NAACP resolution supports Mumia-Abu Jamal
by Monica Moorehead
On July 15, the NAACP overwhelmingly passed an emergency resolution at its recent national convention in Philadelphia urging its local chapters to support efforts for a new and fair trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal and the overturning of his first degree murder conviction and death sentence.
This is a significant political development in the case of Abu-Jamal, the world's best known political prisoner on death row. He is a former Black Panther, a MOVE supporter and an outspoken opponent of racist oppression and imperialist war. The African-American revolutionary, known worldwide as the "voice of the voiceless" was railroaded to Pennsylvania's death row in 1982 for the killing of Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner. Mumia suffered through a sham of a trial in 1981 where evidence proving his innocence was suppressed by a racist judge and prosecutor. It has been legally documented by a white stenographer that Judge Albert Sabo who presided over the trial, made racial slurs against Abu-Jamal.
The resolution, entitled "Reaffirming Opposition to the Death Penalty," also called for a moratorium on executions because the use of the death penalty disproportionately targets people of color and poor people. This resolution, introduced by the Ossining, NY NAACP chapter and supported by International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, comes on the heels of a recent U.S. Third Circuit Court ruling lifting the stay of proceedings on a 2001 federal district ruling that overturned Mumia's death sentence, but not the murder conviction. This recent ruling asks for a briefing to hear arguments challenging the 2001 ruling.
The passing of this resolution by the oldest mainstream U.S. civil rights organization is a blow to the U.S. government's efforts to legally lynch Mumia. It is up to the progressive movement to take full advantage of this resolution to help build broader support that is needed for Mumia's struggle to win his long overdue freedom.
Actual Text of NAACP Resolution for New Trial for Mumia and a National Death Penalty Moratorium
(Adopted at NAACP National Convention, Philadelphia, PA, July 15, 2004)
EMERGENCY RESOLUTION REAFFIRMING OPPOSITION TO THE DEATH PENALTY
WHEREAS, the NAACP adopted a resolution in 2001 re-affirming our opposition to the death penalty due to its racially disparate application; and
WHEREAS, the NAACP has re-affirmed its 1975 resolution opposing the death penalty on the grounds that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution; and
WHEREAS, many people, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, are incarcerated on death row and face possible execution; and
WHEREAS, more than 320 people on death row have been exonerated; and
WHEREAS, though African Americans make up only 12.4% of the U.S. population, we make up 38% of all the Americans that were sentenced to death and later freed after being found innocent; and
WHEREAS, African Americans make up 35% of those being found innocent after being executed; and
WHEREAS, African Americans make up over 80% of those awaiting execution on federal death row; and
WHEREAS, 145 people have been exonerated based upon DNA evidence; and
WHEREAS, there is no possible way of restoring the life of an innocent person killed by the death penalty; and
WHEREAS, the implementation of the death penalty raises concerns regarding bias identification, police and prosecutorial misconduct, judicial apathy in protecting the rights of the accused, faulty evidence, inadequate defense representation, coerced confessions, and fabricated testimony, and,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People reiterates its strong opposition to the death penalty; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls on its units throughout the United States and the world to support the international call for Mumia Abu-Jamal to be released from death row; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP reiterate its support of the international movement for a new and fair trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP renew its call for new nation wide studies on racial discrimination, the adequacy of counsel, access to modern research technology such as DNA analysis, the sentencing of children and women to the death penalty and that the NAACP reiterate its call for a national moratorium on all executions.
ss: Kweisi Mfume, President and CEO; Julian Bond, Chairman of the Board of Directors