Condemn Dec. 8 police attack
The Philadelphia International Action Center joins our national office in condemnation of the Philadelphia police's unprovoked and brutal attack on the December 8th thousand-plus march in support of death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. In the aftermath of September 11th, and the national attacks on civil liberties, the police seemed emboldened to carry out an ambush attack of peaceful protestors in a permitted demonstration. Their actions threaten all of us, and we need to respond.
Saturday's repression followed the harassment of a high-level delegation from France (including a French Senator, two mayors, a union president, a member of the European Parliament and the daughter of Franz Fannon) at the prison where Mumia Abu-Jamal is being held. Besides being verbally abused, cameras and video equipment were seized and film destroyed.
Saturday's protest called for freedom for Abu-Jamal, entering his 20th year on death row for the alleged murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. The demonstration stopped at the intersection of 13th and Locust Streets to view a video taped confession by Arnold Beverly that he, not Abu-Jamal, had shot Faulkner on December 9th, 1981.
Shortly after, as the marchers made their way up Walnut Street, according to one eyewitness account, on behalf of a right-wing heckler of the rally, bicycle cops toward the back of the march charged into the middle of the crowd, dismounted their bikes, and drew a gun on one protestor whom they had pinned to the ground. Police began ramming people with their bicycles, and indiscriminately beating demonstrators with batons, pepper-spraying them, and arresting people.
An army of cops descended on the protest, some wearing camouflage and black berets. Some were transit cops. The Civil Affairs cops who were supposed to be the intermediary between the police and the demonstrators were nowhere to be found during the ambush.
At this time we have been able to confirm seven arrests, including two activists from Philadelphia. (The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that all those arrested were from out of town since they never want to admit to the sizeable and growing support for Mumia in Philadelphia).
One of the sisters arrested from Philadelphia, who weighs less than 100 lbs, was surrounded by several cops. She ended up hospitalized with a broken tailbone, although video cameras show her walking as she was lead away. Another woman arrested was also hospitalized with a broken jaw-bone from being violently dragged on the ground by the police. A third man was also hospitalized but since released.
Those arrested are being charged with felony assault on a police officer, and felony inciting to riot, and face high bails.
Those who saw today's Inquirer account of this event need to respond to the lies and distortions in that coverage. Mumia has stated his innocence on more than one occasion, including in a sworn affidavit filed last summer by his new attorneys. His attorneys have been fighting to get the affidavit by Arnold Beverly confessing to the murder entered into the court records -- but the district attorney and both federal Judge William Yohn and Pennsylvania Judge Pamela Dembe have refused to allow the confession into evidence -- claiming it is "not timely". Since when is there a statue of limitations on murder, especially when an innocent man sits on death row accused of the crime?
Many activists and civil libertarians have expressed concern in recent weeks over the Bush Administration's attempts to curtail civil liberties in the aftermath of September 11th. We ask all who are concerned with the shredding of constitutional rights, to join in a struggle to demand freedom for Mumia, whose constitutional rights to a fair trial, to have counsel of his choice, and more have been denied for 20 years.
Those arrested on Saturday are in need of support, both vocal and financial. To find out how you can help, please contact the offices of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal at 215-476-8812 or [email protected] or e-mail the IAC at [email protected].
Call to protest these arrests and the brutality of the police:
-- Deputy Commissioner Sylvester Johnson 215-686-3358; 686-3359
-- The 9th Precinct 215-686-3007
-- Mayor John Street 215-686-2181
International Action Center - Philadelphia
To respond to the Philly Inquirer piece e-mail [email protected]