These crass, opportunistic politicians in Pennsylvania are at it again this mid-term election cycle. In an attempt to curry favor from the Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) and conservative voters, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett, Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and the majority of state legislators — all of whom have sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution — have removed Mumia Abu-Jamal’s right to free speech from the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions in order to permanently gag him.
On October 5th, world famous commentator and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal gave the commencement speech at his alma mater, Goddard College in Vermont, at the invitation of the students and with the backing of the administration. This infuriated the F.O.P.
The F.O.P. immediately sought to silence Mumia by enlisting State Representative Mike Vereb to sponsor Senate Bill 508, the Revictimization Relief Act (also known as the “Mumia Gag Law” by activists) which became the text of House Bill 2533. The Mumia Gag Bill was fast-tracked through the Pennsylvania General Assembly and passed on October 16th, 11 days after Mumia’s recorded commencement speech at Goddard College, and just 19 days before mid-term elections.
On October 21st, in a last-ditch effort to win votes and be re-elected, Governor Corbett, who was nicknamed “One-Term Tom” by a majority of Pennsylvania citizens, signed the “Mumia Gag Bill”while campaigning in Philly. It was a “Hail Mary Pass” that didn’t score, as Gov Corbett lost his re-election bid on November 4th, becoming Pennsylvania’s first one-term governor in nearly 50 years!
The Mumia Gag is an ambiguous law that allows the district attorney or state attorney general to file a civil action complaint on behalf of a victim against an inmate or former offender for injunctive or other relief, for conduct which perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim on the basis of causing a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.
Although the Mumia Gag Law was enacted principally to silence Mumia Abu-Jamal, it also will silence other well-known Pennsylvania prisoner activists Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall, Robert“Saleem” Holbrook, political prisoner Russell “Maroon” Shoats, and any corporation that facilitates their free speech, such as Prison Radio, the Human Rights Coalition, Decarcerate Radio and Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Consequently, the Mumia Gag Law is facially unconstitutional (illegal) as it blatantly violates the First Amendment right of free speech of incarcerated citizens and of corporations that facilitate their free speech. This illegal Mumia Gag Law will not go unchallenged.
I am Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall, Co-founder and Editor of The Movement magazine, founding member of the Human Rights Coalition, Prison Radio correspondent, and can be reached at: SCI-Rockview, Box-A, #BE7826, Bellefonte, PA 16823.