A 16-foot puppet of Mumia Abu-Jamal greeted participants and passers-by on July 3 at a rally: “In the spirit of Consuewella Africa! We must all move to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners. On July 3, 1982, the political prisoner Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death by Judge Albert Sabo. Annual demonstrations in Philadelphia marked this date.

Activists gather around the Mumia puppet on July 3 at the former site of the removed statue of Frank Rizzo.

The rally, in front of the town hall at the The plaza of the municipal service building stood under a mural honoring black women leaders in the fight against police brutality. Faces depicted include Ramona Africa, Pam Africa and YahNé Ndgo, who facilitated the rally.

Ndgo opened by saying, “We need to eradicate this whole prison industry and start by releasing our freedom fighters in these prisons, especially because they have spoken the truth to power. If one of us is caught, the rest of us will fight to right this wrong. Free all political prisoners!

Shortly after the rally, a sudden rainstorm forced participants to take shelter under the overhang under the mural. There, Ndgo spoke about Consuewella Africa, a MOVE member who lost two daughters in 1985, when Philadelphia officials bombed the family home in West Philadelphia and slaughtered family members. She died on June 16 of stress after learning about how the city had mistreated her daughters’ remains.

A message from Mumia remembering Consuewella was broadcast. (tinyurl.com/h84s7vfm) Cindy Miller of Food Not Bombs Solidarity read a tribute to Consuewella from Rowan University Professor Sandra Joy. The FNBS provided snacks and water to those present at the rally, including homeless people gathered in the square.

Johanna Fernandez, from the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, discussed Mumia’s case and answered questions regarding her current legal status. “Nothing is going to deter us from releasing Mumia Abu-Jamal and releasing political prisoners or the broader fight for freedom – not the rain or the nativists here celebrating July 4th.

“As Mumia said, social movements change history. Just two years ago, few people were talking about abolishing the police. When people take to the streets and engage in activist actions, they change the political debate and discussion. They spark a new policy and a new morality, and we begin to imagine different ways of organizing society.

“We are calling for a system change – you cannot negotiate with capitalism, with white supremacy. Their forces are organized. They have the money and the power. We need to create a culture of discipline and consistency. They are few, but there are many of us.

Bring back Judge Tucker to hear Mumia’s case

In response to a question about the recent transfer of Judge Leon Tucker from Common Pleas Court, Fernandez said, “Tucker was the only judge in Pennsylvania who told the truth about this case. His decisions on Mumia’s appeal allowed the case to proceed to appeal. She proposed that Tucker be brought back to hear Mumia’s calls.

There is a precedent. Judge Albert Sabo was brought back from retirement in 1995 to rule on Mumia’s post-conviction appeals for help. The case is currently before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which is filled with white supremacist justices.

“Our lawyers are demanding that the case be sent to a lower court and that Tucker be allowed to examine new evidence suggesting that cops and prosecutors bribed witnesses to convict Mumia,” Fernandez concluded.

Other speakers included Dominique Wallace, widow of Walter Wallace Jr., murdered by Philadelphia police on October 26, 2020. Indigenous activist Arika Gold-Bustos reminded the crowd that the July 4th party celebrates theft and theft. occupation of indigenous lands by white supremacists. Palestinian activist Susan Abulhawa spoke about Mumia’s contributions to understanding Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

Dominique McQuade, representing the homeless people occupying the square, thanked the organizers for providing much needed food and water and Gatorade, given the recent heat wave. Spoken artist Blak Rapp Madusa performed.

Baba Zayid Muhammad, with the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, paid tribute to the many young activists in the crowd. Betsey Piette, of Workers World, credited the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd for moving more corporate media to cover social struggles. Olivia Backal-Balik announced a Turn up call on Tuesday July 6 to Governor Tom Wolf’s office demanding Mumia’s release. (Mobilization4Mumia.com)

Intentional bombing

Abdul Aliy Mohammad, who helped uncover what happened to Consuewella’s daughters, described the state’s terror against MOVE. “They have been watched, terrorized, imprisoned and murdered by the state. The bombing of May 13, 1985 was deliberate – Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor intended to kill everyone in the house.

“The city had evacuated and barricaded Avenue Osage. On May 12, the state let the young members of MOVE, including Tree and Netta, cross the barrier and re-enter the house.

“The big lie is that it was ‘the last resort’, that they could not find any other tactic than to bomb the house with a [military] C4 grade bomb. It was an intentional bombardment. Eighteen months before the attack, the Bomb Disposal Unit, led by Sambor, City Manager Leo Brooks, and the person who dropped the real bomb bag were in Fairmount Park to practice using a bomb. It was deliberate. It was terrorism, state violence. There is so much to discover here.

Jacqueline Wade, the puppet maker, described the inspiration behind the Mumia puppet project. When the rally ended and the rain stopped, the puppet was moved to the spot once occupied by the statue of former police commissioner and racist and fascist Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo. During protests last summer against the murder of George Floyd, protesters threw red paint on the bronze statue of Rizzo and attempted to set it on fire. In less than 24 hours, the city, capitulating to years of militant demands, removed the statue.

For the videos of the event: tinyurl.com/26thv5mt and tinyurl.com/2krdy2et.

WW Photo: Joe Piette