| Youth on the Move panel
Photo: Drew Brown
To mark the 32nd anniversary of the outrageous framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal, activists and community members gathered for a series of events and meetings Dec. 7-9 to continue the struggle for his freedom. After a decades-long fight, the government relented and reduced Mumia’s sentence from death to life imprisonment – what Mumia calls “slow death row”. While a significant victory, this is far from justice.
A new effort, called the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, was launched during the anniversary events. The campaign’s activities include a petition drive aimed at gathering one million signatures demanding Mumia’s release, and a fundraising drive with a goal of raising $60,000 by Mumia’s 60th birthday.
The activities began with a well-attended panel titled “Youth on the Move”. Over 100 young people packed a downtown Philadelphia venue for a forum on youth activism, covering topics ranging from the school closures to racial profiling and more. The panelists also drew the connections between the fight to free Mumia and these other struggles for justice.
On Monday, Dec. 9, activists gathered for a noon rally at City Hall. After passing out literature and chanting, demonstrators gathered for a live-streamed press conference announcing the launch of the new campaign. Johanna Fernandez, a New York-based leader of the struggle to free Mumia, addressed the crowd saying, “Freeing Mumia means freeing ourselves.” ANSWER Philadelphia organizer Walter Smolarek told the gathering, “Students and young people are lied to about our freedom fighters, because they stand for the solutions to the problems we face.”
Later that night, a large organizers meeting was held to plan the next steps of the campaign to bring Mumia home. Activists from New York were present, as were many high school youth who learned about the case through the Youth on the Move panel. As the movement builds momentum, the next major activity will take place on April 24 to mark Mumia’s 60th birthday.