Stockton Socialists write letters for the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Written for The Argo by Zuleika Rodriguez Garcia

On Wednesday, April 22, the Stockton Socialists hosted a letter-writing session during their bi-weekly meeting slot, addressed to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas calling for the release of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. 

Mumia Abu-Jamal. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The letters were addressed to Judge Lucretia Clemons, who has the power to lead to Abu-Jamal’s release. Abu-Jamal is facing a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole, which comes after a false murder accusation in 1981. He has been in prison since then, having served the past 29 years on death row. There is evidence of prevalent racial bias in his trial, including its use of a mostly white jury. Despite there being evidence of his innocence, Abu-Jamal continues to serve his sentence. It is also important to acknowledge Abu-Jamal’s involvement with the Black Panther Party, which started over a decade before his sentencing and is believed to play a role in the case proceeding. 

At their meeting, the Stockton Socialists’ Vice President Emma Rodriguez explained Jamal’s case to attendees. They provided paper and pens for members, as well as a template with a thorough explanation of why it was important for him to be released. The template included details such as the lack of regard and treatment for Jamal’s health complications in prison, the unfairness of his trial, and the fact that he had no prior criminal record before this arrest, among others. Members were not forced to copy the template, and it served as a thorough resource for them to reference in their writing. Envelopes and stamps were also provided. 

In a statement following the meeting, Rodriguez wrote:

“In writing these letters, our goal is to not only grab the attention of Judge Clemons, but to inspire activism on campus. I feel that once people are aware of cases such as Mumia Abu-Jamal’s, they’re usually willing to take action. Because the fact of the matter is that there are Mumias all over, not only in the United States but around the world. It’s saddening to see how many of our greatest educators, journalists, activists, etc. have been locked up in the process of fighting for justice. I also feel that tonight has been one of Stockton Socialists’ first steps in building political education and inspiring activism on campus.”

Members of the group’s e-board encouraged attendees and the Stockton community to write as many letters as they wished explaining their concern, noting the power that comes in numbers. Any letters that were not written during the meeting were to be dropped off at their mailbox in the Campus Center. Letters were sent to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on Friday, April 21.