We hereby denounce the “Confidential Memorandum,” addressed to the French organization ECPM (Together Against the Death Penalty), and signed by a few leaders in the U.S. abolition movement.
The signatories of this secret memo–“secret” because it was issued without the knowledge of their own memberships or boards of directors–were attempting to exclude U.S. death-row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and his attorney, Robert R. Bryan, from participation in the World Congress to Abolish the Death Penalty, whose meeting was hosted by the ECPM in Geneva, Switzerland, in March of this year. When Bryan, and Abu-Jamal (by telephone from his supermax prison in Pennsylvania) did in fact address this congress, supporters of the “Confidential Memorandum” turned their backs and walked out.
The stated reason for this treacherous act was that Mumia Abu-Jamal “alienates” possible support from politicians, the media, and …law enforcement. According to the “Confidential Memo” these groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), may agree that the death penalty is too expensive. This makes the question one of economics: what is “cheaper,” the death sentence, or life without the possibility of parole (LWOP)?
We reject the barbaric “alternative” of “lock ’em up and throw away the key.” Cases such as that of Leonard Peltier, the American Indian Movement (AIM) activist framed for the killing of two FBI agents, show the injustice of LWOP. (Because of prejudice against him, Peltier has repeatedly been denied parole.)
Mumia Abu-Jamal has been on Pennsylvania’s death row for the past 28 years for a crime that (mostly unheard) evidence proves he did not commit. He remains there because the courts have systematically denied him the benefit of precedent and established law. From his prison cell, Mumia has written numerous books and articles shedding light on the U.S. prison-industrial complex as well as other historical and current political issues. He has helped to educate millions about the true workings of the criminal justice system. Mumia Abu-Jamal has been an inspiration to all those fighting to win abolition of the death penalty, lending leadership, his voice of encouragement, and his unfaltering determination to the movement.
We reject the politics of compromise, which leads some death penalty opponents to ignore or downplay the role that police, prosecutors and judges play as guardians of an unjust and racist legal system that disproportionately targets the poor and people of color. The FOP has spearheaded the campaign of corrupt police to execute Mumia from the beginning, and helped protect those guilty of framing him. This is typical activity for this cabal of official gangsters. The FOP, for instance, routinely finances the defense of cops such as John Burge, guilty both of torture, and of sending many innocent men to prison, some to death row.
We stand for abolition of the racist death penalty, and no to “life without parole.” For labor action to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, and all political prisoners!