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(en) Activists Demand New Trial For Mumia Abu-Jamal,348 Eight Arrests Nationwide

From DAMN <damn@tao.ca>
Date Tue, 7 Mar 2000 15:06:35 -0500

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> Reference: www.wpa4mumia.org 

"Grant a New Trial/Abolish the Death Penalty" was the call Monday morning at
10 AM February 28 as one hundred eighty-five people, including former South
African political prisoner Dennis Brutus and Jennifer Harbury, lawyer and
widow of a slain Guatemalan resistance leader, were arrested during a
dramatic, nonviolent civil disobedience action at the U.S. Supreme Court.  

This action and its companion support vigil called for a new trial for
award-winning journalist and death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal.  The three
thousand strong demonstration also demanded abolition of capital punishment
in the U.S.  All of the arrested protesters were charged with unlawful
conduct and impeding traffic on the Supreme Court grounds.  

The CD and companion vigil brought together renowned labor leaders,
religious figures, entertainers, human rights activists and academicians.
At a simultaneous demonstration in San Francisco, one hundred sixty-three
people were arrested for blocking the front entrances of the U.S. Court of
Appeals.  The arrest total for the day was three hundred forty-eight for the
two civil disobedience demonstrations.  Demonstrations were also slated for
Los Angeles, Toronto and other cities in the US and Canada.

Mumia Abu-Jamal's case has shone an international spotlight on the arbitrary
use of the death penalty in the U.S.  On January 31, Illinois Republican
Governor George Ryan instituted a temporary halt to executions in his state
after 13 Illinois death row inmates were found innocent.  Two weeks later,
on February 10, the Philadelphia City Council joined many other
municipalities nationwide in passing a resolution calling for a moratorium
on their state's executions.  And on February 22, the Judiciary Committee of
Pennsylvania's Senate held hearings on Senate Bill 952 which calls for a
2-year moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania.  At present Pennsylvania
Federal District Judge William Yohn is reviewing Abu-Jamal's petition for
habeas corpus to overturn his conviction based on 29 constitutional
violations during the initial trial.

Today's actions followed a July 3rd, 1999 action at the Liberty Bell and a
simultaneous one in San Francisco where one hundred twenty-two people were
arrested.  That was the first action of a civil disobedience campaign that
organizers plan to continue until Mr. Abu-Jamal gets a new trial.  The
cumulative arrest total for the two actions is four hundred seventy.  The
demonstration was organized by the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition and the
February 28th Coalition for Mumia.

In October 1998 Pennsylvania's Supreme Court denied Mumia's bid for a new
trial, upholding the original trial judge's ruling.  The journalist, MOVE
supporter and former member of the Black Panther Party, was convicted in
1981 of the shooting death of a Philadelphia police officer in a trial
tainted by the flagrant bias of that judge, the deliberate exclusion of 11
Black jurors and a court appointed lawyer who, by his own admission, was
inexperienced in criminal law.  In addition, witnesses came forward during
the 1995 Post Conviction Relief Appeal hearing saying they were coerced by
police to lie, suppress or change their initial account of the Dec. 9, 1981

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