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Mumia Coalition Endorses Argue and Leavitt

Free Mumia! End Human Rights Abuses In Santa Cruz! Steve Argue & Thomas Leavitt for City Council!
Dear Editor,
The Sentinel incorrectly stated in "Savvy UCSC
students keep candidates on their toes" by Dan White
that, "Rotkin and Argue mentioned their endorsement
from the Santa Cruz Coalition to Free Mumia
Abu-Jamal and all Political Prisoners."

The Santa Cruz Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
and All Political Prisoners never endorsed Mike Rotkin as a City Council candidate. We did endorse the CUE and UC-AFT strike against UCSC on Oct 14th and 15th of 2002, but this should not be construed as an endorsement of Rotkin or Fitzmaurice even though they are UCSC lecturers and Rotkin may be president of the AFT. That endorsement was for workers in general, not individuals.
We are deeply offended by your paper's error.
Mike Rotkin, despite his attempts at progressive
credentials, often represents the opposite of our coalition's
values on the local issues.

While Rotkin does support Mumia Abu-Jamal in his
struggle for justice against a horrible frame-up by
the Philadelphia police, Rotkin has supported
repression against local political activists
struggling for justice. In addition Rotkin's policies
have even jailed the poor for the simple act of
sleeping.

The Santa Cruz Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and
All Political Prisoners has endorsed only two
candidates for Santa Cruz City Council. They are
Steve Argue and Thomas Leavitt. We do not take our
endorsement of these candidates lightly, and likewise
feel slandered by the statement that we support
Rotkin.

Sincerely,

John Thielking
Chairman
Santa Cruz Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal And All Political Prisoners



Federal Judge Throws Out The Death Sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Police Attack Mumia Supporters.

By STEVE ARGUE
Facing protest and international pressure in support of framed political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal Federal Judge Yohn threw out his death sentence on December 18th 2001. Yohn ordered the state to conduct a new sentencing hearing within 180 days. If the state does not conduct a new hearing Mumia will, according to Yohn's ruling, be sentenced to life in prison.
In earlier sentencing Mumia had been given the death penalty largely based on arguments that he had
been a member of the Black Panther Party. This was in violation of Mumia's 1st Amendment rights. Former membership in the Black Panther Party was used against Mumia effectively. This is largely because of the way the party was portrayed in the corporate media while the FBI, working with local police departments, carried out a systematic campaign of murder and frame-ups against the members of the Black Panther Party killing 39 members in 1969 and 1970.
While Mumia Abu-Jamal survived that period of bloody political repression in American history, he was later framed up for a 1981 crime he did not commit.
Judge Yohn's ruling, while possibly sparing Mumia the death penalty, did not overturn Mumia's conviction or grant him a new trial based on new proof of his innocence. Mumia could appeal the ruling to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
On November 21st Philadelphia State Judge Pamela Dembe also rejected Mumia Abu-Jamal's appeal to have the same new evidence heard in state court. That new evidence includes the confession of Arnold Beverly to killing Officer Faulkner, the crime Mumia has been framed of committing. One of Mumia's attorney's, Eliot Grossman, stated that Dembe's decision will be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
As a freelance journalist Mumia exposed the murderous police brutality and political repression
carried out by the police against the MOVE organization in Philadelphia. That murderous repression was then directed at Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1981.
The many supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal include the European Parliament, Nelson Mandela, the Japanese Diet, the Congressional Black Caucus, The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sam Jordan (Director of the Amnesty International USA Program to Abolish the Death Penalty), Leonard Peltier, and many unions in the United States and around the world.
In addition protesters for Mumia Abu-Jamal this December 8th were informed by a French delegation that Mumia Abu-Jamal has been made an honorary citizen of Paris by the French City Council. That honor was last bestowed on Pablo Picasso in 1971.
At that spirited Dec. 8th Philadelphia protest 1,000 people gathered in a bone chilling winter rain. Police attacked the protest. The Philadelphia police have been campaigning for the execution of Mumia since they first framed him. They stepped up this campaign in an unprovoked attack on Dec. 8th where without warning the police beat protesters sending three people to the hospital. One of those beaten, Hai Au Huynh, a 100 pound Vietnamese woman, suffered a broken tailbone.
According to eyewitness accounts and video footage dozens of police converged on the protest and attacked the crowd as police commanders looked on. This caused Mumia’s legal team to refer to the police attack as pre-meditated.
Eight people were arrested. The total amount in bail was set at the outrageous number of $350,000 which was raised to get all out of jail. Some of that money was raised on generous loans that need to be reimbursed.
Serious charges against Mumia supporters include the felonies of assault on a police officer, conspiracy to riot, and rioting. Charges also include a number of misdemeanors. So far the charges against two protesters have been dropped. The police have not been charged for their crimes.
Coverage by the Philadelphia corporate media has turned events on their head, blaming protesters for the police riot. This is no different from their coverage of Mumia Abu-Jamal that regularly refers to him as a cop killer without giving the real facts in his case.
The frame-up trial of Mumia twenty years ago included the testimony of three eyewitnesses (Veronica
Jones, William Singletary, and Robert Chobert) who later said they were threatened, coerced, or made
promises by the police to get them to give false testimony against Mumia.
False evidence against Mumia also included a supposed confession to the police by Mumia the night he was arrested. The original police report by Officer Gary Wakshul who was with Mumia the entire time through his arrest and medical treatment stated, "during this time the Negro male made no comment."
Yet Gary Wakshul testified at Mumia's trial that he heard Mumia confess that night. Gary Wakshul didn't
"remember" this confession until almost three months after Mumia's arrest when prosecutor McGill met with police asking for a confession. Officer Wakshul absurdly stated that he didn't think the confession
was important at the time he wrote his original report.
This past August 17th Mumia was not even allowed into his own hearing in State Court on the incredible
excuse that there was no room for Mumia to be transferred to a Philadelphia jail where the hearing was taking place.
Mumia's exile from his own hearing was reminiscent of 20 years ago, when Mumia was barred from attending his own trial. At that time Mumia was convicted in his absence. Judge Albert Sabo claimed that Mumia was barred for being disruptive. Yet court records have now revealed that Sabo barred Mumia from his own trial at the request of Mumia's incompetent and now disbarred defense attorney, Anthony Jackson. The court appointed attorney made his request on the grounds that Mumia was about to fire him and would if Mumia wasn't barred from the trial. Sabo's granting of Jackson's request was a clear violation of Mumia's right to legal representation of his choice and of his right to be present at his own trial.
This past May Mumia's attorneys dropped a legal bombshell by submitting into court a sworn affidavit
that contains the confession of Arnold Beverly to the murder that Mumia is accused of committing.
The new evidence that both state and federal courts are refusing to hear include the confession of Arnold
Beverly who states in his sworn affidavit, "I shot Faulkner at close range." Faulkner was the cop Mumia
is framed for killing. Beverly also states very clearly, "Faulkner was shot in the back and in the
face before Jamal came on the scene. Jamal had nothing to do with the shooting."
Arnold Beverly's confession is corroborated by eyewitness statements. Beverly says he was wearing a
green army jacket the night he shot Faulkner. William Singletary was there the night of the shooting. He
says he saw a man shoot Faulkner and it was not Mumia. He also states that the actual killer was wearing a
green army jacket.
Four eyewitnesses, including two cops, put a man wearing a green army jacket on the scene. Five eyewitnesses described a man fleeing the scene the way Beverly describes he did. Mumia of course was
not running anywhere, he was lying on the ground with a bullet in his chest.
According to Arnold Beverly, Mumia arrived on the scene after Beverly had already shot Faulkner.
Beverly says that Mumia was then shot by an arriving officer. The prosecution claims that Mumia was shot
by Faulkner in self defense as Faulkner laid on the ground dieing. Yet Beverly's story does fit with
forensic evidence and the report of a cop at the scene that night. The cop stated that Mumia was shot by an
arriving officer. The downward trajectory of the bullet into Mumia's chest also makes it physically
impossible for Faulkner to have shot Mumia from the ground. In fact five hours after the shooting a
police medical examiners report states that Mumia "was shot subsequently by arriving police reinforcements."
On every level Arnold Beverly's sworn confession to a capital offense is in fact backed up by evidence,
while the prosecutions version of events is not This, however, has not been cause enough for the
prosecution to reconsider pushing for the execution of an innocent man. Instead they are arguing that the
new evidence was not brought forward in a timely manner.
Ramona Africa spoke on this point at demonstration of 3,000 for Mumia on August 17th stating, "Judge
Dembe has said she wants, in three weeks, some briefs to determine whether or not it's too late to prove his
innocence, whether or not this information comes too late. We're saying it's never too late! What is she
talking about, too late?… We aint interested in legalities. We're interested in what's right.
Slavery was legal, but that wasn't right! Apartheid was legal but that wasn't right! The murder of Shaka
Sankofa down in Texas, despite his innocence, was legal but that wasn't right! We don't care about
legality. We care about justice and what is right." In State court Mumia's attorney, Eliot Grossman put
forward important legal arguments on why the 60 day limit should not apply to Beverly's confession which
was first made in 1999. He pointed out that Mumia's former, and fired, legal team of Leonard Weinglass and Dan Williams misinformed Mumia that they were investigating Arnold Beverly's confession when in fact they never had any intention of presenting it for evidence. Williams makes this point clear in his new
book "Executing Justice" where he states that he doesn't believe the Beverly confession and that he
doesn't believe the police would ever frame up an innocent man. These attorneys allowed the 60 day time
line to expire without Mumia's permission or knowledge.
Mumia fired Weinglass and Williams after Williams betrayed attorney client confidentiality in May by
publishing the money making book, "Executing Justice," purported to be an insiders account of Mumia's case. The publication of the book at a critical time in Mumia's appeal process shows that Williams was not
looking out for Mumia's legal interests. Weinglass also knew the book was coming out, but did not inform
Mumia. This, like their treatment of the Arnold Beverly confession, was a betrayal of the interests of
their client and shows that they were not adequately representing him.
In July Mumia's new legal team filed a petition to suspend legal proceedings in federal court in order to
pursue these new legal challenges in the state court. That state appeal is still being pursued as well.
In federal court Judge Yohn has ruled that Beverly's confession is inadmissible citing the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996. The act, among other things, sets a time limit of one year for death row inmates to present new evidence. Yohn echoed the prosecution by falsely stating the "petitioner chose not to present his claim to the state court or even to this court until May 2001."
Yohn's chilling decision also cited the infamous 1993 Herrera decision that proof of innocence is no
bar for execution.
These rulings and statements of both Judge Dembe and Judge Yohn, along with those of Judge Sabo before them, are in effect saying that an American court of law is no place for evidence proving Mumia's innocence.
On September 4th of this year Terri Maurer-Carter, an official court stenographer in the courts where
Mumia was framed, came forward with more information on the state of mind of Judge Sabo during the trial. She states in a newly submitted affidavit, "Judge Sabo and another person were engaged in conversation. Judge Sabo was discussing the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. During the course of that conversation, I heard Judge Sabo say, "Yeah, and I'm going to help them fry the n______." There were three people present when Judge Sabo made that remark, including myself."
Judge Sabo presided over Mumia's original frame-up trial, but he didn't just do that. He came out of
retirement to rule against Mumia at subsequent appeal hearings on whether Mumia got a fair trial. At these
hearings Sabo ruled that Sabo had not violated Mumia's legal rights by denying him legal representation of
his choice and denying him the right to attend his own trial.
Judge Sabo also ruled for the prosecution against the admissibility of the testimony of a key eyewitness
in the original trial, Veronica Jones, who stated that she was coerced through threats from the police into
giving false testimony against Mumia in the original trial. Jones was a prostitute who says that the
police threatened her with prison on warrants and of taking her children away if she didn't say what the
police wanted. She was later arrested off of the witness stand on a petty warrant while she told the
truth testifying at the hearing for a new trial. This testimony was important evidence of the fact that a
frame-up had taken place. Yet Sabo did not allow a new trial based on this information or any of the
other evidence brought forward.
Another key ingredient missing in the prosecution's case against Mumia is a motive. Beverly's confession, however, does contain a clear motive. Beverly states, "I was hired, along with another guy, and paid to shoot and kill Faulkner. I had heard that Faulkner was a problem for the mob and corrupt policemen because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity including prostitution, gambling, drugs without prosecution in the center city area."
The entire chain of police command that "investigated" Mumia have in fact since been removed
from the Philadelphia police force for corruption. At the time Faulkner was killed in December 1981, the FBI was involved in at least three investigations of the police in the center city area for corruption
including extortion and bribery connected to the mob, prostitution, after-hours clubs, and gambling in the
center city area. Targeted in the FBI investigation were Inspector Alphonzo Giordono, the senior cop at
the scene of Faulkner's shooting, James Carlinini, head of homicide, and John DeBenedetto, head of the
division where Faulkner worked.
Witnesses and informants in the FBI investigation were murdered. This included a witness who testified
against DeBenedetto in 1983.
Police concern that Faulkner may have been an FBI informant could easily have led to his murder. Donald Hersing who was a source for the FBI at the time testifies in an affidavit for the defense that the
Philadelphia cops were very concerned about possible FBI informants at the time. In a similar situation
the LAPD Rampart cop who blew the whistle on police corruption and murder in LA was released from prison this summer. He immediately went into hiding out of fear for his life from fellow officers.
Attorney Eliot Grossman stated at a press conference, "Mumia Abu-Jamal was in the wrong place at
the wrong time when a hit was in progress on a police officer causing problems interfering with police
corruption." But for the Philadelphia police he was at the right place at the right time. He had exposed
the murderous police violence used against the MOVE organization. Corrupt police officers used the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
What we do makes a difference, however. The government's attempt to murder Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1995 was halted by mass protests, including 10,000 people in Philadelphia, and international support.
Those actions stopped Mumia’s execution within days of it being scheduled to take place. Continued support for Mumia Abu-Jamal in the streets will be necessary to keep Mumia alive and free him.
Mumia has sat on death row for the past 20 years, removed from his family. Yet he now stands out as an
uncompromising voice for the oppressed and exploited. Many have called him the voice of the voiceless.
Mumia stands up for unions, against war, against racism, for equality for gays and lesbians, for the poor, and against the many injustices of the so-called criminal justice system. Mumia speaks up on many of the issues ignored, lied about, or glossed over by the corporate media and the corporate politicians. We
need Mumia, yes we need him alive, but we also need him free. Yet all of the evidence shows that Mumia
won't get justice in America's courts unless we turn up the heat.
For protests, teach-ins, and strikes (like the west coast 1998 longshoreman’s strike for Mumia) to: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Do not reinstate the death sentence for Mumia! All new evidence should be heard! Drop the charges against the Philadelphia Mumia protesters! Charge the police for their crimes!
 
 


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