America's judicial murder machine
As the campaign between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential ticket comes to a head, it would be well to note that they both support the death penalty just when the gruesome American prison system is gearing up for a slaughter of the mentally ill, people of colour and Hispanics from a poor or working class background, not to mention the downright innocent.
Yesterday the US Supreme Court rejected appeals by 11 death row inmates in seven states. This followed on its macabre ruling last week upholding the lethal injection method of execution. The 7-2 ruling ended a seven-month moratorium on state-sanctioned murder, while the Supreme Court considered a lethal injection protocol in the state of Kentucky. The outcome of Baze v Rees, a grotesque debate about the suffering of prisoners during execution, now means that around 3,000 prisoners on death row in US jails may have a very short time to live.
Marlene Martin, director of the US organisation, Campaign to End the Death Penalty , said in response to the ruling: "I think of people like Troy Davis, Rodney Reed and Timothy McKinney - all on death row, all African American, all poor and almost all surely innocent. What does this decision mean for them and the countless others like them?"
The ruling has serious implications for the Afro-American journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose jailing in 1982 for the alleged killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner, was the result of a state-inspired frame-up. Abu-Jamal first attracted the attentions of the authorities at the age of 15, when he helped form the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party , and become its Lieutenant of Information. His epic 26-year struggle to prove his innocence against the combined forces of the FBI and the racism of the US judicial system, has made him a potent international symbol for anti-state strugglers around the world. The list of signatories demanding his release has won the support of a wide range of organisations and individuals like Hollywood actor, Danny Glover.
A World to Win supports completely the campaign to release Mumia and other US political prisoners, like Native American Indian activist, Leonard Peltier who has now served 31 years, in the wake of the attack by armed FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. We joined others in speaking at the London rally outside the US Embassy over the weekend, where demonstrators demanded an end to the US death penalty and the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Speakers included Jessica Hartley from the Bogle L’Ouverture Press, Stephen Hedley of the Engineering Branch of the London Regional Council of National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, Dean O’Hanlon of the Finsbury Park Branch RMT, and representatives from the Marcus Garvey Organising Committee, the Pan-Afrikan Community Forum and the International Bolshevik Tendency.
A World to Win pointed to the jailing of Abu Izzadeen and others by the British courts last week for the contents of a speech made in public outside a mosque. He is locked up while war criminals like Blair, Bush and Rumsfeld remain free and while the slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan continues. The struggles against injustice and judicial murder in both America and Britain show yet again that the existing state is brutal, oppressive and undemocratic and can never serve the interests of the majority.
A World to Win secretary
22 April 2008