Hundreds rally on the streets of DC for Mumia Abu Jamal’s release
Mumia Abu Jamal is an African American writer, journalist and activist whose infamous prison case has sparked international outrage for decades.
In 1981, Mumia was charged with first degree murder for allegedly killing a police officer, but many have disputed the evidence that put him behind bars and demand for him to be re-tried.
He has spent the last 29 years of his life on death row, but in January of this year the sentence was reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
At the “Occupy the Justice” rally in Washington DC, Abby Martin of RT spoke with protesters who gathered in solidarity with the Occupy Movement to “Occupy the Justice Department” on Mumia’s 58th birthday.
Hundreds rallied in front of the Department of Justice to call attention to not only Mumia’s case, but also to the inequalities of the US justice system, the privatization of the prison industry and to end mass incarceration in the US, where currently one out of every 100 Americans are in jail.
People have long used Mumia’s case to lobby attention to the inherent corruption and racial inequality in the American prison system.
Mumia supporter Matthew Johnson equated the racial injustice surrounding Mumia Abu Jamal to the controversial case of the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. “It’s the whole idea that if you’re black, you’re somehow more dangerous than a white person. [In the case of Trayvon] you’re carrying iced tea and Skittles and wearing a hoodie and somehow you’re a threat to a man who weighs 60 pounds more than you who has a gun. It just wouldn’t happen the other way around.”
He continues to explain that this particular case needs to be broadened in the context of social justice for everyone, regardless of color or creed.
Some came to protest more generally what they called the prison industrial complex, in which government and corporations collude to keep the private prisons occupied to capacity with prisoners. Activist Kevin Price elaborates on the growing trend of for profit prisons. “As violent crime rates have fallen and imprisonment rates have skyrocketed, it just doesn’t make sense unless you are looking at [the issue] in the context of for profit incarceration,” he says.
Although the reduced sentence for Mumia was seen as a hopeful step for some, others claimed that it was simply a political strategy to appease the public while still not making any significant overtures towards justice for Mumia.
“That’s their way of trying to turn their back on the issue and get political with [it]… but justice requires that the innocent be free,” declares Baba Zayed Muhhamad, national minister of culture for the New Black Panther Party.
He continues to describe how the two most prominent African American politicians, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama, have turned their back on the black generation. “Barack Obama made the mistake of saying that we’re the ones that we’ve been waiting for, and we’re not going to wait on them. We’re going to see that we get justice for that generation and… better opportunities to create justice for our children. We’re not going to compromise with that.”