Public Speakout – Mumia is Innocent, Free all Political Prisoners! – 10 April 2010

Poster advertising the rally

Posters featuring “Lynne Stewart, radical lawyer, jailed in New York for fearlessly defending her client; Palm Island Indigenous leader, Lex Wotton, jailed in Queensland for leading a protest against a police killing; Leonard Peltier, Native American elder, framed by the FBI and held in numerous U.S. prisons for 33 years; Mumia Abu-Jamal, framed by racist police and currently on death row in Pennsylvania” formed a backdrop to a rally called by Anarchist Black Cross (ABC), Freedom Socialist Party (FSP), and Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG) on Saturday.

Protesters gathering before the rally

Protesters gathering before the rally

Greg of MACG gave a summary of Mumia’s trial and subsequent appeals (see e.g., the 2006 pamphlet from Partisan Defense Committee):

Greg addressing the rally

while Peter Murray of Freedom Socialist Party argued that while petitions and letters to politicians are all very well, only concerted actions such as that of the longshoremen on the West Coast of the US have the power to actually get him out of jail (see account in The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal):

Peter Murray speaking, Lex Wotton banner in background

They were followed by two speakers from ABC:Marisa Sposaro, who gave an account of that organisation’s work (see the ABC blog) and the 3CR Community Radio program Doin Time, and Peter, who touched on the case of long-term prisoner Jaan Laaman, with particular reference to his podcasts, as well as Mumia’s “Radio Essays”:

Marisa speaking

Peter from ABC speaking

The rally was endorsed by ISJA (Indigenous Social Justice Association — Melbourne), which has, of course, been prominent in the campaigns against Aboriginal deaths in custody and on behalf of imprisoned Palm Island elder Lex Wotton – an ISJA banner hung behind the speakers at the rally. ISJA was represented on this occasion by Cheryl Kaulfuss:

Cheryl speaking

Alison Thorne spoke on behalf of Radical Women, who also endorsed the rally; referring back to the case of the Rosenbergs, executed for espionage in 1953, she repeated the point made by others also, that it was not that the legal system failed in such cases, but rather that it was doing exactly what it was meant to do, suppress dissent and uphold the capitalist system (see

Alison Thorne speaking, Lex Wotton banner behind

She also read a stirring poem by feminist revolutionary Nellie Wong (see

Another group supporting the rally was The International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist):

Spartacist placards

Spokesperson Neil rejected the illusion of appeals to Royal Commissions and governments, instancing the failure of the commission into black deaths in custody; the only effective answer is mass protest through the mobilisation of the labour force ( a pamphlet handed out at the rally can be found at the website of the Partisan Defence League, and there is a detailed account of an earlier protest meeting in support of Mumia in Australasian Spartacist No. 201:

Neil from ICL