Rainbow PUSH Coalition Statement for Immediate Release
Contact: Stephanie Gadlin
930 East 50th Street
Chicago Il 60615
Phone:773-256-2758 Fax: 773-373-3571




Today, the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr., president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, released the following statement regarding Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge's decision to sign the death warrant of death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Abu-Jamal is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Thursday, December 2, 1999 for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

Jackson, a long time anti-death penalty advocate, last visited with Abu-Jamal in 1997. Noting 76 incidents since 1976 where a U.S. death row inmate was either freed on appeal or as a result of exculpatory evidence, the civil rights leader said the risk of killing the innocent is too great for the nation to continue to condone capital murder. In just Illinois and Florida, a total of 29 innocent men have been exonerated, some within hours of execution.

"The decision to kill Mumia should be repugnant to the people of Pennsylvania and throughout our nation, " Jackson said. "As a nation, we must stop the cycle of killing and violence. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth will only leave all us blind and disfigured.

"In the streets of America, revenge and this foul solution is seen by the worst elements as a way to define justice. We must be better than this.

"It was wrong when Rome engaged in an act of capital punishment 2,000 years ago. The risk of kill-ing the innocent and the risk of being wrong is too great.

"Tonight, the world cries out for mercy. I am disappointed that Gov. Ridge would seek revenge through capital punishment. There are still too many unanswered questions in this case. We support the attorneys and people of good will everywhere who are working on Abu-Jamal's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to spare his life and finally solve the puzzling answers in this case."

Jackson continued, "In far too many cases, the issuing of death sentences fall disproportionately on African Americans, Latinos and, in general, the poor who are unable to afford an adequate defense. This lopsided form of justice should cast a foul smell throughout our criminal justice system.

"Until this broken system is corrected, there will be no closure for Mr. Faulkner's widow and no justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal."