Colin Kaepernick Shows His Support For Movement To Free Imprisoned Former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal
Abu-Jamal was originally sentenced to death, but was resentenced to life in 2012 for a crime he says he didn't commit.
November 18, 2020 at 11:09 pm
NFL veteran Colin Kaepernick is continuing his social justice initiative with his support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Black man who has maintained his innocence while serving almost 40 years in prison for killing a Philadelphia police officer.
According to WHYY, advocates have been rallying for years, aiming to free the man who went to prison in 1982 after being convicted of killing officer Daniel Faulkner.
The advocacy efforts continued on Monday when a group of activists, including Black Lives Matter Philadelphia, Mobilization 4 Mumia and the Black Philly Radical Collective, livestreamed a press conference on behalf of Abu-Jamal. The presentation included a prerecorded video statement from Kaepernick.
“We’re in the midst of a movement that says Black Lives Matter. If that is the case, then Mumia’s life and freedom must matter,” the 33-year-old said.
According to CBS News, Abu-Jamal was originally sentenced to death, but he was resentenced to life in 2012.
"Since 1981, Mumia has maintained his innocence," Kaepernick said. "His story has not changed. Mumia was shot, brutalized, arrested and chained to a hospital bed. The first police officer assigned to him wrote in a report that 'The Negro male made no comment,' as cited in Philly Mag. Yet 64 days into the investigation, another officer testified that Mumia has confessed to the killing."
The quarterback noted the work that Abu-Jamal has been doing while in prison.
“Even while living in the hells of the prison system, Mumia still fights for our human rights. We must continue to fight for him and his human rights,” the activist said.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback described the former Black Panther Party member as “a political prisoner who has since the age of 14 dedicated his life to fighting against racism [who] continues to be caged and lives his life on a slow death row.”
“Mumia has been in prison longer than I've been alive,” Kaepernick said. “When I first spoke with Mumia on the phone, I did very little talking. I just listened. Hearing him speak was a reminder of why we must continue to fight.”
The prison system has been a key focus for Kaepernick, who launched himself into the social justice realm in 2016 after refusing to stand for the national anthem during a football game, protesting police brutality. As part of his progressive effort, Kaepernick recently launched a platform titled Abolition for the People that features essays from various writers advocating for institutional changes to systemic racism.
“Not only do police and prisons fail to make us safer, but reform has only strengthened their most toxic ingrained practices,” the publication stated. “The only answer is abolition, a full dismantling of the carceral state and the institutions that support it.”
Abu-Jamal, who is one of the featured writers in Kaepernick's publication, expressed his thoughts in an essay titled "Casting Off the Shadows of Slavery."
"When one thinks of the term abolition, there is a tendency to see it as a threat emerging from the left. Another perspective understands, however, that abolition is a natural response to a situation that has become untenable," Abu-Jamal wrote. "What condition lay before the nation in its founding days? Slavery: human bondage, which sat like an incubus upon the new nation’s foundation, and transformed its stated aims and ideals into lies. After some reflection, perhaps, we will see that the notion of abolition has deep historical roots."
Activist Angela Davis, who was also previously incarcerated, joined the press conference on Monday to advocate for Abu-Jamal.
“He has played a pivotal role in the processes of popular education — the effort to acknowledge systemic racism, and to take seriously calls for the abolition of the death penalty, of prisons, and of police,” Davis said. “We must accelerate our efforts on this new terrain.”
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Faulkner's widow made a request last year, asking the state Supreme Court to disqualify Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner's office from Abu-Jamal's appeal, citing a conflict of interest. The appeal is still pending.
An annual demonstration has been held on the Fourth of July in Philadelphia since 1984, with protesters demanding justice for the convicted man, Philly Voice reported.
As Blavity previously reported, the abolition movement has been growing in recent years, with advocates coming together in places like Los Angeles and New York. According to a 2018 poll from the Vera Institute of Justice, 67% of Americans said they don't favor building more jails and prisons. In another poll conducted by the Justice Action Network in 2018, 85% of the respondents said rehabilitation is the solution, not incarceration.