[fla-left] [MUMIA news] Break-in at Philadelphia office of supporters of Mumia (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at SPAMfreenet.tlh.fl.us
Thu Jun 22 19:12:11 MDT 2000

forwarded by Michael Hoover

> World Socialist Web Site http://www.wsws.org
> Break-in at Philadelphia office of supporters of political prisoner Mumia
> Abu-Jamal
> By Tom Bishop
> 19 June 2000
> The leadership of the movement in support of death row inmate and political
> prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal has been subjected to yet another attack on their
> right to organize in his defense, with a June 8 break-in at supporters'
> offices in Philadelphia. The attacks come at a critical time as Abu-Jamal
> awaits word from Federal Appeals Court Judge William Yohn on when the
> hearing will be held on his appeal for a new trial.
> Mumia Abu-Jamal, a political activist and nationally respected news
> reporter during the '70s, was framed and sentenced to death for the
> December 7, 1981 shooting death of police officer William Faulkner in
> Philadelphia. The gross unfairness of his trial and the bias of the
> Pennsylvania judicial system during his appeals has led to an international
> movement in his support. Recent developments in support of his case include
> invitations by four American universities to have Abu-Jamal make a taped
> statement at their commencement exercises, a unanimous resolution by the
> Belgian parliament on April 27 calling for a new trial, and support from
> Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka who is in the United States to meet
> with Abu-Jamal.
> The latest attack was at the West Philadelphia office of the International
> Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ). On the night of
> June 8, someone broke into the locked office and took several boxes of
> important files containing financial records and lists of high-profile
> contacts. Other items in the office, including valuable office equipment,
> were untouched. A statement released by ICFFMAJ coordinator Pam Africa
> commented, "I believe that this was a government plan to disrupt our work."
> She added it closely resembled the FBI and police break-ins of political
> organizations during the 1960s and '70s. ICFFMAJ said the files are vital
> to their work and could be misused if in the wrong hands.
> This attack follows the recent draconian sentences administered to eight
> leaders of the campaign in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal. They were part of a
> group of 96 protesters arrested for civil disobedience to publicize
> Abu-Jamal's case at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia on July 3, 1999. The
> eight had
> asked for a trial for what normally is treated as a misdemeanor. They were
> sentenced to one year probation during which they cannot leave their
> federal district, may be visited at their homes by probation officers at
> any time, must have full-time employment, must turn over financial records
> and must report to a probation officer once a month. ( See "Federal
> magistrate imposes severe restrictions on supporters of US political
> prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal":
> http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/jun2000/maj-j14.shtml)
> The break-in received extensive coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer. This
> is a marked change, as for over 18 years the Inquirer has editorialized for
> Abu-Jamal's execution and, until recently, did not cover the international
> movement in his support. This change may reflect a response on the part of
> the
> newspaper to a change in public opinion over executions and prison
> practices in the United States, and the unease within ruling circles over
> the implementation of the death penalty.
> Contained in the Inquirer article, however, is clear attack on ICFFMAJ's
> right to raise funds for Abu-Jamal's defense. Until last year, the Black
> United Fund had been ICFFMA's main fundraising partner. As a charity, its
> tax-exempt status was important for the tens of thousands of dollars
> collected
> around the globe since 1991. On May 28, 1999 Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell
> announced the Black United Fund would be dropped from the city's annual
> charity appeal due to its support of Abu-Jamal. Black United Fund stood to
> lose a quarter of its annual income as a result. ( See "Philadelphia
> mayor witch-hunts supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal" at:
> http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/jun1999/maj-j04.shtml)
> As a result of the attack, the Black United Fund withdrew as a manager of
> the finances of ICFFMAJ. Its appeal to be restored to charities to which
> Philadelphia city employees may donate is to be ruled on by city officials
> in the next few weeks.
> To regain tax exempt status ICFFMAJ registered as a charity with the state
> of Pennsylvania last year and was granted nonprofit designation. They have
> not received a second designation, however, required of groups soliciting
> over $25,000 a year. According to ICFFMAJ member Bob Harris, the stolen
> materials contained key information as part of the group's effort to obtain
> tax-exempt status.
> In the ICFFMAJ statement, Pam Africa said this is not the first burglary
> suffered by the group. One of their cars was broken into in 1999 and, while
> the car radio was left intact, sensitive documents were taken. In 1995 a
> fire of mysterious origins broke out in a vacant building next to the
> ICFFMAJ office
> which spread to the top floor. Firemen left a hose running in the basement
> where records were stored, even though there was no fire in that part of
> the building.
> ICFFMAJ cautioned other groups working on Abu-Jamal's case to be wary of
> similar break-ins to their offices.
> Africa also said the timing of the burglary was suspicious since the
> position of Executive Office Manager for ICFFMAJ had just changed hands.
> She said similar tactics of creating dissension between members in an
> organization were used by the FBI as part of COINTELPRO by "sowing the
> paranoia that often became COINTELPRO's biggest weapon in the 1960s and
> 1970s." COINTELPRO was initiated in 1968 by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover,
> and carried out infiltration of the Black Panther Party and other groups,
> leading to the murder of dozens of members of the Black Panthers.

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