I hope you are able to come to one of these events this weekend in the Bay Area. (Please note my comments following the announcement.)

- Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens/Green Party, and
Chair, WBAI Local Station Board

New book details witness frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Author to speak in Bay Area Friday & Saturday, Sept. 7th & 8th

Political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal has faced cops and prosecution, as well as courts and politicians, all conspiring to frame him for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer (Daniel Faulkner), get him executed, and failing that, keep him in prison for the rest of his life. The courts have ignored or refused to hear mountains of evidence that attest to Mumia's innocence and should have freed him. And now ...

... A new and very personal book reveals the relationship of a key witness -- Veronica Jones -- to the slain officer, the brutal methods the Philadelphia police and prosecution employed to get Jones to lie on the stand, and how the courts rebuffed numerous attempts by the witness to set the record straight.

Veronica died in December 2009 after a long illness, but not before she told her younger sister, Valerie, the true story of her relationship with Officer Faulkner and what she witnessed on the streets of Philadelphia that ominous night thirty years ago, and made her promise to get her story out.

Come meet Valerie Jones, the author of "Veronica & the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, as told to her sister Valerie Jones." Joining Jones in two Bay Area talks and book signings this week will be Rachel Wolkenstein, a lawyer for Mumia and long-time fighter for his freedom. Wolkenstein's appendix to the book offers an eye-opening and extremely useful synopsis of the case that reveals new material in unraveling and exposing the framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

East Bay: 7 pm, Friday September 7th
at the Neibyl Proctor Marxist Library, 
6501 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland.

San Francisco: 7 pm, Saturday September 8th
at the Centro del Pueblo, 
474 Valencia, San Francisco.

Sponsored by the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Info at (510) 763-2347


A note from Mitchel Cohen:

Like many Greens, I have long been active in the fight to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. I was one of "the Liberty Bell 7" defendants arrested for demanding freedom for Mumia and Leonard Peltier, and I was in the high-security courtroom behind a bullet-proof, sound-proof glass wall with scores of other protesters when Leonard Weinglass, Mumia's attorney (and my friend -- rest in peace, Lenny) questioned Veronica Jones, who recanted her testimony that had helped lock away Mumia for, now, some 30 years for a crime he didn't commit. 

I heard her tell the Court -- piped behind the glass wall via a creaky sound system -- how the police threatened to take her away from her young children if she didn't lie and testify that Mumia was the shooter. 

And I saw her being arrested then and there, in the Court, on an old warrant a minute after she'd recanted, for allegedly bouncing a check! I hope she was able to hear as dozens of us in the spectators' gallery pounded on the glass, yelling at the top of our lungs, "let her go!"

This case -- so full of Shakespearean twists and turns, but always with the frame-up of an innocent man (and great journalist) at its core -- was and remains emblematic of the history of racism of this country. It is also something more. I can't quite put my finger on why, but the frame-ups of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier more than other injustices continue to move me and so many others to the barricades.

And now, in yet another turn, comes this new and gut-wrenching book by Valerie Jones, Veronica's sister, with an introduction by Mumia himself and an afterword by attorney Rachel Wolkenstein. In one of the strangest personal juxtapositions, I read a pre-publication draft while camping at Yosemite a month ago, surrounded by the majesty of the mountains, the almost dried out rivers, the exquisite natural beauty of this country that requires our ceaseless vigilance to protect what little remains from the rapacious corporate predators and the system they control. And I couldn't put it down, not Valerie Jones' spare but loving account of this part of her life, her sister Veronica's harrowing and often courageous story, nor Rachel Wolkenstein's excellent synopsis of the evidence and the case for Mumia's innocence.

Maybe symbolically, at least for me, Mumia is like those mountains at Yosemite. Powerful, stately, against a system that tries to break him and tear them down; the system of fracking, mountaintop removal, and Mumia-removal, I don't know. 

What I do know is that I am extremely grateful for Valerie Jones' honest book and Veronica Jones' honest and courageous story. It has such a different feel to it than all the other books -- some of them very good! -- that sift through and argue over the evidence. In telling their own stories from a very personal framework, the Jones sisters have done something unique within the Mumia canon. There are no trumpets blaring, no resounding slogans, only the slow and steady build up of rage and tears in this fast-reading book, leading one to stand before those mountains of Mumia and swear: "I will protect you. This is for our lives."

Mitchel Cohen