Message to the Grassroots: Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal

An episode of Message to the Grassroots, a cable access talk show produced & hosted by Michael Zinzun from 1988-1998 at Pasadena Community Access Corporation, which is now Pasadena Media.

00:00Copy video clip URL The program begins with edited footage of the heated Philadelphia confrontation between the police and MOVE by Karen Pomer. There is footage of Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo giving a press conference. The footage also shows several members of MOVE talking to reporters and explaining their current conflict with the Philly Police. One particular member calls for people to start to question Rizzo and hold him accountable for his actions. The footage continues to show various people being interviewed on the street about MOVE, how they feel about it, what the Mayor has done, what he hasn’t, and how the news media has been covering the compound. 

05:13Copy video clip URL Police footage rolls showing an altercation between the MOVE compound and the police. WCAU 10 News covers what turns into a shootout between the police and the members in the compound. Soon footage shows the Mayor condemning the members of the compound and implore the people of the city to follow suit. 

09:55Copy video clip URL Michael Zinzun introduces tonight’s program and topic: a call to stay the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal. He discusses the footage that previously played and asks his guests to help give the history of what led up to the confrontation. From here, Zinzun also introduces the guests; Karen Pomer, a filmmaker, and documentarian; Michael Taylor from KPFK Radio; Kamal Hassan with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Gaheshi Sowandi with the Pelican Bay Support Project. 

12:24Copy video clip URL Michael Zinzun asks Pomer about the climate in Philadelphia when she was filming her documentary on MOVE and the police. She describes the hostility towards the movement and the media. She also talks about her personal experience with Mumia Abu-Jamal. Zinzun then asks Taylor about Mumia, his conviction, and his connection to the Black Panther Party (BPP). Zinzun also extends this question to Hassan. 

18:19Copy video clip URL Zinzun asks Gaheshi Sowandi to tell the audience about the other Black men and women on Death Row and otherwise imprisoned. Sowandi also discusses the expansion of prisons, the erasure of identity in prison, and subpar mental and general healthcare practices. Kamal Hassan also joins the conversation with the prison-industrial complex and people in exile like Assata Shakur. 

24:02Copy video clip URL Michael Zinzun posits a question of the Terrorist Act Bill. Taylor responds by explaining how the bill, post-the Oklahoma bombing, has actually made it much easier for police to abuse their power. People can be labeled terrorists or potential terrorists at the will of local and federal law enforcement. Each of the panelists gives their own short response about the injustice of the act and the absurdity of labeling someone as “potentially dangerous.”

28:27Copy video clip URL The program takes a break. 

32:27Copy video clip URL The program returns with a question to Taylor about how Mumia got involved, a brief history. Taylor discusses the incident that resulted in the death of a police officer. He also explains how the system was stacked against Mumia who is now sitting on Death Row in Pennsylvania. 

34:52Copy video clip URL Footage of Mumia Abu-Jamal from prison rolls. He speaks about fighting his conviction, his sentence, and his life. He is emphatic that he is a political prisoner. Further, he discusses his involvement with the BPP and offers a biting criticism of COINTELPRO. Lastly, he explains his connection to MOVE.

42:30Copy video clip URL The footage continues and Mumia talks at length about his sentence and appeals. He talks about the injustices along the way and is clear that he will keep fighting. 

48:02Copy video clip URL The program returns to Michael Zinzun and the guests in the studio. 

49:37Copy video clip URL Zinzun asks Pomer about the judge that sentenced Mumia and his role in everything. She also implores the audience to call all of their local media outlets to start covering Mumia’s case. Hassan discusses what the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is doing for Mumia and other political prisoners. He gives information about how people can get involved. 

53:21Copy video clip URL The video briefly cuts out. 

53:25Copy video clip URL The footage continues of Hassan praising political prisoners both domestic and international. 

54:52Copy video clip URL Zinzun finally asks Sowandi to promote the Pelican Bay Support Project as well as impart his wisdom about Mumia’s situation. 

56:55Copy video clip URL Zinzun ends the program with Taylor and an update on a woman who has been on a hunger strike and plans to continue until Mumia gets a retrial. 

57:30Copy video clip URL Michael Zinzun signs off the show. 



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