On Saturday 24 March, a united-front demonstration was held outside the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, Canada in solidarity with class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. The protest, which coincided with actions taking place internationally, was organized around the demands to “Open the Prosecution Files – Release the Evidence! Free Mumia! Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!” The rally was jointly organized and endorsed by various left-wing organizations, unionists and individuals and drew some 50 people.
Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal are on high alert as he has two important court dates upcoming: a status report on 27 March, and a full court hearing on 30 April. Mumia is demanding the release of all evidence pertaining to the role of former District Attorney Ronald Castille in his case. Castille was later elevated to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where he turned down Mumia’s appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court, in the “Williams decision” (also involving Castille), ruled it is unconstitutional for a judge who had previously been personally involved in a case to subsequently hear an appeal of the same case. If Mumia succeeds in getting the evidence released, he may have his appeal rights restored. That would open a legal path to overturning his bogus conviction for the killing of police officer Daniel Faulkner.
For background on Mumia's case see bolshevik.org/mumia and for more on the latest legal developments see “New Legal Action is a Path to Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Freedom.”
We reprint below a lightly edited version of the speech given by an IBT representative at the Toronto rally.
The IBT is proud to co-sponsor today’s demonstration for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Many of the groups represented here today have collaborated for over two decades in united-front rallies for Mumia like this one. In December 2016, we gathered here to protest the refusal by prison authorities to provide the necessary medication to Mumia for his Hepatitis C. Since then, Mumia has gained access to the life-saving medicine that he needs.
Mumia is now demanding the release of all evidence of the personal involvement of Ronald Castille in his case. In 1982, Ronald Castille was a member of the same District Attorney’s Office that convicted Mumia at his original trial. As D.A. of Philadelphia, Castille successfully fought to uphold Mumia’s conviction and death sentence. In 1990, when Mumia sat on death row, Castille petitioned the governor of Pennsylvania to expedite the executions of convicted prisoners on death row. In a letter to the governor, Castille wrote the following: “I urge you to send a clear and dramatic message to all police killers that the death penalty actually means something.” Castille subsequently served on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, where he was responsible for turning down Mumia’s appeals.
The question before the courts now is whether they agree that Castille was personally involved in Mumia’s case prior to serving as a judge where he then denied his appeals. If they agree, Mumia could have his appeals rights restored which could lead to a new trial.
We support every possible legal path to win Mumia’s freedom. But we have no illusions that the same “justice” system that put him on death row in the first place will allow a new and fair trial. Mumia is innocent and was framed. The courts have consistently shown bias towards Mumia – much of which we document in our pamphlet on his case [The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal].
The most powerful piece of evidence of the pervasive bias of the courts against Mumia is their refusal to hear the confession of the real killer, a mob hitman named Arnold Beverly. In a sworn affidavit to the court, Beverly admits: “I was hired … and paid to shoot and kill Faulkner.… Jamal had nothing to do with the shooting.” This is the testimony the courts have refused to hear for almost two decades.
As Marxists, we understand that the core of the capitalist state is made up of men and women whose job is to defend the racist status quo: the cops that arrested Mumia, the D.A.s that put him on death row and the judges that deny his appeals.
Racism is a defining feature of capitalism. People of color in the U.S., particularly black people, are essentially second-class citizens. Real justice for them and all the oppressed can ultimately only come through the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system.
Free Mumia! Abolish the racist death penalty! For socialist revolution!