Friday, February 19, 2021

From The Archives: “Witness to a Lynching,” Kiilu Nyasha Goes to Philadelphia to Support Mumia and Observe Judge Sabo’s 1995 Courtroom

--Please sign our Color of Change petition to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner: Stop Defending Mumia Abu-Jamal's Unjust Conviction

(PHOTO: Kiilu Nyasha wears her Mumia shirt proudly.) 

(This article by Kiilu Nyasha  entitled “Witness to a Lynching” was first published by the original Jamal Journal newspaper in 1995. View a partial archive of her work here.)

After traveling to Philadelphia the week of August 13th to see about Mumia, I learned firsthand how biased Judge Albert Sabo really is.

Known as a “prosecutor in robes,” and a “hanging judge” who sentenced to death 32 people (only two of whom were white), Sabo was the judge whose judicial errors and misconduct convicted Mumia Abu-Jamal of Murder and sentenced him to death in 1982: A judge who clearly had no business presiding over Post Conviction Relief Appeals (PCRA). 

Sitting in Sabo's court August 15, all the reports I'd heard and read became instantly credible. I’ve witnessed numerous political trials wherein judges were obviously biased against the defense, but never have I seen a judge so blatantly prejudiced as Sabo. In fact, I felt badly for Abu-Jamal's lawyers who have to suffer such humiliation and disrespect in a court of law.

Throughout the hearings, virtually all of the defense motions were denied and the prosecutor's granted; objections overruled and prosecutor's sustained.

The lone exception, of course, was the Stay of Execution, a decision probably rendered from a higher level, a direct result of the international  campaign, i.e., a people's victory.

I'm told that during the recent closing arguments, Judge Sabo nodded out during the defense's remarks, and then woke up to hear those of the prosecutor.

But weighing in Mumia's favor is the fact that the appellate courts have reversed, completely or in part, 11 of Sabo's capital cases.

In fact, Sabo has one of the nation's highest reversal rates: 34%!

Mumia Versus The System

The case for a re-trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal is quite objectively a strong one. As a journalist who has broadcast interviews/commentaries by and about Abu-Jamal, corresponded with him for three years, and visited Philadelphia, I’ve learned enough about this very rare human being (husband/father/grandfather/activist/journalist/author and MOVE supporter) to believe him incapable of cold-blooded murder.

Mumia’s philosophy is about LIFE, not death: preserving human, animal, and environmental life. 

Even 700 pages of FBI files resulting from the Bureau’s surveillance of Abu-Jamal from the time he was a teenaged Panther noted he had “no propensity for violence.” The documents further reveal the FBI’s first attempt to frame then “Westley Cook” for murder- the assination of Bermuda’s Governor in 1973. But Abu-Jamal could prove he was at work when it happened.

Of course, none of this information was allowed into the recent PCRA hearings. 

The Real Mumia

Just a fraction of the investigative digging done on O.J. would have shown Abu-Jamal to be an outstanding student who was President of his high school and frequently relied upon to settlè disputes between rival gangs or fights between students; a young man who was primarily a responsible parent to his eight children; who became renowned as the "voice of the voiceless" on Philadelphia radio; the recipient of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting award, among others, and the prestigious Hellman/Hammett Grant awarded by Human Rights Watch; published in such prestigious journals as The Yale Law Review and The Nation; courageously authored a searing indictment of this system through a collection of essays titled Live from Death Row (Addison-Wesley), and continues to speak out through his writings against this fascist government and its vicious penal system of chattel slavery and premeditated murder.  

The announcement of the Stay of Appeal was indeed a victory, albeit a narrow one, in the fight for justice. Now the fight must escalate so that we can FREE MUMA!

As Mumia said, "True justice requires more than a stay of execution-it requires a complete dismissal of this clearly political persecution... It requires the committed mobilization of our communities to resist a system that is more repressive than South Africa's- to abolish this racist death penalty!"  


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