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  Mumia in Kreuzberg
Report of an Action in Berlin Kreuzberg (Germany) on the international Action-Day on May 12th.

The Aktionsbündnis (Action Coalition) für Mumia Abu-Jamal in Berlin, a small group, could not undertake a major event on the weekend of May 12th. But it wanted to do something - and showed the latest documentary film on Mumia - newly translated into German - on a street corner in Berlin's Kreuzberg area.

Kreuzberg, and especially this corner, Kottbuser Tor, with its wide sidewalks and steps, small shops and an eight story apartment building arching right across the busy street, is a center for Berlin's biggest minority, the Turks, also a colorful mix of other nationalities, many Bohème-like types recalling the old Greenwich Village in New York and also a number of junkies and other types hoping for refuge from the angry or haughtily pitying looks of "proper citizens" in other areas. Tolerance rules here, everyone does his or her own thing, and this is more true than ever on a mild Saturday evening in May.

While young parents pushed baby carriages around, some of the mothers with headcloths, others without, and older citizens discussed the week's happenings, often while munching a tasty-looking Turkish döner kebab from a nearby food shop, kids of all ages ruled the roost, with or without scooters and bikes. It was a happy gathering, like a village marketplace, but in the middle of a big city.

Then the Mumia people showed up - mostly young, German or Turkish, and hung big banners on available free spaces, the biggest one with a portrait of Mumia and a demand for his freedom in German and in Turkish.

The cops, after the nasty, often bloody battles less than two weeks before against participants in various left-wing May Day parades and in simple friendly gatherings (and their contrastingly strict protection of a march by the racist neo-Nazis), were on their best behavior this time and quietly blocked off the street to traffic for this registered meeting, but keeping a minimum of paddy wagons at the ready, just in case.

The young people set up the screen in the middle of the street, connected the sound equipment and an info table with books by Mumia and other literature, bulletins on the case, petitions and a collection box.

Not everyone in Kreuzberg knows about the case - but undoubtedly a higher proportion than anywhere else in Berlin. Posters, some fresh, others old and ragged, are still plastered on many walls. The the name rings a bell.

But since in mid-May the streets in Berlin do not get dark enough for a film until about 9:00 or 9:15, there was time for some speech-making. Moré, the young Kurdish woman, spoke first in German, then in Turkish, and pointed out connections between the fight for Mumia and the struggle of the imprisoned Turkish oppositiion fighters, now dying or already dead in the last desperate stage of their hunger strike to protest prison conditions in Turkey. This was understandably the subject closest to the hearts of most of the Turkish people in the district, but they also listened with interest when Victor, an American who visited the National Conference in Washington, described it briefly, stressing the variety of people speaking and attending there, many of whom face the racist discrimination which foreigners here recognized all too well; a city government leader from the Christian Democratic Union, the mayor's party, once referred to people in this area as "rats" (That same "leader" was recently exposed as a corrupt politician whose sleaze through bank manipulations cost the already almost bankrupt city government many millions urgently needed for schools, city improvement and other worthy causes.)

The speaker also told of the current situation in Mumia's case, especially of the sensational confession by Arnold Beverly. There were a number of questions - people just walked right up to the micrtophone in the middle of the street to ask about the death penalty in the USA - banned in Germany and Europe except for Turkey - or about facts regarding the case. Then there was some music, alternating between Turkish songs and a German hiphop song about Mumia.

It was finally dark enough to start the film. The kids stayed put, sitting right on the pavement. Some young people joined them, others sat or stood a little further away, while some people watched from the balconies of the building over the archway. Some of the oldest and some of the youngest viewers may not have followed all the legal arguments, but the terrible scenes of Philadelphia cops moving in against MOVE,nce recalls recent violent attacks in Turkish cities and - to a lesser extent - the actions of the cops only a few blocks away on May Day, when they invaded a peaceful market of stands and booths, beat up and arrested young people, provoked pitched battles and frightened children and mothers. Nine of those arrested were still behind bars; if they were Turks or Kurds this could mean deportation to their homeland - and probable imprisonment, torture or even death.The connections were all too obvious. Some people reacted angrily to what they saw in the film, even calling out imprecations - luckily in Turkish and therefore not understandable to the few cops standing around as "protection".

It was not a huge gathering, just one more step in a long struggle, and the acztion group hoped that a few more people had been inspired to join in coming demonstrations and - when necessary - to march to demonstrations at the US Embassy in a far more elegant but not nearly so pleasant part of the city.

Related Links:
Reportback from May 11-13 Free Mumia / Justice for MOVE Encampment
Report of the international Action-Day on May 12th in Philladelphia / USA(29.05.2001)

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