@9point non = MELBOURNE — Fifty people attended a rally on May 17 at the Victorian Trades Hall to demand freedom for US political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia, a former Black Panther and still a revolutionary, was jailed in 1981 in Philadelphia for allegedly killing a police officer. He remains in jail despite inconsistencies in the police evidence and another man confessing to the murder.
In a radio interview broadcast to the rally, Mumia was sceptical about obtaining justice: "There is a history of courts being on the side of oppression."
Neil Florimel of the Partisan Defence committee, which organised the rally, said the campaign to free Mumia had been endorsed by 500 organisations and prominent individuals around the world, including trade unions in many countries and Che Guevara's daughter. Dave Cushion from the Victorian branch of the Maritime Union of Australia spoke about Mumia's support for union struggles, and the support for the campaign for his release given by unions in the US and elsewhere.
Other speakers included representatives from the Leonard Peltier Support Group (Leonard Peltier is an American-Indian movement activist who has spent 30 years in jail on false charges of murder), Union Solidarity, Australia Asia Worker Links and the Freedom Socialist Party.