Obamas Political Bandwagon of Death For Mumia
The Democratic Party establishment, both in Pennsylvania and nationally, is committed to the same “legal” murder of Mumia. The current governor, Ed Rendell, who was district attorney at the time of Mumia’s trial and oversaw the frame-up, is on board with this on-going conspiracy. He was central to Obama’s carrying of Pennsylvania in the 2008 election. For its part, the Fraternal Order of Police wasn’t taking any chances with presidential candidates. The FOP interviewed both Obama and McCain, and included a question about Mumia, referring to the street-naming by the Paris suburb of St. Denis, France. “I deplore acts to harm or kill our nation’s police officers,” replied Obama, “and oppose efforts to glorify those who commit such acts.”
Not to be left out, certain media pundits have weighed in against Mumia, helping those in the ruling circles to be sure about where their loyalties needed to be. Right wing Philadelphia talk show host Michael Smerconish, the co-author (with Faulkner’s wife) of a lying diatribe called “Murdered By Mumia” (Lyons Press 2008), also weighed in with an interview of Obama during the campaign. When Smerconish asked him about Mumia, Obama said he didn’t know much about the case, but added, “if somebody killed a police officer, they deserve the death penalty, or life in prison.” On this basis, the Republican Smerconish backed Obama in the campaign, which helped to put Obama over the top in Pennsylvania.
Smerconish & Co. are starting to break through internationally as well. Mumia Abu-Jamal has long had a strong following around the world, where in most countries, the particular loyalties of the US ruling class to its police force don’t apply. Support for Mumia has come from the European Parliament, Amnesty International, the city of Paris (which gave Mumia an honorary citizenship), and luminaries such as Nelson Mandela. Mumia supporters are particularly strong in France and Germany. But the FOP, and pundits such as Smerconish, have recently scored with an anti-Mumia hit piece based largely on the lies in “Murdered By Mumia,” in der Spiegel, a major German weekly.
and the Fraternal Order of Police
Although it supported McCain in the election, the Fraternal Order of Police backed the nomination of Eric Holder for attorney general. Holder subsequently spoke to an FOP “memorial” gathering, where he threatened “all those out there who would do harm to police officers… We are coming to get you,” he continued, “you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted, and you will be sentenced to the full extent of the law.” This ominous warning made the intentions of the Obama administration clear. As it took office at the head of the world’s preeminent imperialist power, the new administration reassured the US ruling circles that despite being the first black president, Obama was not about to change 40 years of murderous wrongs committed against revolutionary activists such as the Black Panthers, and spokesmen such as Mumia Abu-Jamal.
In a commentary in August of 2008, anticipating the possible election of the first black president of the US, Mumia related the impending Obama victory to the experience with Carl Stokes, who was elected mayor of Cleveland in 1967. As a harbinger of “the emergence of black political power in major American cities,” Stokes’ election prompted many Blacks to see “the beginning of an age of freedom for our people,” said Mumia. However, “From the 1960s to now, we most certainly have been disabused of that notion,” he continued. Among other disappointments, Stokes hired a former US Army lieutenant general as “a kind of super police chief.” This Vietnam-war honcho ordered 30,000 rounds of illegal hollow point bullets to go after the Cleveland Black Panther Party, and one of its support organizations.
Black Faces In High Places Does Not Freedom Make
“Just because [Stokes] was a Black mayor,” said Mumia, “didn’t mean he wasn’t dedicated to destroying a Black organization. Indeed, in times of Black uprising and mass discontent, Black mayors seem the perfect instrument of repression, for they dispel charges of racism… But Black faces in high places,” concluded Mumia, “does not freedom make.” (“The Perils of Black Political Power,” Aug 6th 2008).
We should also remember the experience with Wilson Goode, a black Democratic mayor of Philadelphia, who presided over the firebombing of the home of MOVE, the black community group which Mumia supports, in 1985. In “The Perils of Black Political Power,” Mumia touched on a central truth: power in a society ruled by an economic elite, though racist to its core, will not be altered by replacing a few white individuals with black ones, even at the very top of the power structure.
Only by seeing the true nature of the enemy can we move forward. Mumia’s case shows conclusively that a ruling-class power structure, not “the law,” is pulling the strings. It’s true that Mumia is up against a very big obstacle indeed: the system has targeted him as one of its highest profile enemies. In this, Mumia shares the stage with Leonard Peltier, an innocent activist with the American Indian Movement, who remains jailed for life because of a well-organized FBI vendetta against him. (He also shares this stage with earlier victims of the system such as Sacco and Vanzetti–frame-up victims of the red scare of the 1920s.) In his last day in office, President Bill Clinton refused to pardon Leonard Peltier after armed FBI agents mobilized in the streets in New York to oppose it. And it was the FBI’s COINTELPRO program that led to the police killings of 38 Black Panthers in virtually scripted shoot-outs!
Justice System vs. Class Struggle
While we support pursuing all available legal avenues to defend Mumia in court, and we support and urge that donations be made to Mumia’s legal defense fund, we find that there is no point in petitioning corrupt authorities such as Obama and the US Justice Department to correct wrongs which they themselves are either responsible for, or firmly committed to. Pleading with such a system to have a change of heart can only sow illusions, and undermine Mumia’s defense. The petitions demand nothing, they only ask for an internal review of the system, by the system. These criminals–and they are criminals–are not about to turn around now and say, “Oops, sorry, we violated civil rights.” They are committed to their side, and so should we be to ours.
In its effort to try to free Mumia, the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (LAC) recognized “that relief for Mumia cannot be expected from the biased and racist so-called ‘justice’ system in this country;” and we dedicated ourselves to, “educating workers about Jamal’s case, and to promoting a class-struggle movement, including strikes and other job actions wherever possible, to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!” (LAC founding statement, January 1999). Several workers actions have taken place since that statement was made, including a West Coast port shutdown to free Mumia, conducted by longshore workers in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in April 1999. Oakland teachers conducted an unauthorized teach-in on Mumia and the death penalty, also in 1999; and Brazilian teachers in Rio de Janeiro have conducted many work actions to free Mumia, from 1999 through to 2008.
An Injury To One Is An Injury To All! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
We have no quarrel with the millions of well-meaning individuals around the world who have already signed the two petitions (one to the US Justice Department under Holder, and another to Obama). The problem is rather one of leadership. Rather than working within a power structure that’s dead set against us, let’s ask how Mumia supporters can be mobilized to take positive action aimed against the system that’s trying to kill Mumia. Labor and minorities share a common history of being victimized by the criminal justice system in this country, and both have long been aware of police repression and the unequal use of the death penalty against minorities and the poor.
When longshore workers shut down West Coast ports and marched through San Francisco streets in 1999, they chanted, “An injury to one is an injury to all! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal,” thereby uniting the black freedom struggle and the workers movement in one powerful action. We know that if freedom is to be won for Mumia, a massive movement of working people must be mobilized. The system that victimizes innocent revolutionaries like Mumia is the same system that threatens all of us with police brutality, as well as oppression, exploitation and financial meltdown. This system can be brought to a halt through mass actions that mobilize the power of labor. But we must start out in that direction. Educate, agitate, organize and demonstrate. Build workers actions to free Mumia!
The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal