsylvania “gag” law (officially the Revictimization Relief Act, PA SB 508), was passed and signed in record time after Mumia delivered a recorded address to the graduating class of is alma mater, Goddard College. Designed explicitly to “shut him up” (ie, Mumia), this law is a blatantly unconstitutional attack on the free speech rights of those convicted of violent crimes (whether innocent or guilty—the legal system doesn’t care about that), as well as a dire threat to the rights of any group which distributes or promotes the speech or writings of prisoners! (See the web site mentioned above, or our earlier postings about the “gag” law)
Urban Dreams Finally Restored!
National Uproar Over Police Murders Forces OUSD’s Hand
The Urban Dreams web site — also a subject of our Dec. 5th meeting — has now been restored, though not without considerable struggle to make it happen. As we have earlier reported…
Here’s what happened: Under pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)—operating through a friendly publicity agent called Fox News—the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) earlier this year shut down an entire website composed of teacher-drafted curriculum material called Urban Dreams. Why? Because this site included a course guideline which dealt with the censorship of innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal! The course material compared the censorship of Mumia’s extensive radio commentaries and writings, with that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s later writings, which focused on class exploitation and his opposition to the US’ imperialist War against Vietnam. Both were effectively silenced by the big media, including, in Mumia’s case, by National Public Radio (NPR).
Now: This teacher-driven web site has finally been restored, thanks to the relentless work of Oakland Teachers for Mumia and their supporters. At an OUSD School Board meeting in late November, the new School Superintendent, Antwan Wilson, announced the reinstatement of the site — and teacher Craig Gordon published a column in the East Bay Express [“Police Censorship Defeated — for Now,” 10 December 2014] announcing the reinstatement — but then… nothing. Oakland Teachers for Mumia member Bob Mandel takes up the story from there. In a 13 December email, Bob reported:
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Three weeks after the initial public promise to repost Urban Dreams and stop police control of Oakland School curriculum, and 48-hours after The Express published Craig Gordon’s piece, Urban Dreams had still not been posted, ostensibly for aesthetic reasons. Two-and-a-half hours after the following letter to Oakland Supt. Antwan Wilson was sent—detailing OUSD’s official role in covering up the murder of Raheim Brown by School District police—Urban Dreams reappeared. Clearly the District wants this case of murder by its police, of a piece with Oscar Grant’s and Alan Blueford’s, buried and forgotten:
Before the Thanksgiving break, you publicly announced at the School Board that the Urban Dreams website with all its materials intact would be restored. District spokesman Troy Flint said it would be up ‘within a week.’ Well, it isn’t.
You have on your staff Officer Bhatt who murdered ex-student Raheim Brown. The District recently settled with the other officer involved in the killing, Sgt. Jonathan Bellusa, paying him roughly $550,000 to drop further action stemming from his unwillingness to cover up that the killing shots were unnecessary. Mr. Brown had already been disabled.
You also continue to have on your staff as Counsel, Jacqueline Minor. She was named (along with former Supt. Tony Smith) as a defendant in Officer Bellusa’s lawsuit as having interfered with the investigation and acted against Officer Bellusa so as to cover up the real facts.
While you retain these two individuals, you have not reposted Urban Dreams.
You are intensely aware of the national uproar around the police murders of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and others. You are aware of the daily and nightly demonstrations in Oakland and the Bay Area. If you fail to take action to repost Urban Dreams immediately, including the Martin Luther King–Mumia Abu-Jamal lesson, you will only confirm suspicions that whatever the rhetoric of the District about caring for its children and youth, the District leadership chooses to side with the police, including in allowing them to control and censor curriculum and deny young people the right to learn history as it really happened and develop analyses and solutions of their own.
Urban Dreams should be up this weekend.
involuntarily retired OUSD Adult Ed ESL
currently teaching elsewhere
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And now the Urban Dreams site is up. But the Oakland School District is roundly condemned both for its cowardice in capitulating to the FOP/Fox News censorship assault, and for its cover-up of the police murder of Raheim Brown. Schools built on subservience to the police state which we, in the US, are afflicted with, are worse than useless.
We work to free the innocent political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal. The prosecution, persecution and on-going censorship of Mumia is part and parcel of a corrupt capitalist system in which police have an open license to kill black and brown men, and poor and mentally challenged as well.
Defeat the “Gag” Law and all police censorship of the oppressed! Free Mumia and all Class-War Prisoners!
Contribute Now to defeat the “gag” law, at: