‘Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal’ - Police vs. activists in struggle over street

By LeiLani Dowell

The Philadelphia Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, its allies in Congress and the media have arrogantly attacked local officials from the Paris suburb of St. Denis in France for naming a street after world-renowned journalist, freedom fighter and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. (See Workers World, May 11.)

Abu-Jamal has been on death row for almost 24 years, convicted of the fatal shoo t ing of a Philadelphia police officer. However, he and his supporters point to a long list of inconsistencies in evidence raised during a racist, unfair trial back in 1982.

The movement is demanding a new trial for a number of reasons, including that Abu-Jamal was framed up because of his outspoken writings against police violence in communities of color and also that he is a former Black Panther.

On May 19, Philadelphia congressperson Michael Fitzpatrick and 13 cosponsors introduced House Resolution 407, which not only condemns the decision of St. Denis officials to name the street, but also urges the government of France to “take appro priate action against the city of St. Denis” to force them to change the street name.

In yet another slap in the face to those fighting police brutality and the prison-industrial complex, the resolution commends all police officers in the United States and throughout the world for their “commitment to public service and public safety.”

Suzanne Ross, co-chair of the NYC Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, said, “Surely that includes those cops who sodomized and tortured Abner Louima, the cops who shot 41 shots and killed Amadou Diallou, and the cop who killed Anthony Baez because his football hit the police car—just to mention a few police officers who would be included in this blanket honor.”

On May 25, Philadelphia’s City Council joined in the attack, voting unanimously to support Resolution 407.

In response to the resolution, Patrick Braouezec, former mayor of St. Denis and president of a community of a dozen suburban cities including St. Denis, said in a letter, “It is true that in choosing the name of Mumia Abu-Jamal we made a choice, a political choice, a choice aimed to show that we stand at his side in the struggle he is waging to obtain legal recognition of his innocence—and we proclaim our choice for all to hear. ... What is our claim today? We hail from the large numbers of people who are simply asking that Mumia be granted a new trial so that the evidence of his innocence can be upheld.”

Supporters of Abu-Jamal, who have been instrumental in raising awareness of his case around the world, are responding in force to the attack by the FOP. On May 25, the Inter na tional Con cerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal held a news conference in front of the FOP’s offices in Phila delphia, which Ross says “quickly turned into a confrontation with the FOP, who came out with their ‘Fry Mumia’ raggedy banner and tried to silence our attempt to get out information.” Sev eral days later, ICFFMAJ went to City Hall and confronted the City Council about its support of the FOP.

ICFFMAJ and its supporters will return to the City Council on June 8 to continue presenting their case of support for the St. Denis decision to create “Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal.” To get involved, call 212-330-8029.

Email: ldowell@workers.org


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