Wednesday, April 25, 2012

  • Hundreds Protest at DOJ to Demand Federal Probe of Alleged Racism in Mumia Abu-Jamal Conviction


    Hundreds of supporters of former death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal marked his 58th birthday Tuesday with a protest outside the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., calling for a federal probe into his case. For decades, Abu-Jamal has argued racism by the trial judge and prosecutors led to his conviction for the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Last year, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower judge, who set aside his death sentence after finding jurors were given confusing instructions that encouraged them to choose the death penalty rather than a life sentence. In January this year, Abu-Jamal was transferred from solitary confinement to the general prison population. We get legal update from Abu-Jamal’s attorney, Judith Ritter. Later in the broadcast we speak directly with Abu-Jamal by telephone. [includes rush transcript]

  • 1T Day: As U.S. Student Debt Hits $1 Trillion, Occupy Protests Planned for Campuses Nationwide


    Today marks what activists are calling 1T Day, the day U.S. student debt reaches $1 trillion. A coalition of groups from Occupy Wall Street plan to gather on college campuses and communities around the country to protest record-high college costs and call for an extension of low-interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans. In a bid to court the youth vote, President Obama weighed in on student debt on Tuesday with a speech at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "The vast majority of the $1 trillion worth of student debt is actually held by Wall Street banks," says Pamela Brown, a Ph.D. student who helped launch the Occupy Student Debt Campaign "Pledge of Refusal." "Those banks actually securitize these loans, and they sell them off, and they make enormous profits from them," Brown says. We also speak with David Harvey, a professor and author whose most recent book is "Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution." "There’s been this immense attempt by corporations and the wealthy and so on to pass the costs of education on to the people who are being educated," says Harvey. "They don’t want to pay for training their own labor force. They want their labor force to train itself, and then they’ll use it." [includes rush transcript]

  • Exclusive: Mumia Abu-Jamal Speaks from Prison on Life After Death Row and His Quest for Freedom


    In a Democracy Now! exclusive, Mumia Abu-Jamal phones in from the SCI Mahanoy prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania, where he is being held in general population after nearly 30 years on death row. Although he now lives in a bigger cell than what he calls the "small dog cage" of the last three decades, Mumia says his life sentence is akin to "a slow death row. It’s bigger in terms of the time differential, but it’s slow death row, to be sure." After having his death sentence overturned in late 2011, Abu-Jamal says he is determined to win his release from prison over allegations of racial bias and judicial misconduct in his conviction. "We want freedom," he says of the movement calling for his release. Supporters have long argued racism by the trial judge and prosecutors led to Abu-Jamal’s conviction. He notes that during his trial a court reporter overheard the judge in his case, Judge Albert F. Sabo, say in his chambers, "I’m going to help them fry the nigger." "This was heard by a court reporter—a member of the court staff, a court employee, and a person that is perhaps the best listener you could ever have for any conversation, because that’s her job," Abu-Jamal says. "We didn’t know about it until years later, but when we put this into our papers, our filings, it has been essentially ignored by every court it’s come in front of. How is that possible? And so, I mean, that’s certainly one indication, as you can see, one example of an unfair system." [includes rush transcript]

  • Exclusive: Mumia Abu-Jamal and Danny Glover Speak to Each Other for First Time Ever on Democracy Now


    Actor and activist Danny Glover speaks to Mumia Abu-Jamal for the first time after championing the jailed former Black Panther’s cause for over two decades. "I just want to tell you that — and I’m really emotional because I didn’t expect to hear your voice this morning — that we continue to struggle and will continue to struggle to fight for your release. ... We love you, brother," Glover tells Abu-Jamal. "I am as pleased as punch and thrilled to hear you there," Abu-Jamal responds. On Occupy Wall Street, Abu-Jamal calls the protests "one of the greatest advances in the democracy movement in our modern period," but one that is only in its nascent stages. "They have something more important to do, and that’s to connect with other people’s movements around the country and build a kind of resistance that can transform this country." [includes rush transcript]

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