Abu-Jamal's case is an example of class justice in capitalist society: how the cops and courts routinely arrest, brutalize, and railroad working people to jail, particularly those who are Black. It is how thousands of workers end up on death row.
By refusing to get on his knees and fighting to speak out against his frame-up and the death penalty, Abu-Jamal has become an emblem of resistance to many youth and others who are outraged by the racism, social injustice, and brutality endemic to capitalist rule.
Abu-Jamal, a radio journalist, was working as a cab driver when he encountered a cop beating his brother. His brother was attacked because he was a worker and Black, not as authorities claim for making a wrong turn on a one-way street.
Abu-Jamal is facing execution because he was convicted of killing the cop who was shot to death. That's why the authorities put him on death row. But they had a problem: Abu-Jamal would not go silently or allow the prosecution to trample on his rights without protest. Pro-cop forces responded by publicly campaigning for his execution and seeking to prevent him from speaking out from behind prison walls.
A Black rights activist in his youth, he had become known for his journalistic exposure of the Philadelphia government's attacks against the Black nationalist group MOVE. He put that experience to good use in his efforts to expose the frame-up and reach out to all who would join in the fight.
E.L. Doctorow wrote July 14 in the New York Times that application of the death penalty must meet the "most awesome judicial imperatives" suggesting that Abu-Jamal's conviction "does not hold up under examination."
Working people should oppose the death penalty used by the capitalist rulers whether the conviction "holds up" or not. Capital punishment is a barbaric weapon used to terrorize working people, especially those who are of oppressed nationalities.
In Philadelphia, of the 103 people who sit on death row, 91 are Black or Latino. It's next to impossible for workers, particularly Blacks or immigrants, to get a fair trial in capitalist society. Being framed up and railroaded by the cops and the capitalist court system is a common experience for working people. That's why presumption of innocence is an important conquest for the working class.
The capitalist rulers are determined to press ahead with implementing the death penalty. Some 38 states have legalized capital punishment while President Bill Clinton's crime bill expands the death penalty to about 60 federal offenses.
Abu-Jamal has continued to use his skills to speak out effectively not only on his own behalf, but in opposition to the government's use of capital punishment and injustices against working people both inside and outside prison walls. His courageous stance has won growing public support.
As the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan approaches, where 150,000 people were instantly incinerated, this should serve as a reminder of the barbarity of capitalist society and the mass slaughter the U.S. rulers are capable of. Their use of the death penalty - whether it's a deterrent to crime is irrelevant - is just another example of how capitalism dehumanizes and breaks down bonds of human solidarity.
By joining the rallies, demonstrations, and other public actions, youth and working people can raise the political price the government will pay for proceeding with the execution. We should oppose this execution and any other that the rulers seek to impose on us. The labor movement should join this campaign to demand:
Stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Grant Abu-Jamal a new trial!
Abolish the death penalty!
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