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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays

Commentaries by the award-winning journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal
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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays
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Now displaying: Page 93
Dec 2, 2006
It's boy's night out, and a group of brothers are having a bachelor's party at a neighborhood club. One of them is particularly thrilled, because his marriage to the woman he loves is just hours away. But he will never marry, because a pack of wild, undercover cops will execute him, and unleash a deadly rain of 50 bullets on he and his friends. The crime? Cruising While Black ... Sean Bell, unarmed, was 23. And the corporate media merely explains it may've been a case of "contagious" shooting -- one cop fires, two cops fire, three cops ... get the picture? It's a kind of social illness, like alcoholism. But neither Sean Bell, Trent Benefield, nor Joseph Guzman were armed. According to some reports, one of them *said* he was armed. Like the madmen who launched a preemptive war on the unsubstantiated suspicion of weapons of mass destruction, undercover cops launched an urban preemptive war on unarmed young Black men, reportedly based on unsubstantiated suspicions. *50 shots*. Death, and serious injury. No cellphones; no wallets; no threatening candy bars -- for such trifles are no longer deemed necessary. In America, blackness is sufficient. Even maleness isn't required, as shown by the recent shooting of an elderly woman who allegedly allowed a drug dealer to use her home. Katherine Johnston, having lived almost 9 decades, was shot to death while trying to defend her Atlanta home after it was attacked by undercover cops. According to a neighborhood snitch, he never claimed her house was a drug site, despite police pressure to do so. No significant quantities of drugs were found at the home. What was her crime? Trying-to-survive-to-90-while-Black? What's more dangerous -- drugs, or armed undercover cops kicking in doors allegedly on drug raids? Police suspicion, it seems, is a weapon of urban war. Several years ago, writer Kristian Williams noted a case where a whole community was held under siege, because of police suspicion. In his remarkable 2003 book, Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America (Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press), Williams recounted an amazing story: "The racial politics of police suspicion are well illustrated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation's 'Operation Ready-Rock.' In November 1990, forty-five state cops, including canine units and the paramilitary Special Response Team, lay siege to the 100 block of Graham Street, in a black neighborhood of Chapel Hill. Searching for crack cocaine, the cops sealed off the streets, patrolled with dogs, and ransacked a neighborhood pool hall. In terms of crime control, the mission was a flop. Although nearly 100 people were detained and searched, only 13 were arrested, and one of them convicted. Nevertheless, and despite a successful class action lawsuit, the cops defended their performance and no officers were disciplined. "When applying for a warrant to search every person and vehicle on the block, the police had assured the judge, 'there are no 'innocent' people at this place ... Only drug sellers and drug buyers are on the described premises.' But once the clamp-down was underway, they became more discriminating: Blacks were detained and searched, sometimes at gunpoint, while whites were permitted to leave the cordoned area." [p. 121] How many of the armed maniacs who shot Johnston, Bell, Guzman or Benefield will ever see the inside of a cell? How many will reach the confines of Death Row? We know the answer -- because we've seen this movie before ... Paid leave (which amounts to paid vacations), a whitewash of an investigation, and a 'they-were-doing-their-jobs' is all that ever happens. It's a damned shame. Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Nov 30, 2006
November 30, 2006 Sisters and Brothers, The right wing forces of Philadelphia and wherever else were not able to pull off their attempt to intimidate the French with threats of a legal suit, with offers of life in prison without parole (which they had no power to enforce), and after being prepared for in France, both in Saint-Denis and in Paris, with Pam Africa and Ramona Africa right there, with a series of meetings with the mayors, with demonstrations, and a press conference -- backed off completely and never even showed up! All Power to the People! The international solidarity movement for Mumia just won a great victory in forcing the enemy to back down. See the message below from Saint-Denis. Also, check out Mumia's perfectly pronounced French message to the press conference tomorrow in Paris on www.prisonradio.org, under messages. [Or here it, and all of Mumia's commentaries, on his podcast. Go to http://mumiapodcast.libsyn.com/ for more info] -Suzanne Ross, Co-Chair of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, NYC Here's the latest letter from Saint Denis city hall in response to the "non-existant delegation" and their demands... We just got it today: Press release The city hall of Saint Denis denounces the manipulations of certain ultra-conservative pressure groups, and reasserts its commitment in favor of Mumia Abu-Jamal. The city hall of Saint Denis re-affirms yet again its support to the women and men who are demanding Mumia Abu-Jamal be treated with fairness and justice. The picket this 30th day of November 2006 has been organized to protest against the pressure brought to bear on the city of Saint Denis by members of the american extreme right in order to bring about the cancellation of our decision to name one of our streets after an African American militant who has been unfairly incarcerated and sentenced to the death penalty. This ultra conservative pressure group, based in Philadelphia, has not hesitated to make use of the grossest manipulations. Thus, the widely disseminated information according to which the city of Philadelphia is suing the cities of Saint Denis and Paris, because of their commitment in favor of Mumia Abu-Jamal - is nothing but a lie. The Mayor of Philadelphia, as well as the president of its city council, informed the city of Saint Denis that they never intended to file any kind of suit, and have absolutely nothing to do with this campaign. This manipulation was unmasked, and it should be know that the Philadelphia politician who initiated it, though a member of George Bush's party, was defeated during the recent american elections. Whatever the case may be, the city hall of Saint Denis is proud to have named a street of this city in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has become one of the symbols, of the struggle for justice and the abolition of the death penalty in the US and throughout the world. It is not the first time that an international mobilization has taken place in favor of American citizens who are unfairly sentenced in their own country. Such was the case for Nicola Sacco, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, between 1920 and 1927, for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who died on the electric chair in 1953, and subsequently in 1972 for Angela Davis initially sentenced for murder, before being acquitted of all charges. The city hall of Saint Denis will steadfastly pursue the struggle to save Mumia Abu-Jamal, so that this man incarcerated for a quarter of a century for a crime he has always claimed he did not commit - be reinstated in his human rights. Saint Denis 30th of November 2006
Nov 28, 2006
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Nov 22, 2006
To this day, I can hardly bear to think of that quintessentially American holiday -- Thanksgiving. When I do, however, I do not dwell on pilgrims with wide black hats sitting to sup with red men, their long hair adorned with eagle feathers. I think not of turkeys, nor of cranberry, foods now traditional for the day of feast. Unlike millions, I don't even think of the day's football game; and not thinking of it, I don't watch it. I think of the people we have habitually called 'Indians'' the indigenous people of the Americas. Those millions who are no more. I think of those precious few who remain, and wonder, what do they think of this day; this national myth of sweet brotherhood, that masks what can only be called genocide? Several years ago, I read a thin text that was pregnant with poignancy. It was a collection of Native remarks from the first tribes who encountered whites in New England, and down through several hundred years. Throughout it all, the same vibration could be felt, no matter what the clan or tribe. A profound sense of betrayal and wrong; from people who were treated like brethren when they first arrived. In New England, the name Powhatan (ca. 1547-1618) is still recalled (even if that wasn't his name, but what the English called him). Known as Wahunsonacock by his people, he headed a confederacy of 32 tribes, and governed an area of hundreds of miles. He was the father of Pocahontas, the young Indian maiden who saved the life of Capt. James Smith. A year after sparing Smith's life, the white captain threatened the great chief. This is some of his response given in 1609: "...Why should you take by force that from us which you can have by love? Why should you destroy us, who have provided you with food? We can hide our provisions, and fly into the woods; and then you must consequently famish by wronging your friends. What is the cause of your jealousy? You see us unarmed, and willing to supply your wants, if you come in a friendly manner, and not with swords and guns, as to invade an enemy. I am not so simple, as not to know it is better to eat good meat, lie well, and sleep quietly with my women and children; to laugh and be merry with the English; and, being their friend, to have copper, hatchets, and whatever else I want, than to fly from all, to lie cold in the woods, feed upon acorns, roots, and such trash, and to be so hunted, that I cannot rest, eat, or sleep. In such circumstances, my men must watch, and if a twig should but break, all would cry out, "Here comes Capt. Smith"; and in this miserable manner, to end my miserable life; and, Capt. Smith, this might be soon your fate too, through your rashness and unadvisedness. I therefore, exhort you to peaceable councils; and, above all, I insist that the guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy and uneasiness, be removed and sent away." [Blaisdell, Bob, ed., Great Speeches by Native Americans (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Press, 2000), p.4.] That great chief's sentiments would be echoed for over hundreds of years, but injustice would just be piled on injustice. Genocide would be the white answer to red life. Centuries later, what can Thanksgiving Day mean to Native peoples? Thank you for stealing our land? Thank you for wiping out our people? Thank you for placing a remnant of our once great numbers on rural ghettoes called 'reservations?' Thank you for abolishing most of the ancient traditions? Thank you for poisoning what little Indian lands remain with uranium? Thank you for poisoning the lands now inhabited by the whites? Thank you for letting Indians fight in American wars against other people? Thanks. The real tragedy is that millions of Americans don't know, and don't want to know about Indian history and traditions. Today, the names of rivers, lakes, and landmarks bear indigenous markers of another age. The people, except for an occasional movie, are mostly forgotten; out of mind. The easier to replace with false images of happy meals, and turkey dinners. Happy Thanksgiving. Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Nov 20, 2006
Since the recent Democratic wins in the U.S. House and Senate, there has been a concerted effort from the corporate media to evoke from them pre-installation promises of moderation, and a mass denial that there are any plans to impeach a widely unpopular President, George W. Bush. There has been equally aggressive attention paid to House Speaker-elect, Nancy Pelosi (Dem. - Ca.), who makes history as the first American woman to reach what is essentially the third most powerful office in the nation. With few exceptions, most outspoken legislators have pooh-poohed the idea of impeaching the President, even before there have been hearings into the events that led to the ruinous disaster in Iraq. Columnists lecture, "It would be too divisive." Others decry such talks as 'radical.' What is more radical than war? Why are the same voices and institutions that led the cheerleading squad to war now setting the parameters of acceptable political debate and activity? Perhaps the most influential newspaper in the U.S., the New York Times, used its front pages as a virtual billboard for the Bush administration, and high-ranking people like Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State (then National Security Advisor), Condoleeza Rice quoted the NYT incessantly in the run-up to the Iraq War. Pulitzer Prize-winning Times reporter, Judith Miller essentially served as a scribe for the White House. It was press scrutiny that led to the recent downfall of outspoken anti-war figure, Congressman John Murtha (Dem.-Pa.) in the race for House Majority Whip, using grainy tapes from almost 3 decades ago -- the FBI ABSCAM attempts to bust corrupt politicians. It certainly appears like the so-called 'Washington consensus' was unilaterally opposed to Murtha in the Whip post, for it would have provided the critic with a platform that could not be easily ignored. It was precisely this so-called 'consensus' that lined up to support the Iraq adventure, virtually without a whisper of dissent. It very well may be the case that these same forces wanted to humble the House Speaker-elect. And yet it was this same alleged 'consensus' (driven, to be sure, by the mad neocons in the White House, the Defense Dept. and the corporate think tanks) that led to this mess. Consensus, here in the U.S., is actually the agreement of a fairly narrow slice of the American (and sometimes foreign) elite. In the brief but brilliant book, Behind the Invasion of Iraq (N.Y.: Monthly Review Press, 2003) written by the Humbai, India-based Research Unit for Political Economy, this theme is argued quite strongly: "Typically apart from legislators and the press, a proliferation of research institutes, semi-governmental bodies, and academic forums circulate proposals voicing the case of one or the other lobby (leaving the administration free to deny that they constitute official policy). These proposals elicit objections from other interests, through similar media; other powerful countries press their interests, directly or indirectly; and the entire discussion, in the light of the strength of the respective interests, helps shape the course of action finally adopted and helps coalesce the various ruling class sections around it. (This process, of course, has nothing to do with democratic debate, since the people are excluded as participants, and are included only as a factor to be taken into account)." We shouldn't haggle with theory here. One need only recall the unprecedented mass pre-war protests, all around the nation, and abroad. The experts and think tank types decried the ignorance of the masses, but time has proven that the mass demonstrations were right. Now, the Democrats, being seduced by the lobbyists, the media, and the know-it-alls (who might best be called 'the know-nothings') are being persuaded to be bipartisan; to take impeachment off the table; to cool that rap about ending the war. That, like before, is the recipe for disaster, for it ignores the people who turned out to vote, largely disgusted with Bush's war. People are sick to the soul about Iraq. If they ignore the public mood, they will, once again, be digging their political graves. For this war, from beginning to now, has been an unholy disaster, causing the deaths of at least a 1/2 million people. That ain't impeachable? Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Nov 17, 2006
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Nov 11, 2006
Several weeks ago, a long, dusty trail of thousands winded their way from the southern city of Oaxaca, to the capital of Mexico City, some 800 kilometers (or over 250 miles) to support democracy, and demand the removal of the governor, who got there through a stolen, and deeply corrupt election. The marchers, a motley crew of teachers, students, farmers, vendors, and the like, made their tortuous way over mountain and valleys, through slashing rains, blistering heat, and numbing cold, marching for 19 days, to take their complaints to the seat of government. The group, calling itself the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (or APPO, the Spanish acronym for Asemblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca), has rocked Mexico with its strong, principled insistence that elections be truly fair and free of corruption, and that the will of the People be heard. I've actually been reading about the events in Oaxaca for several weeks, and every time I read about them, I thought of Americans, who quietly accepted the corrupt elections of 2000, and of 2004, like lambs being led to shishkabobs. For, the stolen elections of 2000 in Florida, and later 2004 in Ohio, have done unprecedented damage to the very notion of democracy, and shattered the faith of millions in the electoral process. The people of Oaxaca, braving not just the natural elements, but the political ones as well, indeed, the terrorism of the 'instruments of the state' (police and military violence), have proven by their march and protests that true democracy is deeply important to the people. The APPO, which has sparked resistance throughout Mexico City, and in other parts of the country, has created a political crisis in the nation, by its fervent demand for the removal of Oaxaca governor, Ulises Ruiz, and the restoration of democracy. The crisis arises from the fact that many of the country's political parties are doing their damnedest to silence, derail, or intimidate the people; for if they are successful (they fear) there will be two, three, a dozen Oaxacas all across the country. Oaxaca, although the poorest state in Mexico, and one with the largest indigenous population, is inspiring people far and beyond its southern Mexican borders. The Oaxaca resistance was born in repression, when Governor Ruiz ordered the police assault on the striking Oaxaca teachers' union in June. The teachers fought back, and within days, over 300,000 people gathered in a mass march to support the union. Out of that massive outpouring of support came the APPO, the Popular Assembly. The continuing crisis in Mexico may push social forces to join the radicalizing efforts of the APPO, or may open the door to the threatened terror of the 'instruments of the state.' To be frank, what began in repression may indeed end in more repression; but that will not, nor could truly be the end. That's because the forces that gave rise to APPO are still rumbling barely beneath the surface, ready to emerge in another state, where workers and the poor are struggling to resist the ravenous forces of globalism. When the poor are treated poorly, when workers are poorly paid, the conditions for resistance are already present. And while the temptation of the State to use its brutal 'instruments' may be strong, it's also very possible that it may spark more resistance, deeper and broader. Oaxaca is spreading like the wind, and the examples of popular and indigenous resistance from Mexico, like the APPO, and the Zapatistas, and various struggles from throughout Latin America, are spreading also. The people of Oaxaca should be supported, not just with words, but with similar organizing against flawed and corrupt elections, from folks all over the world. It should begin with the people of the U.S. Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal [NOTE: Many of Mr. Jamal's commentaries may be found in Spanish at: http://refugiodelriogrande.tripod.com]
Nov 10, 2006
Thomas Merton Award 2006 honors Angela Y. Davis! November 10, 6pm at Sheraton Station Square Student, teacher, writer, scholar, and activist/organizer, Davis is an advocate of prison abolition and has developed a powerful critique of racism in the criminal justice system. She has received the distinguished honor of an appointment to the University of California Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies. In this podcast, Mumia introduces Angela Y. Davis at the Awards Dinner
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