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News :: Human Rights : Organizing : Race
People around the world write, call and spread the word, demanding freedom for Diop Olugbala
11 Oct 2010
InPDUM President Diop Olugbala may be sentenced on Wednesday, October 13 to as much as ten years in prison for speaking out for the black community in a peaceful free speech protest in Philadelphia.
Below are some of the letters that were sent to judge Roxanne Covington this past week demanding Diop be set free at his October 13 sentencing hearing.
We are still asking the world community to keep calling, emailing and mailing your support for the demand to free Diop.
Diop faces sentencing on Oct. 13 - Call & email the judge!
Mondays and Tuesday, October 11 & 12
Judge Roxanne Covington
Email: tdaccrimssupport (at) courts.phila.gov
Tell her to reverse Diop's conviction. No charges, no sentence!
Your calls have been effective throughout this case - forcing the State to change judges three times. We need to let this judge know that we won't stop fighting until Diop is free!
Let us know you called or emailed:
Send reports of calls and cc: your letters to editor (at) uhurunews.com.
And join the March for Black Justice on October 13
Philadelphia • 8am
Start at 8th & Market
End at Criminal Justice Center, 13th & Filbert
London, UK • 1pm
Start at Bond Street Tube
End at United States Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, WC1A 1AE
Letters to the judge
Honorable Roxanne Covington,
As a member of the West Philadelphia community, where crime is at an all time high, I fight daily to enrich the lives of young people. I am a child advocate at Neighborhood Education Workshop (NEW) After School Program at Heston School. I am also the Program Administrator for NEW. I am writing this letter to plead with you to reverse the sentencing of Brother Diop Olugbala and drop all charges filed against him.
Brother Diop is no drug dealing, gun toting, thug! He is a righteous man, firm in his desire for Black people to be free of oppression. Is this a crime? No, not at all! We are at an age where people of color are still being accused of committing crimes that they did not commit, such as shooting cops, when they shoot themselves, throwing acid in people’s faces, when they are inflicting the wounds on themselves. Why is this still going on?
While I am no law guru, I must express to you that I feel Brother Diop’s First Amendment Rights are being violated by attaching this unjust verdict onto him. I am also disheartened that REAL criminals, who display no desire of self-preservation, community revitalization, and lack desire for social change, run free. I am saddened that a system that we are asked to continuously put our faith in continues to frame and unjustly arrest our Black people. Enough is enough! Please see this system for what it is and effect positive change by first supporting Brother Diop!
Yours In Positive Leisure,
Naimah Wilson, BA
It is our RIGHT to be free, to express ourselves, and to walk the streets without fear. It is your DUTY to make sure justice prevails. Yet time and time again, we see injustice is served. We see that the scales in the court are tipped against us. Guilty even if innocent is often our verdict. The video clearly shows police officers attack a peaceful protest. We demand they stand trial, and our brother be freed. It is a violation of his rights and the rights of all people. Our brother in the UK said it more eloquently than I can: See his letter here.
From the Center for Pan-African Studies / Centre d’Etudes Panafricains
Madrid, Spain: October 7, 2010
Respected Judge Roxanne Covington
I see with enormous preoccupation that Mr. Diop Olugbala, a well-respected political activist is facing an unjust trial, being charged with aggravated assault on police. Seeing the undoubted evidence of the video of the facts taken place in the City Council of Philadelphia on Thursday, March 19, 2009, I just have a few questions for you:
Would have you been able to jail Dr. Martin Luther King or Mr. Nelson Mandela, or Mahatma Gandhi?
Do you support what police did to them and their followers?
Do you really know who is and what does Diop Olugbala want?
Police members are also citizens subject to law, and to be an activist does not mean to kneel down if the police violate your rights. All to the contrary, it means to stand up against any injustice. All of us, and you too have civil liberties because others confronted this. I’m sure you started your judicial career because you had a deep sense of injustice. Also you won’t like history and historians like me to judge you for the condemnation of an innocent man. Think of it.
Prof. Antumi Toasije Pallas Valencia
Historian, President of the Pan-African Center, Director of the Pan-African Studies Center
Telf. (+34) 902 005 172
Fax (+34) 911 013 838
E-mail: wanafrika (at) gmail.com
Judge Roxanne Covington,
In the interest of justice, we are strongly urging you to reverse the charges cast upon Diop Olugbala, and release him from custody immediately. In a time when our freedoms are most vulnerable, it is imperative that this Court recognizes what is right and what is wrong. Philadelphia can and must take a lead in this regard.
Positive African Image Institute
Sent by Makemba X to the Sons of Africa listserv:
Please call in on Monday. Members of the Uhuru movement in Philadelphia were standing with signs at city council meeting protesting the direction of the current administration.
Officials may not have liked the signs, but it is clear that they were standing peacefully with signs, when one of the police attempted to remove Diop's banner and grabbed him by the neck.
Paris, France, 8 Octobre 2010,
Letter to Judge Roxanne Covington,
Words from outside the USA: In a True Democracy, Diop Olugbala shall be free; in an anti-freedom system he will be blamed
The footage of the events that eventually ended with the arrest of our freedom-fighter brother Diop Olugbala has been circulating around the globe in Europe, in Africa, in Asia, in South and North America.
It is therefore crystal clear that the "security" forces acted deliberately to deprive the freedom-fighters of their freedom rights.
Any decision that will not free Diop totally will tarnish the international image of America today and will jeopardize all the efforts to improve America's image in the world.
Dear Sir, the world is watching you.
Free DIOP now!
Dear Judge Covington:
I just called and left a voice mail message on behalf of freeing Diop Olugbala.
I know for a fact that he is innocent of the trumped up charges against him and am writing to ask that you reverse the conviction. Please clear his record of all criminal charges.
I witnessed the Phila Police (plain clothes) mistreat him while at a community forum at ML King High School. The mayor and his plainclothes police may not like Diop's persistence but he has not broken any law.
PLEASE STAND FOR JUSTICE!
Very truly yours,
S. Nabila Baker-Bey
I have seen and heard of the circumstances of this case and I am extremely displeased and disgusted not just about the level of injustices that exist in the world (especially in the USA) but that they continue to exist at all.
The fact that Diop Olugbala may be of African descent and a political activist fighting against global injustices is irrelevant to the verdict given for an offence which according to ALL the evidence submitted is WRONG!!
I believe that it will be in the best interests of all concerned including 'the police' to reverse the sentence, compensate the victim, then reprimand and charge the police appropriately.
Otherwise, the consequences will be far more than just regrettable for all concerned again…including 'the police'!!
THACMHO Chair & Volunteer Project Coordinator
Judge Roxanne Covington:
As I'm sure you recall, your top priorities if elected were:
1. Dedication to justice and fairness in the judicial system.
2. Commitment to integrity of the bench.
3. Compassion and understanding for the citizens of Philadelphia.
Please apply these promised priorities to the case of Diop Olugbala. Fairness, integrity, compassion and understanding properly applied to this case can only lead to - Reversal of the conviction - No charges, No sentence!
Thank you for your full consideration of this matter.
Dear Judge Covington,
I join the chorus of African and other people who believe in justice to demand that Diop Olugbala be freed from all criminal charges in your court of injustice.
You have the opportunity to reverse your guilty decision and declare Diop innocent in the interest of justice. Diop exercised his right to free speech at Philadelphia city hall when he was protesting against the anti-African budget of Mayor Michael Nutter.
Mayor Nutter is the one cutting services to African people, Mayor Nutter is the one who wants to increase the police presence in the African community at the expense of social services to the community.
Maybe you should think about having the Mayor arrested since his budget is the real crime being committed in Philadelphia.
Drop the Charges against Diop, Put the Mayor on Trial
2130 26th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33712
Subject: Is there "justice" in the "Criminal Justice System"?
Many of my friends try to convince me that things have changed, that black people in the African community here in the U.S. have made significant gains since the Civil Rights Movement. And yet here it is, again, right in front of our eyes: Another case of police abuse of power against a man who is exercising his democratic rights to speak out on behalf of his community, to address the crippling poverty and political powerlessness that is the black experience for the vast majority in this country.
Diop Olugbala is known by his community to be a courageous activist, organizing for economic development and social justice. All the evidence points to police initiated violence against Diop and others involved in a City Hall protest, activity which is supposed to be protected by the constitution.
This is clearly a political attack against Diop and his community, and the Uhuru Movement in a city with a history of brutality against African people aimed at shutting down community activism.
I join in calling on you personally to take a stand, and reverse the charges and the sentence in the name of Democracy and human rights. There should be no sentence, and no charges. In fact the "right" thing to do would be to call for an investigation on police abuse of power!
I hope you will do the "right" thing.
Santa Cruz, CA.
To judge Roxanne Covington,
The United States government and the city of Philly has no right to lay a single finger on this African or any African. He is a great leader in the African community! Jailing him is an attack on Africans as a whole and a continuation and acceleration of the 600 hundred year war on the African masses. You are helping to consolidate the most brutal fascist rule the world has ever seen if you sentence him, denying Africans reparations and instead putting them into prisons as if they were nothing but dogs. Africans brought civilization to this world and this is an act of betrayal of humanity itself. As a white person, I refuse to turn my back on a Great African Leader like Diop Olugbala. Free him now! Where is your loyalty to humanity. SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!
Other reports sent to Uhuru News
Uhuru! Why only two days? People should call in every day, all day long!!!
Also, send emails.
QM Dorothy - Yaa Asantewaa
I called the judge's office in support of Diop.
This is Ben in Freetown Sierra Leone West Africa
I called the judge’s office on behalf of Diop.
Rev. Omar Wilks
Pastor of Unison Pentecostal Church (UPC) of Brooklyn NY
Oct. 5, 2010
I just called Judge Roxanne Covington saying, Diop Olugbala is an activist for the self-determination and economic equality of black communities and should be Free.
San Diego, CA
I called in and the court assistant hung up on me as soon as I mentioned the matter.
New York City
I am blasting the Emergency Call-in for hands off Diop.
On FB from Pastor Omar Wilks
Thanks for the info on Diop. He is a friend of mine. I did not know this happened to him. I need to help organize on his behalf. What is your cell number. I would like to call you later in regards to this situation. I'm deeply bothered by what has happened to him.
Call Rev. Omar Wilks at. 347-325-7828
WE SPOKE ON THE PHONE AND ARE PUTTING A CALL TO ALL ELDERS! HE HAD A LOT TO SAY AND HE REMEMBERED WHEN DIOP WAS NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK ON DAUGHTREY'S STAGE WITH ME DURING THE SEAN BELL ORGANIZING COMMITTEES.
HE IS GOING ALL OUT TO MAKE A STATEMENT
WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND OR ORGANIZE A RALLY FOR TEACH IN
WANTS TO HEAR FROM THE SO CALLED ELDERS TO DO SOMETHING
Calls are coming in from others who have called the judge's line...such as
Mrs. Mcwain. She was told the video didn't show what happened before and something of an assault happened before the video.
FB is showing a very good response.
I will continue posting all day on blogs and to international human rights commissioners.
Mia and I am going thru the Forum folks that came to City College when Diop came to speak. John Kim from that event and Assata Center is posting it as well on FB.
I do have a question:
Has Barron or any of those folks reached out to you?
Any press coverage of this in Black Press?
This work is in the public domain