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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City's Left Protests Abu-Jamal Ruling

They may not free Mumia, but it wasn't because they didn't try.


The U.S. Embassy is a long way from the Pennsylvania prison where black activist Mumia Abu-Jamal sits on death row, sparking a broad-based American movement for his release.


But some of Moscow's most committed leftists joined in outside the embassy Friday anyway. Between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Friday, their numbers swelled from five to 14. And back to five. You had to admit, they tried.


"We just wanted to show that in the case of Abu-Jamal, Moscow's left is not watching from the sidelines," said Dmitry Fyodorov of the Information Agency of Social-Political Organizations, a loose affiliation of anarchists, communists, Trotskyites, socialists and what one associate termed "free-floating Marxists."


"Technically, it could have been better," Fyodorov sighed. "The megaphone could have worked."


The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an award-winning journalist who was sentenced to death for shooting a police officer in 1981, has sent a shock wave through the United States this summer. Abu-Jamal's pending execution by lethal injection has made activists of a whole range of literary and dramatic luminaries including, but not limited to, Paul Newman, E.L. Doctorow, Norman Mailer, Naomi Campbell and Ed Asner.


On Aug. 9, 10 days before his scheduled execution, Abu-Jamal won a reprieve.


And Friday, the case's reverberations reached the Garden Ring. Drawn from the splintered world of Moscow's radical movement, a handful of activists picketed against the death penalty itself, the judicial process that condemned Abu-Jamal, and the racism and injustice they said pervades America.


"This case itself is not so important. What is important are the actions that the American establishment takes against blacks and against activists. Peltier was a typical thing for America. Of course there was Sacco and Vanzetti," said Andrei Kurenyshev, a Trotskyite, rattling off the names of the radical left's martyrs. "I won't even talk about the Rosenbergs."


Kurenyshev has been following alleged U.S. human-rights violations for years. He follows in the tradition of the Communist Party, which embraced the cause of black activist Angela Davis in the 1960s as an example of class warfare and racism in the United States.


Without a megaphone, the protesters were reduced to pleading their cause heatedly with the attendant press, who frequently outnumbered them. Several embassy staff members stepped out onto the pavement to gauge the group's potential for disturbing the peace, but were quickly reassured and went back inside.


"The U.S. Embassy supports people's right to express their views freely," said an embassy spokesman.


The embassy made no comment on the Abu-Jamal case.