by Amig@s de Mumia, México
To the sound of drums, a little over a hundred of us demanded freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the United States Embassy in Mexico City on December 9, 2009, as well as for Leonard Peltier, the men and women of MOVE, the Angola 3, Sundiata Acoli, Los Cinco, Francisco Torres, Hugo Pinnell, Ruchell Magee, Marilyn Buck, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, the Puerto Rican Independentistas, David Gilbert, Ramsey Muñiz, the environmental prisoners and all the social activists that this government intends to bury alive. We also demanded freedom for the 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners resisting torture and imprisonment in Israeli jails.
We accuse the United States government of kidnapping Mumia Abu-Jamal and holding him in conditions of torture for 28 years and of making an ongoing attempt on his life. In spite of all the evidence of racial discrimination in his trial, the Supreme Court of the United States ––the highest court in the land–– has denied him justice and, in so doing, has become party to these crimes. Despite photographic evidence that completely destroys the ridiculous scenario put forward by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office of the shooting death of policemen Daniel Faulkner in 1981, the managers of the national security state are now redoubling their efforts to execute this revolutionary journalist. If they’re not able to apply the death penalty, which is nothing but premeditated murder, they plan to hold him captive in silence for the rest of his life. We support the demand for a federal civil rights investigation and all actions necessary to win his freedom.
We also accuse the United States government of fostering political prison and the extermination of the social struggle here in Mexico by training and equipping military and police forces to repress the social movements. We demand freedom for Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Álvarez, and Héctor Galindo, now held with long vengeful sentences which amount to life in prison, and freedom for the prisoners in Molino de Flores, the recently arrested comrades Victor Herrera Govea and Emmanuel Hernández Hernández, and all political prisoners in Oaxaca, Campeche, Guerrero and the entire country. We say NO to Plan México and NO to the construction of more prisons.
Our moderator Armando spoke of Mumia Abu-Jamal as a comrade we’ve supported for a long time, condemned to death or life in prison for “being a critic of the highly racist society of the United States, whose own Declaration of Independence refers to indigenous people as ‘merciless Indian savages’ and which is built on the slave labor of people brought there from Africa. The history of the United States has been one of slavery, imperialism, and the robbery of the wealth of other peoples, all of which we have experienced in Mexico. And since Mumia is a good critic, he brings out these things. That’s why he’s in prison”.
After reading Mumia’s essay on Oscar Grant, whose murder by a BART policeman sparked a rebellion in the streets of Oakland at the first of the year, one of our members, Hilda, commented that although Mumia Abu-Jamal is now officially condemned to life in prison, there is a big effort to execute him and that his life is in grave danger. She explained that this essay is one of many things he has written on different issues, including Atenco, Oaxaca, the war in Iraq, from his small cell on death row where he has no physical contact whatsoever with his family or friends. She mentioned that it’s a paradox to speak of this situation on the eve of the celebration of International Human Rights Day, and she also denounced the numerous human rights violations in Mexico by the Army, a body that has no business patrolling the streets.
It gave us great pleasure to have ex political prisoner Jacobo Silva Nogales with us at this rally. He and Gloria Arenas Agis, recently won their freedom after spending ten years in prison for guerrilla activity with Jacobo arguing their right to rebellion. He said: “And who is Mumia Abu-Jamal? The first time I heard that name I was in prison, and I learned that he was also in prison. I learned that he was a political prisoner, and I was also a political prisoner…. Mumia is a mirror that we’re proud to look at because what we see is admired and respected; it’s what the rest of us are, if only slightly and in exceptional moments. But he’s also a mirror that’s feared because it shows what can happen when self and duty become one and the same thing. The mirror admired and respected; that’s Mumia ––an admirable struggle and a death sentence. So it also reflects those who have sentenced him. It reflects their fear of a better world for the many. That’s why they want him dead; that’s why we want him alive…. It may seem hard, at times, to win freedom when you’re in a prison where they try to ban your very dreams, but it’s possible to get out of there if the dreams from the outside come together with those on the inside…. I know this, because not long ago I was in a place like that, and I was able to get out, and so I’d like to tell him that I think he can get out, too ––that he can, that we can, win out over those bars that are blocking the freedom of his body, like he’s been able to win out over those that block his freedom of spirit. By defending Mumia, we’re defending our own selves!”
Also present were family members and comrades of Víctor Herrera Govea, recently arrested in the annual October 2nd march in commemoration of the Tlatelolco Massacre, simply for being young and protesting in the streets of Mexico City. His sisters invited everyone to participate in the activities in his support and read a letter that he sent to the rally, which says in part: “Today it’s not only in México that we’re experiencing the oppression of the prison system. This is also the case in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was once a reporter for the Black Panthers, has been in jail for 28 years, sentenced to death or life imprisonment….The way his trials have been conducted reflects the nature of the ghetto experienced in the United States, a country where 42% of the prison population is made up of African-Americans….Once again, we find ourselves under attack by the neoliberal prison system. As lovers of freedom and anarchists who defend life lived in collectivity, we are not exempt from government espionage and measures of repression and oppression….The only thing left to do is keep on struggling for our prisoners in Mexico and those outside the country like Mumia Abu-Jamal, who’s been incriminated for a murder he did not commit….There’s no evidence whatsoever against us, either….To Mumia, our heartfelt desire to see him free. To the government, the worst of all possible downfalls”.
We read a letter recently published in La Jornada by political prisoner Felipe Álvarez of the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT) of San Salvador Atenco: “Eight years after we launched a resistance struggle against an invasive, oppressive, murderous system, I ask you to keep on struggling. There’s no torture that will ever make us give up our ideals; they can chain my body but never my consciousness. Neither can they chain the dignity and spirit of our peoples who are fighting for what belongs to them. The government still intends to dispossess us of what is ours and put it at the service of empire, taking our lands, water, oil, light, and the little wealth we have left….It’s only those of us who struggle for land, natural resources and freedom who can gain the independence, sovereignty, and homeland that those who are looting our country talk so much about. Brothers and sisters, you live in my heart! Not one step backwards! Zapata lives! The Front continues!”
Doña Fili spoke: “Mumia, there are a lot of young people here who hadn’t even been born when you went to jail. We, as mothers, see you as our son and demand your freedom. We will never tire of demanding your freedom. You live in a highly advanced country. Advanced, yes, but in death…You’ve resisted a country that has killed our peoples…In our countries, they impose tyrants, but we’ll bring them down…You are part of our people, Mumia. You’ve marked our history. That’s why we’re here, Mumia. Your spirit lives in each one of us.”
We appreciated the presence of the Federation of the Socialist Campesino Students of Mexico (FECSM), which has been in a struggle against government plans to convert rural teacher training schools into mere technical schools in places such as Tiripetío, Michoacán and Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. Their representative Isaías sent his greetings to Mumia, and said: “Comrades, as a Federation, we’ve had prisoners; as a Federation, we’ve been beaten; as a Federation, we’ve been tortured by the federal government, so we lend our solidarity to all those who struggle from below….We’ve seen how the imperialists have increasingly taken over our freedom and our resources. We have the same enemy and we’ll struggle with you against this common enemy.”
Daniel, speaking for the collective Shouts of Street Rage (GRC), said: “28 years have gone by. Those numbers may be easy to say. 28 años. But I’ve reached the conclusion that my mother was a child when a person, a thinker, a journalist was taken prisoner. Why? Because, as we know, the State is afraid of people who, with their words, their gaze, their actions, generate actions that destroy the system we talked about. You mothers walking by in the street, I ask you: What if Mumia Abu-Jamal were your son? What if they had taken away his freedom and what if he were locked up on death row thinking, ‘Damn! They could shoot me up with drugs tomorrow and end my life!? This comrade, in spite of being behind bars, not being able to see the light of day, not being able to hug his family, has stayed active and is still present in the social processes ––from inside, yes, but he’s part of things. Is it right to just stand by when we see a life in danger right before our eyes? When we see false evidence, a new trial denied, the death penalty, a life sentence, total injustice and impunity? And now the question is– what are we going to do?
From Chiapas, we received greetings from the poet Xmal Ton, adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the EZLN: “This song is dedicated to all our comrade political prisoners in Abya Yala, which is America, in all the continents of the world. Thank you for your bravery and your force, which are the breath of life to us. Thank you for your spirit of struggle, which is the road we take every day. For the liberation of all of us who struggle for our great, sacred mother, which is the Earth.” We read her poem “Four words,” dedicated to all political prisoners and especially to the grandfather Leonard Peltier: “Four words fall from the sky. Do not be sad. Four words fall from the sky. They will heal you. Four words fall from the sky. The morning is ready for you. Four words fall from the sky. The fire will warm your heart. Four words fall from the sky. The air will pray for you…”
After reading the poem, our comrade Bisharú commented: “I feel very close to Mumia because of his words, because of the way he talks about the social movements. Sometimes I feel ashamed when I think that somebody in his conditions can be much freer than the rest of us. He has shown us that freedom is not only seen in actions, but also comes through in Mumia’s words that have brought life and liberty to many of us.”
We denounced the attacks against the Zapatista communities and read a recent letter from the Gómez Saragos brothers, of Bachajón, Chiapas, to all the national and international organizations, where they say: “…we belong to the organization of adherents to the other campaign of the EZLN, and we’re here for defending our territory while the government wants the PRI party members to have it, but we…don’t want them to take away our land because that’s where we work to support our children. That’s why we’re prisoners. But we thank you for your valuable support and hope that you’ll continue to support us in reaching our goals.”
Yazmín of the Chanti Ollin spoke of the recent effort by the city government to take this occupied space away from us, and then she read the text written this past November 25 by Nzingha Shakur-Ali, daughter of political prisoner, Dr. Mutulu Shakur: “My dad goes before the parole board December 2nd. Thinking about my family and the families of other political prisoners and freedom fighters around the world… i am SO truly blessed to come from the family i do, from the Hearne clan, from the Shakur clan. It’s a different way of life in many ways, being children of revolutionaries. Our parents fought, were imprisoned, were exiled, and died fighting for basic human equality; and all the while growing up in discipline and knowledge, love and respect for not only our people, but for all people. we think differently; we see the world differently…. now Mutulu is in Florence, Colorado, the #1 maximum security prison in the united states also known as the ADMAX, Supermax, or The Alcatraz of the Rockies, ADX houses the prisoners who are deemed the most dangerous and in need of the tightest control. It is the highest level security federal prison in the united states, and generally considered the most secure prison in the world. Individuals are kept for at least 23 hours each day in solitary confinement.” That means he gets 1 hour, by himself, outside his cell in heavily guarded area. All of our visits are behind glass and he often handcuffed…. these things come to mind as his parole hearing draws near. They have and continue to do everything they possibly can to keep him in prison… i am humbled by those who, like mutulu, saw their difficult path before them and even still chose to stand and fight, rather than lay down and continue to be enslaved….i give thanks for the people who fought and are still fighting for freedom and equality…. My blood? is a million stories. FREE ‘EM ALL. Peace.”
Victor of the Popular Kitchen of the Che Guevara Auditorium talked about the way prisons exemplify capitalism, commenting that for Mumia Abu-Jamal, “the American dream, for whites only, was just a prison and the Black Panther Party was his road to freedom.” He quoted from Mumia’s book, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party: “I went to jail…. I was here for defending my people. I was here because I was a member of the Black Panther Party. Within a few weeks I was back, no worse for the wear. I was out of jail and back in the swing of things. I was working on the paper, selling them, and editing stuff…The days were long. The risks were substantial. The rewards were few. Yet the freedom was hypnotic. We could think freely, write freely, and act freely in the world. We knew that we were working for our people’s freedom, and we loved it. It was the one place in the world that it seemed right to be.” In speaking of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s relationship to the MOVE organization, Victor said: “Mumia rediscovered people bent on freedom and an organization that was an alternative to the logic of the coercion and degradation of human beings by the panoptic prison. But the prison system still existed along with its forms of repression and sabotage. In the face of the genocidal attacks by the North American system against the MOVE movement, Mumia could not remain silent; he denounced the massacre.” Victor concluded his presentation, citing Mumia’s essay “Absence of Power”: “The police are agents of white, ruling-class, capitalist will––period. Neither black managers nor black politicians can change that reality. The people themselves must organize for their own defense, or it won’t get done.”
Pachón of Mexico City Anarchist Black Cross read the following text: “Mumia’s case is not isolated; it’s part of a strategy of social control by governments to try to break the righteous social movements and silence people who make them uncomfortable. The United States is the country with the highest percentage of its population imprisoned, the majority of whom are Black or Latinos. More and more people in jail. That’s what the goverments and private industry want so they can build more and more prisons….Mumia’s example should give us the strength to redouble our efforts to win his freedom. IN conclusion, we want to call attention to the cases of other political prisoners in the United States and name some of them: Abdul Azeez, Abdul Majid, Alvaro Luna Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Avelino González Claudio, Bill Dunne, Byron Shane Chubbuck, Carlos Alberto Torres, Chuck Sims Africa, Daniel Mcgowan, David Gilbert, Debbie Sims Africa, Delbert Orr Africa, Ed Poindexter, Edward Goodman Africa, Erik Oseland, Eryn Trimmer, Francisco Torres, Fred “Muhammad” Burton, Garret Fitzgerald, Gerardo Hernandez, Hanif S. Bey (B. Gereau), Herman Bell, Jaan K. Laaman, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, Jalil Muntaqim, Janet Holloway Africa, Janine Phillips Africa, Jeffery “Free” Luers, Joseph “Joe-Joe” Bowen, Leonard Peltier, Luce Guillen-Givens, Luis Medina, Malik Smith, Maliki Latine, Marilyn Buck, Marshall Eddie Conway, Matthew Depalpma, Max Specktor, Michael Davis Africa, Mondo We Langa (D. Rice), Monica Bicking, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Nathanael Secor, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Rene Gonzalez, Robert Seth Hayes, Romaine Chip Fitzgerald, Ronald Reed, Ruben Campa, Russell Maroon Shoats, Sekou Kambui (W. Turk), Sekou Odinga, Sundiata Acoli (C. Squire), Thomas Manning, Tsutomu Shirosaki, Veronza Bowers Jr., William Phillips Africa, William ‘Lefty’ Gilday, Zolo Agona Azania”.
Despite sound problems, the comrades of The Other Culture closed the rally with their original song dedicated to Mumia as a gesture of solidarity, and also brought copies of their new CD highlighting the song. Several images of Mumia were left behind on the ground and the concrete barriers around the Embassy, along with the ashes of the stars and stripes.
Amig@s de Mumia, México