On Tuesday, September 28, at 7:30 pm, the prominent capital attorney Robert Bryan will be speaking on ?Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Journalist?s Struggle Against Political Persecution and the Death Penalty? in the Adamson Wing of Baker Hall. Bryan, the former chairman of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, has recently become the lead attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist and activist convicted for shooting a Philadelphia policeman in 1981.
?Mumia?s is undoubtedly the most famous death penalty case in the world at the present time,? says David Demarest, the professor emeritus of English who was responsible for bringing Bryan to campus. ?We expect Robert Bryan to give us a clear sense of how justice has failed in his case and in other cases like his.?
Mumia Abu-Jamal was an active member in the Black Panthers movement in Philadelphia in the late 1970s, and later became a popular journalist in local radio. However, in 1981 a dispute with a local officer resulted in the officer?s death. Abu-Jamal?s subsequent trial is considered by many to be one of the most famous political trials of the late 20th century. He is currently on death row in Waynesburg, Pa.
Since his indictment Abu-Jamal has published several books, including All Things Censored, Live from Death Row, and Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life of African and African-American People. Organizations have been created across the world to lobby on Abu-Jamal?s behalf, including mumia.org and freemumia.com.
?In addition to his general position opposing the death penalty, we should be able to get a clear update on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal,? says Demarest. ?Mumia?s case, after a long stay, is now moving again through federal appeals, and Bryan has said that ?his life is in grave danger.? "
Renee Wilson, a member of the Western Pennsylvania Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, also helped to bring Robert Bryan to Pittsburgh. ?Right now, if they wanted to, they could sign a death warrant,? she said.
Presenting with Bryan on Tuesday will be Linn Washington, a journalist for the Philadelphia Tribune who has been following Abu-Jamal?s case.
Demarest hopes that Bryan will be able to bring the case to the attention of a younger generation. ?Now there?s less knowledge around about his case --- especially among people under 30. The question is whether that interest will grow again.?
Wilson also wishes for students to become involved. ?I would want students to get out of this lecture how it really is a travesty of justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal to be locked up for 23 years.?