Major Protest and Civil Disobedience Planned at the U.S. Department of Justice: April 24, 2012, 11:00 am, Washington, DC
New York, NY – – A broad coalition of community organizers, activists, artists, students, scholars, celebrities, and concerned individuals will hold a national rally and protest at the headquarters of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 at 11:00 am in Washington, DC (located at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW). The purpose of the protest is to call for the release of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal on the day that is his 58th birthday. Renowned activists Frances Fox Piven, and Norman Finkelstein; actor Danny Glover; hip hop artist M-1 (of the duo dead prez); and others will engage in acts of civil disobedience at the protest. Organizers hope that the planned civil disobedience will dramatize their formal request that US Attorney General Eric Holder meet with a delegation to discuss systemic police corruption and civil rights violations in Abu-Jamal’s case and in the cases of hundreds of others across the nation.
Organizers will make seven core demands of US Attorney General Holder:
1. Release Mumia Abu-Jamal
2. End mass incarceration and the criminalization of Black and Latino Youth
3. Create jobs, education, and health care, not jails
4. End solitary confinement and stop torture
5. End the racist death penalty
6. Hands off immigrants
7. Free all political prisoners
Attorneys will be available to answer questions. The website is www.occupythejusticedepartment.com
Johanna Fernandez, a professor of history at Baruch College, CUNY in New York and the filmmaker of Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, announces that the rally and protest are tied to short term and long term goals. “Our immediate goal is to have Mumia Abu-Jamal released from prison. His recent release from death row was only a half victory. Our long- term goal is to end mass incarceration. Toward that end, we have developed a project called Liberation Summer. In just a few months, we will join with others to mobilize, train, and organize thousands of people who want to see an end to the unjust criminalization and mass incarceration of African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, other people of color, immigrants, and poor communities. Mass incarceration is not the solution to social problems. Rather than criminalization, we want a world without prisons.”
Background: Mumia Abu-Jamal
On December 9, 1981 in Philadelphia, journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was arrested for the killing of a Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. In 1982, he was convicted and sentenced to death row. Last year, the Supreme Court allowed to stand the decisions of four federal judges whose unanimous rulings and arguments state that Abu-Jamal’s 1982 death sentence was unconstitutional. In early December, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office decided that it would not continue to pursue a death sentence in this case and Abu-Jamal’s original sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole. Supporters of Abu-Jamal have cited the elimination of the death sentence in this case as one of the few civil rights victories in the post-civil rights era. Abu-Jamal’s demand for a new and fair trial and freedom is supported by heads of state from France to South Africa; by city governments from Detroit to San Francisco to Paris; by the Congressional Black Caucus and other members of U.S. Congress; by the European Parliament; by the NAACP, labor unions, and distinguished human rights organizations like Amnesty International; by Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu; by scholars, religious leaders, artists, scientists; and by countless others around the world.
Now that Abu-Jamal is off death row, activists are demanding his release from prison. On December 9, 2011, in an event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia that marked the 30th year anniversary of Abu-Jamal’s incarceration, Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined countless others and asked the nation to “rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights, and justice” and called for Abu-Jamal’s “immediate release.”
Background: Why Rally at the Department of Justice?
The police officers who shot, beat, and arrested Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1981 — for the shooting death of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner — were under scrutiny by a Department of Justice investigation of the Philadelphia Police Department. The probe, which began in 1979, marked the first time in the nation’s history that the federal government sued a police department for civil rights violations and charged an entire police department (rather than individual officers, with police brutality). The DOJ suit maintained that the Philadelphia police’s practices of “shooting nonviolent suspects, abusing handcuffed prisoners, suppressing dissension within its ranks, and engaging in a pattern of brutal behavior ‘shocks the conscience.’” (Philip Taubman, “U.S. Files Its Rights Suit Charging Philadelphia Police with Brutality,” The New York Times, August 14, 1979). Only days after the end of Abu-Jamal’s trial and conviction, 15 of the 35 police officers involved in collecting evidence in his case would be convicted and jailed, as a result of this federal investigation, on charges that included graft, corruption, and tampering with evidence to obtain a conviction. Chief among these officers was Alfonzo Giordano, the police inspector who led the crime scene investigation in Abu-Jamal’s case. The DOJ investigation remains unfinished: it did not provide relief for defendants like Abu-Jamal who were convicted by the testimonies and work of these corrupt and convicted cops.
ENDORSED BY: International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal ● Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal ● Coalition to Free Mumia (NYC) ● Occupy Philly ● OCCUPY General Assembly (NYC) ● Occupy DC Now ● Occupy DC Criminal Injustice Committee ● Occupy the Hood ● Decarcerate PA ● Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change [SPARC] ● Millions for Mumia/Int’l Action Center ● dead prez (Sticman and M1) ● John Carlos ● Talib Kweli ● Immortal Technique ● Angela Davis ● Danny Glover ● Alice Walker ● Francis Pixen ● Amiri Baraka ● Marc Lamont Hill ● Cornell West ● Vijay Prashad ● Norman Finkelstein ● ANSWER Coalition ● Prison Radio
For event information, contact Johanna Fernandez at 917.930.0804 or 215.600.6626; visit www.occupythejusticedepartment.com; and @A24OccupyDOJ (Twitter).