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HONOR DR KING! FREE MUMIA! NO WAR! by Herb Avram/INSUBORDINATION mag.
Publicizing the release of the new issue of Philadelphia’s INSUBORDINATION magazine, this photo-essay features an essay by INSUB editor Herb Avram drawing the connections between Martin Luther King, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the US war on the world. Accompanying the essay are photos taken by INSUBORDINATION photographer Hans Bennett from the April 4, 2003 demonstration for Mumia Abu-Jamal commemorating the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination.
THE NEW ISSUE OF INSUBORDINATION DEDICATED TO MARTIN LUTHER KING (No War on Iraq! Free Mumia!) is now out. This essay, written by INSUBORDINATION editor Herb Avram is featured in the new issue as well as new essays by Mumia Abu-Jamal about the war abroad and at home, and new essays by Hans Bennett (including one on the FCC featured in the May issue of Z Magazine which highlights the media democracy movement in Philadelphia) The new issue is available in Philadelphia at Wooden Shoe Books, A House of Our Own Bookstore, and Robin’s Books. Or send $3-5 (sliding scale) well concealed cash / NO CHECKS PLEASE (postage paid) to:
Po box 30770
Philadelphia, PA 19104
For the next 4 issues of INSUBORDINATION please send a $12-25 sliding scale payment. The next issue will focus on the corporate media and the growing movement for media democracy.
Honor Martin Luther King: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
No War on Iraq!
Written by Herb Avram
Photos by Hans Bennett
In this photo, Pam Africa speaks on April 4, 2003 with City Hall in the background.
To view the complete photoessay, please link to:
On April 4, 2003, Pam Africa and other supporters of Philadelphia’s death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal gathered across the street from Philadelphia City Hall for a press conference commemorating the April 4, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King. Condemning the war on Iraq, Pam Africa (of MOVE and the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal) declared that “the corporate state will do whatever it wants to whomever it wants. If people resist, they will be killed like Iraqis being massacred by the US military right now. It’s the same thing with the case of Mumia. Beginning as the Minister of Information of the Philadelphia Black Panther Party at age 15, Mumia dedicated his life to resisting this murderous system. Because of that, the powers that be have had him on death row for over 20 years.”
As the anniversary of the1968 assassination passes once again, King’s message is as important as it was when he was confronting the raw malevolence of US capitalism and white supremacy in Vietnam and here at home. In the last year of his life, King declared that the US was “the greatest purveyor of violence” in the world and joined both the Black Panther Party and the late Malcolm X with his militant anti-capitalist declaration that “the evils of capitalism and militarism are as great as the evils racism.” Openly questioning his past tactics for Black liberation, he spent his last year organizing (in his words) “to bring the social change movements through from their now inadequate protest phase to a stage of massive, active, non-violent resistance to the evils of…a system where some people live in superfluous, inordinate wealth while others live in abject, deadening poverty. Shortly before his assassination, he declared: “FOR YEARS I LABORED WITH THE IDEA OF REFORMING THE EXISTING INSTITUTIONS… A LITTLE CHANGE HERE, A LITTLE CHANGE THERE. NOW I FEEL QUITE DIFFERENTLY. I THINK YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE A RECONSTRUCTION OF THE WHOLE SOCIETY.”
While Operation Desert Storm killed between 100,000 and 200,000 Iraqis, the subsequent sanctions and bombings have persisted as never-ending "low-intensity" warfare against the Iraqi people. Aerial bombings committed by the US and British militaries in the name of enforcing "No Fly Zones" that were never authorized by the UN and are therefore illegal have been killing people since the early 1990s. Still, these bombings have primarily had psychological effects. The real death and destruction have come in the form of economic sanctions. These sanctions have done nothing to loosen the Saddam Hussein's dictatorial control over the nation. What they have done is claim the lives of over 500,000 innocent children and over one million people overall, according to a 1996 UNICEF report. Sanctions make it difficult for most Iraqis to access nutritious food, clean water and adequate healthcare. These problems are exacerbated even further by radioactive depleted uranium (DU) dust left over from exploded US and British DU ammunition from the 1991 war. The current escalation of the bombing by Pres. Bush obviously makes the situation much worse.
King passionately argued that the war on Vietnam was oppressing the Vietnamese in the same white supremacist way that blacks and all people of color are oppressed inside the US. This was very similar to the analysis of Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party. In 1970, Newton wrote that “We recognize that the small ruling class which exploits us here finds it to their economic advantage to exploit the people of distant lands…The same troops who occupy and kill at Jackson State, Birmingham, Chicago, and New Orleans are also occupying and killing in My Lai, in Phnom Penh and many other places. The same ruling class which controls the military and government here also controls the military and government in South Vietnam and Cambodia.”
After making his historic April 4, 1967 speech against the US war on Vietnam, King was condemned by Pres. Johnson. Sadly, officials of both the NAACP and Urban League civil rights organizations sided with Johnson and privately and publicly attacked King. King’s new anti-capitalist/imperialist politics were a serious threat to those not wanting redistribution of wealth or an end to horrifying racist massacres like the Vietnam War.
King had long been a target of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations waged upon the black revolution of the 50s and 60s. When King was assassinated the FBI’s war on the black revolution was in full swing. A March 3, 1968 FBI memo addresses the need to stop “the beginning of a true black revolution.” Among the many goals outlined in the memo was to “prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement.” It states further that King “could be a very real contender for this position.” An April 3, 1968 memo argued that the “negro youth and moderates must be made to understand that if they succumb to revolutionary teaching, they will be dead revolutionaries.”
Days after King’s assassination, 17-yeard old Panther Robert “Li’l Bobby” Hutton was murdered by the Oakland, CA police as he exited a house with his hands up and wearing only shorts. As documented in Newton’s doctoral thesis as well as in Agents of Repression, by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, the BPP came under attack from the FBI. More than 30 Black Panthers were outright murdered by the police while many more were imprisoned or forced underground fleeing the harsh repression.
The more than 500 pages released from Mumia Abu-Jamal’s FBI file document that Mumia was under FBI surveillance since his days as the 15-year old Minister of Information for the Philadelphia BPP and journalist for the national BPP newspaper. As Mumia writes today from death row and exposes the illegal and racist war of aggression waged on Iraq, he continues a long tradition. As a radio journalist in Philadelphia in the late 1970s and 80s, Mumia reported on this city’s racist and brutal repression of the MOVE organization.
Through a 1982 trail replete with both fabricated and suppressed evidence as well a denial of Mumia’s constitutional right to defend himself, Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Other US revolutionaries have been framed the same way. Geronimo Ji Jaga (formerly Pratt) of the Los Angeles BPP was released after 27 years of imprisonment for a murder that the FBI knew he was innocent of. The FBI suppressed surveillance tapes proving he was at a BPP meeting in Oakland, CA the time of the murder. Dhoruba Bin Wahad of the New York BPP was released after being imprisoned for 19 years. Mumia Abu-Jamal is a prisoner of this same war and should be immediately released.
In 2000 Martin Luther King III explained “The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s commitment to justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal dates back over a decade.” Seeing Abu-Jamal as a “political prisoner,” King III stated that his fa otentialther “was murdered because he spoke out against social injustices. Today, we must unite together in the name of justice to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a young man who was respected in the community for reporting stories about economic and social injustices.”
“We must come together as a family in the spirit of my father, who said ‘the arc of the universe is long but it is bent towards justice,’ and never give up until we save the life of our brother Mumia Abu-Jamal…We demand that all those with power to intervene…do so now in the name of all those who have already died to force America to live up to its motto of liberty and justice for all.”
Honoring the life of Martin Luther King, this April 4, 2003 issue of INSUBORDINATION is dedicated to freeing Mumia Abu-Jamal and stopping the brutal US war on Iraq that exemplifies US foreign policy past and present.
INSUBORDINATION photojournalist Hans Bennett documents the resistance to war here in Philadelphia as well as two large anti-war demonstrations in New York. This issue also features Mumia’s newest essays documenting the fundamental injustice of the wars being waged abroad as well as here at home. Other stories exclusive to this issue of INSUBORDINATION include reports on Rachel Corrie and the corporate media, racist pro-war demonstrators, the war on the people of Iraq, and anti-war civil disobedience. Special thanks to our readers and all contributors.
To view Hans Bennett’s photos featured in part one of the photoessay from the April 24, 2003 demonstration for Mumia, please link to:
To view part 2 photos as well as an original essay recounting the April 24 protest as well as an update on Mumia’s legal situation, please link to: