[R-G] Alert on New Threat to Mumia Abu-Jamal

usman x sandinista at shaw.ca
Thu Jul 8 17:50:45 MDT 2004

From http://www.refuseandresist.org/mumia/art.php?aid=1433

Alert on New Threat to Mumia Abu-Jamal

Based on a new reactionary Supreme Court decision penned by Justice Clarence
Thomas, the State of Pennsylvania is now pushing to restore the death
sentence for Mumia Abu-Jamal that had been overturned. On June 29, the
federal Court of Appeals lifted a stay on Mumia’s appeal process and the
case could now be suddenly moving ahead and under more unfavorable

"The government knows that the only way to stop Mumia is to murder him in
the name of the law, to execute him. In over three decades of litigating
death-penalty cases, I have not seen one in which the government wants so
badly to kill a client," said Mumia’s lead attorney Robert Bryan, commenting
on the new developments.

For 22 years Mumia has lived, locked down under threat of death as the
result of a fraudulent, politically driven frame-up. Mumia is a
revolutionary journalist who has continued to write the truth from behind
bars, inspiring a whole new generation of resistance — in this country and
internationally. He has never given up in despair or begged for a break. If
Mumia is murdered by the state, he would be the first Black revolutionary
legally executed for his political beliefs since the days of slavery, and
this would accelerate the government’s attempts to terrorize all who would

To clarify what has just happened: there had been TWO court-ordered stays in
effect (a stay is a legal order to stop some legal process from going
forward). One is the stay on Mumia’s execution order and the second was a
temporary stay on submitting new legal briefs. The first stay on Mumia’s
execution order has NOT been lifted. That stay remains in effect while Mumia
completes his appeal process, which means that Governor Rendell of
Pennsylvania, who has promised to sign a new death warrant at the first
opportunity, is still prohibited from doing so at this time.

But the Court of Appeals HAS lifted the second stay. That stay had been
ordered by the Court of Appeals because the Supreme Court was deciding
another case that might have relevance on the legal arguments in Mumia’s
case. This case, called Beard v. Banks, dealt with the very issue that was
used to overturn Mumia’s death sentence after a global struggle of many

The decision in Beard v. Banks was a reactionary 5-4 decision by a bitterly
divided court. The majority opinion was written by Clarence Thomas. The
issue was whether a previous decision by the Supreme Court (known as the
Mills case) had established a new rule of constitutional law, and if so,
could it be applied retroactively (that is, to death penalty cases that were
concluded before the new rule went into effect). The Mills case dealt with
how juries should consider mitigating circumstances when imposing the death

What is so ugly and racist about all this is that the issue in Beard v.
Banks is whether people on death row (who are principally Black and Latino)
will be executed or not, not on the basis of justice, but solely on the
basis of whether their appeals were concluded before or after the Mills
decision came down!

In the Beard v. Banks decision, the Supreme Court held that the Mills rule
could NOT be applied retroactively. That is, people who might have been
spared the death penalty because their trials violated the Mills rule, will
now face execution solely because their appeals were concluded before a
certain date. While those whose cases were concluded after the date will
have a chance at being spared. This is what passes for justice under this

The important point here is that Mumia’s death penalty was overturned
precisely because his sentencing violated the Mills rule (although there are
other issues besides this involved in his appeal). Both sides have been
ordered to turn in legal briefs on how the Beard decision effects Mumia’s
case by July 29. The state of Pennsylvania will argue that the date in Mumia
’s case did not "make the cut" and that his death penalty should be
reinstated. While Mumia’s attorney will show this is not the case, facts
have not carried much weight in the face of the state’s determined effort to
execute Mumia. This is why determined political action is crucial.

At this critical moment, Refuse & Resist! urges youth from around the
country to join us in Philadelphia from July 23-26, for the 10th Annual
Philly Freedom Summer (PFS) to take part in building the movement to stop
the execution, overturn the conviction, and free Mumia Abu-Jamal. PFS was
initiated by R&R! in 1995 when Mumia came within days of being executed.
Each year since then, PFS brings youth together with the people of Philly
for outreach, actions, and events for Mumia. Our generation has been a part
of a movement of resistance that has shaken things up at anti-war protests
around the world, and, in this moment of great uncertainty we are determined
to fight for a different future.

Financial contributions for Mumia’s legal defense should be made out to the
National Lawyers Guild Foundation and mailed to: The Committee to Save Mumia
Abu-Jamal, 130 Morningside Drive, Suite 6C, New York, NY 10027.

"The proletarian is dead. Long live the housewife!" Claudia von Werlhof

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