The following letter from national organizers in the campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal went out in October:
Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Ridge has issued a warrant for the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His order set a date of December 2 for Mumia's execution by lethal injection. Mumia will be immediately placed under 24-hour surveillance in a special cell under Phase Two conditions, or "Suicide Watch."
Governor Ridge and the death-seeking forces that stand behind him have issued an unprecedented challenge to our movement and to all those who cherish democratic and human rights. The Governor's heinous deed will demand of us a united response that must be heard in every quarter of our society. Mumia's fight for life will be placed at center stage of U.S. politics. With unshakable confidence, we will now take the next critical steps toward the building of a nationally co-ordinated, broadly-based, mass movement to weigh in on Mumia's behalf.
We are pledged to make the contemplated murder of Mumia Abu-Jamal a political price that is unquestionably too high to pay on the part of the power-brokers who currently oversee the unfolding battle. They will learn that Mumia's case represents an irresistible challenge to the credibility of their "criminal justice system." The death warrant is doubly outrageous because Gov. Ridge knows full well that within days Mumia's legal team, headed by Leonard Weinglass, will be filing for a writ of habeas corpus in the Federal District Court. This will initiate the federal appeals process and, at the same time, secure a stay of the Governor's warrant for Mumia's execution [that stay of execution was granted, though several weeks after the writ was requested]. The defense team will request an evidentiary hearing in order to present to the Federal District Court vital material that was banned from the State court records by the actions of Judge Albert Sabo. Mumia's case has now entered a qualitatively new phase. While it is impossible to predict a time line, all agree that the legal proceedings have entered the "fast track." At the extreme, the Federal District Court may invoke the "presumption of correctness" standard of the 1996 Effective Death Penalty Act and refuse both an evidentiary hearing and a Federal District Court review. Such an action would restart the countdown on Mumia's life.
There are a number of legal options available in this eventuality, including an additional appeal to the Federal District Court for a three-judge hearing, and, if, necessary, subsequent appeals to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and finally to the U.S. Supreme Court. The time period for these appeals could be collapsed into a matter of months. A longer scenario, however, is certainly not excluded. The immediate mobilization of Mumia's supporters in the days [and months] ahead is our top priority. Based on the major achievements of Mumia's freedom struggle over the past years, we will then proceed with a comprehensive and united plan of action designed to bring to bear the full power and influence of all those who seekjustice for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Stay in Touch! Contact the Chicago Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, 773.381.6507.
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