Activists hold rally at federal building for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Liz Kohman

Approximately 20 protesters rallied in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal at the federal building in downtown Minneapolis on Friday.

Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and journalist, sits on death row in Pennslyvania after being tried and convicted of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.

The rally coincided with a court appeal for Abu-Jamal in Philadelphia. An estimated 1,000 supporters of Abu-Jamal, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, rallied outside the Philadelphia courthouse.

Abu-Jamal was not allowed to attend the hearing where his lawyers appealed to have his state case reopened to hear new testimony that could clear his name.

Michelle Gross, an organizer of the Minneapolis rally and one of the founders of the Twin Cities Coalition to Defend Mumia Abu-Jamal, said it was a case of “hurry up and wait.”

“They’re trying to see if they can outlast us,” Gross said. “We’re not going to let go.”

The demonstration lasted an hour, as a group of protesters ranging from a pair of high school students to an elderly couple listened. Others handed out fliers, held signs and spoke through a megaphone in support of Abu-Jamal.

“I want the death penalty to be repealed and I want Mumia to be freed,” said April Knutson, a lecturer in French and women’s studies at the University.

Knutson called for public pressure to ensure Abu-Jamal receives justice.

Naima Richmond, an activist who has followed Abu-Jamal’s case since the mid-1990s, said the case was “a classic example of racism.”

The rally moved from the sidewalk near the street up to the doors of the Federal Building as participants chanted slogans including “No justice, no peace,” “Free Mumia, jail the police,” and “Stop the plot. Stop the plan. Stop the murder of an innocent man.”

Gross said the rally didn’t draw a large number of participants because many supporters are busy planning the August 25 “Can the Klan” counter-demonstration at the Capital in St. Paul.

She also said the only way to ensure freedom for Abu-Jamal is to demonstrate support and show there will be civil unrest if he is not freed.

“We can’t count on these people to see the light,” said Gross. “We have to make them feel the heat.”

 

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