L.A. Teachers back new trial for Mumia Abu Jamal

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Posted by Jim Smith on January 27, 2000 at 15:45:18:

Resolution by United Teachers of Los Angeles

This resolution (posted below) was passed by the UTLA (United Teacher's of Los Angeles) House of Representatives unnaamously.

Also we are having a day for Mumia in the Los Angeles City Schools on Feb. 24. In order to provide Teachers with the necessary knowledge and materials to have a day for Mumia in their classrooms we will be having a Teach-In for Mumia and against Proposition 21 (Juvinile Justice Initiative) on Saturday, Feb. 19 at the UTLA Union Hall from 10-1.

We wanted to let the national and international committees in support of Mumia (know) about these events.

Moved by the Human Rights Committee that UTLA do the following:

1) Go on record demanding justice and a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

2) Send a letter to Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania urging him to rescind the death warrant for Mumia Abu-Jamal and instead to call for a new trial.

3) Publish an article in the United Teacher explaining why it is important to call for a new trial in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

4) Declare its support for a day of teaching about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal to be organized by UTLA members and the Justice for Mumia Teachers Coalition.


A. Mumia was not given a fair trial in 1982 when charged with killing police officer Daniel Faulkner. The prosecution's case was based on intimidation and coerced testimony. The principal prosecution witness was a police informant. Witnesses who saw someone else fleeing the scene of the crime were silenced with threats from the police. Two months after the official police report which said that Mumia made no comment on the night of the crime, an officer suddenly ýrememberedţ hearing a confession. African-American jurors were illegally excluded and Mumia was illegally prohibited from representing himself. Mumia's attorney was given insufficient funds to mount a defense. The judge in the case was entirely prejudiced, denying every single defense motion, and granting every prosecution motion. During the sentencing phase, the prosecution illegally used Mumia's political statements and affiliations to argue for the death penalty.

B. The issues raised by Mumia's case are directly connected to our lives as teachers and to the lives of our students. As teachers, we work to demonstrate to our students the values of open-minded inquiry, free speech, and ethical conduct. We must therefore show our students that we stand against the rush to judgment, censorship, and violation of rights that characterized Mumia's trial and subsequent imprisonment. In a district consisting predominantly of students of color, we must show that we are against the racism that has led to the refusal of due process for Mumia, and that is inherent in a capital punishment system in which defendants accused of killing white victims are several times more likely to receive the death penalty than those accused of killing non-white victims. In a state which, at a feverish pace, has built twenty new prisons in the last twenty-three years in the expectation of eventually receiving our students into the ranks of its incarcerated population, we must show our students that we are against an economy based on prison rather than education. We must show our students that when the rush to incarcerate leads to violations of basic civil and human rights, as in the case of Mumia, it is our duty as responsible members of society to strenuously protest. We therefore act in solidarity with our students, as well as with Mumia, when we demand a new trial in his case.

C. Mumia's struggle has become linked to union struggles. The California Federation of Teachers passed a motion in support of Mumia's cause. Teachers in Oakland organized a district-wide teach-in on Mumia's case. On April 24, 1999, about 150,000 teachers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil went on strike for two hours for Mumia. On the same day, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) shut down the ports up and down the West Coast to call for justice for Mumia. Dockworkers in Sweden have passed a resolution supporting Mumia's cause. And Mumia himself has responded in kind. He has championed the courageous efforts of the longshoremen who refused to unload ships from Liverpool loaded with scab labor. He also refused to be interviewed by scab crews from ABC during the lockout of NABET/CWA workers. Union members have come to understand that the attack on Mumia comes from the same source as the attacks on their own ranks, and have stood up in solidarity with him. It is our responsibility to join these and other unions in calling for a new trial for Mumia.

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