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News :: Human Rights : Organizing : Politics : Race
The People Victorious!!! Diop Free!!! No Jail Time!!
16 Oct 2010
On October 13 the movement for social justice throughout the world won a critical victory for the democratic rights of African people, oppressed and freedom loving people everywhere when Diop Olugbala, International President of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), walked out of his sentencing hearing in a Philadelphia courtroom with two years probation. He could have been sentenced to up to ten years in prison.
Philadelphia—On October 13 the movement for social justice throughout the world won a critical victory for the democratic rights of African people, oppressed and freedom loving people everywhere when Diop Olugbala, International President of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), walked out of his sentencing hearing in a Philadelphia courtroom with two years probation. He could have been sentenced to up to ten years in prison.
Diop’s co-defendant Shabaka Mnombatha was sentenced to 12 months of unsupervised probation.
In a courtroom packed with about 50 supporters, neocolonial judge Roxanne Covington handed down the sentences despite the prosecutor’s insistence that Diop do prison or jail time.
Today’s victory followed months of demonstrations, letters, call-ins, mailings, and emails to the judge from hundreds of supporters from throughout the US and as far away as Sierra Leone, Peru and Spain.
A militant demonstration in support of Diop was also held in front of the US embassy in London today, to coincide with the militant demonstration that was held at the Philadelphia courthouse.
This worldwide outpouring of support for Diop’s case from a broad base of African people and our allies played a key role in forcing the judge to back down on the State’s plan to imprison Diop for his courageous stance against police violence and murder, homelessness, and for economic development in the oppressed and exploited African working class community.
During today’s sentencing, Diop gave an eloquent statement in his own defense, in which he refused to apologize for his actions protesting the conditions facing African people in this country.
Diop stated that he was not a violent person, rather that his work is intended to “end the violence that the African community suffers.”
He reminded judge Covington that she would not be sitting on the bench today had it not been for the movement of African workers and leaders such as Martin Luther King and so many others who unapologetically carried out just the kind of protest in the 1960s that Diop was being sentenced for today.
Covington responded that she did realize that and stated that her father had been the comptroller for King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
She also expressed unity with defense attorney Michael Coard’s statement that giving jail time to either Diop or Shabaka would be an “outrage.”
Nevertheless, Covington proceeded to sentence Diop to two years of supervised probation, along with full court costs, probation fees and a mandatory “anger management class.”
Diop and his defense committee plan to appeal the sentence.
Today’s sentencing followed Diop’s August 24 framed-up felony conviction on an assault of a police officer.
The charges stem from a March 2009 Philadelphia city council meeting discussing neocolonial mayor Michael Nutter’s proposed city budget, which involved massive cutbacks to needed services in the deeply impoverished African community.
At the same time the budget proposed to spend 1 billion dollars beefing up the terroristic police force responsible for the reign of terror of murders, violence and imprisonment faced by black people daily.
Diop, along with Shabaka Mnombatha and other Uhuru Movement comrades and supporters, joined hundreds of other groups and individuals who were holding signs and protesting the budget cuts inside the city council chambers that day.
During the council hearing plain-clothed police agents singled out Diop, attacking him and putting him in a chokehold.
Diop was known for previously serving mayor Nutter with a people’s subpoena to appear at a Tribunal on Reparations for African people held in December 2008.
The tribunal came just four months after Diop boldly challenged then-candidate Barack Obama’s town hall meeting in St. Petersburg, FL in 2008 by raising the question, “What about the black community, Obama?”
Diop’s case has garnered global support because he is a political prisoner of this period of struggle, while others known as political prisoners come from the era of the Black Liberation Movement of the 60s.
Diop’s case brings to light the fact that the United States today, with its neocolonialist strategy, is waging a war against the African community in the form of brutal police containment policies that cannot stand freedom of speech criticism, especially from the African revolutionary sector of the social justice movement.
Far from silencing or intimidating the movement, Diop’s case has served to build the Uhuru Movement and the overall struggle against US imperialism.
InPDUM’s long-standing demand for reparations to African people and genuine economic development, not police containment, is now being echoed in African communities throughout the US and the world. The many fronts of the Uhuru Movement and the African Socialist International continue to grow every day.
Now, we must transfer this energy to Free the Scott Sisters and Mumia Abu Jamal!
Join the Black is Back march and rally on November 13 in Washington, DC and the InPDUM Convention scheduled for February 19 and 20 in Philadelphia, to advance this great victory on today.
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