Another judge reassigned to City Hall 2 case

PHILADELPHIA — The spotlight was on Philadelphia today as members, allies and supporters of the Uhuru Movement waited to hear the outcome of the DA reconsideration hearing for the case of Diop Olugbala – one of the City Hall 2.

The case of the City Hall 2 began on March 19, 2009, when police attacked Philadelphia InPDUM branch leader Diop Olugbala (aka Wali Rahman) and Shabaka Mnombatha (aka Franklin Moses), and other members and supporters of InPDUM, during the City Council meeting where neocolonial Mayor Michael Nutter introduced the highly controversial 2010 city budget. During this process, InPDUM members were protesting Mayor Nutter’s current budget that spends more than $1 billion a year for police and prisons. InPDUM is advocating the appropriation of these funds used to wage war against the African community to instead go toward economic development in the African community.

Police initiated a brutal attack on Diop and Shabaka that also resulted in injury to an elderly protester. The formal charges included aggravated assault, which is a felony, and simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, which are misdemeanors.

Today’s hearing has been the point of major contention between the people and the State. This hearing was a tactic through which the State was able to reassign a judge that would re-impose the felony charge of aggravated assault against Diop that was initially dismissed by Judge Teresa Carr Deni during the City Hall 2’s April 28th preliminary hearing after pressure from the people.

At this hearing, the new decision to place the felony charges back on Diop’s case was made by neocolonial judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, who is the third judge appointed to the City Hall 2 case since the April 28th preliminary hearing. The decision by the State to place Hughes as the judge on Diop’s case is the product of sharp political struggle made by InPDUM and our international base of supporters.

In fact, the first replacement judge selected for the hearing was Frank Palumbo, a known champion of police repression in the Philadelphia court system. Although Palumbo was seen as their guy, he turned out to be incapable of presiding over the case in the face of the people’s resistance. Under the pressure of phone calls, faxes, protests and demonstrations organized under InPDUM’s leadership, Palumbo ended up recusing himself from the case completely after being seen visibly unnerved at the previous hearing that he postponed!

Palumbo’s replacement, much like all uncle toms, worked double time to prove her loyalty to her masters in the Philly court system. In fact, Hughes’ contempt for African people was as glaring as her love for U.S. imperial white power as she spent the entire hearing hurling insults at Diop’s supporters who attended the hearing, violating their democratic rights and using the U.S. constitution as her justification for doing so. Such violations included forcing the courtroom attendees to submit official government ID (and threatening to remove those from the court who did not) and calling the people “jack asses”.   

Palumbo’s recusal and Hughes’ appointment are both evidence of the political nature of this case. It is clear that the State is waging a political attack both on the movement as well as the entire African community of Philadelphia by attempting to take one of our key organizers and leaders off the streets. 

The real crime in this case was committed on March 19, 2009, when police attacked Diop and Shabaka, and other members and supporters of InPDUM. We maintain our demand that the ALL charges of the City Hall 2 be immediately dropped and that the police and those who run City Hall be put on trial. InPDUM calls on all freedom loving people to answer the call to Defend the City Hall 2!

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