(en) Who is Mona Lisa Gaffney and why should you care?

Chuck0 (chuck0@geocities.com)
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 18:18:47 -0400

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Washington, DC September 23, 1997 Message from the D.C. Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal -------------

Who is Mona Lisa Gaffney and what has happened to her? Why should you care? Mona Lisa Gaffney is a 47-year-old African-American community activist, family woman, and grandmother. A mainstay of her family and a modest pillar of her community in Washington, D.C., she has raised two adult children, and, despite personal health problems, has for the last six years been raising twin boys brought into her life by tragic circumstances at the age of one. In July 1997 Mona Lisa Gaffney was wrongfully convicted on seven federal counts of drug trafficking and related offenses. Although she has no criminal record, Mona Lisa can be sentenced to either life or decades in prison unless we act. Mona Lisa is to be sentenced on October 10, 1997 by Judge Brinkema in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Courthouse Square in Alexandria, VA.

Friends and supporters believe that Mona Lisa is one of the approximately 6,000 innocent people arrested and imprisoned each year in the United States. She was convicted of drug trafficking by an all-white jury without a shred of hard evidence of even possession - only the contradictory testimonies of a drug dealer who had been granted immunity and convicted drug dealers who were vulnerable to pressure from the prosecution.

Mona Lisa's case illustrates many of the dangers to the public of a justice system that carries out policies of repression at a time when racism, unemployment, police brutality, and attacks on civil and human rights are rising, and housing, medical care, social services, and educational opportunities are deteriorating. The rate of incarceration for women is growing even faster than the rising rate for men. The harsh sentences that women are given on alleged drug and property crime charges can either wipe out their reproductive lives entirely or take them away from their babies and young children for decades. All people indicted on drug charges in federal court face a 95% conviction rate in trials where no hard evidence need be presented and severe mandatory sentences are unavoidable. We here in the District will fall exclusively under the control of harsh federal sentencing laws unless the struggle for local popular control succeeds. Please join us in this public show of support for Mona Lisa to find out how we can defend her and change conditions for ourselves and our community as well!


Thursday, September 25, 1997, 7:00 p.m. Meridian Hill Baptist Church, 3146 16th Street, N.W. (childcare provided)

Mauri' Saalakhan, Peace and Justice Foundation, on Mona Lisa's case and proposals for future support work.

David Gaffney, son of Mona Lisa Gaffney, on his mother's life.

Margaret Owens, Executive Director, National Center for Women in Prison, on the changing face of women in prison today.

Monica Pratt, Families Against the Mandatory Minimum, on mandatory minimum sentencing.

Stuart Adams, Representative of the National Conference of Black Lawyers on the CIA/Crack Cocaine Issue, on the so-called "War on Drugs" and on the domestic impact of the drug trade.

Michelle Tingling-Clemmons, D.C. Statehood Party and Board Member, National Welfare Rights Union, on how harsh federal laws and "truth in sentencing" guidelines are increasingly affecting D.C. residents like Mona Lisa.

Ramona Africa, MOVE Organization, the sole adult survivor of the police-bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia in 1985 and an advocate of freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, on how to organize for Mona Lisa and against political repression.

Stop the Growing Criminalization of Women! Free Mona Lisa!

For ways you can help and information on writing to Judge Brinkema, please contact the Gaffney Defense Committee and the Peace and Justice Foundation, 301-681-2014, 301-962-9747.

-------- Chuck0 for A-infos News, DAMN, and the D.C. Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

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