About 2,500 supporters of death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal held a rally Saturday around the Liberty Bell, pleading for a new trial.
Abu-Jamal, 41, convicted in the 1982 shooting death of police Officer Daniel Faulkner, has become a symbol of what supporters believe are inequities in the U.S. judicial system.The demonstration, originally expected to draw 7,000 people, had been planned as a last-ditch effort to delay Abu-Jamal's scheduled Aug. 17 execution. But its focus changed Monday when Common Pleas Judge Albert Sabo granted a stay.
"What you see today would have been much more serious if Mumia had not received his stay," said Marcus Garvey Jr., whose Jamaican immigrant father started a "Back-to-Africa" movement in the United States in 1916.
Defense lawyers say Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther party organizer and radio journalist, was convicted only after prosecutors and police suppressed evidence and coerced witnesses. They rested their case Friday in a hearing before Sabo to seek a new trial.
Prosecutors say overwhelming physical evidence and eyewitness testimony point to Abu-Jamal as the killer.
"The stay was a small victory. But what we need is for a new trial and freedom for Mumia," Berta Jou-bert, with the National People's Campaign, shouted from a podium.
Sabo is not expected to grant a new trial. Appeals could take years.