Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008
In Prison My Whole Life
Charlotte Energy Solutions
337 Baldwin Ave
Charlotte, NC 28204
William Francome is a fairly typical, white middle-class guy. Typical except for the fact that he is about to embark on a journey into the dark heart of the American judicial system; the tangled world of renowned Death Row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The connection between these two characters is a simple one, and the pretext for this film, as Will explains:
"I was born in London on December 9th 1981. Over 3000 miles away Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Black Panther and radical journalist, was arrested for the murder of a police officer in Philadelphia. He claimed he was innocent but was sentenced to death and has been awaiting execution ever since. Over the years, he has attracted massive international support from organisations like Amnesty International and world leaders like Nelson Mandela amongst others. I'm now 24 years old and in that time Mumia has become the most famous and controversial death row inmate in America".
Despite his situation, and against all odds, Mumia has managed to penetrate the consciousness of people like Will. Through his writings and his web and radio broadcasts from Death Row, he has become known to many as "the Voice of the Voiceless".
"In Prison My Whole Life" takes us to some surprising places and brings us into contact with some of America’s most original minds. Never-seen-before footage and brand new evidence create a prevailing case for reasonable doubt while exploring the socio-political climate of America – past and present. Angela Davis, Mos Def, Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Snoop Dogg, Steve Earle, Amy Goodman and many others take us through a decades-old struggle for equality, fairness and respect that so many Americans strive for to this day.
Mumia’s cause has created a political storm but after the politicians have said their piece, after the court papers have been filed and the protestors have gone home, we are left with a film about a man – a father, a son, an inspiration and a pariah - who faces his twenty-fifth year on Death Row.
Extraordinary though Mumia’s story is, he is only one of 3,350 people currently on death row in the United States. This film allows him not only to speak to us, but also on behalf of those others who cannot find a voice.
For more info on the Charlotte event contact Charlotte Free Mumia Coalition:
Action Center For Justice, 704-492-5226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students For A Democratic Society - UNCC, 252-943-9037 or email@example.com
Legal update and news on Mumia Abu-Jamal
Following are excerpts from information sent out by Attorney Robert R. Bryan, lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal, on Nov. 14.
There are many developments on the legal and other fronts concerning my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal. The following are the highlights:
PEN membership—Mumia has been accepted into the membership of PEN, the worldwide human-rights organization of prominent writers. This is a great honor. He was thrilled upon learning that the application I filed on his behalf last spring was granted. The recognition from his peers is well deserved.
In a quarter of a century of being locked up in a small cell on Pennsylvania’s death row, Mumia’s literary output has been prodigious. He has written five outstanding books that are published in various languages, and also writes weekly commentaries that are published and broadcast internationally.
PEN was founded in 1921 to dispel national, ethnic and racial hatred, to promote understanding among all countries, and defend the freedom to write. PEN American Center, into which Mumia has been accepted, is the largest of the 145 centers in 104 countries of International PEN. It exists to fight for freedom of expression, represent the conscience of world literature, and foster friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere. It is the world’s oldest human rights organization and also the oldest international literary group.
The support provided by Alice Walker, E.L. Doctorow, Bell Chevigny and other members of the PEN American Center, New York, was invaluable.
Bishop Desmond Tutu—On Oct. 23, Bishop Desmond Tutu met with Mumia. Later that afternoon Mumia expressed to me how touched and humbled he was by meeting with this wonderful person, who received the Nobel Peace Price in 1984 and the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986. Mumia is particularly grateful to Martha Conley, Esq., of Pittsburgh, who initiated and arranged the visit, drove Bishop Tutu and his assistant to the prison, and joined them in the visit on death row. Last week Bishop Tutu issued the following statement on Nov. 5 concerning Mumia and capital punishment: “I oppose the death penalty on principle in every case and I support the plea for a retrial for Mumia Abu-Jamal.”
Legal developments—Last month the prosecution submitted a Notice of Supplemental Authority with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia, arguing that a recent ruling and related decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court affects the pending issues pertaining to the death penalty and racism in jury selection. Consequently on Nov. 1, 2007, we filed a Reply to Notice of Supplemental Authority, explaining with legal analysis that the contentions of opposing counsel should be rejected because they are without merit and do not alter the major constitutional violations that occurred in this case.
I remain in contact with the court. It is not known exactly when there will be a federal decision. If the court follows the law and the U.S. Constitution, we will win. In my experience of successfully litigating well over a hundred capital murder cases at trial and on appeal, I know that courts are not always just. They can make terribly tragic mistakes. Nevertheless, I have not seen a case more riddled with such significant constitutional violations, racism, fraud, and unfairness. My goal remains to achieve a reversal of the conviction, and at a new jury trial win a jury acquittal so that Mumia can go home to his family—a free person.
“In Prison My Whole Life,” British film on Mumia—On Oct. 25, the new documentary film, “In Prison My Whole Life,” premiered simultaneously at the London Film Festival and Rome Film Festival. It is a superb movie which does much to expose the many wrongs including racism and politics that have infected the case from the outset, the American legal system, and our society. Amnesty International is officially supporting the film. The picture is hard hitting and reveals the death penalty for what it is: legalized murder. Mumia and I are indebted to Colin and Livia Giuggioli Firth, along with Marc Evans, William Francome, Nick Goodwin Self, Katie Green, and the others who had the courage to make this film and tell the truth.
New French book on Mumia—An excellent book on Mumia was published on Sept.15 in France. It is “Mumia Abu-Jamal, un homme libre dans le couloir de la mort,” by Claude Guillaumaud-Pujol, with a foreword by Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and founder of Rosenberg Fund for Children. Claude is deeply involved in the Collectif, a group of over 80 French organizations that aggressively support our campaign for a new and fair trial for Mumia and his freedom. She knows Mumia well and last visited with him on Nov. 11. Claude has donated her book to help in the struggle for Mumia’s freedom. Mumia says “the book is beautiful.” It can be purchased though various booksellers in France.
Guardian (England) article: “I Spend My Days Preparing for Life, Not for Death”—Recently there was an excellent article in the Guardian newspaper. It concerns a fascinating death row interview with Mumia, and can be found at www.guardian.co.uk.
Tax-deductible donations to Mumia’s legal defense—My office continues to receive extensive e-mail from people confused as to how and where they may send donations for Mumia’s legal defense. With Mumia’s authorization, a process exists which guarantees that all donations in the U.S. go only to the legal defense. The contributions are tax-deductible. Checks should be made payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (indicate “Mumia” on the bottom left), and mailed to: Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal, P.O. Box 2012, New York, NY 10159-2012.
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