Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther and political journalist who has been on death row in Pennsylvania since he was framed for the killing of police officer Daniel Faulkner in December 1981. He was framed because of his political past and his work as a journalist in exposing the corruption of Philadelphia city officials and police and their attacks on the MOVE organisation, of which Mumia was a supporter. This was made clear at his trial when his Black Panther past was used, illegally, to convince the jury that he deserved the death penalty. He became another statistic — one of the vastly disproportionate number of black men in the US prison system, and on death row. But Mumia refused to just be a statistic — he continued to write and broadcast from his cell, sharply critical of the system that held him there. This makes him perhaps the world's best known political prisoner.

The details of the frame-up are complex (see The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal). It involved false confessions, coerced witnesses, faulty ballistics, jury rigging and a racist judge — a mixture that has put Mumia behind bars for over 30 years for a crime he did not commit. Despite repeated appeals, the US courts have refused to hear evidence in Mumia's favour, including another man's confession that he killed Faulkner.

Arnold Beverly has signed an affidavit asserting that he was one of two men hired to kill Faulkner by corrupt cops who believed Faulkner was reporting their extra-curricular activities. This statement is backed up by documented corruption among Philadelphia police at that time, and explains exactly why the state need someone to pin the blame on. Conveniently for them, Mumia found himself on the wrong street corner at the wrong time. The courts refuse to admit this confession as evidence. It is too hot to handle, revealing too much about the nature of the state guardians of “law and order.”

On 7 December 2011, the death sentence imposed on Mumia was finally lifted, two days before the thirtieth anniversary of his arrest and incarceration. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced that he was abandoning attempts to execute Mumia. The Voice of the Voiceless is no longer on death row and has been transferred to the general prison population at SCI Mahoney in Frackville, Pennsylvania where he has been condemned to rot in prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole.

It is critical that the movement demanding Mumia's freedom not be silenced by this commutation from death by lethal injection to slow death by life imprisonment. Mumia was tried, convicted and imprisoned for his commitment to fight for the victims of racist injustice and all the oppressed. It is essential that we continue to stand in solidarity with him: “An injury to one is an injury to all.”