Waiting to Die

December 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m almost 30; I like to stress the almost.  For 29 years and some months I’ve gone about pursuing, in various ways and to various degrees, those things that give life, the things that give meaning to my life and enable me to share that life ‘the other.’ I’ve done so with privilege and in freedom.  I am almost 30.

Don’t tell me about the valley of the shadow of death.  I live there…I and some seventy-eight other men spend about twenty-two hours a day in six by ten-foot cells.  The additional two hours may be spent outdoors, in a chain-link-fenced box, ringed by concertina razor wire, under the gaze of gun turrets.

 –Mumia Abu-Jamal “Live from Death Row”

 

Today marks 30 years of the unjust incarceration of Mumia Abu-Jamal.  30 years.  Mumia has been on death row longer than I have been alive.  Though he is now no longer on death row—it was announced Wednesday that, because of misleading instructions given to the jury during the sentencing phase, Mumia will be released from death row and instead spend life in prison—Mumia’s life is still not his own.  His death will still be in a state-constructed box.  He is still waiting to die.  What’s worse, Mumia’s case is not exceptional.  Mumia Abu-Jamal is the norm.  Free Mumia Now!

“Now that it is clear that Mumia should never have been on death row in the first place, justice will not be served by relegating him to prison for the rest of his life—yet another form of death sentence. Based on even a minimal following of international human rights standards, Mumia must now be released. I therefore join the call, and ask others to follow, asking District Attorney Seth Williams to rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights, and justice: drop this case now, and allow Mumia Abu-Jamal to be immediately released, with full time served.” –Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Tonight I will be joining several hundred others, from various locations, backgrounds, and cultures, in a rally at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to call for Mumia’s release from prison.  Free Mumia Now!

It should be noted, for some readers, that tonight’s event is put on, in part, by Educators for Mumia (EMAJ) whose purpose “is to mobilize educators into the broad public movement seeking freedom and justice for Mumia…”  EMAJ is made up of teachers and educators (600+) who differ in opinion about Mumia: some think he is innocent, some are unsure, and some think Mumia is guilty.  What they agree on, however, is that Mumia’s rights as a citizen have been severely violated and, as a result, is unjustly incarcerated.  Free Mumia Now!

I can’t think of any better way to embody the Advent spirit than to participate in tonight’s rally.  We await the Kingdom of Heaven, the final jubilee when captives will be set free.  But, waiting is not passive; it is active.

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