Free Mumia, Free ’em ALL! And An Open Letter to Maureen Faulkner from Julia Wright

Another roundtable discussion updating the case and condition of Mumia Abu-Jamal in advance of the call to PACK THE COURTROOM ON OCTOBER 26TH! More information and link in the show’s description on YouTube.

from Julia Wright

Dear Maureen Faulkner,

As Mumia Abu-Jamal’s October 19th court hearing approaches, you will be yet again letting the world know what a  stab of pain you feel at seeing the “murderer” of your husband still appealing for freedom.

And we who know Mumia is innocent, still have the grace to understand your pain just as we understand the pain of Mumia’s family. We recall, too, how Mumia’s sister Lydia expressed his family’s and our movement’s awareness of your loss and pain.

For that night of December 1981 you were deprived forever of a beloved husband – just as Mumia’s wife saw her husband go to death row for three decades and to death by incarceration for thirteen more years.

The United Nations having declared that solitary confinement as practiced on U.S. death row is torture and having been recently solicited to declare death by incareration as torture as well – we, who have investigated Mumia’s case, know to what extent his family is impacted daily by the stab of pain you will feel on October 19th.

You famously declared in front of a FOP gathering :

We know Mumia will be free. But we want to delay his release for as long as possible.

May I suggest that your words : “We know Mumia will be free” – indicate that you know Mumia is innocent as well. Those words indicate that you have reviewed the facts and evidence collected by Mumia’s defence and that you know those facts and that evidence are more than enough to set him free.

So the second part of your statement is what draws our attention : ” But we want to delay his release for as long as possible”.

Deconstructing the meaning of your words or the subtext, we begin to understand that you are aware you have the power to delay his release and you will use that power because you consider it to be absolute.

We also understand that your delaying tactics come from a position of race privilege that the family of Mumia is far from enjoying.

So may I suggest that there are two women in the United States who sit today in the docks of HIstory.

You, Maureen Faulkner, and Carolyn Bryant Donham,

the woman whose accusations against 14-year old Emmet Till led to his brutal abduction, torture and lynching in 1955 Mississippi.

Both of you are faced with choices which could change History.

Both of you could stand up and speak Truth to power.

Both of you could confess to your own reasonable doubts.

Ms Bryant Donham faltered twice as she walked the tightrope between truth and lie – both in 1955 and in 2017, she half admitted and retreated.

You, Maureen Faulkner, admitted that you knew Mumia would be free – indicating you knew more than you were saying. And yet you too remain silent on the wrong side of History.

How difficult it must be to be you.

How difficult it must be to be faced with a double bind such as yours : having lost your husband to murder and yet accepting police pressures to incriminate an innocent for that murder.

The choice remains yours – and that choice will go down in HIstory.

History is a strange place where we no longer control time or the only opinion that matters .

History is the most exacting judge of all.

You would say that you have no historical examples of white women in your  shoes – women who chose to speak up in time and say the Truth to save lives – Black lives.

You would be wrong.

Our civil rights History retains at least two luminous examples of white women who challenged the police narratives that endangered the lives of innocent Black men.

The first is Ruby Bates, the white prostitute whose crystal clear testimony in a racially charged trial did so much to get the Scottsboro Boys off the hook of execution for rape in the South of the 30’s.

Her example was so uplifting that it crossed the ocean and inspired a play by France’s renowned philoshopher, Jean-Paul Sartre : The Respectful Prostitute.

The second heroine is Leontine “Teenie” Rogers, the widow of Brent Miller, an Angola prison guard who , the late Albert Woodfox,  a Black Panther, was accused of killing “because he was white”.

Ms Rogers was 17 years old at the time of the loss of her beloved husband and like you, Maureen, devastated.

But, unlike you, her deep love for her deceased husband led her to doubt the lies : she did her own investigation, including interviews of former colleagues of her husband and came to believe that a terrible miscarriage of justice had taken place.

Ms Rogers wrote to the Governor of Louisiana in support of Albert Woodfox and his co-defendant, Herman Wallace, asking the state to admit its mistakes,reopen the case and find the real killers of her husband.

When Albert Woodfox was finally released, he had lunch with Ms Rogers.

As my own father, Richard Wright, wrote from Paris in 1955 in a column he shared with William Faulkner, commenting on the non-guilty verdict for the lynchers of Emmett Till :

The world will judge the judges.

And the world will judge all those who enabled them.

My belated and sincere condolences,

Julia Wright

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