A half-dozen Campaign to End the Death Penalty members plan to organize an April 10 student summit at GW to rally support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, who faces a death sentence in Pennsylvania this year for the 1981 murder of a police officer.
Junior Barak Epstein, who is an organizer of the event, said he wants the April summit to energize area university students for the Millions for Mumia March in Philadelphia April 24, which is being planned by the national Millions for Mumia Organizing Committee.
Epstein said the GW summit will include a rally, a panel of speakers against the death penalty and a Live from Death Row program, which allows students to interact with a death row inmate via speakerphone.
“A lot of people believe he didn’t actually commit the murder,” Epstein said. “He has claimed his innocence since the beginning.”
Epstein led a Feb. 27 meeting attended by a dozen students from Georgetown University and University of Maryland to set April’s plans in motion.
Abu-Jamal’s case has sparked national controversy about the death penalty. Abu-Jamal, an African-American journalist, was convicted of the 1981 murder of a white Philadelphia police officer. Abu-Jamal’s supporters have accused the police department of racism in the case and say Abu-Jamal did not get a fair trial. Pennsylvania officials have studied the case but have not granted a new trial.
Epstein became interested in the campaign to free Abu-Jamal after reading Abu-Jamal’s book, Live from Death Row, last spring. Since then, he and other GW students have held a Live from Death Row program in the fall semester, and are relaying Abu-Jamal’s story at an informational meeting Monday 8 p.m. in Lerner Hall room 201.