THE STAY - Column #252

Written 11 August 1995 by Mumia Abu-Jamal

"Justice is just an emotional feeling. . . " -- Judge Albert F. Sabo, PCRA Hearing, Com. V. Abu-Jamal

In the late morning of August 7, 1995, Senior Judge Sabo surprised many in the courtroom by issuing an extended stay of execution, citing "pending appeals" in the case.

The decision seemed expected by the prosecutors, but stunned members of the defense team, whose client had 10 days 'til death, and who expected nothing from the crusty, acerbic jurist. Observers believe this was the first stay issued in the judge's career.

Questions abound -- among them, "What does it mean?"

To simplify, a stay is a judicial stop sign, and in this case, a stopped death warrant.

It should be clear, however, that the writer remains on death row, under a death sentence -- only the date has been changed.

The state of Pennsylvania still has every intention of killing me -- just not right now.

Thus, the stay is a limited victory, not just for the Jamals and the Africas, but for thousands and tens of thousands of people from every corner of the globe -- to these many, our most profound and heartfelt thanks for your militant and spirited protests. LONG LIVE JOHN AFRICA!

Although many radicals and progressives expressed joy at news of the stay, other political analysts saw it as a clever move by a clever judge, who did what higher courts would've done and, in so doing, attempted to blunt the edge off of a growing and militant anti-death penalty movement, in Philadelphia and beyond, thereby stymieing a series of planned demonstrations.

Whatever the reason, let us utilize this precious time to build a stronger and broader movement, to not "stay" one execution, but to halt them all! DOWN WITH THE RACIST U.S. DEATH PENALTY!

In an age when South Africa, once the pariah of the international community, has abolished ALL executions as an affront to the inherent right to life, our task can not be to merely stay (or slow down) one man's execution. No! It must be to echo the world -- the European Community, Australia, South Africa, ET AL. -- in total abolition of this racist vestige of the lynching tree, all forms of state murder.

It will take the power of the people -- you -- us all -- to bring it about.

We can do it

If you are truly committed, we WILL do it.

I know I am doing my part -- will you help me?

This stay is but the first step, although in the right direction, in our long walk to freedom.

No matter where you live there is a support group near you; contact Concerned Family and Friends (International) (215) 476-8812.

We are growing -- thanx to you!

BACK to Walking Steel Index