The administration of Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell has backed down on plans to restrict planned protests against the execution of radical journalist and former Black Panther Party member Mumia Abu-Jamal. The decision comes as solidarity for the framed activist is growing, with rallies and other activities set this week across the United States and internationally.
Rendell, a Democrat, had said the city would limit participation in a protest march set for April 24. Earlier this week a Philadelphia police official told protest organizers that following a scheduled noon rally outside of City Hall the city would allow only a "ceremonial parade" of just 500 people to the site where Abu-Jamal allegedly killed policeman Daniel Faulkner on December 9, 1981.
A spokesperson for the International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal told the World Socialist Web Site that the Rendell administration has now dropped its plans to limit the numbers participating in the march. The city is also dropping plans to set up a wide exclusion zone around the site of a "memorial dinner" for officer Faulkner set for the evening of April 23. The police had planned to block off a large downtown area surrounding the dinner and prohibit pro-Mumia activities such as leafleting and the wearing of pro-Mumia T-shirts. Instead police say they will limit the ban to the street in front of the dinner venue.
The Rendell administration claimed the proposed exclusion zone was to prevent possible clashes between supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal and supporters of the police. However march organizers said they had no plans to picket the memorial dinner and were urging supporters to stay away. They denounced the proposed restrictions as a flagrant violation of democratic rights and called on supporters to flood the mayor's office with protests.
Thousands of supporters of Abu-Jamal are expected to be in Philadelphia April 23 preparing for the rally. Teams of college and high school students will fan out from Temple University and City Hall to distribute literature about the Mumia case and other social issues.
Activities are set across the country and internationally to coincide with the main protest in Philadelphia:
- In San Francisco a mass rally is scheduled for the Civic Center at 1 p.m. West Coast longshoremen, members of the International Longshoremen's and Warehouse Union, will hold stop-work meetings on April 24 and an ILWU delegation will participate in the protest.
- In Canada rallies are being held in Edmonton, Alberta; Toronto; and Vancouver, British Columbia
- In Europe protests are set for Cork and Dublin, Ireland; Karlsruhe, Germany; Lisbon, Portugal; London; Lucerne and Zurich, Switzerland; Paris; Oslo and Vienna.
- In Berlin a Free Mumia Now concert is set for April 22.
- In Australia a rally is set for April 24 in Melbourne at 1 p.m. in front of the GPO.
Other international solidarity events on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal include:
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Teachers will hold stop-work meetings on April 23.
- The Mumia Abu-Jamal defense campaign has been endorsed by the Brazilian CUT, the French CGT, the Italian CGIL and COSATU of South Africa.
The political issues in the fight to defend Mumia Abu-Jamal
[26 February 1999]