The Current Juncture in Mumia's Case
Mumia Abu-Jamal has been on death row for 19 years for allegedly killing a police officer. Since then, new evidence has been uncovered that Mumia was not the shooter and that there was gross misconduct in the trial, including police coercion of witnesses, a falsified confession, and racially biased jury selection. The trial was presided over by Judge Albert Sabo, who's put more people on death row than any sitting judge in the country. Despite the growing number of people who are learning the truth about this case, this new evidence is not in the official court record. Mumia is now awaiting a date which could be as early as July to go before the Federal District Court. This is the last level of appeals in which new evidence can be considered, but that decision will be influenced by our efforts, and the court must feel strongly that the first case was flawed in order to grant a hearing for new evidence.
The Executioner's Ball
This summer, as Mumia's case enters the crucial rounds in the Federal Courts, Pennsylvania's Governor Ridge will host the Republican National Convention, which will nominate George Bush, Jr. as presidential candidate. Ridge has signed Mumia's previous two death warrants and Governor George Bush has presided over the execution of over 130 people, more than any other governor. The city of Philadelphia sets national records for seeking the death penalty for Black defendants, boasts a history of rampant police brutality, including the 1985 government bombing of the MOVE house (which killed 11 people and destroyed 61 homes in a Black neighborhood). The Republicans want to portray George Bush, Jr. as a "compassionate conservative" and have chosen Philly, the "cradle of democracy" for their celebration. At Philly Freedom Summer we join the people of Philly in rejecting and exposing these myths.
Tradition of Freedom Summer
In 1964, over one thousand youth traveled to Mississippi Freedom Summer to fight one of the most crucial battles of their generation, confronting the brutal racism Black people faced in the Deep South. This battle, fought in the South, would also affect the entire country. Today, the stage is set for one of the most important battles of our generation: to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His case concentrates the criminalization of Black men, the suppression of dissent, the expanded death penalty, the gutting of defendant's rights, and a whole atmosphere based on blame and punishment of the most oppressed. Philly Freedom Summer brings young people from all over the country to Philadelphia ("The Deep North"), the heart of this struggle. Just as the summer of 1964 would influence the conditions people lived in for decades, the fate of Mumia will shape our futures.
To fuse the youthful energy and determination of the volunteers with the people of Philly that are most affected by police brutality, racism, and the other struggles concentrated in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
To strengthen the voice of outrage at the injustices in Mumia's case, police brutality and the death penalty and to bring that message to the debate around the RNC.
To crash the executioner's ball!
Initiate actions and events to set new standards in the battle to stop the execution of Mumia.
Face of Justice Campaign community based poster project opposing the execution of Mumia, which transforms entire neighborhoods and shopping strips. The poster will contrast what Mumia represents to Bush's agenda.
Determined marches, cultural events and other activities in the community, in which we live and work.
A 'public' opinion poll using massive visual representations in neighborhoods all over Philly. We will ask people who they would like to walk into the future with Mumia or George Bush? Workshops including issues such as the death penalty, police brutality, Refuse & Resist!, Mumia's case and more. As always ≠ an opportunity to live and work collectively with young people from around the country, including some down time for BBQ's, basketball, movies and other fun stuff.
We encourage all PFS volunteers to travel to Philadelphia with at least one other volunteer. The National Office of R&R! can assist in making travel arrangements. All participants will be met at their arrival point by a PFS organizer. All volunteers must make sure they've communicated their arrival information to the National Office so that a pickup is possible.
Many members of Refuse & Resist! who are present at Freedom Summer have cell phones and pagers, as do many of the other youth. Closer to the time of Freedom Summer, we will give out designated cell/beeper numbers to parents in case of emergencies. Phone numbers for the PFS housing facilities will also be provided. The number of the Philadelphia chapter of R&R! is (215) 552-8548 and the National Office's is (212) 965-9030.
Freedom Summer is run and organized by youth. There will be some among us who have been to many (if not all) the Freedom Summers of the last 6 years, and have experience leading large groups of youth. There is also a broad age range, from approximately 14 through 26, in Freedom Summer participants, which provides a good mix of older and younger youth. Also, adult volunteers are in constant contact with the organizers to see that everything is running smoothly.
PFS is funded solely on donations. We work with volunteers to fundraise in their area before they come to Philly both for their personal expenses and for the project overall. There are volunteers in the NY office who are here to help people figure out how to raise money in their areas. There are several usual expenses that PFS volunteers will have to be prepared for. The first is food, which generally costs $10 per day (though more if they're an especially hungry volunteer). The second expense is transportation, both to Philly and within Philly. We suggest that volunteers purchase a weekly, unlimited train pass at the beginning of each week for $17.50.
In addition, we are asking each volunteer to pay a $15 "housing fee" to help pay for utilities. The payment of this last expense is greatly appreciated but not required.
Participants live together in groups of twenty or thirty kids per location in the neighborhoods we work in. In years past, we've stayed in houses loaned by individuals and local organizations. We are highly security conscious and focus on security during the PFS orientation. No PFS participant is allowed to travel alone, no matter how short a distance. There will be absolutely no drinking or use of illegal substances during Freedom Summer. We feel that use of these substances puts the entire project at risk and will take any infractions very seriously. All risks involved in actual political work (such as arrest) are taken into account and discussed at length with volunteers by those who have past experience with Freedom Summer.
We're in the office daily and would love to answer any questions or address any concerns you might have. Call us at 212.965.9030
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