Stopping execution is a victory, struggle continues to free Mumia
Philadelphia, PA – After 30 years, political prisoner and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal is no longer on death row. On Dec. 7, 2011, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced that he would not seek a new sentencing hearing to try to re-sentence Abu-Jamal to the death penalty. He has now been moved to SCI Mahanoy after spending the last 30 years on Pennsylvania’s death row.
This is a stunning development in Abu-Jamal’s case. He has been on death row since 1982, after being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for killing a police officer in 1981. A broad and powerful movement rallied in defense of Mumia for decades, decrying the racism and injustice in his case, going up against seemingly impossible odds to try to stop his execution and win his freedom.
District Attorney Williams’ decision not to pursue the death penalty for Abu-Jamal comes after an Oct. 11, 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision to not hear the Philadelphia district attorney’s appeal of a federal court ruling that that the sentencing portion of Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial had violated the constitution. The Supreme Court decision forced the district attorney to either conduct a new sentencing hearing or change Abu-Jamal’s sentence to a life term without parole. Williams chose not to conduct a new sentencing hearing, likely fearing a reopening of any portion of Abu-Jamal’s thoroughly flawed trial. As a result of this decision, Mumia Abu-Jamal no longer faces the death penalty.
While Abu-Jamal sat in a small cell on death row in virtual isolation for three decades and came close to scheduled execution dates several times, the courts stonewalled his attempts to win justice up and down the line. In that context, his supporters consider this a victory, though one that doesn’t bring true justice. It simply opens the door to the next phase of the struggle – to win freedom for Mumia. According to a statement by the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, “This is not an ending, it is a new beginning for the movement supporting Abu-Jamal’s quest for release.”
Write to Mumia Abu-Jamal to express your solidarity. His new address is:
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932