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  Philadelphia - Report on visit by the French Delegation in Nov 2002
Report by Suzanne Ross, NY Free Mumia Coalition

International Delegation hits the ground in Philadelphia Running, demanding that the Evidence of Mumia's Innocence be heard!

Within a few hours of arriving at the airport in Philadelphia on November 1, 2002, an international delegation of over 50 people, primarily from France, but also from Guadeloupe (a French colony), marched to Philadelphia's City Hall to deliver petitions containing 250,000 signatures to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The petitions, which were collected throughout France, call for "the evidence to be heard" &, in particular, for Arnold Beverly's confession to be heard by the court.

Members of the delegation consisted of: Jacky Hortaut, Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT) (France's strongest trade union confederation) and Alphonse Veronese, Director of CGT International Relations; Chantal Cauguil, member of the European Parliament; Francois Liberti, representative to the French National Assembly, Herault region; Laurent Sauveaux, youth delegate from the Amiens Collective (who also delivered a check of over $2,000 to the International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ). This money was collected at the Mumia Abu-Jamal Youth Festival. Other youth included Jules Kister, a shepherd from the rural North of France, Yannick Sanchez, a youth leader from Montpellier, & Mustapha, representing the Young Communist League (YCL). In addition, there were several representatives from Guadeloupe led by Lita Dahomay. Benoit Bechet from French Guyana arrived the following day in time for the demonstration. Long-time Mumia supporter Claude Pujol, a professor in Tours & founder of Just Justice, Marie Cecile Pla of the widely known anti-racist organization MRAP, & Julia Wright, journalist & daughter of the late great writer Richard Wright, & member of ICFFMAJ, France, were also part of this delegation. Pam Africa of ICFFMAJ & Suzanne Ross of the New York Free Mumia Coalition were present to support & facilitate the delivery of the petitions.

Despite having just arrived at the Philadelphia airport two hours earlier, & having been subjected to harassment by Immigration authorities at the airport, the delegation marched with great spirit & determination, chanting "Brick by brick..." from the American Friends Service Committee building to City Hall, up the stairs to the Office of the Prothonotary, the office that receives letters for the Supreme Court. Bystanders on the street watched the group in wonder, & people at City Hall came out of their offices to see who this lively group was.

The delegation was greeted by two staff members of the Office of the Prothonotary, Mr. Charles Johns & Mr. John Person. In typical bureaucratic fashion, the two men immediately said that they could not accept the petitions, that they only accepted letters, & that each letter would have to be accompanied by a $40 fee! Outraged by the refusal of the Supreme Court to receive these petitions, which were so patiently collected & personally delivered across the Atlantic, the delegation refused to leave, & refused to accept "no" for an answer. Messrs. Person & Johns then offered to "hold" the petitions subject to review from "higher-ups". With many expressions of anger & disbelief, the delegation agreed that it would leave the petitions IF the two staff members would sign for them, place an official stamp on the receipt, & provide us with a deadline by which they would inform Pam Africa of their decision. The following receipt was then signed by Mr. Johns:

"November 1, 2000

"This is to confirm receipt of 250,000 signatures from France and Guadeloupe on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal. These 'letters' will be considered and passed on in accordance with our review. We will inform Pam Africa about our decision on or about November 15th.

"Charles Johns" [There is an official stamp next to the signature.]

Once this mission was completed, the delegation was given, at the request of Pam Africa, a palatial conference room of the sort one would expect in Versailles in which to conduct its business. Journalist Linn Washington joined the group at that point, & was interviewed by some of the international reporters. There was also a brief exchange with City Councilmember Jeanie Blackwell, who expressed her appreciation for the international delegation, & stated unequivocally that the international voices speaking up for Mumia have definitely had an impact!

Arriving in such a dramatic & militant manner, & insisting that the petitions be accepted, the international delegation certainly made it clear that the "whole world is watching" what happens in the case of our brother, Mumia.

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