Occupy The Justice Department Implicates Obama Administration Integrity
Created 04/23/2012 - 13:55
by Linn Washington Jr.
One of the issues driving protesters participating in the April 24, 2012 Occupy The Justice Department demonstration is an issue that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder knows well – prosecutorial misconduct.
Holder knows this misconduct issue well because he has criticized it during congressional testimony, as recently as March 2012 when commenting on a special prosecutor’s report castigating the wrongdoing of federal prosecutors.
That wrongdoing, Holder acknowledged, unlawfully tainted the corruption investigation and 2008 trial of the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens –convicted of corruption in his home state of Alaska.
Protesters, including fiery Philadelphia activist Pam Africa, want Holder to take action against the prosecutorial misconduct evident in scores of unjust convictions improperly imprisoning political prisoners across America, most of them jailed for two or more decades.
Those political prisoners – ignored domestically while exalted abroad –include Native American activist Leonard Peltier, Puerto Rican Nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Cuban 5, author/activist Mumia Abu-Jamal and other former Black Panther Party members like the Omaha Two (Ed Poindexter and Mondo W. Langa).
Demands of the Occupy The Justice Department protesters include the immediate release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, freeing all political prisoners, ending the racist death penalty and ending solitary confinement and torture.
Individuals and incidents underlying those demands are within the purview of USAG Holder to investigate and/or to act immediately to resolve.
April 24th is the birthday of Mumia Abu-Jamal, perhaps the most recognized U.S. political prisoner worldwide.
Abu-Jamal, for example, was the subject of two demonstrations held recently outside the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany, one of which included extending a 2,200-foot banner around that embassy building.
Pam Africa is the head of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal – the Philadelphia-based organization at the center of the international movement seeking Abu-Jamal’s release.
Africa is the dynamo who most Philadelphia police, prosecutors, politicians and many pastors love to hate because of her strident advocacy on behalf of imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and MOVE members sentenced for a fatal 1978 shootout.
The advocacy of Pam Africa on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal – helping construct support networks while confronting incessant opposition –contributed to the climate where U.S. federal courts late last year finally killed the death sentence Abu-Jamal received following his controversial 1982 conviction for killing a policeman.
Abu-Jamal is now fighting against a life-without-parole sentence.
That elimination of Abu-Jamal’s government-endorsed death chagrined powerful figures across Pennsylvania and around America who had shamefully bent-&-broken laws (deliberately sabotaging court proceedings) in their various efforts to execute Abu-Jamal, known as the Voice-of-the-Voiceless.
While winning freedom for Abu-Jamal and the MOVE 9 is a definitive focus of Pam Africa’s advocacy she is frequently found on ‘front-lines’nationwide fighting for ending mistreatment of people regardless of their color and creed.
“Pam Africa is in each and every struggle for social justice in Philadelphia, the U.S. and abroad. It’s not just Mumia,” said Latino activist/writer Berta Joubert-Ceci while chairing a recent program featuring former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in West Philadelphia.
Dr. Claude Guillaumaud, a professor in France whose known Africa for 20-years, said she's “had time to appreciate her warm personality and total commitment to the cause of Mumia and the fight against racial discrimination and the barbarian death penalty.”
Temple University African-American history professor Dr. Tony Monteiro first met Pam Africa during an ugly June 1979 incident in South Philadelphia where local police beat Africa. Philadelphia police pummeled Africa with nightsticks with one stick-strike knocking out some of her teeth.
The scholar in Dr. Monteiro sees Pam Africa as a unique figure whose contributions locally, nationally and internationally merit both examination and recognition.
“She’s made history but she didn’t set out to make history. She started initially just to do the right thing,” Monteiro said during a recent interview.
“I see her as one of the most significant rights leaders in the past forty-years. Where other black leaders have sought acceptance from ‘the system’ she never left the battlefield. She never retreated. She was never broken.”
Monteiro is a force behind two recent events honoring Pam Africa’s accomplishments. He has initiated a process for what he envisions as a study of Africa’s life works.
Prosecutorial misconduct is a core element in the Abu-Jamal case albeit a festering injustice ignored by state and federal courts that have refused to grant legal relief to Abu-Jamal despite granting new trials to others citing evidence of prosecutorial misconduct far less grievous than that evident in the Abu-Jamal case.
One example of prosecutorial misconduct in the Abu-Jamal case occurred during his 1982 murder trial when the prosecutor perverted a comment Abu-Jamal made over a decade earlier when responding to a reporter’s question about the December 1969 murder of Chicago Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton.
The Chicago police assassination of Hampton, later linked to the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO outraged many at the time including leaders as diverse as the then head of the NAACP, Roy Wilkins and former U.S. United Nations Ambassador Arthur Goldberg.
Hampton’s assassination, later documented by congressional and other investigations, was a part of a police-FBI campaign to slay BPP members –28 BPP deaths between January 1968 and December 1969.
A teenaged BBP member Abu-Jamal told that reporter that Hampton’s murder proved that “power” comes from the barrel of a gun.
But the 1982 trial prosecutor shifted the context of Abu-Jamal’s comment from applying it to police killing Black Panthers to proclaiming Abu-Jamal’s intent to kill police – one of many factual mischaracterizations that millions worldwide constantly cite when charging Abu-Jamal received an unfair trial.
That improper perversion of Abu-Jamal’s comment helped sway jurors to send the award-winning journalist with no criminal record to death row. That prosecutor had improperly excluded blacks from Abu-Jamal’s trial jury.
Not only was the prosecutor twisting Abu-Jamal’s comment an improper tactic it violated associational rights granted under the First Amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court gave new hearings in the early 1990s to two convicted murderers – a white racist prisoner gang member in Delaware and a white devil worshipper in Nevada – while denying comparable relief to former BPP member Abu-Jamal three times.
USAG Eric Holder, shortly after taking office in January 2009, went to court successfully requesting dismissal of Sen. Stevens’ conviction after finding that federal prosecutor withheld evidence of innocence from Stevens’ defense team plus tampered with witnesses and documents.
The recent release of the special prosecutor’s report in the Stevens case confirmed that prosecutorial misconduct – wrongdoing also abundant in the case of Abu-Jamal and other U.S. political prisoners.
The Occupy The Justice Department demonstrators are raising the issue of Holder’s credibility and the ethical integrity of the Obama Administration in acting to dismiss the wrongful conviction of ex-Senator Stevens while ignoring the continued imprisonment of U.S. political prisoners that involves misconduct by police and prosecutors.
On December 9, 2011 – one day before the U.N. annual Human Rights Day –Noble Peace Prize winning anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu asked America to “rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights and justice” in calling for the “immediate release” of Abu-Jamal.