Incarceration Nation

Call for International Workers Action to Free U.S. Political Prisoners

Media release

December 9th marks the 40th anniversary of the arrest and near murder of award-winning journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal by Philadelphia police. He had been publicly targeted at a press conference by proto-fascist Mayor and former Police Chief Frank Rizzo. Had the arrest been filmed like that of Rodney King or Oscar Grant or George Floyd it would have sparked uprisings across the country.

Inspired by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), the largest union in that country, a virtual forum will be held on the First of February, Black History Month, “For International Workers Action—Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and All Anti-Racist and Anti-Imperialist Freedom Fighters!” The most well-known U.S. political prisoner, former Black Panther and MOVE supporter, Mumia Abu- Jamal, and many of his comrades, have been languishing in prisons, often in solitary confinement, often sick and elderly. Many have died there. Angela Davis stated:

“Now is the time for us to rekindle international support for the freedom of Mumia Abu Jamal and the other political prisoners as he has. I am pleased to announce that I will be participating with Irvin Jim, General Secretary of NUMSA and others in [this] international ‘call to action’ forum. Please join us.”

Mumia, now 68-years-old, had been on death row half of his years of imprisonment, and now he’s on “slow death row.” NUMSA sent a protest letter to Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania:

“The refusal of healthcare reminds us of the conditions we were put in under Apartheid prisons where sick detainees were allowed to die in very deplorable lonely conditions in solitary as part of the punishment for their role in the struggle.”

Relying on the racist capitalist “justice system” to free our political prisoners will not work. “Progressive” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has shown that. He acts just like the racist “Hanging Judge” Albert Sabo who said in his chambers, “I’m going to help them fry the ni--er.” Krasner has opposed Mumia’s right to appeal granted him by Judge Tucker, the first Black judge to hear his case.

After NUMSA’s call for an international campaign to free Mumia earlier this year, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Convention voted to support that effort. In 1999, following the Oakland teacher’s union’s teach-in on the racist death penalty and the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the longshore union shutdown all West Coast ports and led a march of 25,000 through the streets of San Francisco chanting “An injury to one is an injury to all! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.” Two years later Mumia was released from death row and sent to the general prison population.

Local 10’s Clarence Thomas, referring to his union’s exemplary class struggle action, stated this week:

“This solidarity action on the part of West Coast dockworkers represents the power of labor at the point of production. It is this type of action that labor must find the courage to exercise on a global level to bring home Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners.”

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