Wednesday, April 23, 2008

PHOTO/VIDEO essay: April 19 Phila. Demo for Mumia!

PHOTO/VIDEO essay: April 19 Phila. Demo for Mumia!

Outraged by the March 27 denial of a new guilt phase trial for Mumia, over 1,000 gathered at the Federal Courthouse, circled the Liberty Bell, and marched to City Hall, where speakers included Cynthia McKinney, Julia Wright, and Harold Wilson.

By Hans Bennett

This is a photo-essay from the April 19 demonstration in Philadelphia, supporting death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, whom many consider to be a political prisoner. The demonstration of over 1,000 people was a response to the recent Third Circuit Court ruling denying a new guilt-phase trial.

The demonstration started at the Federal Courthouse, which is just across the street from the Liberty Bell, in downtown Philadelphia.

After gathering at the courthouse for several hours, protesters marched around the Liberty Bell, where they ran into an anti-Mumia counter demonstration displaying signs with such assertions as "Fry Mumia and His Supporters."

As detailed in a flyer released before the April 19 Mumia demonstration in Philadelphia, and an article at the anti-racist One People's Project website, there was a counter-protest across the street from the Liberty Bell during the April 19 Mumia demonstration, that was organized by the racist “Keystone State Skinheads” group (KSS) and other fascists.

The KSS are staunch advocates of Mumia's execution. Photos on the KSS website feature KSS member Keith Carney at the Maureen Faulkner book signing last December at Geno’s Steaks, an establishment now famous for their “This is America, Speak English” sign on the front window. Carney was recently released from prison after his conviction for assaulting a black man. He now attempts to present a public image that is less overtly racist by replacing racial slurs with phrases like “welfare mother” and “drug-dealer,” as illustrated by the shirt he is wearing in the photo at Geno’s, which reads “Kill Your Local Drug Dealer.”

After confronting the racist counter-protest, the march then proceeded to Philadelphia City Hall. After circling City Hall several times and occupying the street in front of the building at 15th and Market, protesters gathered at City Hall's Northwest corner and heard many speakers including Cynthia McKinney, Julia Wright, Herman Ferguson, Harold Wilson, and Mumia's daughter, Goldi.

In all, this major event lasted from 10am to 3:30pm and drew well over one thousand protesters, according to the Philadelphia Metro Newspaper. The event marked the release of the new Journalists for Mumia newspaper, at which over 2,000 copies were given out to protesters and other interested pedestrians throughout the day.

Please stay tuned for my new video documenting the day. Along with footage of the many speakers, the video will feature exclusive interviews that I got with Veronica Jones, Goldi (Mumia's daughter), and exonerated former death-row prisoner Shujaa Graham.

Check out our new paper at:

All work by photojournalist Hans Bennett

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