Mumia rally a Big Success

jacdon at jacdon at
Tue May 9 11:35:10 MDT 2000

This account of the big Mumia rally Sunday is adapted from a report
circulated by the International Action Center:

A CAPACITY CROWD of 6,000 people packed the Theater at Madison Sq.
Garden in New York May 7 to demand a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal,
America’s foremost political prisoner.  The event, organized by the
International Action Center (IAC)/Millions for Mumia was sold out three
days in advance.

The multinational, mostly youthful crowd was brought to its feet as
speaker after speaker denounced the railroading of Abu-Jamal to death
row in Pennsylvania.  He has been on death row for 18 years and faces
execution, possibly this year, unless he is granted a new trial to
establish his innocence.  “Mumia is all of us,” said Monica Moorehead, a
co-chair and organizer of the event. “He is the defining figure in the
racist, criminal justice system today.”

Well known figures such as actors Ossie Davis and Ed Asner, attorneys
Leonard Weinglass, Dan Williams, Johnnie Cochran, Ron Kuby, and former
Attorney General Ramsey Clark as well as former New York City Mayor
David Dinkins and comedians Dick Gregory and Marga Gomez, all appeared.

The event was a major step in the struggle to break through the campaign
of silence, vilification and lies against Mumia in the mass media, where
if his case is mentioned at all, he is usually referred to as a
“convicted cop killer.”  Most local and national corporate media
accounts of the event carried such headlines as the Poughkeepsie
Journal's  "6,000 Protest  Police Killer's Death Sentence; Officers Hold
Counter Rally for Victim." And most, including the Journal, didn't
bother to mention that the demand of the rally was a new trial because
Mumia's original 1981 trial was absurdly unfair.  At the same time,
however, tens of millions of people have now become aware of Mumia’s
plight because of the nationwide publicity about the meeting.

Speaking for IAC/Millions for Mumia, movement veteran Larry Holmes
roused the crowd with an appeal to turn this coming summer into a
“freedom summer campaign, like the freedom summer when youth traveled to
the South to break the back of racist segregation in the 1960s.” Holmes
continued, “Our first task is to pack the courtroom in Philadelphia when
Mumia comes for a hearing in federal court in a few weeks. Then we have
to organize to be at both the Republican National Convention in
Philadelphia, July 29-30, and in Los Angeles at the Democratic National
Convention in August.”

Among the many other speakers at the event were: Kathleen Cleaver,
attorney and former leader of the Black Panther Party; Sonia Sanchez, a
nationally acclaimed poet and professor at Temple University; Leslie
Feinberg, a transgender author and co-founder of Rainbow Flags for
Mumia; as well as Will Villainova and Mos Def, popular hip hop artists.
A number of the speakers at the rally went over the
growing evidence that shows that Mumia was denied even the most basic
constitutional rights to legal representation and a fair trial.

Also appearing were the family of Patrick Dorismond, the Haitian man
recently gunned down by New York City police, as well as other families
of victims of police terror.

A youth contingent of about 100 young  students, workers and
gay/lesbian  activists crowded the stage, holding their signs, as
several representatives took the microphones. Two of the speakers were
from Evergreen College and Antioch College, where Mumia was invited to
be the commencement speaker in 1999 and 2000, respectively, drawing the
ire of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Another speaker was Sarah Sloan, a youth organizer for the International
Action Center, who discussed the need for militant action to challenge
the power of the Prison Industrial Complex, racism and police brutality,
just as youth challenged institutions like the World Trade Organization
and International Monetary Fund in Seattle last year and in Washington,
D.C., last month. Speakers also addressed the demand to get the U.S.
Navy out of Vieques, Puerto Rico as well as the struggle to send Elian
Gonzalez and his family home to Cuba.

Outside the Garden, a group of about 50 police from the Patrolmen’s
Benevolent Association and the Fraternal Order of Police picketed the
rally, calling for Mumia’s execution. While some of the media in New
York City focused more on the police picket line outside than on the
inside rally of thousands, organizers of today’s event characterized it
as a tremendous victory and a major step forward in bringing
the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal to the broad public.

For information about the summer campaign to free Mumia, contact the
International Action Center 39 West 14th Street, Room 206 New York, NY
10011 Email: iacenter at, web:, or the new
Mumia web:, phone: 212 633-6646, fax: 212 633-2889

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