Protest demands liberty for Mumia

PHILADELPHIA – As the temperature soared, 300 people rallied at City Hall here July 4, calling for freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. The crowd then marched to the Liberty Bell to protest Secretary of State Colin Powell receiving the Liberty Bell Award. At the rally, the first annual Liberation Award was presented to four recipients.

The march and rally were organized by the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A statement from Abu-Jamal was read to the rally. “It is totally hypocritical that Colin Powell, one of the world’s most infamous war-mongers, is receiving the Liberty Award,” he wrote. “Where is liberty in a nation that is keeping 2 million men, women and juveniles incarcerated? People are told about liberty, but they ain’t shown it ... liberty is an illusion.”

Both the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates here support the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal. The courts have refused to acknowledge the confession of Arnold Beverly, who has passed a lie detector test, saying he, not Mumia, killed Officer Daniel Faulkner. There is evidence that Mumia did not receive a fair trial and witnesses ready to testify. The court system refuses to hear it.

As the crowd marched to the Liberty Bell, colorful banners and signs expressed the sentiments of the people, calling for an end to the death penalty and an end to Bush’s “war on terrorism.”

One block from the Liberty Bell, where Powell was being honored with a corporate-sponsored award and a $100,000 honorarium, the crowd stopped to honor the recipients of the first annual Liberation Award.

The first recipient, Linda Richardson, is the executive director of the Black United Fund of PA Inc.(BUFPA), the fiscal sponsor for International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. In accepting the award, Richardson told how BUFPA was forced to close its doors because the Fraternal Order of Police labeled BUFPA as supporting a “cop killer.”

The second recipient was 97-year-old Louise Ramirez, who attended the rally in a wheelchair. Ramirez has been a peace activist all her life. She has been a member of Women Strike for Peace and the Gray Panthers.

The third recipient was Lynne Stewart, a civil rights lawyer and activist who faces charges for standing up for her client, who is accused of knowing a terrorist.

Susan Abulhawa, the fourth recipient, is an activist for Arab-American rights. Abulhawa asked the protestors to educate and organize in their communities.

The author can be reached at phillyrose1@earthlink.net