Samidoun joins Philadelphia march to free Mumia Abu-Jamal after 40 years behind bars

Samidoun NY/NJ members marched in Philadelphia on Saturday, 11 September to call for freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the long-held political prisoner, award-winning journalist and former Black Panther. The demonstration was organized by the Mobilization 4 Mumia along with other community activists, bringing together campaigns and organizations like International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; International Action Center; Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC); Campaign to Bring Mumia Home; Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal; and Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The march began at Philadelphia City Hall and marched through the streets of the city, calling for justice for Mumia after 40 years of imprisonment. As the Mobilization 4 Mumia wrote, “Mumia Abu-Jamal has been unjustly imprisoned since Dec. 9, 1981. He was convicted of the murder of a cop because of judicial, police and prosecutorial misconduct. Many of the illegal practices that resulted in his conviction were the same practices that has led to the exonerations since 2017 of 23 innocent men by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.”

Hundreds of people joined the well-organized march as it proceeded through Center City, with speakers representing many organizations and communities calling for freedom for Mumia and fellow political prisoners in U.S. and international jails.

Laila Boutros, coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network NY/NJ, delivered a solidarity speech at the rally outside City Hall, highlighting Mumia Abu-Jamal’s own outspoken commitment to Palestine, as well as the support expressed by Palestinian prisoners for his case:

“In 2019, Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said:

“Whether the name is Mumia Abu-Jamal, Walid Daqqa or Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, political prisoners behind bars can and must be a priority for our movements. These names illustrate the continuity of struggle against our collective enemy—their legacies of organizing that reach back to the anti-colonial, liberation movements of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, to today. Political prisoners are not simply individuals; they are leaders of struggle and organizing.”

Today, we join you in not only protesting Mumia’s continued imprisonment and demanding his release, but also in celebrating his 40 years of resistance behind bars as a leader in the struggle for Black liberation and human freedom.

From occupied Palestine to Saint Petersburg, we need our political prisoners more than they need us. Their thoughts, their words, and particularly their examples, as uncompromised fighters for collective liberation, illuminate all our paths to freedom.

Sa’adat also said:

“Israel or France or the US would free us, or Georges Abdallah, or Mumia Abu-Jamal, if we were willing to become tools of the system or betray our people. But instead, the prisons have generated striking examples of a culture of resistance, from art to literature to political ideas.”

We celebrate Mumia’s steadfastness – in Arabic, his sumoud – as a dedicated fighter not only for Black liberation, but for the liberation of Palestine, with which he has never missed an opportunity to stand in solidarity.

From his writing and commentary in support of Palestine, to the speeches he’s sent to our demonstrations, Mumia has been a constant presence in our movement for decades.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that if every supporter of Palestine since 1981 had fought for it with the same determination as Mumia, Palestine would be free today.

We salute Mumia as one of the samidoun – the steadfast – who stands alongside the heroes of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement among the leadership of our struggle for liberation.

And as Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, we pledge to carry his name, his thought, and his example forward as we fight to free Palestine.”

The participants in the march expressed their strong support for the Palestinian liberation struggle, cheering for Boutros’ speech, with others asking for more information about how they can get involved.

Joe Catron, U.S. coordinator of Samidoun, was later interviewed by Unicorn Riot, the protest livestreaming video collective, where he emphasized the connection of struggles fighting racism and imprisoment from the U.S. to Palestine and encouraged people interested in the movement to get active with an organization:

Samidoun members participated in several other global events on the 40th anniversary of Mumia’s imprisonment. In London, Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun, spoke virtually at a prisoner solidarity event organized by thhe Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Campaign in the British capital. Participants learned about Mumia’s case as well as that of Ali Osman Kose and other political prisoners in Turkey, Irish political prisoners and Palestinian political prisoners.

On Monday, 13 September, Micheáilín Buitléir, communist and member of Red Ant Collective and Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, will participate in a virtual holiday card-writing session for political prisoners, providing an update on Irish and Palestinian political prisoners. The event will feature Jaan Laaman, former US-held political prisoner released in 2021 after 37 years; Donna Willmott, former political prisoner and staff member of the Catalyst Project; and Orion Meadows, slam spoken word performance artist, activist and author, and it will take place at 4 pm Pacific/7 pm Eastern, over Zoom.