The California Federation of Teachers’ defense of its Mumia resolution trots out Dick Cheney, “right wing propaganda networks,” Amnesty International, the NAACP, 8 hour days, minimum wage laws, the weekend, Wisconsin, “billionaires and their right wing politician friends,” the longshoremen, and the Wall Street banks. In fact, it’s reminiscent of Mumia’s own defense.
It’s unclear where Maureen Faulkner, Randi Weingarten and the National Fraternal Order of Police reside in this fever swamp. What’s more, CFT is being deliberately misleading about an important detail of the resolution – one that seems to have escaped the notice even of its critics.
CFT describes the resolution as “one supporting a new trial for Mumia Abu Jamal.” Later, the statement asks, in Q&A fashion:
What does the resolution say?
The CFT supports a new trial for Mumia Abu Jamal, who was convicted of killing a police officer.
And again, the statement says that the purpose of the resolution was to “reaffirm the previous statement of support for a new trial.”
The problem with all these claims is that CFT’s resolution doesn’t say anything about a new trial for Mumia.
Instead, the resolution claims “the appellate courts have also refused to consider strong evidence of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s innocence,” references his “continued unjust incarceration,” calls on CFT to “demand that the courts consider the evidence of innocence of Mumia Abu-Jamal” and bring the issue to the AFT Convention “should he not have been cleared of charges and released by that time.”
You can infer that “justice” for Mumia means a new trial, but the text of the resolution suggests his release is the real aim. I can’t find the original CFT resolution, which must have passed before 2003. The 2003 CFT convention resolutions also contain a Mumia measure that references the union having “gone on record calling for justice for Mumia Abu Jamal.” The 2003 resolution also doesn’t call for a new trial, but instead instructs CFT to join in an amicus brief “appealing the decisions of state and federal courts to refuse to hear evidence of Mumia’s actual innocence.”
In addressing why the resolution came to the floor, CFT states “the delegates are bound by our bylaws and constitution to address it. That means if it goes to the convention floor, we hear it, debate it, and vote on it.” But the union also says the Mumia resolution “took almost no debate and almost no time.”
Much to CFT’s chagrin, that debate is now taking place in the public square.