PHILADELPHIA, PA — “What am I supposed to do?” is rarely a question a judge asks of a lawyer — especially the lawyer of a defendant. But that changed this morning, when Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Frank Palumbo sought advice from Michael Coard, the lawyer of the City Hall 2.
Indeed Palumbo was in between a rock and a hard place. If he fulfilled the demand of the masses of people who called his office and those who protested in front of the courthouse — the demand for the immediate exoneration of the City Hall 2 — that would embolden the masses of people to resist with even more confidence. On the other hand, if he denied the people’s demands and united with the DA against the people, that would expose the true nature of the court system which, as a part of the State, is an agency to facilitate our oppression.
Background of the case
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 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 funds to 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.
Felony charges thrown out
At the City Hall 2’s April 28 preliminary hearing the municipal court judge threw the felonies out – primarily due to the web of lies their lawyer Michael Coard was able to expose when he cross examined the police.
InPDUM and the African community summed this up as a victory and prepared for the then scheduled trial on June 18th, confident they would beat the remaining misdemeanor charges, adding one more chapter to InPDUM’s illustrious history of struggle and victory.
However, that changed on May 29 when Diop received a call from Coard, who informed him of the City’s latest attempt to send him to prison.
State attempts to reinstate charges
The DA’s office called for a postponement of Diop’s June 18th trial and was granted a June 16 hearing at which an Assistant District Attorney would attempt to persuade Common Pleas Court judge Frank Palumbo to reverse the Municipal Court judge’s April 28 preliminary hearing ruling that discharged the one felony (Aggravated Assault) and two of the four misdemeanors (Simple Assault and Recklessly Endangering Another Person).
The common pleas court characterized today’s hearing as a type of "appeal" where the District Attorney’s office was to argue that the preliminary hearing judge should have held Diop for trial on all five charges, not just the misdemeanor.
It is important to note that this attack was only being made on Diop – and not Shabaka. Because of this, InPDUM has maintained that what was to occur at the hearing was straight up malicious prosecution by the state and evidence that the State will do whatever is necessary to take key organizers like Diop off the streets – even if it means disregarding its own laws by leveling fraudulent charges against the innocent.
The fact that only Diop is being threatened with felony charges for the same "crime" that he and his co-defendant Shabaka were both accused of by the DA is further evidence of the political nature of this case. If it were about any form of truth or consistency both Diop and Shabaka would have be called to this hearing.
From the first time we heard about it, we knew that the entire hearing was a tactic through which the State could reassign a judge that would rule in its favor.
Campaign to Defend the City Hall 2 pushes back; hearing rescheduled for July 1
However, this morning, Palumbo, who was supposed to be the State’s number one guy, ended up being a wimp – succumbing to the pressure applied by InPDUM through our mass call ins to his office, the demonstration we held this morning in front of the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center and the 20 or more Uhuru Movement members and supporters who occupied Palumbo’s chambers wearing t-shirts saying “Jail the Killer Cops the DA and the Mayor!”
Palumbo was visibly nervous throughout the entire morning, even as he presided other hearings before the City Hall 2 case.
When the time came for the City Hall 2 case, Palumbo immediately called a conference with both Michael Coard and the Assistant DA. Not long after that conference Palumbo ruled for the hearing to be canceled – on the grounds of not having testimony notes from the April 28th hearing. This move revealed Palumbo’s inability to take the pressure of making such a strategic decision for the State. More than that, it revealed the power of the people who, when organized, can push the State back as far as we are willing to go.
InPDUM is now anticipating Diop’s next Common Pleas hearing, which has been rescheduled for Wednesday, July 1. At this hearing (where hopefully everybody will have their notes) the DA will unveil their next move, which will either be a) request/reschedule the same “reconsideration” hearing in common pleas court, claiming that the original preliminary hearing judge made a mistake when throwing out the felony, or b) request another preliminary hearing, thus forcing the police to re-testify and tell more lies on top of the old ones.
Regardless, the police and DA will surely be scrambling trying to get their stories together. But enough has already been said and done to confirm for anyone with eyes and ears that the City Hall 2 are innocent and that the police are the real criminals.
Defend comrade Shabaka on June 18!
At the same time, we are preparing to go into the Criminal Justice Center on Thursday, June 18th at 9am to demonstrate our support for comrade Shabaka, who is standing trial by the State for the 2 remaining misdemeanor charges.
It is extremely important that we invest as much effort in opposing Shabaka’s trial as victory for one means victory for both.
InPDUM International Convention, October 3-4 in Philly, continues struggle for self-determination
As with all contradictions, the struggle to defend the City Hall 2 does not exist in a vaccum. The trial date for brother Diop is most likely to coincide with the same timeframe as InPDUM’s upcoming International Convention set to take place on October 3-4, in Philadelphia as well. The theme of the Convention is They Say Cutback We Say Payback! Reparations Now – Independence in Our Lifetime!.
The upcoming convention is seen as the mark of the next level in InPDUM’s struggle for self determination for African people. It is to occur at a time and place (Philly) where InPDUM is blazing a new trail for this era of struggle against U.S. domestic neocolonialism (white power in black face) such as the likes of Barack Obama and Mayor Michael Nutter. It will be the culmination of almost a year of nonstop pitch battle against Nutter and City Hall, where InPDUM has held tribunals, candlelight vigils, townhall meetings, and numerous protests of local government colonial policies. InPDUM eagerly anticipates even more struggle – not only around the case of the City Hall 2 but the overall struggle for state power for the African working class and around the world. Every attack by the State reveals more clearly that you can in fact beat City Hall – with Black Power!
Hands Off the City Hall 2!
Forward to Shabaka’s Trial on June 18!
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Call and fax judge Teresa Carr Deni TODAY
(215) 683-7223, fax: (215) 683-7225
In your call or message state:
I am calling to voice my complete disapproval of the attempt being made by the DA’s office to charge Shabaka Mnombatha, also known as Franklin Moses, of all charges he is facing. I unite with demand for the immediate dropping of all charges of Franklin Moses and his co-defendent Wali Rahman and that the police officers involved in their attack be immediately fired.
Attend the hearing on Thursday, June 18 at 9:00 am
at the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center (13th and Filbert), Room 903
- Make a financial contribution to the City Hall 2 Legal Defense Fund.
Send checks and money orders made out to "InPDUM CH2" to:
1245 18th Ave South
St Petersburg, FL 33705
Or donate online.