Eliot Grossman, a member of the new team of lawyers representing death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, spoke at two forums held in San Francisco and Berkeley over the weekend of October 12th and 13th, sponsored by the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. The video of former hit-man Arnold Beverly, confessing to the murder for which Mumia has been on death row now for 20 years, was featured at the beginning of both forums.
You could hear a pin drop in both audiences, as this gripping testimony--which has so far been ignored by the courts and media--was played. Beverly says that he was hired to kill Police Officer Daniel Faulkner because Faulkner "was a problem for the mob and corrupt politicians, because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity..." The statement indicates that Mumia arrived on the scene only after the officer was shot--this is contrary to earlier "reports" about what happened. This confession shows that massive police corruption--thus far covered up--is the real story in this case. Discussion at the forums focused on the confession, and copies of the video completely sold out by the end of the second forum, on the Berkeley campus, and 16 people ordered copies to be sent to them in the mail. (The video can still be ordered--see below).
Mumia Abu-Jamal greeted the forums with a statement, which was read by Jack Heyman, of the exec board of Local 10 of the ILWU, and an organizer of the West Coast longshore port shutdown to free Mumia in April 1999. Referring to some construction workers in Philadelphia who hung out a banner saying "Fry Mumia", Mumia said, "I am, and historically have always been, closer to the interests of these workers--by class, by my personal history as a low-wage worker, and by my political orientation--than any politicians have, or any of their bosses or the police ever would be. I've never see a strike that I didn't like." "Labor is many things in this country," Mumia continued, "but it can be much more... It is possible for working people to cross social, cultural, political and, yes, racial, barriers...if we recognise our class interests: who we are, who our friends are, and that what unites us is infinitely stronger than what divides us. Our greatest weapon is each other--our unity."
Mumia's statement also said, "My work is... a journalism of liberation." (The complete statement is pasted in below this message.) In July of this year, federal district Judge Yohn, who has Mumia's habeas corpus appeal before him, refused to take the deposition of this Arnold Beverly, despite its obvious relevance in showing that Mumia did not do the crime for which he's about to be sent to death! Yohn cited the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act--a Republican crime bill signed by Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing--in his outrageous ruling.
Attorney Eliot Grossman discussed this as well as Mumia's current appeal in state court--and he discussed the problems that led to Mumia's switch in legal teams, which include the publication of a bogus inside-story book by former Mumia attorney Dan Williams, and the inexcusable delay in getting the Arnold Beverly confession into court. The confession (including a copy of the video) has now been filed in state court as part of Mumia's appeal.
The forums also featured Gerald Sanders, a former member of the Black Panther Party, and Bob Mandel, a member of Oakland's teachers union, the OEA, and one of the organizers of a teach-in held in defiance of the administration in Oakland schools in 1999 on Mumia and the death penalty. The San Francisco forum, held in the San Francisco headquarters of the ILWU, was co-sponsored by the Rank and File ILWU Committee To Free Mumia.
Lively discussion followed the presentations. Should this innocent frame-up victim go to his death, while someone else has confessed to the crime? Is there a statute of limitations on innocence? The verdict of these forums was a resounding NO! The Labor Action Committee sent checks totalling $2519.52, representing both cash and checks collected at the forums, to the Humanitarian Law Project--fund for Mumia's legal defense. This is money desperately needed by the new legal team, which is short of funds for pursuing this immensely urgent case. We invite you to join the 160 people who attended these forums, and contribute generously to Mumia's legal defense.
Send checks earmarked Mumia Abu Jamal, to
Press releases went out, and the major media should have been present, but of course it wasn't. Newspapers and TV have in general remained deathly silent on this critical development--this in a case regarded as a political execution by millions of people around the world. This is the same media which currently waves the flag for--and refuses to show civilian casualties in--the war on Afghanistan.
On Friday evening just before the first forum, however, Eliot Grossman was interviewed by Leslie Kane on Flashpoints, KPFA; together with a phone interview with Sam Jordan, formerly of Amnesty International's death penalty project, and chief author of a letter about Mumia sent to UN General Secretary Kofi Anan from the Anti-Racism Conference in Durban South Africa. (Jordan had been slated to be one of the speakers at the forums, but was unable to attend.)
Shortly after playing at these forums, the video of Arnold
Beverly's confession was featured on Soulbeat TV (Oakland), and as a streaming
video on the web site of KNTV (San Jose), at
(We don't know how long it will be posted there.) The VHS tape of Arnold
Beverly's confession is available for $5, plus $2 for mailing costs, from--
The Confession is also available at the above address on cd, for the same price. Also available are, the pamphlet, The Confession of Arnold Beverly, containing affidavits and a talk by Sam Jordan; the Mumia Truth Kit, containing the new PCRA appeal brief; and other literature (send for list). Donations to Mumia's legal defense may be sent here, as well as to the address given above (earmarked Mumia legal defense). Numerous documents in Mumia's case, including the new PCRA appeal brief, the amended habeas corpus brief filed in federal court, numerous amicus briefs and affidavits, and a talk by Sam Jordan, are all available for free via email. Request a complete list--send a message with Mumia Documents in the subject line, and your requests, to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Labor Action Committee is ready to present the confession of Arnold Beverly on video, and discuss developments in Mumia's case, at union meetings and other events. Request a speaker for your union or event. Call (510) 763-2347, or (415) 282-1980. We need your help to continue our work in spreading word about Mumia's innocence. The Labor Action Committee is trying to find ways to break the story into the media. This often involves sending tapes and other materials to contacts for free.
You can help by sending ideas and donations to:
Here is the complete text of Mumia's address to the forums: Speech by Mumia Abu-Jamal for delivery to Labor Action Committee forums in San Francisco and Berkeley, October12 and 13, 2001
ONA MOVE! Thank you for coming.
Why is it important for labor people and labor organizers and other activists to join this fight for freedom and justice?
On August 17th at a large gathering in Philadelphia, a group of construction workers hung a banner emblazoned with the words, "Fry Mumia". I thought it was interesting to say the least that these guys would so this. I think that the fact that something like this would be done gives us some sense of the challenges facing labor organizers in this fight.
The people forced them to take it down of course. But that's not the point. I am, and historically have always been, closer to the interests of these workers--by class, by my personal history as a low-wage worker, and by my political orientation--than any politicians have, or any of their bosses or the police ever would be. I've never seen a strike I didn't like.
But you can damn well bet that, when workers strike anywhere for anything, the first thing that their bosses will do is pit the armed forces of the State against them. That's the history of America, whether you're talking about the Haymarket Square incident in Chicago, the United Farmworkers' demonstration in San Francisco, or the Justice for Janitors demonstration in Los Angeles.
But what those Philadelphia construction workers apparently believe in separates us--the illusion of race. And that illusion is so strong that they call for my death while I fight from death row for their lives and their well-being.
Labor is many things in this country, but it can be much more. It is a place where many of us come from different walks of life and meet in daily struggle for subsistence, a living wage and, if we fight hard enough, the dignity of our work.
It is possible therefore, for working people to cross social, cultural, political and yes racial, barriers to build a better reality for us all. That is only possible, however, if we recognize our class interests: who we really are, who our friends are, and that what unites us is infinitely stronger than what divides us. Our greatest weapon is each other--our unity.
I send this message to you today to acknowledge some of our weaknesses so that we can transform them into strengths and then build on them. You may think that I am a far distance from you, as I am on death row and have been here for many years, but I have fought long and hard battles with the State not just for my freedom, but for the principle that I am a worker. My work is not simply journalism, but a journalism of liberation, a journalism of humanity, a journalism that unites us instead of dividing us.
We are engaging in a hard and bitter struggle against a State that acknowledges no law, that changes the law from day to day, that violates its own precedents every day. Eliot will tell you, in his own fashion, about many of the legal issues involved here.
What none of us should forget is that the law is essentially a political process. It is not about justice, it is about power. If it was about justice, I would have been out of here many years ago. If it was about justice, I would not have been convicted in the first place.
What this case is about is how the State continues to use the law as an instrument of crime to achieve its political aims. In my mind, in my heart, in my political orientation, I am not far from you at all. What you do every day is what I do every day. You work hard for a better tomorrow. You work hard to transform the present into a new reality. You work for a day when your work will be respected, when your families will be safe, when, to quote the ignoble Judge Sabo, "Justice is more than an emotional feeling." And you work for a day when innocence is not irrelevant.
You work for a day when the State reflects your interests rather than the interests of those who own it by dint of their wealth. You work for a day when you can see the common humanity in your fellow worker first, before any other consideration.
We have joined together in that struggle. For me, prison is just another arena of struggle. I look forward to the near future when I can join your struggle where you work and where you live. I thank you.
ONA MOVE! LONG LIVE JOHN AFRICA!