To the editor:

We demand: “Freedom Now for Mumia Abu-Jamal!” If Mumia Abu-Jamal is executed on August 17, he will become the 39th Black Panther to be murdered by COINTELPRO. Jamal has already had 13 years of his life stolen from him in the living death of “life” on death row. Cecil Adams’s column on Jamal in the Reader (The Straight Dope, July 21) takes the state’s sloppy frame-up of Jamal for good coin, yet concludes “the guy maybe deserves prison, but probably not the fatal dose.” This sentiment, more significantly displayed in recent articles in the New York Times and Philadelphia Enquirer, reflects a certain uneasiness in bourgeois public opinion at the prospect of carrying out the first execution of a U.S. political prisoner since the Rosenbergs were electrocuted in 1953.

The FBI stalked Jamal from his early teens, when he was a founder of the Philadelphia Black Panther Party. Over 700 pages of recently released COINTELPRO files reveal a string of botched attempts to link Jamal to a variety of bizarre crimes, including the 1973 assassination of the Governor of Bermuda. Later, as a radio and newspaper journalist, Jamal earned the name “Voice of the Voiceless,” as well as the hatred of Philly cops, for his commentaries which tirelessly championed the oppressed in segregated Philadelphia. In 1979, Jamal supported the black MOVE organization against a vicious cop assault in which thousands of rounds of ammunition were pumped into MOVE’s communal home. At that time, Philadelphia’s racist top cop Frank Rizzo warned Jamal that he would be “held accountable” for what he wrote.

In 1981, the Philly cops and the FBI saw their chance to get rid of Jamal once and for all. On December 9, 1981, Jamal was found critically wounded from a bullet through the chest. Nearby lay a wounded Philadelphia cop, Daniel Faulkner. Although at least five witnesses said the man who shot the cop had run from the scene, arriving police immediately tried to pin the shooting of the cop on Jamal. The nearly unconscious Jamal was brutally beaten at the scene and again at the hospital where he was taken for treatment.

Jamal’s trial was an obscene travesty of justice. Denied the right to represent himself, Jamal was saddled with an incompetent appointed attorney who didn’t even know the case. All but two prospective black jurors were excluded on the basis of race while admittedly biased white jurors were allowed to sit. The hanging judge, Albert Sabo–who has sent more defendants to death row than any other U.S. sitting judge–was admittedly biased in favor of the prosecution. Jamal himself was excluded from most of the proceedings. At the sentencing phase of his trial, Jamal was cross-examined on his political past and the prosecutor told the jury Jamal should get the death sentence for his decade-old membership in the Panthers.

Any “evidence” in the trial was distorted, suppressed, or directly fabricated by the prosecution. Elementary ballistics tests were either not performed or were concealed to support the prosecution’s case. The cops didn’t even bother to check Jamal’s hands for powder burns or test the alleged “murder weapon” to see if it had been fired! The state’s star “witness” was a prostitute with an arrest record a mile long, who was given permission to ply her trade under police protection in exchange for her lying testimony.

Jamal’s planned execution is meant to send a message to blacks and other minorities: that social struggle against racist oppression will be met with murderous retribution. The drive to kill Jamal reveals the naked face of the capitalist state, causing cynical yuppies like Cecil Adams to squirm in their anxious desire to uphold the mask of “democracy” and “justice.” The Spartacus Youth Club demands freedom for Jamal as an integral part of the struggle for black liberation. We fight for workers revolution to sweep away the bloody capitalist state, its prisons, courts and cops, and with it the death penalty and all other barbaric vestiges of oppression and exploitation.

On Thursday, August 10 at 7:00 p.m. there will be a protest rally to “Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal! Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!” at the UIC Circle Center in the Illinois Room, sponsored by the Partisan Defense Committee. The Spartacus Youth Club urges all opponents of racism and capital punishment to be there. For more information on how to get involved call (312) 663-0719.

Keith Hill

Spartacus Youth Club