Riverside Church: End Mass Incarceration
Photographer: Jane Feldman, janefeldman.com
Links to videos from Sept 14th at Riverside Church:
Mumia Abu-Jamal addressing the Sept 14th event over the phone
Main panel addressing Sept 14th event
It’s now almost three months since the historic Sept 14 event called by us with Mumia to end mass incarceration, close down Attica, stop solitary confinement, and free Mumia and all our political prisoners. 2100 people showed up and the atmosphere was one of high energy and excitement. The feedback we got was that the evening was “inspiring”, “visionary”, “unifying”, “amazingly intergenerationally and ethnically and racially diverse”, plus much more. The picture above is of the following, all participants in the program: (from left to right) Asha Bandele, Joseph “Jazz” Hayden, Angela Davis, Soffiyah Elijah, Michelle Alexander, Pam Africa, Suzanne Ross, Marc Lamont Hill, Cornel West, Rev. Stephen Phelps.
On Sept 14, we issued a call for the closing of Attica. 12 days later we gathered at Governor Cuomo’s office with over 1500 petitions, a strong lunchtime rally at which representatives from a spectrum of organizations spoke. By the next morning, Governor Cuomo’s office called us to set up a meeting. Because of our busy schedules and Sandy we’ve had several postponements of that meeting. We are now scheduled to meet with Governor Cuomo’s assistant on Friday, December 21. Our delegation will include Reverend Stephen Phelps, Acting Senior Minister of Riverside Church, Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of the Correctional Association, Sarah Kunstler, former Attica prisoners, and representatives of key organizations. After that meeting, we will assess where the campaign stands, what is possible, and what is most strategic. To join the work, call 212 330-8029.
In the meantime, we have been in discussions with people upstate about this campaign, visited with political prisoner Jalil Muntaquin who is currently at Attica prison, and met with a group of activists in Buffalo about the needs of that area. We have learned a great deal from these discussions that will inform our discussion with Cuomo’s representative. We are specifically focused on what the consequences would be for the men at Attica should the prison close. Also, we are examining the possibility of some interim changes that might make the men less subject to the widespread guard abuse and violence.
We will keep you posted on how the Campaign develops.
Coordinator of Sept 14 End Mass Incarceration/Close Attica Coalition