IWC Weekly Newsletter Interview with Clarence Thomas
[Note: The following interview with Clarence Thomas was conducted for the IWC Weekly Newsletter by Alan Benjamin, member of the editorial board of The Organizer Weekly Newsletter. Brother Thomas is a past Secretary-Treasurer of ILWU Local 10 and remains a rank-and-file leader of the San Francisco Bay Area labor movement as a retiree in his union.]
Question: Brother Clarence, you’re a convener of the February 1st International Forum and its Call to Action to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and All Anti-Racist and Anti-Imperialist freedom fighters. You issued your own personal Call to Action for this forum in which you underscore the need to put an end to the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, Apartheid and racial violence perpetrated against African Americans, in particular.
Why is this International Forum so important today? And what are the new developments with the Mumia case that make it absolutely imperative that Mumia should be freed immediately?
Clarence Thomas: Mumia is an innocent man. He was framed because as a revolutionary journalist he documented the repression facing African Americans in Philadelphia and other crimes committed by the ruling class in Pennsylvania. He was listened to widely. He was, and remains, the voice of the voiceless, a man of great integrity and courage. He was targeted at a very young age because he was a member of the Black Panther Party and because of his great intellect. That’s why the powers-that-be, beginning with the Democratic Party and the Fraternal Order of the Police, want him locked up for good.
Mumia’s situation is not unique. Many other political prisoners were framed and have been locked up for life.
A fact that often gets overlooked is that Mumia has been a member of the National Writers Union for some time. The NWU is affiliated to the UAW. He has said many times how proud he is to be a card-carrying member of a union. He has been steadfast in his support of labor. The international labor movement needs to know this.
During the period of Apartheid in South Africa, the liberal establishment, but also the Black clergy and Black labor leadership, spoke out loudly against the crimes of Apartheid. But the fight against Apartheid here in the United States has not been embraced like it was in South Africa. Nowhere near.
We cannot ignore this fact: the labor movement and the society at large have been impacted by white supremacy. Jim Crow; the mass incarceration of Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans; and the Black Liberation Movement don’t receive the respect they deserve.
That is why the fight to free Mumia is so important. He should be freed now, today! All the evidence that was withheld – and that has now surfaced in the six boxes – exposes the frame-up. We must make Mumia’s freedom an example to be followed. Mumia’s case represents an opportunity for all political prisoners who were framed. We must release them all from prison.
This is a moment, an opportunity, for the labor movement nationally and internationally to come forward, front and center, and really do something because if we don’t, we will all be affected by this travesty. Our struggles for voting rights, labor rights, women’s rights, and more, are all interconnected. We are all fighting the neo-liberal policies in one form or another. We have to connect the dots.
Question: In your statement in support of the February 1 International Forum you point to the day-long work stoppages organized over the years by ILWU Local 10 as examples of the kinds of actions that could be organized internationally. Tell us about this.
Clarence Thomas: At key moments of struggle, both at home and abroad, members of the ILWU – and of ILWU Local 10 in particular, have exercised their democratic rights as workers, and they have withheld their labor to demand justice and redress of grievances.
During the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa, we refused to unload South African cargo. Our action was heard around the world. In 1999, 29 ports on the West Coast were shut down to demand justice for Mumia. In 2008, 29 ports were shut down to protest police violence against Black people. In 2020, ports again were shut down on Juneteenth. The list is long.
The labor movement could be using its leverage in the global economy and carrying out actions such as we have done. The situation is urgent. Our voting rights as African Americans are under frontal attack. The Democratic Party cannot even protect the African American people’s right to vote. More than ever, we need to mobilize in our own name.
An Injury to One Is an Injury to All, Free Mumia Abu Jamal! Free them All!
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Statement from IWC Co-Coordinators (from India and France)
January 21, 2022
Attention: Organizing Committee of the International Forum on Feb. 1 to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all Freedom Fighters
As co-coordinators of the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International (IWC), with trade union and working-class supporters in 61 countries, we wish to inform you of our endorsement and support to your February 1st International Forum to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all Freedom Fighters. We will publicize your forum widely the world over.
Soon after receiving the request to endorse and promote your forum, we learned that Mumia’s defense attorneys had discovered no less than six boxes of never-before-released evidence in a storage room at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia. The new evidence in these boxes is overwhelming and confirms what Mumia’s lawyers and supporters have been saying for four decades. Mumia is innocent; he was the victim of a rigged trial. He was framed because of his political activism from an early age on behalf of Blacks and all working people.
Mumia was framed and convicted 40 years ago, during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history, when ex-cop Frank Rizzo became mayor. At that time, the city’s police department, working closely with the district attorney’s office, routinely engaged in violence and murder against Black and Latino inmates, corruption, bribery, and falsification of evidence to secure convictions.
Mumia’s lawyers immediately demanded a new trial.
The millions of workers and young people who marched throughout the United States to the cry of “Black Lives Matter” were not mistaken: the frame-up of Mumia and all other political prisoners is institutional racism that has been deeply rooted in the United States ever since slavery and Jim Crow segregation. It is this institutional racism that is responsible for the incarceration of Mumia Abu-Jamal and all anti-racist and anti-imperialist freedom fighters.
Mumia and all political prisoners in the United States must be freed immediately!
We wish full success to your International Forum.
Nambiath Vasudevan and Daniel Gluckstein,
International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation (IWC)
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Statement from the All Pakistan Trade Union Federation
Attention: To the Comrades of the
Labor Action Committee to free Mumia Abu-Jamal
And all Anti Racist and Freedom Fighters!
SOLIDARITY WITH MUMIA ABU-JAMAL AND ALL FREEDOM FIGHTERS
We, working class and human right activists, are very much concerned that Mumia Abu-Jamal and other freedom fighters have been imprisoned for decades. They are fighters against US racism, capitalism and imperialism.
For decades, they have been passing very bad days in imprisonment and suffering with different diseases and infections. But US government is not paying attention to release Mumia and other freedom fighters. The health conditions are very critical. This act of the US government is against international charter of human rights.
We, the working class and activists, are very much concerned about their health condition. We know that many comrades are seriously ill, and the repressive government is not ready to release them.
We salute United Front Committee for International Workers Action, and your constant struggle to release all activists.
Comrades, we all whole heartedly support International forum call to action to release them. Just inform us if you choose a day and date for international action to raise our voices against these inhumane actions of the US government.
In struggle to release Mumia and all!
Long live Mumia Abu-Jamal and All Freedom Fighters!
All Pakistan Trade Union Federation
All Pakistan Workers Confederation
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British Labour Activists Support Feb. 1 International Forum and Call to Free Mumia and All Political Prisoners
For decades, innocent and framed political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and other Black Panthers and anti-imperialist prisoners have been imprisoned, often in solitary confinement, for challenging American racism, capitalism and imperialism. Mumia is the most internationally well-known of these aging political prisoners, who are victims of repressive government programs such as the FBI’s COINTELPRO. Many of them are critically ill. All of these political prisoners need to be released immediately.
To win the freedom of these political prisoners, international working-class action is necessary. In 1999, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) led an exemplary action shutting down all West Coast ports and led a massive march of 25,000 in San Francisco chanting: “An Injury to One is an Injury to All – Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!”
In March 2021, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) – the largest union in South Africa, with 338,000 members called for a renewed global campaign to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. In June, the ILWU Convention voted to support NUMSA’s campaign. Inspired by NUMSA’s initiative, an International Forum is organized on February 1, 2022 to build for an International Day of Workers Action to free all these political prisoners Initiated by the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Black Panther Party Commemoration Committee (New York City, New England and South).
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Support for Feb. 1 International Forum and Call to Action
Having been informed that an online meeting for international workers’ action will be held on 1 February, we support this initiative and call for a day of international workers’ solidarity with Mumia Abu Jamal.
We, the undersigned British labour activists, including some who have fought for decades for Mumia’s release, have learned that new evidence recently discovered in 6 boxes confirms what we have been saying all along: Mumia Abu Jamal was the victim of a frame-up, a rigged and racist trial. We believe that this overwhelming evidence should lead the US authorities to release Mumia Abu Jamal immediately.
Tariq Ali, writer; Ian Hodson, National President, Bakers Union – BFAWU; Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary, rail workers union – RMT; Jane Doolan, UNISON NEC member; Mike Calvert, Deputy Branch Secretary, Islington UNISON; Stefan Cholewka, Secretary, Greater Manchester Association of Trade Union Councils (GMATUC); Margaret K. Taylor, Treasurer, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Trades Council; Explo Nani-Kofi Convenor, Moving Africa Panafricanist Organization Ghana / Member South Dayi District Assembly, Editor Another Africa Is Possible Newsletter & Kilombo Journal; John Sweeney, Labour and trade union activist; Charles Charalambous, former President, Torbay & South Devon Trades Union Council, Editor Labour Internationalist; Paul Filby, Liverpool, Blacklist Support Group; Nick Phillips, Unite member, London; Henry Mott, Unite member; Sussan Rassoulie, Islington Unison Branch Committee member; Antony Rimmer, Liverpool 47 Surcharged Councillor, Merseyside Pensioners Association, trade unionist (CWU and Unite); Richard Gill, Islington UNISON; Jo Rust, Secretary, King’s Lynn & District Trades Council and Independent Borough Councillor in King’s Lynn; Mike Arnott, Secretary, Dundee Trades Council; Doreen McNally, Liverpool Unite Community branch and former spokesperson, Women of the Waterfront; Audrey White, Merseyside Pensioners Association
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Message from Germany
To: International Workers Action: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and All Anti-Racist and Anti-Imperialist Freedom Fighters!
For years now, young people and labor fighters in Germany have been showing solidarity for the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was tried in a blatantly rigged trial 40 years ago, in a country in which institutional racism is deeply rooted.
As an innocent Afro-American, he was falsely accused and convicted. Now, his defense attorneys are finding 6 boxes of never-before released evidence in a prosecution storage facility. This is evidence that confirm, what supporters and lawyers of Mumia Abu-Jamal have been declaring for 40 years: Mumia is innocent!
This new evidence demonstrates that Mumia’s immediate release and the opening of a trial to finally establish his innocence are essential!
We will intervene to make the struggle for this in Germany a cause of the youth and the labor movement.
Member of the AfA Federal Executive Committee, railroad unionist (EVG) and member of the Continuation Committee of the International Workers’ Committee against War and Exploitation – for a Workers’ International
Meiningen, Germany – 23.1.2022
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Message from Azania / South Africa
Black Republic Urges Support for Feb. 1 International Forum
(reprinted from Issue No. 28 ‚ January 2022, of Black Republic)
New Evidence Discovered in Six “Forgotten” Boxes in the Prosecutor’s Office for 40 years, Exposes Mumia’s Innocence
The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection — a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky.
The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding Black people from the jury and letters and memoranda, which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in the early 1980s during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history – the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latino detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions.
The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in America’s courts and prisons.
- Reported by Johanna Fernández, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home (USA)
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The online Forum will take place February 1, 2022, starting at 1 p.m. Pacific Time.
Mumia and other political prisoners, many languishing for decades, are imprisoned for their opposition to capitalist, racist oppression, exploitation and repression. Many of these men and women are critically ill. They all need to be released immediately. To free Mumia and these other political prisoners, international workers’ action is necessary.
Speakers for this International Forum include:
● Mumia Abu-Jamal, via recorded statement
● Angela Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz
● Irvin Jim, General Secretary, NUMSA (the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa)
● Muhammad Ahmad (Max Stanford, Jr.) founder, Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM)
● Pam Africa, International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
● Rachel Wolkenstein, former lawyer for Mumia Abu-Jamal
● Jack Heyman, Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia-Abu-Jamal (LAC), ILWU Local 10 (Ret.)